Tag Archives: fest

BK Pour…a smashing success as usual

14 Oct

It’s 1:30pm, and already people are lined up 100 deep outside the old Williamsburg Bank building, tickets in hand, waiting eagerly for the doors to open. There’s a palpable excitement as friends meet up in line, waiting to taste offerings from some of their favorite craft breweries from around the country at the third annual BK Pour here at Skylight Hanson in Fort Greene.

As the doors open and thirsty festival goers begin to pour in for the VIP hour, they’re greeted with a pamphlet detailing all 66 breweries in attendance, as well as the 125+ beers they’ll be offering and a map to their booth’s location. The venue itself is tremendous, with soaring ceilings and subtle reminders of what used to be one of Brooklyn’s largest banks, including old-school teller windows, wrought iron bars, and massive vault doors separating the different areas of the venue. Some pause to plan a route to their favorite brewers, while many more simply settle for those closest to the door and ready to fill their 2oz. tasting glass.

Most head upstairs to the VIP lounge area, where they can sample complimentary food from brats to pretzels, as well as some rarer offerings from their favorite breweries including Stone, Cigar City, and Harpoon (the Stone 17th Anniversary IPA being a favorite among those who sampled). The lounge is perched in the mezzanine level of the building, overlooking the floor and booths below. For the initial VIP tasting hour the space is filled with a droning buzz of patrons enjoying the relaxed pace of tasting, but as the general admission doors open at 3pm that buzz grows into a roar.

Among the breweries represented, New York breweries made a strong showing at the festival, including established players like Brooklyn Brewery, Sixpoint, Ommegang, and Heartland, as well as up-and-coming NY State brewers like City Island Beer Company in the Bronx, Grimm Artisanal Ales from Brooklyn (technically a nomadic brewery creating one-offs brewed at fellow brewer’s facilities), Three Heads Brewery from Rochester, and 508 Gastrobrewery from downtown Manhattan. Chris Cuzme, head brewer at 508, noted of the festival “It’s not necessarily the beer fest for beer geeks…this is serving a bigger and more important role”. Other brewers seemed to echo that sentiment. Geoff Dale, from Three Heads Brewing, said “This is our first festival here, we’re enjoying it, I love Brooklyn Man…I love the vibe. What I love about Brooklyn, this is an inclusive society, they accept you for who you are, and a beer fest is the same vibe”.

Another NY State brewery in attendance was Barrier Brewing, which was hard hit during Superstorm Sandy in 2012. Representative Patrick said “It was tough. We were down for about 4 months, but we’ve recovered and we’re stronger than ever right now”. Despite the challenges of the last year, they were excited to be back out in front if the beer-loving public, saying “It’s a good turnout, it’s my first time at the Brooklyn Pour so this is awesome”. Barrier was arguably serving one of the more unique beers of the afternoon, their seasonal “Saazsquash Butternut Squash Ale”. By their own description “It gives you the pumpkin essence with a little more sweetness, it’s amazing”.

Other than excitement for the festival, a common theme among the NY State brewers (and all brewers in attendance) was plans for expansion moving into 2014. City Island Beer Company, out of the Bronx, opened in February of 2013 and is excited about plans to open a facility on their namesake City Island within the next 12 months. “Right now we have a small system where we do all of our development, and we do our production offsite” said Paul Sciara, president. “We’ve got a site that we’re really interested in…we’re looking for about a 20 barrel system…we’re hoping we can pull this off within the next year”. When asked about plans for 2014, Cuzme of 508 commented “It’s a very exciting week to ask that question. I do have new tanks coming in next week, and we did just get license to sell outside 508…you will start seeing 508 out a little bit…it will probably go to the beer bars that are by beer lovers for beer lovers”. Plans are equally as exciting at Rochester’s Three Heads Brewing. “We are actually going to be doubling up to 10,000 barrels this year, and we have four new beers coming out…baby steps to take over the world” laughed brewer Geoff Dale.

In addition to the copious amounts of beer flowing from the taps (and perhaps to soak it up), attendees could head downstairs into what was formerly the bank’s vault for some bites from Cariño Cantina, Yayo’s of Brooklyn, Los Perros Locos, and Jarlsberg Cheeses. Later in the afternoon the vault played host to a series of discussions ranging from “Urban Homebrewing” (homebrewing within the frequently cramped confines of NYC spaces) to beer photography and apps.

 

By the third hour of the event it had become apparent that beer, even in two ounce increments, will catch up with even the most seasoned drinkers. Many had turned their attention to collecting beer SWAG, from Sam Adams Oktoberfest hats to mysterious fake moustaches that seemed to permeate the crowd. Attendees made their way towards the doors, having had their fill of excellent craft beers and food, and already planning their return trip to BK Pour in 2014.

 

 

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Harpoon pt. 1…

12 Dec

Well, there’s the rivalry—Yankees vs. Red Sox, Giants vs. Pats, Bruins vs. Rangers, Celtics vs. Knicks (and add the ‘Nets to that now), but we’re talking about sports, not beer here.  And when it comes to Harpoon, well, maybe we can try to compete a local New York brewery against them, but why would you want to?

NYC already embraces Harpoon:  We see their flagship IPA at a number of local bars with its signature orange tap, and I can’t help but want to be whisked away to Boston’s “hah-bah,” drinking their beers on a sail boat, possibly whale watching…

But there’s much more to Harpoon than just their IPA.  I’m sure you’ve seen their UFO’s (UnFiltered Offering for all of you neophytes) and most likely their seasonals.  You may have even been privileged enough to pick up a recent 100 Barrel Series at your local great craft beer store.  But if you’ve never been to Boston and visited their brewery, well you don’t know beans (apparently beans are a big thing up there).

Two Girls One Pint (along with StevieAnn from Sassy Beer) were fortunate to venture up there last Monday and experience it for ourselves—this place is the real deal, with great, drinkable beer.  They should know good beer—they have been around since 1986.  And Harpoon doesn’t need fancy commercials to get its point across…the beer speaks for itself.

The brewery was the first company to obtain a permit to manufacture and sell alcohol in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in over 25 years.  This is thanks to their founders, fondly referred to as “Rich & Dan,” who attended Harvard and after traveling Europe, were inspired enough to start their own brewery.   For us, it’s hard to believe that Harpoon is “that old” (ok so 26 is not old by any means but in the craft beer world, it’s ancient).

Upon visiting the brewery, one is greeted with a metal gate displaying the four essential ingredients: Water, grains, hops, and yeast.  The tasting room is warm and friendly—samples are offered two times a day (at 2 pm and 4 pm) and full brewery tours are offered on the weekend.  We were surprised not only by the warm greetings from our tasting room hostesses, but also but the diverse offerings.

Aside from their signature IPA complete with its orange tap handle, also available were the UFO (and its raspberry version), 3 current Leviathan offerings (more on them later), some experimental beers from their 400 gallon series (basically a home-brewer’s wet dream), their current seasonals (Winter Warmer and Chocolate Stout), their newest 100 Barrel Series brew (El Triunfo Coffee Porter), their amazing cider, their Dark (formally called Munich dark) and their new all-round Rye IPA.  The selection is overwhelming, especially on a Monday afternoon.

Without leaving the room, guests are lucky enough to be poured samples of any beer they desire (it’s really hard to choose one) then given a story behind the beers and the brewery between swallows.  Twenty-first birthdays are celebrated, old friends reunited while new friends are made.  The tasting room becomes a meeting place for a bunch of strangers with one thing in common: Their love of great beer.

If you haven’t tried it yet, the not-even-one-year-old Rye IPA is a highly enjoyable beer for those of us who lean toward an everyday IPA (not overly bitter or hoppy).  The citrus notes from the hops are balanced by the spiciness of the rye.  I’ve been drinking this baby all week like it’s my life support!

The Chocolate Stout is solid (I’m ashamed to say this was my first introduction to it).  Now that I’ve had it, I’m not quite sure how I went without for so long—it’s dark and roasty but sweet enough without being too dessert-y.  Chocolate milk for grown-ups!  And what girl (or boy) doesn’t love chocolate?  It’s also perfect for this time of year (it is a seasonal, after all).

For those of you who’ve never enjoyed a Harpoon Cider, you’re in for a real treat.  It’s extremely natural tasting (from an apple orchard 40 miles away) and employs their signature yeast so it doesn’t just taste like you’re drinking a sparkling apple juice.

Try it mixed with a Winter Warmer.  While I normally don’t advise mixing beer, we can make an exception with this, a concoction called “Apple Pie.”  The sweetness of the cider paired with the spices of their winter seasonal creates a perfect treat for a cold day.

Their Leviathan series are the high ABV ones (Imperials).  All of them are great but strong—approach with caution!  On tap currently in their tasting room was their Imperial IPA (sooo good), a Russian Imperial Stout (one to take home and age), and a Baltic Porter.

Their Dark (formally called Munich Dark, but the name seemed to intimidate people) is a perfect example of the kind of beer I am really into drinking right now—A Dunkel, the dark color is a ruse to the light-bodied, velvety textured beer disguised behind its cloudy brown (mahogany, for you fans of wood) color.  This seems to be the favorite in the Harpoon world, amongst staff and fans alike.

So what other beers did we try?  And what was it like being taken on a one-of-a-kind brewery tour by Harpoon’s Chief of Brewing Operations, Al Marzi?  What does Harpoon have in store for 2013?  For answers to all of those questions, stop by later this week for the Second Part of our series on Boston’s Harpoon Brewery!

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