In college, my Dutch finance professor once postulated, “Why is drinking American beer akin to making love on a canoe?” His response: “Because it’s fuc%@g near water”.
Bull. Like water no more, American beer has gone the distance. It goes without saying that the revival of craft brewers is in full force and these titans of brew have answered the watered-down-weary call for beer with body, aroma, and taste. Of course, there’s no better way to celebrate innovation and education than a festival on a former military fort, water-locked and amply stocked with the country’s best fare. All this with the ambitions and hopes of converting low-calorie, light beer drinkers into educated hop-heads.
Being a beer-centric event, Gear Patrol had boots on the ground to cover the New York BrewFest which was showcasing 100 craft brews from some of the best local, US-regional, and International producers. New York based breweries were in full regalia, including Blue Point, Ommegang, Kelso, and Six Point, pouring their 2.5 ounces of beverage bliss. 2.5 ounces being the pour weight allowed in your tasting mug – a rule that lasted all of about 15 minutes. The nation’s other celebrated artisans were also present to share their triumphs including some of this writer’s favorites: Founder’s, Boulder, Goose Island, Laguanitas, and Stone.
…we had to pick our spots early and quickly to ensure a good “sampling” while maintaining a semblance of soberness…
You can imagine with a veritable buffet of options, we had to pick our spots early and quickly to ensure a good “sampling” while maintaining a semblance of soberness. At least we succeeded with the former. Notes were taken, beer was drank, food was eaten (hello, fresh hot chips) and a generally good time was pursued. With New York’s general love of beer and crowds, the Brewfest had it in spades. Of course, ice-cold beer poured by the dram, a generally wonderful balance of women in attendance, and (free) cigars the recipe was destined for success.
As for our favorites, well, below are four brews that stood out. Or, at least the ones we could make out from our notes the day after. Remember, always support your local brewers! Be an aspiring beer connoisseur or just enjoy – don’t worry about what others say. Stick to your guns and drink what tastes good to you.
Founders Dirty Bastard Scotch Ale
Dark caramelized malts make for creamy drinking with a smooth finish and lingering after taste. This rich offering is 8.3% ABV (Alcohol by Volume) and you would never guess this with the drinkability factor.
Founders Brewery (Grand Rapids, MI)
Troegs HopBack Amber Ale
Cooper/Amber in color, pine fresh scent with an incredible amount of aroma in the head. At 6.0% ABV this is a mild rated beer that has an easy yet sophisticated finish that you will be begging for more.
Troegs Brewery (Harrisburg, PA)
Empire Cream Ale
Beautiful golden in color with a cloud-like frothy head that expunges a light but distinguished aroma of citrus, hops, and bread like qualities. This beer is nitrogenated so it gives the body a serious amount of silky texture that a joy to drink. Clocking in at 5.2% ABV, this smooth silky beer can easily be drank all day long.
Empire Brewery (Syracuse, NY)
Lagunitas India Pale Ale
Many IPAs can be so bitter and strong that multiple pints are not an option. This is not that beer. It was brewed with return business in mind and really strikes as a well brewed flavorful but milder IPA. Lagunitas is one of the best West Coast brewers. This IPA weighs in at 5.7% ABV and can be found in your local markets.
Lagunitas Brewery (Petaluma, CA)
By aspiring brewer Jason Chow