As I write this in the midst of Election Day 2012 (not to mention the coverage of the threat of a noreaster), I figured that I should not write about politics and wrote about something else. So it is time to cover the 2012 Hudson Valley Brew Fest that was held this past Saturday at the Mid-Hudson Civic Center.
I went with my my brother Todd and my cousin Tim. We got there around 12:50 with the doors opening at 1pm. There was a pretty good line to get in, but the line moved pretty quick once the doors opened. After they took our tickets, we had to show id for proof of age in order to receive a wristband in order to partake of the libations. What I thought was interesting was that all they wanted to see was whether-or-not you had some form of id. The two people who were supposed to be checking the id’s for date of birth never even looked at my driver’s license except to see if I had one. Ah well.
After we got in and received our little plastic sampling glass, courtesy of 101.5 WPDH, it was time to start trying some beers. The first beer that we tried was called Liberator Dopplebock from Thomas Hooker Brewery. It was not too bad and not as heavy as most porters are. As we worked our way down the row, we tried beers from TommyKnocker Brewery, Peak Organic Brewing, Ithaca Beer Compnay, who had a beer named Cascazilla which was quite good, SouthHampton Brewing, try the Double White, outstanding, and Innis & Gunn, whose Original beer is aged in oak casks and had a very nice fruit flavor that was not cloying sweet and their Rum Cask beer is aged in rum casks (duh) and has a light flavor of rum. Now remember, this is just the first row.
The next row (which was actually the center of the Fest) had a number of your more massed produced beers on one side, such as Blue Moon Brewing Co., Anchor Brewing, Shock Top (the Lemon Shandy was not that bad), Crown Brewing, who produce (or import) Modello and Pacifico, and Palm (an outstanding beer when you can find it out).
The other side of the started out with two nano breweries, Sloop Brewing and Newburgh Brewing Co. I have had the beers from Sloop Brewing before, have been told about them about a month before. They make several IPAs including one that is quite dark. They also make a bottle conditioned beer called Sauer Peach. A wheat beer, it has some hints of peach, hence the name, and is unfiltered, as a good wheat beer should be. At Newburgh Brewing, I tried their Von Steuben’s Gose, very good, and Harvest Ale, also good. The difference between these two companies is that Sloop bottles their beers and Newburgh does not. I need to find some place that carries Newburgh’s brews so that I can have a better chance to try them. Sloop’s beers can be got at farmers markets during the season, or at several local beer distributors, such as Half-Time on Route 9 in Poughkeepsie. The end of this side had Brooklyn Brewery, Rushing Duck Brewing, Ellicotville Brewing, Brewery Ommegang, and Founders Brewing.
The final row had Hyde Park Brewery, who was also serving food, Leffe, Samual Adams, Widmer Brothers Brewing, Staropramen Beer, Olde Saratoga Brewing Co., and several others. Part of the problem was that by the time we got to this row, we started to get that full feeling that you can get with beer. We did eat, Billy Bob’s was there selling food, but after a while, it just gets to be a bit heavy on the stomach. I had the same problem when I attended the Great British Beer Festival in London, but the beer is different over there and it took me longer and many more beers to hit that feeling. We finally left around 4pm or so after sampling many different beers.
All in all it was not too bad. There were a number of things that they could have done better. It would have been nice for more of the breweries to have information on their beers and possibly even some things for sale (only Brooklyn had anything substantial for sale). The group who ran the event did not do bad, but they should have had more shirts for sale and get more in 2Xl sizes and larger. They only had a handful in those sizes and they sold out within the first half hour according to the girl selling them. I think that they miscalculated the number of people who would attend. I would also like to see more small brewers in future instead of the offshoot breweries of the major brewers. With some changes, this could become a world class event and a stepping stone for some smaller brewries to things like TAP NY and the Great American Beer Festival.