49 beers in 4 hours!

7 Sep

49 Beers in 4 hours!

Clearly I didn’t drink 49 FULL beers in four hours; otherwise this post would likely be about an arrest, a serious injury, or a stomach pumping!

On Friday night I went up to the Park Ave Armory for the opening night session of the 7th annual Great World Beer Festival!  45 brewers were represented and it was totally amazing!  I had never been to the armory before and if you haven’t either I suggest finding an excuse to go, because it’s a really cool mess of contrasts!  You walk in and the entrance is seriously old school… there’s a gorgeous huge staircase leading upstairs and chandeliers and dark wood everywhere, and it really is just gorgeous.  Then, you go into the area where the event is, and it’s basically like a big airplane hanger!  Big, open, empty and totally beat up.  There seem to be some sort of bleacher seats up above at one end, but other than that it’s just this great big domed-ceiling open space!

So, they had the breweries set up around the perimeter of the room, and you took your little souvenir glass and went from booth to booth sampling merrily all the way!  I can’t say that I made it to every booth, and I’m definitely not going to write about everything I DID taste, but I will give you my highlights!  First though, here’s a list of what I was able to taste… and you can see all of the breweries that participated here!

Brewery – Beer

** 6:10pm – let the tastings begin…

DAB – Dortmunder

Hofbrauhaus Munchen – Dunkel and Oktoberfest

Boulder Brewing Company – Buffalo Gold

Binding USA – Pilsner & Krusovice Crene

Eel River – Organic IPA & Imperial Stout

Harpoon – White UFO, Oktoberfest & Big Bohemian Pilsner

Flying Dog – Hefeweizen, IPA & Marzen

Magic Hat – HIPA & Summer Wacky

Otter Creek – Oktoberfest, IPA & Brown Ale

Abita – Light Beer, Raspberry and Chocolate

Long Trail – Belgian White, Pale Ale & Blackberry Wheat

** It’s now 7:42!

Cape Ann Brewing Co – Fisherman’s IPA & Tea Party

Euro Brews – Yanjnig, Holy Grail, HobGoblin & Xingu Black Bear

River Horse – Double Wit & ESB

Troegs – Hefeweizen & Amber

Thomas Hooker – Blonde Ale, Bull-Bodied Bock

** At this point it was 8:21 and I had just finished one side of the armory, was a little bit tipsy and VERY hungry, according to my notes!

Ithica – Apricot Wheat & Pale Ale

Southern Tier – Harvest Ale & IPA

Dogfish Head – Festina Peche & IPA

Left Hand Brewing Company – 400 Lb. Monkey IPA

Mendocino – IPA

Belfast Bay – Lobster Ale

Speakeasy – Big Daddy

Artisinal Imports – Koningshoeven’s La Trappe Isid’or & Meantime’s IPA

Wow…. That is a LOT of beer… ok, so here are the highlights!

First off, I met some very cool guys!  Mark & Mark get the first mention, since they were my last interaction, and they get a HUGE “Thank You!”, because they were kind enough to give my tipsy ass a ride home!  If you live in NYC you know what an amazing treat that is! They also indulged me with some beer-appreciation conversation at the end of what had been a solo affair for me, so at that point I was really glad to have fellow beer-lovers to chat with!

My best experience of the night was in meeting David & Peter, representatives from Harpoon Brewery.  They were offering their White UFO as well as their Oktoberfest, and as they were one of the only booths to actually have representation from the brewery, I asked them which they suggested I try first, and so off I went with the White.  Since I’m on a newfound kick for Hefeweizens, I’m not really surprised that I liked this!  Here’s the description on their website: UFO White. I really liked the balance between the spices and the orange… really pleasant!  Meanwhile, I just discovered what UFO stands for at Harpoon (previously I just thought they were being clever, like that the beer was out of this world or something… lol): Un-Filtered Offering!  Boy, they’re smart fellas…

Ok, so as I was sampling the beer I started telling David about my new blog, about the trip I took in April out West, and we chatted a bit about the Blind Tiger… and he says, “so I actually brought a few bottles of some special beers, to share with people who would really be able to appreciate them, let me have you try one…” Yippeeee!!!! So generally speaking, I’m not a fan of Pilsners, so I wasn’t really expecting much when he told me that’s what he was going to have me try, but he explained that it isn’t your traditional type of Pilsner, and that it had floral hops, and oh boy…. YUM!  So it’s called the Big Bohemian Pilsner, and it’s part of their Leviathan Series, and I’m definitely in love with it.  It has the bite and bitter of a Pilsner underneath for sure, but on top are these lovely floral notes that really soften it up making it SUPER enjoyable!  Beware though, while it may seem like an easy-drinking beer, it’s 9% alcohol!

I really had a great time chatting about beer with David & Peter and owe David a big thanks for letting me try a super delicious pilsner! J

Here are a few highlights & favorites from the event:

Eel River – I absolutely LOVED their IPA – classic IPA style, but with a little something extra… they mention caramel in the description, maybe it’s that?

Long Trail

  • Belgian White – decent to me, but (and I know this is going to sound weird, but it’s what came to me!) a little windex-y? Perhaps it’s the perfect beer for Pappa Portokalos? Hehehe
  • Blackberry Wheat – this is a GREAT beer for launching a campaign to convert a non beer-drinker! (Kelly, this one is totally for you!!)

River Horse – Their Double Wit was nice enough with a little hint of banana, but what really excited me is that they’re in Lambertville, which is right around where we used to live when I was a kid! So cool J

Troegs – I tried both their Hefeweizen and their Amber, and my comment on both?  “YUM!!!!!” Looks like I might have to take a trip to Harrisburg, PA sometime soon!

Ithica – Their Apricot Wheat smelled like a Rainbow Brite doll, and was a whole lotta apricotty-deliciousness!  Their Pale Ale was totally a classic.

Left Hand Brewery – not only did I love their IPA, but it’s definitely the ‘cleverest name’ winner of the evening… “400 Lb. Monkey IPA”

Koningshoeven – La Trappe Isid’or – I had this at closing time, and I had to look it up online to see what exactly it was, and here’s what I discovered.  (Article on BeerNews.org)

I had hemmed & hawed about whether or not I should go and spend the $68 on this ticket, but I’m SO glad I did, and I definitely plan to go back next year… but I’ll make two major changes, strategically speaking:

  1. I’m going to eat more than just sorbet before I go!  I pretty much had nothing in my stomach, which was not a good game-plan, so I’ll be sure to prepare better next year.
  2. I thought I’d be able to make my way through all the beers there, so my strategy at first was just to start with the first booth & make my way around.  I discovered fairly quickly that I was NOT going to be able to taste everything, and switched gears to focus on the breweries I was especially interested in.  Next year I’ll look at the list of brewers ahead of time and pick maybe my top 20 or so & make sure that I hit those booths first so I’m sure to get them in before I hit my limit!

If you were at Brewtopia too, let me know what your favorite brews were… and if you didn’t make it this year, you should totally make sure you go next year!


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