July 12th, 2010
By Kevin Burns
As the craft beer market continues to grow, beer drinkers are seeing more and more beer festivals popping up. The demand for these festivals has continued to increase and they are popular for many reasons. I love these events for multiple reasons with the main two being able to gather with other beer lovers and the ability to taste multiple brews, a tasting tray on steroids if you will.
You can imagine my thrill last year when the International Great Beer Expo came to Cuddebackville in Orange County, NY which is only a 20 minute drive from where I grew up. The festival is one of three International Expos, with the other two taking place in Uniondale, NY and Philadelphia, Pennslyvania. All of the festivals are run by Starfish Junction Productions with this one serving as a fundraiser for the Neversink Valley Area Museum.
The festival was expected to draw 400 plus attendees, with 35 brewers pouring about 75 beers. New York breweries such as Peekskill Brewery, Keegan Ales, Blue Point Brewing Company, Gilded Otter, and Doc’s Ciders were all pouring their suds, giving the festival a distinct local feel.
The most popular tent at the Expo was the Samuel Adams Beer Lover’s Choice tent. Since 2005 the Boston Beer Company has allowed their fans a say in which style would be their next seasonal release would be. This year the festival attendees would be allowed to vote for their favorite of the two styles, a Belgian-style IPA, and an American Rye Ale.
Sam Adams describes the two styles as:
Sample A: a Belgian-style IPA, an incredibly complex beer that begins with the fruity, sweet, slightly tart and spicy characteristics of Belgian ale yeast. The blend of malts, including a traditional slow-roasted Czech variety, adds a crisp, slightly roasty note. This is complemented by a combination of German and American hops, which add complex notes of eucalyptus, pine and citrus. The beer finishes with the distinct hop bitterness expected from an IPA, immediately demanding a second sip.
Sample B, an American Rye, which is a deep, reddish-hued ale brewed with both rye and roasted malt for a spicy character. The slight roastiness and sweetness from the malt is complemented by floral and citrus notes from the combination of German Hallertau Mittelfrueh and American Ahtanum, Centennial and Amarillo hops in this beer. The rye imparts additional complexity by adding a spicy and slightly drying finish to this medium-bodied brew.
If the Sam Adams booth was the most popular, then the Dogfish booth was not far behind. The Delaware brewery was pouring quite a few of their beers to delight of the attendees. Brewery representative Elizabeth was serving Sah’tea, Fort, Red & White, and Palo Santo Marron.
With plenty of beer flowing and proceeds going to charity, plenty of people shrugged over temperatures in the 90′s and left happy. While the festival still has some kinks to work out and some improvements to make, the young festival is growing and is well worth checking out next year.