May 7, 2012
By Kevin Burns
F.X. Matt Memorial Cup
Best Craft Brewery in New York State
Spider Bite Brewing Company, Holbrook, NY
Bronze Medal - Chocolate Porter:Horseheads Brewing Company
Best Craft Brewery in the Hudson Valley
Chatham Brewing Company, Chatham, NY
Chocolate Porter:Horseheads Brewing Company
*The John Calen Memorial Award made its debut last year. Named after the event’s co-founder who passed away, it will be presented to the best beer from a certain style every year. This year’s style was porter and Crossroads took home the award.
*You can probably go ahead and call Captain Lawrence’s Captain’s Reserve as the official beer of TAP-NY. In 2006, the Double IPA won both the Vassar and Matt gold medal. In 2007 it captured the Vassar Silver. In 2009 it won the Vassar gold. In 2010 it took both the Vassar and Matt Silver. This year it again took both the Vassar and Matt Silver medals. Seven years, eight medals for the beer that we scored 96 points and have ranked as the best beer in New York State (out of the 340 we have tasted.)
*I caught a little grief from Jake and Tom of Chatham Brewing for not mentioning them in the preview article. Big oversight by my part, as they took home the Vassar Cup. The Belgian-Style Tripel was my favorite among a strong lineup of beers.
*Speaking of the preview, I noted the recent trend of new breweries doing well in the cup competition. Only half right, I thought Newburgh would have a shot, but it ended up being Spider Bite who took home the F.X. Matt Cup. Very well deserved I thought the lineup that Spider Bite was pouring was as good as anyone else’s. The Boris The Spider Russian Imperial Stout was my favorite.
*As far as Newburgh’s debut I was able to try three of the four beers offered (I have already tasted the Saison), and was most impressed by the Peat Smoked Stout. Monster flavor from a sessionable beer.
* After all of the excitement and controversy surrounding the “Black IPA” style, a few New York State breweries released “White IPA’s”. A cross between an IPA and a wheat beer, it is a bit of a funky style. I enjoyed Saranac’s version last month, and this was my first chance to taste Blue Point’s take on the style and I really enjoyed it.
* I usually try to find some different styles or interesting beers to taste but the IPA style seemed to be the beers I kep going back to. Medusa IPA from Defiant, Liv and Let Rye IPA from Empire Brewing, the Double Standard from Peekskill and the Money IPA from Barrier were all excellent examples of the style.
* While the Money IPA might have been Barrier’s best beer, I was more interested in their Frau Blucher Rauch Bier. The smoked helles had a really rich, malty body that complimented the smoke very well.
* As I mentioned in our preview article, I was looking forward to tasting the much hyped Bronx Brewery Pale Ale. Big and in your face, this robust beer drinks more like an IPA and it lived up to the hype. A very good first offering from the guys in the Bronx.
*Last week I attended the launch party for Gold Standard, the latest release from Brooklyn Brewery’s Brewmaster’s Reserve line. I came away impressed with the golden lager, and it was every bit as good the second time around.
*Brewer Tim Adams has made a name for himself with his ability to make very unusual beers that are still well crafted and enjoyable to drink. I arrived at his booth ready to try his Hemp Seed IPA but never got the chance as I chose instead to taste his Chai Milk Stout, Peach Wheat, and Guru: Gluten-Free Pale Ale. The only thing harder to find than a well-made fruit beer is a well-made gluten-free beer. Cave Mountain had both.
*With 200 beers at the festival it can be hard to stand out among the crowd. One of the beers that was able to stick out was Keuka’s Habanero Ale. The heat from the peppers was strong and lingered for quite awhile. An interesting day to wake up your palate during a marathon tasting session.
*Custom Brewcrafters Krysztoff Baltic Porter won the 2011 Beer of the Year Award from the New York Cork Report. Whoever was on that panel has a good palate as I really enjoyed this one.