Tap New York Craft Beer and Food Festival Review

by Daniel on May 3, 2012

Roc Brewing Co at Tap NY Festival

Roc Brewing Co at Tap NY Festival

I spent this past weekend April 28th & 29th attending the two day Tap New York Beer & Food Festival, helping to volunteer, serve for & represent Roc Brewing Co.  It was a unique and incredible experience, and I got to taste some of the best beers being produced in the region.  The event housed a formidable 51 breweries, thousands of attendees, and included in the ticket price a great variety of food.  If you haven’t been to Tap New York before, I highly recommend making the trek out to Hunter Mountain Ski Resort next year to experience it.  And I’m going to give you the low-down on how to get the most out of your trip!

Wherever you live in NY, it’s likely you’re quite a drive away from the town of Hunter, so I really recommend you find a hotel or condo rental to stay at for at least one night.  There’s lots of places within walking (or stumbling) distance, so you can stay safe.  One of the best parts about this festival is that it, more than some other beer festivals in NY, has a lot of the brewers in attendance excited to talk to you and show off their beer.  My recommendation?  Talk to them!  Don’t just go from booth to booth trying to drink as much beer as you can (you’ll have plenty to try anyway)–talk to the brewers and have them tell you about their beer, the label art, whatever interests you.  You’ll get some great stories, and it only helps you to appreciate their beer more.  Furthermore, this is such a popular festival that brewers often produce a special beer to release just for this event, or for a limited time during this season – if you see anything labeled “barrel aged,” “cask conditioned,” or “barlywine,” try it.  You’ll most likely be impressed.

Now for the highlights – the brewers that in my opinion had consistently great beers across the board, and some really special ones as well.  Next year I’m sure they’ll be around, so you should seek them out among the masses when your taste buds are still fresh!  You know I’m obviously partial to Roc Brewing Co., so I’ll spend more time on the others.

  • Barrier Brewing Co. – winner of the F.X. Matt Memorial Cup at last year’s event, which recognizes the “Best Craft Beer Brewery in New York State,” had a great selection.  I especially liked their Frau Blücher Rauch Bier, and the Vermillion Saison Rouge.
  • Brewery Ommegang - need I say more?
  • Captain Lawrence Brewing – their Kolsch was especially good–and that is saying a lot being that the Kolsch style can be very difficult to do right.  They had 4 other beer styles as well for a good variety.
  • Chatham Brewing LLC – one of this year’s overall award winners, and well deserved.  Everything I tried from them I wanted to have a second glass of.  My favorites were the Belgian Tripel and the Bourbon Barrel Aged 8 Barrel Ale.
  • Chelsea Brewing Co. – I enjoyed their Wit’s End Belgian Wheat.
  • Custom Brewcrafters – I’ve been a fan of their MacBubba Scotch Ale & Caged Alpha Monkey IPA for a while, but their Krysztoff Baltic Porter I had at this event was a winner too.
  • Horseheads Brewing Co. – took bronze this year for Best Craft Beer in NY State.  Their hefeweizen, Chocolate Porter, and IPA were all great, and their representatives were especially friendly.
  • Olde Saratoga Brewing Co. – their Eye of the Hawk Imperial Stout – Barrel Aged was THE BEST BEER I tasted at the festival. I went back both days numerous time to enjoy a taste.
  • Southern Tier Brewing Co. – love these guys, and they had a special Bourbon Barrel Aged Backburner Barleywine that was off the hook.
  • Spider Bite Beer Co. – this year’s recipient of the 2012 F.X. Matt Memorial Cup, their beer names were as good as the taste: Boris the Spider Russian Imperial Stout, Robert’s Spider Scottish Style Wee Heavy, First Bite Pale Ale, and Ariagne French Saison.
  • Three Heads Brewing – all good beers, especially the Loopy Oatmeal Red Ale.

Perhaps you think this is a long list and I’m being too nice.  However, remember there were 51 brewers at this festival (from what I hear there’s more every year), and that’s what made this event so great.  Other events may have just a handful of standout beers or brewers, whereas this had more than I could try in one day (luckily, I got to be there for two)!  So next year, don’t miss this event.  There’s something for everyone (even if you tend not to like the beers I like, haha) and you can pick the brains of many of the brewers while you’re at it.

To read about other events, check out my “Events” category over in the sidebar on the right.

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