Last weekend I took the family off the Island (that would be Long Island, New York) for some beer adventures in the Catskills. We went to Hunter Mountain to take in the International Celtic Festival. My wife is a more studied appreciator of Celtic music, but I enjoy it also, albeit more casually. For me Celtic music is best taken in live doses with copious amounts of beer and that's what some three or four thousand people were doing last weekend.
The beer at the Celtic Festival was your standard fare: Guinness, Harp, Smithwick's, and Newcastle---Irish and English megabrew essentially. I knew this going into the festival so I wasn't disappointed. I happily ordered quart/liter cups of Guinness thinking that there was nothing else to be had.
Late in the afternoon my wife sent me to find some grub and I had some time to wander around the ski lodge on my own. Wandering is good, especially if you keep your eyes open. I saw a sign the read "International Beer Expo" and made a hard detour off the mall and up some steps. I have to admit I was a little excited. What exotic beers did they have tucked away in this cozy little International Beer Expo building? It didn't take long for me to find the answer: Spaten Lager. Yes, that was it! The rank of taps in the "International Beer Expo" included the Irish/English stuff plus a lager from Germany.
Maybe I missed something. Maybe the "Expo" happened between 2 and 3 o'clock and when I came waltzing in at 4 all the beers were gone. Then behind the rank of taps I spotted three glass door coolers full of beer bottles. I did a quick inspection of the selection and didn't see anything to raise my spirits---more megabrews. Admittedly these megabrews were from European brewers, but megabrews none-the-less. Years of craft brew hunting have jaded me. I'm not impressed unless I find something that I've never seen or even heard of before.
The building where this "International Beer Expo" was supposedly happening was the ski lodge's restaurant (The Copper Tree, if memory serves me) and the restaurant's bar was open for business. I circled the bar, stalking possible prey and did find Saranac Pale Ale and Brooklyn Lager. I slapped fifteen bucks down on the counter and ordered one of each. Nothing like a little two fisted drinking to soothe a troubled beer stalking soul.
There are a couple of other festivals at Hunter Mountain that I'll try to make: the Microbrew and Wine Festival (September 23 & 24) looks good with 15 breweries slated to be running their taps (real craft beer this time), and Oktoberfest (September 30 and October 1, then again the next weekend October 7th & 8th). The Oktoberfest doesn't have an entrance fee but it looks like the beer choices will be Franziskaner, Dinkel Acker, and Spaten. If any "Good Beer Bloggers" are thinking of going, let me know and we can hook up.
On the way back to Long Island we stopped at Hyde Park Brewing Company. More about that in a future post. I know I usually cover beer on Long Island for this blog, so all of you folks who want to know what's happening in the Long Island beer scene you can listen to my Long Island Beer Update podcast (#9 has all the news from the last couple of weeks). There is a fifteen minute segment on that podcast with a "live" audio review of Waterzooi, a Belgian-style bistro in Garden City. Lenn Thompson has published the text version (with photos) of that gastropub review on Lenndevours. If you are a Long Island foodie and/or wine nut, you should read Lenn's stuff. He runs a quality show.