Two weeks ago in this space I mentioned that I would be attending the Long Island Beer Festival and gave you a preview of some of the attractions of the festival. In addition to great beers from New York, the other mid-Atlanic states, and from the rest of the world, Garrett Oliver and Phil Markowski were supposed to speak---that more than justified the $45 per person entry fee. But due to no fault of my own, I wasn't able to attend the Long Island Beer Festival. Despite the fact that I had prepaid tickets, when I arrived at the Huntington Hilton last Friday, my wife and I were told that "there were too many people already inside and that no more people were being let in." The full account (exciting as it is) was the subject of last Tuesday's Brewsday article over on The Spirit World.
I won't repeat here what I've already said about the festival on my blog. The first comment on my "beer festival commentary" post is from someone who got into the festival and enjoyed it (to some extent). I have received a number of emails from others who were allowed in who didn't enjoy it and who want their money back. From what I'm told there was an inadequate amount of food (not surprising since the event was grossly oversold). And it appears that neither Garrett Oliver or Phil Markowski spoke. They were in attendance though. Everyone agrees that the event was shut down early by the fire marshal, but it seems that crowd inertia carried the festival for about forty-five minutes beyond the first attempts to close the event at 8:30. As Daniel would say, "Beer festival a rip off, film at eleven!"
So, let's leave that disappointment and move on to what's being done right on the Long Island Beer Scene.
Last Friday, my wife and I ended up at the Black Forest Brew Haus where I had the Maibock and the Pilsner. When I asked about the availability of the Hefeweizen, our server said it wasn't on, but not long into my Pilsner I saw half liter glasses of Hefe being brought into the beer hall on trays. The Black Forest was packed last Friday with other refugees from the Beer Festival. We basically had our own beer festival at the Black Forest.
Since my wife and I had already engaged a babysitter for the evening, we decided to make the most of it and so after the Black Forest we drove to Blue Point to visit the Sage Cafe. I had a glass of Blue Point Summer Ale. The bartender said that they had an Imperial Stout on tap also. I believe that it was probably Blue Point's Cherry Imperial Stout.
Saturday I had my own beer festival at my house. I threw my doors open to whoever wanted some homebrew. I tapped kegs of "Imperial" Hefeweizen and my misnamed "Double" Mild. I think the mild should probably be called Mud Mild since mud is what it looks like in the glass. It's got superb flavor and body, so I don't mind "chill haze."
Monday marked the beginning of the Great American Beer Tour. We (my wife and son are doing the tour also) started the tour at John Harvard's (1 point). The Mad Tom's Old Ale is back on in the cask, but this batch wasn't conditioned in the bourbon barrel. This version was smooth and malty with a persistent moussy head. My next beer was a light colored Amber called Amberdextrous. After our meal, I retired to the back room to join in on the May meeting of B.E.E.R. or Brewers East End Revival, Long Island's homebrew club. You can bet that the main topic of discussion that night was the Long Island Beer Festival.
My fellow B.E.E.R. members had a different take on the festival. Many of them had volunteered to work the festival. They spent the evening working as underpaid bartenders for the cold-light-beer-swilling drunks that seem to have overrun the festival. It sounds like the festival didn't attract the true beer lovers, or (as my wife said) the true beer lovers were turned away at the door. The impression I gathered from what the B.E.E.R. people were saying was that there's no doubt that the festival was managed poorly (mistakes were made) and that few of them will be rushing to volunteer for any future event run by Shoreline Beverage. The tone of the statement was more disappointment than anger at the mismanagement.
Tuesday, we drove out to Southampton Publick House (2 points). I had the ESB with my tortilla crusted Mahi Mahi. For desert I had blueberry sherbet and an Extra Stout. Believe it or not, blueberry sherbet and Extra Stout are an excellent combo. Garrett Oliver is absolutely right, beer can do everything.
Thursday evening, we collected 3 more points for the Great American Beer Tour by visiting the Blue Point Brewery tasting room (2 points) and the Brickhouse Brewery (1 point). I sipped the Bourbon Barrel ESB (cask conditioned) from my very own blue pint glass (very stylish). Peter Cotter, president of Blue Point Brewing Company, signed our Tour passports for us. Cotter said that the Beer Tour sounded like a good idea. But I got the impression that my wife and I were the first people to come by asking to get our passports "validated."
We went to the Brickhouse right after visiting Blue Point. Our waitress told us that she hadn't seen anyone else come in with Beer Tour passports all week. This disappoints me a little. Long Island is probably one of the few places in the country where people could reasonably collect the minimum 10 points to "finish" the tour. Also, I don't think the brewpubs realize they need to help promote events like the Beer Tour. It's in their best interest. My wife and I have spent more than $250 this week at Long Island brewpubs and we'll probably spend a hundred more before the week's out. With a little promotion the brewpubs could see a serious peak in business from the serious beer lover crowd.
The trip to the Brickhouse was profitable for me since I got to drink a pint of the Double Trouble IPA, a double hopped IPA. It was an excellent, full bodied, flavorful beer. It had more dimensions in the flavor than just hops. It was slightly sweet and had a detectable malt character. All-in-all a well rounded and warming IPA.
Tomorrow is the 10th Annual B.E.E.R. Brew-off. That's B.E.E.R.'s annual homebrew competition. We'll be judging some two hundred entries on Saturday. I've volunteered to do some judging. I'll report back in two weeks and let you know how things went.