To say I had anything other than a blast would be something of a understatement. Being, I have to admit, my first US style beer fest with hundreds and hundreds of people in a large barn at the NY state fair with 52 beer vendors giving it away for free it was quite a lesson in craft beer culture. We met lots of great people and, at one point, one of my fellow Canucks mentioned that if this many people were drinking free beer for this long a fight would have broken out. In the Syracuse all they did was stand around and talk about really great beer.
There were booths from macrobreweries and imports, booths with people selling t-shirts and booths manned by the gold folks who put out beer publications like The Great Lakes Brewing News. But most of the crowd's attention was given to the craft brewers of New York state like Ithaca Beer Co., Sackets Harbour Brewing, Middle Ages Brewing, Ommegang and Lake Placid Brewing. I now have an UBU sticker for the bumper of my car!
I'll put down a little more later tonight about the event but for now here are some more photos. Look at that good looking beer blog business card...
Later: OK, what were the beers of the fest? I guided a number of people to the Allagash White tap, especially after they tried the Blue Moon. One in my group kept going back for the Ithaca Double IPA and, by that measure, my favorite was the Stoudts Double IPA. Smuttynose's Winter Ale was also a repeat customer. I certainly did not have one of every kind but I did have some great chats about great beer with folk I had not met before like Mickey who runs the festival, Stefan (Inertiaboy) and Luc (Lubiere) who I know from The Bar Towel, with Spencer Noakes, Craft Sales Director for the main distributor for the festival, with the publisher of The Great Lakes Brewing News who I got to thank for publishing some of my articles (like one in this month's edition), Peter Quinn, Founder of the excellent Wachusett Brewing, as well as a whole crew of my brothers from Hamilton, Ontario who are connected to a great craft brew pub there - and whose card I lost so I can't mention the place!
All in all very worthy and certainly an event that will see me return with a larger gang and maybe a bus from the north to get us around, Syracuse being the land that taxis forgot. Buy the way, the Bar Towellers last view of us was jumping in a car full of guys who had been attending the neighbouring golf show and who were good enough to get us to the Dinosaur BBQ. From there we did not get much farther. Next time, I will make sure my compadres will get better nap time.