Village Voice’s annual Brooklyn Pour craft beer festival celebrated its 5th anniversary with 67 breweries serving over 120 beers on Saturday. The event was held at Brooklyn Expo Center in Greenpoint, which although a little generic in terms of aesthetic, worked well with it’s windowed walls letting in plenty of natural light and the 1500-or-so attendees had plenty of room to
stumble maneuver in the scheme of things.
When I first moved to the US a few years ago, my two concerns were healthcare (I really don’t know how everyone puts up with this nonsense here), and beer… fearing I’d be turning to a life of lite beer or bland, mass-produced lager seemed like a nightmare, but thankfully the emergence of local craft breweries soon put me at ease. It was different from the real ale I loved and was leaving, but there was definitely something worth shouting about going on here (but please, someone sort out this terrible system of placing dollar signs over peoples health).
Wondering if the trend of trying to make beer as hoppy as possible will diminish any time soon, a quick study of the guide for the day shows 17 of the 67 breweries offering IPAs on the day. With a supporting cast of stouts and porters, could the tide be turning? Well, probably not, but it seems like there are more options out there for those who need it.
For my faults, I am a bit of a whisky snob, so I was also delighted to see some single malt available as well. As it turns out, the first thing I tried after surveying the scene was the Scapa 16yo, left a rich, almost sweet taste. Call it a palette cleanser… I also tried the Aberlour 18yo which I also enjoyed, but would say the Scapa was more distinct and will be contemplating a purchase soon.
The first beer booth I make my way to is Fire Island, after a brief conversation with the server and my desire for something a little less hoppy, I’m assured the Red Wagon IPA is the one to go for. Indeed, it has a crisp, slightly dry finish, and not aggressively hoppy at all; a good start! Up next was the Singlecut Dean Mahogany Ale, I’m into more malty brews at the moment and while this does turn out to be fairly hoppy, the notes of caramel and toasted malts counteract it in a pleasant manner. The Kelso Kellerfest went down well, it tasted a little mellow for 6% with a nice finish. My first real “win” of the day came via Dogfish Head‘s Indian Brown Ale, which I noted as full-bodied with the brown sugar really pushing through.
The tasting glass doesn’t look like much and leaves one confident of being able to sample most of the beers. However, after eight samples (and two single malts), about 30 minutes in to the event, I realise that this is a very dangerous game to be playing, even for a hardened beer drinker. It’s a marathon not a sprint, and I want to try as many options as possible, so make the sensible decision of requesting smaller pours rather than the almost full glasses that are being served (you can, afterall, have as much as you want). This proved to be a good strategy for being happily drunk an hour in to the event and staying that way as opposed to upgrading to I’ve-had-too-much-where-am-I drunk.
Food was available in the outdoor court; Papaya King and Nuchas Empanadas have their trucks at the ready, although recent 2015 Rookie of the Year Vendy winners Coney Shack, were absent despite being in the list. Lifesize beer-pong was also available, but seemed like a distraction to the main event at hand, drinking beer.
Certainly the most interesting/unique thing I tried was Brooklyn Brew Shop‘s Jalapeno Saison, which left nothing to the imagination and had a lingering spice. Would I have wanted a full pint of this? Absolutely not, but I’m glad I got to try it, and that’s what these events are about, trying different things and getting a feel for what the breweries are cooking up.
After the slap in the face of the jalapeno I’m back on the scotch briefly before a rather glorious run of samples, starting with Coney Island brewery’s Hard Root Beer, which one could imagine getting accidentally trashed on. Possibly my favourite drink of the day was Alphabet City‘s Alpha Male, which I found incredibly smooth, as was Paulaner Brauhaus‘ Dark Lager, Rockaway Brewing Company‘s BTM and Smuttynoses Oktoberfest offerings.
As 6pm rolls around, signalling the end of Brooklyn Pour 2015, having ticked half of the beer options off the possible checklist (there was no need to sample some of the more ubiquitous offerings), my handwriting is starting to resemble a doctor’s note – it’s time to leave.
A solid day’s work, everyone appears to be in high spirits (pun intended) as attendees exit the building. Brooklyn Pour goes from strength to strength, so raise a glass and here’s to 5 years and many more to come.