There’s nothing better than shaking off the cold rains of April to enjoy sunshine and budding flowers and the warm days of May — unless it’s doing all that with a beer in hand. Check out some of the beer-focused events happening around the city this month, including today’s excellent kick-off.
May 1: Celebrate Maibaum (various locations)
The German labor holiday of your dreams involves just what you’d expect: Men wearing lederhosen and hoisting a giant pole while everyone quaffs good beer and makes merry, natch. Rather than a pole, though, try hoisting a stein as establishments of varying Deutsche-ness celebrate May Day.
In Midtown, head to Reichenbach Hall (5 West 37th Street) for a wide selection of German beer, food, and music. Alphabet City favorite Zum Schneider (107 Avenue C) will be spit-roasting a pig to go with Hofbräuhaus Maibock on special. Hofbräu Munich, Riegele, Gaffel, and Jever sponsor the day’s festivities at newcomer Arts and Crafts Beer Parlor (26 West 8th Street), where you can start drinking at noon. Even better — if you’re an employee of the German Mission to the UN, get 15 percent off all food and drink.
Saturdays & Sundays: Drink Craft Beer at Sea
Manhattan by Sail and Urban Oyster jointly host afternoon sails around New York Harbor on the old-fashioned tall ship Clipper City. Each weekend features a different New York craft brewery pouring five beers alongside tasty bites. Urban Oyster’s beer experts will lead you through the brews, explaining how to taste and understand them as part of the long history of boats and beer. Among the breweries featured in May are Captain Lawrence, Empire, and Astoria’s Single Cut.
Even if you can’t make it on a May day, the afternoon sails run all summer long. Kids are welcome and sail at a discount — although they’re not permitted to indulge, of course. Visit urbanoyster.com for tickets.
May 17: Judge Your Beer (and Wine)
Back in 1976, the “Judgement of Paris” rocked the wine world when a blind tasting revealed that California wines stood on par with the finest French vintages. Looking to recreate the effects of that momentous event, the Judgement of Brooklyn will ask a panel of critics to taste and evaluate 32 beers from Europe and the US with no information about their origins. A similar panel will evaluate wines, with all results made public at the main event on May 17. While enjoying food offerings from some of the borough’s restaurateurs, guests will have the chance to taste the same beers and wines as the critics, comparing their evaluations via an electronic voting system.
Representatives from Bierkraft, Spuyten Duyvil, the Diamond, and the Fourth Avenue Pub have selected the beers for judging in various categories: IPA, Lager/Pilsner, Saison/Farmhouse Ale, Pale Ale, Wheat/Wit, Stout/Porter, Imperial Stout/Strong Ale, and Sour/Gueuze. The panel of judges includes Jimmy Carbone, owner of Jimmy’s No. 43; certified cicerone and BJCP beer judge James Tai; certified cicerone Brendan Woodcock; and Elizabeth Zalarick, certified cicerone and buyer for Whole Foods Market.