This past weekend, thousands of thirsty New Yorkers stormed the Lexington Avenue Armory for a massive beer festival. The NYC Craft Beer Festival – Summer International featured more than 75 breweries pouring over 100 beers and ciders. While there was a robust showing of New York and other domestic craft brewers, the thrice-yearly festival focused this iteration on international beer.
Attendees enjoyed unlimited pours from around the world, including the UK (Fullers, Wychwood, Samuel Smith, Thistly Cross Cider); Ireland (Porterhouse, O’Hara’s); Germany (Jever, Warsteiner, Hofbräuhaus, Mönchshof); and Belgium (Blanche de Bruxelles, Lucifer, St-Feuillien, Westmalle). Craft offerings from closer to home included Weyerbacher, Cisco Brewers, Upstate Brewing Company, Anthem Brewing Company, Blue Mountain Brewery, Butternuts, and Left Hand Brewing Company, among many others. Proceeds from the night benefited the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
Those wanting to delve more deeply into brewing geekery could attend seminars led by Raphael Lyon of Enlightenment Wines and Chris Cuzme of 508 Gastrobrewery. The festival also provided a “Craft Concierge” booth (described as “Ghostbusters for beer” by writer and comedian Ethan Fixell), staffed by cicerones and other beer experts available to answer questions and make recommendations.
The Craft Concierge center also offered a Malt and Hops Sense Lab run by Joe Callender, a writer and “craft beer coach.” His app, Brewhorn, allows users to build personal taste profiles based around the beers they enjoy and then compare their custom profile to thousands of different brews to determine how much those beers match the user’s preferences. The Sense Lab acted as a supplement to the app, providing users with a better understanding of the constituent parts of beer. Attendees could smell several hop varieties and taste four different kinds of malted barley before trying a beer brewed with the same ingredients. “When a new consumer walks into a beer store and looks at that wall of craft beer, they get intimidated — there’s so many choices now,” Callender says. “The idea behind this is to get them to first understand their own palate and to empower them and make them more confident.”
The NYC Craft Beer Festival – Summer International hosted three sessions on Friday and Saturday. Click through to see more photos from Friday night’s tasting session.