A very hoppy Halloween is headed our way as the NYC Craft Beer Festival returns to the Lexington Armory in Midtown, beginning on the night of Friday, October 31. A $55 ticket gains you access to all the hops, malt, and yeast you can handle for 2.5 hours. And to celebrate the holiday in appropriate fashion, a costume contest will award cash prizes to the most garishly garbed participants in the crowd. The event continues into the weekend, with two more sessions offered on Saturday: from 2 to 4:30 p.m. and once again from 7 to 9:30 p.m.
On tap is a comprehensive assortment of microbrews from across the globe, some 150 in all. A special focus is placed on local offerings, so you can expect to see the usual suspects, such as Brooklyn Brewery, Sixpoint, and Captain Lawrence. But the fest also brings craft lovers face to face with some of the new kids on the block. Discovery and experimentation play a large part in the frivolity. Ever try the Field 2 Farmhouse Ale from Manhattan’s own Third Rail Beer? How about the Catskill Hop Harvest Ale from award-winning Gun Hill Brewing? Both small-batch offerings are on tap this weekend and worth seeking out.
The local concentration doesn’t come at the expense of faraway favorites, however, as the tap list is studded with a trove of beers from beyond the five boroughs. Standouts from Bay Area-based Almanac, Southern California’s sour-centric The Bruery, and Michigan’s favorite son, Bell’s, are but a few of the heavyweights certain to electrify the connoisseurs in attendance.
In addition to the countless pours, NYC Craft Beer Festival offers educational seminars for folks seeking to learn more about the suds filling their souvenir glasses. Prominent author Ben Keene, for example, hosts a class on the Northeastern craft renaissance, while certified cicerone James Tai offers insight into how to critically judge a style of beer. Prepare to extend those pinkies.
Tickets are still available on the fest’s website, along with a complete list of participating breweries. You can elevate yourself to VIP status for an additional $20, which includes an extra hour of tastings prior to the general-admission session — a total of 3.5 hours of beer-drinking. Trick or treat, indeed.