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Hopping a weekend train north to White Plains is a tough sell to many New Yorkers. But for beer enthusiasts, it’s a short journey worth considering this Saturday afternoon. One of Westchester’s largest craft beer festivals is coming to the County Center (198 Central Avenue, White Plains; 914-995-4050) in the form of the Big Brew NY Beer Festival. Tapping upwards of 250 brews from 5 until 8:30 p.m., the event features a heavy focus on the suds of the Tri-State.
General-admission tickets, priced at $70, can be upgraded to VIP for $25 more, adding an extra hour of tasting, along with admittance to an all-cask lounge. If you appreciate or are even aware of a difference between keg and cask, it’s certainly not a bad deal. (Less so for folks just enjoying whatever is poured into their take-home “souvenir” glasses.)
Either way, it’s hard to go wrong at a craft beer festival, particularly one of this magnitude. With limitless tastings, there’s never any shame in pouring out some inferior offerings. And that presents a perfect forum in which to explore expressions not easily available, like the Bourbon County Barleywine from Goose Island, or the Hop’deded Double IPA from Brooklyn’s own Other Half Brewing. Doubtful that anyone would dare waste a drop from those guys.
Connoisseurs will also appreciate limited-release one-offs like Brooklyn Brewery’s Quadraceratops, a 10 percent Belgian-style Quad brewed with dark candi sugar, and the Unorthodox Russian Imperial Stout from Two Roads Brewing. Not to be forgotten, the increasingly popular cider-loving crowd will be catered to with a number of apple-based beverages — the dry varieties of Long Island’s Wolffer Estate are noteworthy among them.
A limited selection of food will be provided by Handsome Devil BBQ and The Cow and the Curd, who promise a variety of Wisconsin-based cheeses. VIPs get to enjoy beer-infused dishes from Tuckahoe-based Broken Bow Brewery. Slim pickings, it would seem, but certainly the type of fare that fits into an evening of prolonged beer guzzling.
In addition to the great NYC breweries on tap at Big Brew, the location’s proximity to Metro-North makes it an ideal weekend excursion. The White Plains stop on the Harlem Line is an easy, well-lit two minute walk from the steps of the County Center. Round trip from Grand Central will set you back $17. Given the steep price of a pint these days, you could drink that off within your first ten minutes at the festival, depending on how thirsty you are. So if you’re looking for a reasonable escape from the city this weekend, and you love craft beer, file Big Brew Fest at the top of your to-do list.