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Savannah Craft Brew Fest – Part 2 of 3 – The Grand Tasting

Savannah Craft Brew FestBack to Savannah we go!

It’s difficult to recap an entire weekend long festival and do it justice in one single post. Hopefully you had a chance to read Part 1, but if you have not, I suggest you link back to the post here before continuing forward!

Upon waking up on Saturday morning, I realized and finally understood how hot Georgia could get. It was the beginning of September at 9AM in the morning and the temperature already reached 90 degrees. And it was crazy humid!

But absolutely nothing was going to stop us from today’s activity: the Craft Brew Grand Tasting!

Savannah River FerryBecause all of the weekend’s events occurred on the Hutchinson Island, we jumped on the free ferry to take us on a quick 20 minute boat ride across the Savannah River. The short ride over gave us the opportunity to scope out the river front as well as the grounds for the Craft Beer Fest from the middle of the water.

What a great opportunity for a few pictures! The views were truly spectacular. In addition to the aforementioned sights, we also had breathtaking views of the Talmadge Memorial Bridge and another chance to snap a few pictures of enormous cargo ships which are a regular sight on the river.

Festival Grounds on Hutchinson IslandWhen we arrived on Hutchinson Island, we walked around the grounds to orient ourselves with the layout of the festival. A pretty straight forward format allowed us to easily get acclimated prior to our first event at 11AM: a discussion with John Pinkerton, one of the owners and brewers at Moon River Brewery (see Part 1 of our experience at the brewery).

John Pinkerton Guest SpeakerThe hour long discussion with Pinkerton touched on various topics including Moon River History, Georgia beer politics, and how to taste new beer. Furthermore, John spent a substantial amount of time on questions from home brewers discussing beer gravity, yeast selection, and the importance of line sterilization. Being new to the concepts of brewing, it was an entertaining and very informative session.

After listening to John speak, it was time for the main event, the Grand Tasting!

As I mentioned before, the outside festival had a standard beer festival layout with a number of tents each housing six breweries of the total 48 present (click here for a list of participating brewers).

Sampling Glasses Ready for Pick-upThe random order (or what seemed to be random) of the breweries helped patrons “explore” and find new breweries they might have not tried before. For those with a previous knowledge of which beers they wanted to sample, a beautiful color printed guide showed the location of each brewery in relation to the festival grounds.

The Grand Tasting in Full SwingThe vibe at the Grand Tasting was extremely relaxed as people shuffled between breweries trying new products. A large number of breweries that I’ve had the opportunity to try before made the Fest seem more homely and local. Our friends from Weyerbacher represented the northeast very well with a sampling of Double Simcoe, Merry Monks and Blithering Idiot.

Being that it is one of my favorite breweries, I spent extra time at the Terrapin tent trying out their highly hop infused products like Big Hoppy Monster and Hopsecutioner. I even scored a sweet Terrapin t-shirt showcasing the Terrapin Hopsecutioner turtle on the back and words “Killer IPA” on the front!

We tried a substantial amount of new beers, and as with most craft beer festivals, I decided on a few that stood out to me:

  • Thomas Creek: Conduplico Immundus Monachus – A Belgian Strong Dark Ale weighing in at 10% ABV with dark fruit and roasty characteristics (I went back for a few samples of this one!)
  • Uinta: Cockeyed Cooper – Keeping in with the strong and heavy, this 11.1% Barleywine had amazing bourbon hints and was very creamy!
  • Cigar City: Cubano Espresso (Maduro Oatmeal Brown Ale) – A downgrade in terms of strength, this was an extremely fun and tantalizing brown ale clocking in at 5.5% ABV. A ton of coffee flavor mixed with a light feel made this one susceptible to quickly running out!

In addition to plenty of beer to sample during the five hour long Grand Tasting, there were a number of “Beer Talks” including “The History of Women in Brewing”, a discussion with Jodi and Eddie Stoudt of Stoudt’s Brewing Company and your favorite Twitter bug, Gerad Walen (@RoadTrips4Beer), chatting about “Road Trips for Beer Made Easier”.

Anchor Brewing TentThere was plenty of delicious beer festival food like soft pretzels, french fries and chicken sandwiches. At one point, Amy from @SavCraftBrew started a tweet contest asking the first person with a pretzel necklace to tweet a picture to win some sweet swag.

Unfortunately, we did not bring a pretzel necklace – but that wasn’t going to stop us. Being the innovative and creative people that we are, we improvised. Our winning entry consisted of a long soft pretzel bought at the vendor stand attached to plastic beads we found at the Abita tent! Creativity = A+!

Grand Tasting EventOverall, the Grand Tasting was a fantastic American Craft Beer festival that showcased 48 different breweries from different parts of the country. Being that the northeast has limited distribution of southern breweries, I was extremely happy to sample the likes of RJ Rockers, Duck Rabbit and the three “winners” I noted above.

Fearing a backlash of ferry demand towards the end of the festival, we hightailed away from the plethora of beer about an hour early to find ourselves on a practically empty ferry heading back to our hotel. What a fun filled and successful craft beer day!

Come back tomorrow for Part 3: the International Craft Brew Tasting or keep scrolling or click for Part 1 if you haven’t read it!

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NYC on the Craft Beer Map – Z’s Suggestions for @nycbeerweek!

NY Craft Beer Week LogoSince I had my last birthday party at the Brooklyn Brewery, my friends frequently ask about different beer events and happenings around the NJ and NYC area.

To those friends and many more: the NY Craft Beer Week kicks off tomorrow!

I’m a bit surprised it took me this long to blog about it, but quite honestly, there has been a lot going on this week. My sincerest apologies – the good news is that the 10-day extravaganza will not end until next Sunday, September 25th giving you plenty of time to imbibe new craft beers from across the country.

The organizers of the events (@nycbeerweek) have put together a “beer passport” which provides you with a $3 pint glass of the craft beer (typically $6 – $7) at select bars participating in the Beer Week. Check out NY Craft Beer Week Passport information here.

“But there are so many options! What should I do? Which event should I attend?!” you might be asking yourself.

Don’t fret – an overwhelming amount of events is typically the norm during festivals, beer weeks, and special events. Rest assured that there are no wrong choices.

You will find everything from tap takeovers, dinner pairings, seminar type events, and even super secret stashes of very rare brews to sample (you’ll have to get a little lucky, right place at the right time kind of thing, to experience these).

I traversed the week long event calendar and picked out a few of my favorites. I will do my best to attend these events, but as with most things beer related, game time decisions are standard! Also traveling Monday through Thursday might make it a bit more difficult.

Z Marks the Spot(s) – Suggestions for NY Craft Beer Week

Friday, September 16th
Mudville – 126 Chambers St, @Mudville9NYC
Left Hand Brewery
From the Rockies to your pint glass – try the Fade to Black Stout from this Colorado based brewery.

Saturday, September 17th (concert)
The Gibson – 11th St and Bedford, Brooklyn, thegibsonnyc.com
Uinta Brewery
Look for the Cockeyed Cooper Barleywine from this Salt Lake City brewery – amazing!

Sunday, September 18th (brunch)
Taproom 307 – 307 3rd Ave, @Taproom307
Empire Brewery
A northeast brewery out of Syracuse, NY – pride of New York! Ever had a Fruit Beer? No, go for the Deep Purple. Stop by and say Hi to Hayley – this girl knows her beer!

Monday, September 19th
The Stag’s Head – 252 E 51st, at 2nd Ave, @TheStagsHead
Allagash Brewery
You’ve probably had their “White” flagship witbier – but the brewery has so much more to offer! Just ask @kellywtoutsound! Be on the look out for Victor, Victoria and Interlude.

Tuesday, September 20th
Amity Hall – 80 W 3rd St, at Thompson St, @TheHalfPintNYC
Brewery Ommegang
Two great things about Cooperstown New York – Baseball Hall of Fame and this brewery! Hennepin is found frequently around the city, so look for Rare Vos and Three Philosophers.

Wednesday, September 21st (dinner)
Colicchio & Sons – 85 10th Ave, between W 15th and 16th St, @Colicchio_Sons
Six Point Brewery
Another great brewery from Brooklyn – be on the look out for Sweet Action and their recently brewed Autumation, in “nanokegs” now!

Thursday, September 22nd
Banter – 132 Havemeyer St at South 1st Street, Brooklyn, banterbrooklyn.com
Founders Brewery
Immediately upon arrival proceed directly to the bar and ask for KBS… enough said, trust me.

Thursday, September 22nd (cause’ two choices means twice the fun!)
Rattle N’ Hum Craft Bar – 33rd St, between 5th and Madison, @RattleNHumBar
Stone Brewing Company
The standard in craft beer – oh, and CEO / crazy dude Greg Koch will be there – honestly, it’s worth coming out just to see him, I’ve heard great things about Greg.

Friday, September 23rd
Rye House – 11 W 17th St, between 5th and 6th, @ryehousenyc
Rye Beer Night
This one is a shout-out to my buddy Os (@NJBeerNerd) who keeps rye ale always stocked!

Saturday, September 24th
Guilty Goose – 131 W 23rd St, between 6th and 7th, @guiltygoose
Goose Island
You might have seen the Chicago originated “Goose Island IPA” around – now try the rest of their delicious crafts. Be on the look out for Matilda!

Sunday, September 25th
Rattle N’ Rum Craft Bar – 33rd St, between 5th and Madison, @RattleNHumBar
Rare Ass Beer Brunch N Bruzzer
I think this one speaks for itself!

NY Craft Beer Week Logo 2Check out the NY Craft Beer Week website for a full list of the events!

In keeping with the spirit of the craft beer community, a number of breweries have brewed special concoctions for this eventful week.

I recently received a tweet from Southern Tier (@stbcbeer) brewery which noted that their 5 Boroughs Belgian Pale Ale has been specifically brewed for the NY Craft Beer Week (location and availability TBD!).

Makers of Pumking (see my previous post); this New York brewery makes fantastically enjoyable craft beer.  Seek out this gem of an ale out and let me know what you think!

What are your plans for NY Craft Beer Week and what events are you excited to attend?