Looking for a place to sip on your favorite craft beers while devouring some delicious bar food? Look no further than New York City Craft Beer Festival. This event took place at the historical Lexington Armory; a landmark that fit the bill of an armory with stock piles of weapons and glass framed army uniforms filling the space. On March 25 & 26, the Armory was a battlefield for hundreds of beer thirsty mongers, then their weapon of choice was a two-ounce souvenir glass. Armed with the glass, guests had unlimited access to more than 175 brews from across the country.
A huge perk of being the press is that I was treated like a VIP ticket holder which means that I got to arrive an hour earlier and skip the general admissions line which was wrapped around the block. I highly recommend the VIP tickets for those who are looking to attend this event in the future because they save so much hassle and there is a VIP only section which significantly beats the GA crowd. Once I was settled, and with the all-powerful glass in my hand, I began my own tour into beer heaven.
One thing I learned right off the bat is that you need to have a blueprint to get the most out of a beer tasting. Every vendor you go to will fill your glass up all the way, and I was foolish enough to actually finish them. After about 15 beers, I was feeling kind of full, and realized how big of a mistake that was. Finish only half of your glass, trust me, and do not feel bad because you are there to try as many flavors as possible.
One of my favorite things about the whole experience was definitely the Cocktail Guru Lounge which featured Jonathan Pogash as the Guru serving up cocktails mixed with beer. I tried all four of the “Hop-Tails” and each one of them was delicious. This guy really knew what he was doing.
A funny thing happened at the VIP area which I would feel remiss if I did not share. While I was walking around to each table sampling every beer I could, I happened upon a table with the sign “Free Will”. With a name like that; I had to have a taste. I kindly asked the man behind the counter for a sample, and he replied “I wish I could, but I cannot open the bottle because it’s blocked by a cork”. Ironically, a beer called “Free Will” was not so willing to be tried.
Once I was finished with all the tastes in the VIP area, I went upstairs to sample rest of the pack. At first the lines looked very hectic as this was the general admissions crowd, but honestly, it was not bad at all, rarely did I have to wait more than a minute in any of the lines.
Besides the walls of beer stands, there was also food in this area. They had a number of very interesting beer foods like jerky, and bacon jams, both of which I tried and loved. Remember to bring cash if you want to grab a bite, because most of the food vendors are cash only. Overall, it was a great night of fun, the only thing I do regret is not bringing an extra friend. I had way too many good beers to name. Would I do this festival again? Without a doubt, and I will bring a crowd of people with me next time. Whether you are a casual or avid beer drinker, you will leave the festival much more appreciative of craft beer.
Cheers to the hoppy weekend. Till next time!
Special Thanks to Hand Crafted Tasting Co.