More Pumpkin Beer Than Anyone Ever Asked For at the Brooklyn Pour Festival
As budding journalists, something that we are finding out at a very rapid rate is that there is really a fine line that you have to walk when going to a beer event. This past weekend we were given the privilege of covering the annual Brooklyn Pour Craft Beer Fest, presented in its 6th year by the Village Voice. In similar fashion to the last article we wrote for our ever tolerant friends at Greenpointers, we underestimated the inherent conflict that would arise from trying to maintain our journalistic integrity while also sampling every beer vendor in attendance. So before we continue to how deep we got into the fest, let’s give you some raw stats about the event.
Brooklyn Pour focuses on highlighting small craft breweries and unique imported beers. All told, there were 58 different breweries in attendance from all over the country serving up over 125 craft brews. There seemed to be a focus on the Northeast, the reason for which is because we make the best beer (Step off, centuries old breweries from Germany.)
Boring info out of the way, let’s get to the breakdown of our experience at the expo. What follows is a timeline of our decent into trying to take on the biggest craft beer festival in the Northeast, and failing miserably.
2:00 pm: We arrived wide-eyed at the Brooklyn Expo Center. With no press credentials whatsoever except for a camera and a notebook, we shot right to the front of the line full of eagerly awaiting craft beer fans. This was off to a great start.
2:01 pm: Got our super cool little tasting glasses. “These are so small!” we thought. “We will most certainly be able to try every beer here!” How deceptive these glasses were in retrospect.
2:05 pm: After a quick spin around the Expo Center, we decided to go to the most important booth right at the top of the day: the Polar Seltzer booth. The kind man working there was somewhat taken aback by our enthusiasm, and probably didn’t expect us to be able to (nor wanted to) hear us name every store in Greenpoint which sold Polar Seltzer. We took a lot of swag from this booth. More than we should have.
2:10 pm: We devised our strategy – while we obviously couldn’t try EVERY beer, we could at least hit every vendor. Ultimately, this still proved impossible.
2:11 pm: First booth up was the Brooklyn Brewshop. These guys don’t actually make beer, we found out quickly, but sell beer-making kits. The suds that we sampled were some of the products that a homebrew hopeful could make in their own house. We also entered to win one of the kits. (UPDATE: we didn’t win one of these kits.)
2:15 pm: Got to the Third Rail Beer booth. These guys are based in New York City through a process called gypsy brewing, where a relatively young brewery will use an already established facility until they become large enough to have their own. (Side note: is the word ‘gypsy’ offensive now? Maybe they should find a new term.)
2:20 pm: Arrived excitedly at the Big Alice Brewing booth. This brewery is based at 8-08 43rd Road in Long Island City and came to the fest with some of their unusual concoctions, such as a jalapeño beer and a sweet potato beer. They also explained that the name of the brewery was derived from the nickname given to a group of smokestacks originally owned by the Allis-Chalmers Corporation in LIC. New York history facts for the win.
2:27 pm: Had our first of several very bad pumpkin spice beers. This first one came from Two Roads Brewing Co out of Stratford, CT, who despite serving us this autumnal monstrosity, had some other really great brews. It’s a scientific fact that pumpkin spice can never taste good in beer form. There was a whole episode of Nova about it.
2:30 pm: Rounding the first leg of the fest (about ten tables in), we slid up to the Empire Brewing Company booth. This Syracuse native served up one of our favorite beers of the day, the White Aphro which had a mix of lemon and lavender flavors and was a welcome palate cleanser after that P-Spice mess. (Authors note: It’s cool to see how bad my notes got this early in the day. It already went from full sentences to just words at this point.)
2:45 pm: Realizing that things were getting rough quickly because we hadn’t eaten in a while, we attempted to get into the VIP area where they were serving food. The very large but very nice gentleman at the door kindly informed us that green press level wristbands weren’t good enough to taste the crisp air of the VIP room.
2:46 pm: Went back to the press check-in table to ask if we could have VIP bracelets too.
2:47 pm: Strolled into the VIP room with our shiny new red VIP bracelets. The man at the door was nonplussed.
3:00 pm: We heartily sampled some Cabot cheese as we gave the nice ladies manning the booth some Greenpoint bar recommendations. We then rolled up to the VIP exclusive beer vendor: Blue Point Brewing Company out of Long Island. Their RastafaRye was another one of our favorites of the day. We also won a Frisbee from this booth.
3:05 pm: Left the VIP and saw that the general admission crowd started to pour in. A bunch of people were walking around with pretzel necklaces, which we discovered, to our dismay, were not for sale.
3:06 pm: Slid (see: stumbled) up to the Brooklyn Brewery booth, expecting to try a few beers we had tasted in the past. We were pleasantly surprised when the rep busted out their Tripel Burner beer, which was brewed in white wine barrels. This was possibly the best beer of the day. Also, Jackson was wearing a Brooklyn Brewery hat and we got special keychains because of that.
3:25 pm: Things started to really take a turn at the Captain Lawrence booth. We had hit about half the tables at this point and realized that continuing on was going to be hazardous to our health. These guys were also trying their hand at a pumpkin spice beer which turned out to be one of the better ones at the fest. We decided the only way to finish out the day was to try all the rest of the pumpkin spice beers, then bounce.
3:30 pm: Stopped at the Grady’s booth for some coffee. Turned out there was booze in it. Did the opposite of help.
3:40 pm: Tried all the rest of the pumpkin spice beers at the Expo Center. All told, seven brave souls attempted to turn one of the worst food trends into a beer, and here they are ranked in order of tastiness (Authors note: remember that all these beers are starting out tasting worse than most. No amount of acting like pumpkins are somehow badass helps either):
3:45 pm: Left the festival full of regret that we decided to end our time there on such a bad note. At least we had the memories of the good times, and more beer company swag than we could possibly know what to do with. On our way out we attempted to play some of the games they had outside. Our inability to balance very well prevented us from looking cool to the strangers who we played with.
All in all, we feel proud that we almost made it to the two-hour mark. Our biggest take away for future festival goers to remember is the following: hit the places that are new and exciting. If you get bogged down trying to taste everything, you will end up sipping a lot of pumpkin and miss some of the more amazing beers that the festival has to offer. Maybe next year we will make one of those pretzel necklaces. Those people seemed like pros.