NYC Craft Beer Festival Halloween Harvest

STONE:holy shit. amazing barley wine. caramel.

This past October 31st was the NYC Craft Beer Festival Autumn Harvest. This particular beer festival was made even more fun because guests were encouraged to wear costumes. I went as Captain America! I checked in my mighty shield and went off to taste beer with the false belief that a super soldier serum would prevent intoxication. Again, I wasn’t able to try everything. There’s just too much. Consider that a plus and a negative. Time moves too fast even with a VIP admission which grants you an extra hour. Before I get into my top 10 let me write a few words about craft beer enthusiasts: You guys are just the best. I approached several of you to pose for some possibly blurry pictures and you guys just went with it. Its a true joy to drink with people that know their beer. That is why we have these events. For most of us, these aren’t new beers or even new styles but we go for the friendly interaction with other like minded adults. Compared to the Summer Session, the Autumn Harvest’s Connoisseur lounge had a larger beer selection; which is good. Sadly, there wasn’t any of that free food being passed around. If there was food and I missed it, well then that sucks. With it being Fall, the styles ranged from saisons, stouts and malty ales. Behold my top 10.

10.Finback Brewery: Double Sess(ion): 4.8 ABV: A beer that is said to be “filled with ginger, szechuan peppercorns, and chamomile.” Well I don’t know about all of that. I do know that this beer drinks easy and has  complex aftertaste. Usually a spiced beer has a too many cooks issue where each ingredient wrecks the others. That isn’t the case here. Also, It’s great to see Finback at this event!

9.Otter Creek Brewing/Wolavers: Alta Gracia Coffee Porter: 5 ABV: This was an interesting beer. I was very impressed by Wolavers offerings from the Summer Session. I took one sip of this beer and I hated it. Then I took a second sip and thought about it. It tastes a bit like  cup of cold brew coffee. Well duh, its a coffee porter. The coffee taste is prevalent, i just wish it was  bit sweeter.

8.Stevens Point Brewery: JP Casper White Stout: 6 ABV: If you are me or at least like me; you read the label and thought “whahh?!?!? a stout..but..white?” So yea, its got white chocolate flavoring and its fantastic. Its a fun drink. You don’t expect the taste based on the color. Do try this beer at least once. Definetly get it in  flight if you can. The taste is borderline novelty and i fear it may wear out if drunk in a larger serving size.

7.Bell’s Brewery: Double Cream Stout: 6.10 ABV: I can see myself drinking a lot of this beer. Like I will actively go out to buy it. It isn’t as creamy as I would have hoped. That’s because this beer is actually lactose free. Drink it as a great smooth stout. Not very sweet but still deal of flavor.

6.Finback Brewery: Moby Hop: 8.2 ABV: Yea! Finback gets the list twice! Queens represent! Hey! Who snuck a hoppy IPA into my Fall beer extravaganza?Who cares! IPAs re great. Its not a fad, its not a lifestyle, its a conscious choice to have a beer that packs mighty hop flavor. This particular brew is smooth on the bitterness and drinks easy. 8.2% may not be considered “high” for some of us seasoned veterans but its still rather up there. You barely taste it in this beer! So drink up!

5.Tröegs Brewing Company: Tröegs Java Head Stout: 7.5 ABV: Oh yea! now we are talking! This stout has it all! Creamy? CHECK! Chocolate? CHECK! Coffee? Oh CHECK yea! Say hello to the all day stout. Good fit for brunch and dessert. Drink it during dinner because its awesome.

4.Flying Dog Brewery: Gonzo imperial Porter: 9.2 ABV: I love this brewery. They make one of my favorite double IPAs and this porter is another example of their amazing skill. This one is  bit boozy but it really compliments the taste. I always found that a smidge of alcohol burn balances out the darker malts. Had I avoided the Connoisseur lounge; this beer would probably be my number 1.

3.Cricket Hill Brewing Co: ??? Unnamed Belgian: ?? ABV: No name, unknown alcohol content. Found this beauty in the fancy pants lounge. It tastes like it has at least 8.5% ABV. Its not too strong and its a mighty fine Abbey. You get the dark fruits and its rather sweet. This was my first time trying beer from this brewery and consider my interest piqued(not peaked, I looked it up!).

2.Cricket Hill Brewing Co: Unnamed Pumpkin: ??? ABV: Cricket Hill continues their aura of mystery by serving this unnamed pumpkin ale. I wanted to call it Jack-O-Lantern of All Trades and the guy serving it didn’t seem to argue so thats what I kept calling it. It just may be the best pumpkin ale I’ve ever had. I was ready to drop pumpkin ales and move to just pumpkin stouts but this lil’ darling just rejuvenated my passion. The spices are balanced and its malty. You walk out drinking  a pumpkin pie.

**Drum Roll**

1.Stone Brewing Co: Old Guardian Barley Wine Style: 11 ABV: Of course Stone would win this thing! These guys had  pretty wide selection that they paired marvelously with chocolates. The chocolates were a great addition since they were the only free food available. This beer is why we drink craft beer. Its the beer you give your friend who sips  Bud Light and says he hates beer. This sucker is more like wine and fine liquor in terms of complexity and enjoyability. Low carbonation, but heavy on malt. Rich caramels fill your mouth instantly and dance against your tongue and throat. I salute this beer even if it lead to me losing my shield.

So, that’s my top 10. I enjoyed many other beers and there were some that I didn’t care for. My top 10 are beers that I’ll look to try again. Its hard to walk into these festivals with a shopping list. The energy in the venue is almost as intoxicating as the beers you sample. Go for the crowd. If you aren’t a fan of crowds, then by all means go to your local beer shop and buy some bottles and sample them.  I love the NYC Craft Beer Festival. I recommend going to every seasonal offering.

Remember to like NYC Craft Beer Festival on Facebook.

Got a a beer recommendation? Fell free to leave it in the comments!