In the past, Dan and I only came up for Saturday's tasting session. Kevin had come for both days last year, so this year Dan and I stayed at a pricey (but charming) B&B for Saturday night. The room was laughably tiny, but it was worth it. The tasting sessions are four hours long, so having a second day allowed us a night to prepare and another chance to try everything that sounded even half good. By the time we left Sunday afternoon, I felt completely satisfied that I'd tried everything I wanted to.
The best part about attending the Sunday tasting session is that, while busy, it wasn't as crowded as it had been on Saturday. Everything felt very relaxed and serious beer tasting ensued. If I had to come for only one day, I would definitely come on a Sunday next time. For one thing, a lot of beers that had tapped out on Saturday were available on Sunday. One excellent example of this was Kelso of Brooklyn's Recessionator Doppelbock. I tried to snag one of these Saturday, right before the awards and they had run out. On Sunday, it was the first beer I went for and it's Bourbon-aged malty excellence did not disaapoint!
It had good company. Most of the cask-aged beers were well worth trying. I was able to garner another taste of Keegan's fantastic Bourbon-aged Mother's Milk. Great South Bay Brewery (Bay Shore, LI) offered their beautifully balanced Marauder Bourbon-aged Scotch Ale. Brown's Brewing of Troy brought their smooth and seductive Barrel-aged Whiskey Porter again this year.
In contrast, a nice surprise was the simple and clean Heifer-Weisse from Cortland Brewing. Unlike the typical Hoegaarden-style hefeweissen flavored with coriander and orange peel, or even Empire Brewing's fabulous White Aphro (flavored with ginger and lemon peel), the folks at Cortland brew their hefeweissen without adjuncts. All of the flavor comes directly from the Belgian yeast they use. It tasted complexly fruity and yeasty, but really clean! Try it if you can.
Having tried everything we desired, Kev and I capped the brewfest with a chairlift ride up to the summit of Hunter Mountain. Great views and a nice way to wrap it up. Definitely a great time! Can't wait for next year!
Check out Sunday's Tasting Notes for a list of the beers I tried and what I thought of them.