Apr. 27, 2014

TAP-NY, a beer and food festival held annually at Hunter Mountain, is one of my favorite beer events. This year, there were 78 brewers and well over 300 beers represented! Fantastic! All of the brewers are from New York State with the exception of just-over-the-border High Point Brewing from New Jersey. I am continally impressed by the quality of the brewers: some of my favorite beers are made here, including ones from Brewery Ommegang, Brooklyn Brewery, Empire Brewing Company, and Keegan Ales. Sadly missing from this year's lineup was Southern Tier Brewing Company, another outstanding brewer.

The setup is a two-day event, or you can come either Saturday or Sunday. Dan and I opted for the Sunday tickets; $65 gets you a 4 oz. glass which you can refill for free. Free food is also included, which I think is an incredibly sensible idea for keeping people's alcoholic intake under control. The crowd is diverse, with serious beer fans of every age—men and women. While there are rowdy hoots when the occasional glass gets dropped, it's really a well-behaved group of beer lovers.

It's like being in a candy store. You can't possibly visit every brewer, even if you go both days. And forget sampling each of the beers— that would be drinking the equivalent of over 100 bottles of beer! Our style was to wander from booth to booth sampling one beer at each.

Weather was factor. While it was partly sunny in the city, by the time we got to Hunter Mountain, the day had turned gray and quite cold. There were occasional sprinkles, but the real issues were the driving wind, lack of sun and 40° temps. At one point, we had to switch to the indoor booths because it was too hard to hold a cold glass in the outdoor tents! (Not to worry, we eventually made it back out there after a little warm-up!)

About halfway through the day, we got a text from Kevin, who attended both days. Kevin was "going regimental," which is to say he was wearing a stylish blue kilt that attracted a fair amount of attention from the festival goers!

As far as the beer goes, there were consistently good beers with few duds. My sense is that the quality of New York's brewers is ever-improving. I attended TAP in 2009, 2010 and 2011, and I have collected a few outstanding old favorites over the years well worth revisiting. These included Brown's Whisky Porter, Ommegang's Three Philosophers, Empire's White Aphro, Ithaca's Apricot Wheat and Keegan Ales' Mother's Milk Stout. Worth a special mention is Horseheads' Hot-Jala-Heim Beer, a chili beer made with Jalapeño and Anaheim peppers. At 7.2% ABV, it packs a bit of a kick, with a mildly-hot finish. The heat from the peppers is surprisingly well-balanced with the rest of the beer. Outstanding!

The other thing that impressed me was the number of new breweries since our last TAP-NY visit, including several in Westchester County, where I live. Some standouts: CB Craft Brewing's Joe Latte Vanilla Coffee Stout; what a perfect way to start the day off! I was really impressed by Broken Bow's Tuckahoe Stout; rich and satisfying, and so close to home, to boot! Dan had recently spent a week in Saratoga Springs and turned me on to Druther's Brewing's Simple Truth Barleywine; Nice finish and not too cloying—surpising for a barleywine. Even the Bronx was workin' it: Gun Hill Brewing showed off their quite respectable Thunder Dog Stout. One of the nicest brews from a new brewery was Crooked Ladder's Smoked Maple Rye Stout from Riverhead; The rye made this stout nicely exotic and the maple made it really tasty!

Can't wait for next year!

Hunter Mountain Resort
P.O. Box 295
Hunter, NY 12442

Kevin, Steve and Dan enjoying TAP-NY!

A cold, gray, day at Hunter Mountain.

List of Beers I Tried:

Brewery Beer
CB Craft Brewers
Honeoye Falls
Joe Latte Vanilla Coffee Stout
Wolf Hollow Brewing
West Glenville
Belgian Tripel
Rohrbach Brewing Co.
Vanilla Porter
Brown's Brewing Co.
Cask Whisky Porter
Broken Bow Brewery
Tuckahoe Stout
Druthers Brewing Co.
Sartoga Springs
Simple Truth Barleywine
Brooklyn Brewery
Hammarby Syndrome
Chatham Brewing
Maple Amber
Gilded Otter
New Paltz
Belgian Wit Kölsch
Horseheads Brewing
Hot-Jala-Heim Beer
Paradox Brewery
Schroon Lake
Paradox Belgian Tripel Ale
Gun Hill Brewing Co.
Thunder Dog Stout
Brewery Ommegang
Three Philosophers
Great Adirondack Brewing Co.
Lake Placid
Whiteface Stout
Crooked Ladder Brewing Co.
Smoked Maple Rye Stout
EmpireBrewing Co.
Empire White Aphro
Great South Bay Brewery
Bay Shore
Blood Orange Pale Ale
Great South Bay Brewery
Bay Shore
Scotch Ale
Keegan Ales
Mother's Milk Stout
Yonkers Brewing co.
Yonkers I.P.A.
Ithaca Beer Company
Apricot Wheat
Cave Mountain Brewing Co.
Jalapeño Wheat Ale