New York Craft Beer Week kicked off this past weekend and I could think of no better way to start it off then… to not be in Manhattan! Strange as it sounds, while the “mainland” (as I passionately refer to it) was offering up dozens of great events with hundreds of great beers, I could think of nothing better than to hop the ferry on the last warm day of summer and head out to Staten Island where a fledgling beer festival, the appropriately named Staten Island Brewfest, was flexing some serious muscle at its inaugural event.
Held at The Wild Goose, an Irish American pub just five minutes from the Ferry landing (or “The Boat” if your from S.I.) event coordinator John Cocozza crammed nearly 30 tap lines, a hombrewers competition, a band and a grill into the two floors and outdoor patio. Classics such as Keegan Ales Hurrican Kitty and Stone Ruination IPA poured against seasonal and premier offerings from Kuhnhenn, Founders, Kelso and more.
The Staten Island Brewfest had everything I like in a festival. It was not overcrowded, there was a good amount of brewers and representatives on hand to answer questions, lots of live music, a nice outdoor area and, of course, great beers. Included in that list was Cascade Brewing’s Kriek, probably the finest cherry sour being made in America today, Allagash’s Curieux – an incredibly smooth Jim Beam barrel-aged triple with strong vanilla, bourbon and coconut notes – and Bear Republic’s Ryevarlry, their NYC Craft Beer week special brew which tasted similar to their Hop Rod Rye but with a more citrus hop profile (note: I am yet to see this beer anywhere else).
The SI Brewfest Homebrewers Pavilion was a great opportunity for the casual beer drinker to learn how satisfying making your own beer can be (and taste.) Local brewer Andre Maiorana blew the competition away with his Chili-Chocolate Porter, a dark malty brew with dusty chocolate powder notes and the underlying heat of jalapeños. Also notable was the Double “Eye” PA from Mark Zappasodi of New Brighton Brewing, a homebrewer with aspirations of opening the first brewpub on the island. Overall this was a day of great beers and even better people. Thanks so much to the whole Wild Goose family and I hope to make it out to there pub again soon (perhaps for the next SI Brewfest!)
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