By Eric Sturniolo and Andrew
To close out NYC Beer Week 2014, we ventured to the Lexington Armory for the NYC Craft Beer Festival. With 75 breweries and over 150 different beers to taste, we had our work cut out for us. We started in the Connoisseurs Lounge, where great passed appetizers put some much needed food in our stomachs before we tried some extremely hard to find beers. There were a lot of epic Founders offerings, including Bolt Cutter, Sweet Repute, Kentucky Breakfast Stout, and Smoked Porter. Of those, the KBS is absolutely mind blowing, with strong bourbon, coffee, chocolate and vanilla notes. The smoked porter was also great. It had pretty intense charred wood and even smoked meat flavors. A first thought after sipping was ‘bacon bits’. We were also lucky to have Goose Island Bourbon County Coffee Stout, and Jolly Pumpkin La Roja.
Upstairs in the main room, breweries from a few miles away to across the country were represented. Locally, our favorites were Defiant, Carton, and Grimm (more on them below). The rest of the floor had standards like Cigar City, Bear Republic, Allagash, Bell’s, and Otter Creek. Otter Creek, from Vermont, provided the first surprise of the night with their new pale lager Citra Mantra. The strong fruit and bitterness from the hops is tempered perfectly by the bready malts.
The biggest surprise of the night came from a tiny, local brewery neither of us had heard of (a hard thing to do to two beer nerds), Grimm Artisanal Ales. Owners Joe and Lauren Carter Grimm experiment with homebrews at their Gowanus apartment, choose their favorite recipes, then rent out space in existing breweries to brew and bottle. A brewery literally made up of two people. Besides the great story, the beer is amazing. They were serving their new Cassiopeia Porter and Golden Hour Saison, both are must tries.
The festival was crowded but not packed, and I didn’t stand on any lines for beer. The lack of lines, generous pours, cool building, and good beer have us excited for the next one!