This has a been a crazy year of attending craft beer events. From home brew competitions to huge beer festivals, I got to taste many new beers I have never had before, as well as meet many great fellow craft beer fans. Of all the events that I attending this year, two stand out for me.
Belgium Comes to Cooperstown (BCTC) is one of the largest (if not the largest) Belgium beer event in the United States. Nearly 3000 people descend upon Ommegang Brewery in Cooperstown, New York the week-end of August 8th and 9th to enjoy hundreds of beers from over 70 different breweries. This was my second year attending this event and I’m glad I came back.
While most of the breweries focus on bringing their Belgian style beers such as saisons, tripels, sours, Belgian IPAs, and Flander reds, many took the opportunity to showcase off their other beers. Some of which were complete one offs available only at this event.
One of those special beers was served by Dogfish Head. They were pouring their Festina Pêche, a Berliner Weiss, through a randall of Sour Patch Kids candy and fresh raspberries. A sugar bomb in a glass, this was actually not so sweet that it wasn’t drinkable. But one taste was enough.
One of the biggest reason this event is always great is that everyone there is nice and respectful of each other. No craft beer assholes trying to trying to drink up all the good stuff and very few annoying drunks stumbling around. There is also plenty of room for all the drinkers on the Ommegang grounds. Good food selection, free bottles of water, and plenty of facilities. Also this event is great because my friend’s father lives close by where half a hog and a giant bonfire were waiting for us to help soak up a day of great beer drinking.
The second event that I had an amazing time at was a Ghost Bottle event hosted by world renown Brewmaster Garrett Oliver at Other Half Brewing. This was a very small event limited to the first 50 people who could get there. So with this bit of information I thought the event would be a crazy madhouse of beer nerds trying to cut in line and hog bottles. To my complete surprise, this event was not crowded at all. Perhaps 40 people were in attendance and everyone was very polite and friendly. The best part of all, the event was completely free!
For those who don’t know, the term “ghost bottle” is applied to bottled beers that are usually brewing experiments not meant for public release. These beers are reserved for the brewery’s workers consumption, but once in a while they get released into the wild for public tastings.
Garrett Oliver brought six different ghost bottles from his own collection in the cellars of the Brooklyn Brewery:
– Gambit: This is Brooklyn Brewery’s Sorachi Ace beer that was been aged in Cognac Puncheons with blackberries and wild yeast.
– Cuvee De La Crochet Rouge Rose: Brooklyn Brewery’s Local 1 aged in bourbon barrels with Pinot Noir lees from the Red Hook Winery.
– Gawain: The Local 1 is used here again, aged in bourbon barrels with Sauvignon Blanc lees.
– Wild Horse Porter: a 100% Brett fermented porter.
– K is for Kriek: This uses Brooklyn Brewery’s Local 2 fermented with 20 lbs of cherries. Then this is bottled conditioned for 2 years. Apparently this beer will be commercially available in 2015.
– Hand & Seal: An English style Barley wine that has been aged in Four Roses bourbon wood. Originally a ghost bottle beer, this beer is now part of Brooklyn Brewery’s BQE Series and is available in stores.
I’ve attended many events hosted by Garrett Oliver, but at this event I finally got a chance to talk with him a bit. One of the nicest and funniest guys in the beer industry. Also people brought their own bottles and shared them with the crowd. Other Half is a great place to share bottles with people.
There have been other great events this year such as Barcade’s 10th Anniversary, Brooklyn Pour Fest, the various beer tasting classes at Top Hops, Japanese Craft Beer tasting at Japan Society, and many other blurry nights. I am looking forward to all the great events that await me in 2015!!!