We'd been planning this for a year.
Ever since the last TAP-NY! event, we been jonesing to return to Hunter Mountain for another big helping of New York State craft brewer's best beers. Well, actually, only Kevin got it together to get a room up there and stay for the full two-day event. The rest of us settled for the awesomely incredible day-trip. We were joined again by Dan's co-worker and Facebook Fan, Alfred, who agreed to be our DD for the ride back.
The U.S.S. TAP arrived in Westchester early on this warm April day with Dan and David on board. Al soon arrived, and we headed up the Taconic State Parkway. A quick pit stop in the lovely Roosevelt State Park, and in no time we were crossing the mighty Hudson on our way to the Catskills.
We had bought tickets ahead of time and arrived before the gates opened, so we were able to get in line early. Kevin showed up and introduced us to his co-worker, Noël. The crowd was buzzing with excitement as we waited for the gates to open and let us in! You might think the crowd would all be middle-aged bald-headed men. It's really amazing how wide a range of people are drawn to an event of this type. There were young couples, elderly couples, groups of college friends, drinking clubs, you name it—people of all stripes and colors—only no one under 21, of course!
Sure, it was pretty crowded, but everybody seemed to be having a good time. You might spend five minutes waiting in line, but the outcome was always a glorious taste of draft brewski. That was certainly enough to "draw" me to TAP!
The event was well-run. My one complaint is that there seemed to less food offered than there was last year. Given the $60 ticket price, it's in everyone's interest to keep the drinkers fed from time-to-time. In addition to the 35-plus brewers represented, there were also ancillary vendors selling everything from gourmet nuts to beeraphrenalia (glasses, barware, Bar signs, etc.) to BBQ sauces, jerky, jellies, portable beerpong tables and just about everything else you could imagine. We were also treated to a bluesy set by The Smokin' Aces. Having had several beers at this point, it could have been two old ladies in tutus playing accordions and we'd have loved it.
Al ran into an old friend, Freddie, who'd hitchhiked his way to the beerfest (more on this later). Meanwhile, the rest of us hunted for stickers from each of the breweries (which involved actually drinking samples from each of the breweries). It was great waiting in line in groups; we each asked for a different beer to try and got to taste much more this way. Noël turned herself into a Beer Goddess at the Ale Street News booth. Eventually, things started getting blurry and it was time to go home.
Sensible people would have done just that. We, however, piled into the U.S.S. TAP and went looking for an afterbar. Somehow, we picked up Freddie along the way. We ended up in Tannersville, a small hamlet down the road a-piece from Hunter. Looking for place that was an event sponsor, we somehow ended up in an empty bar next door, The White Star. At this point, the copious quantities of beer consumed at TAP—albeit three ounces at a time—were starting to take their toll on the group. The tap selection here was lame, but really, how could anything match up to what we had just experienced in terms of the quality and diversity of beers? Gamely, I ordered a Sierra Nevada or something, but my heart wasn't in it. We took heart knowing that we weren't the only ones who'd had one too many at TAP.
With AL at the helm, the U.S.S. TAP headed just over the hill to drop Freddie at home. Freddie assured us it was on the way. As it turned out, "just over the hill" was a 25 mile trip north to East Bumfark, NY, where the locals live in cozy double-wides. We learned that Freddie lives with his parents but they had been in Florida for the past few months. When we finally arrived at the House of Freddie, it was instantly apparent that months of living on his own hadn't sharpened Freddie's housekeeping skills.
After that educational experience we made the long (now longer) trip back toward the City. Following tradition and thoroughly wiped out, I watched the in-cruise movie, The Back of My Eyeballs for most of the trip. It was an incredible day that just whet my appetite for an even more incredible TAP next year!