This was DNO's third year attending TAP-New York, a two-day celebration of New York State craft brewers—from Long Island to Buffalo to the Adirondacks and everything in between.
Poor Dan. He had come down with a nasty cold in the days prior to the event. If we hadn't already paid for a room on Saturday night, he probably would have bagged out altogether. Dan was trouper, though: he gave it the old college try for a couple of hours, but after that it was clear the spirit was willing but the flesh was weak. A good night of sleep and some chicken soup ("Hey... it couldn't hurt!") put him on the mend.
Meanwhile, Kev and I helped ourselves to all of the fine beer that New York State has to offer. As I noted in last year's TAP Journal, there was not enough food last year to keep everybody fed (and sober). It must have been a common complaint, because it was obvious that organizers had taken great pains to make sure that wasn't an issue this year. Excellent job!
The event was hoppin' with a young crowd who were enjoying their cups. What's not to love at this event? Good beer, good food, good times! The Smokin' Aces were again rocking out their bluesy set on the patio. Toward the end of the session, the judges announced this year's winners. There was a new award this year, the John Calen Memorial Award for the best English-style ale. This went to Athens, New York's Crossroads Brewery for their Outrage IPA. They also took the Matthew Vassar Brewer's Cup for best brewery in the Hudson River Valley. Never heard of these guys before, but I was personally impressed by their Black Rock Stout with its intense coffee malt. The F.X. Matt Memorial Cup went to Oceanside, Long Island's Barrier Brewing Company.
I got to try some outstanding brews including two from Horseheads Brewing (Horseheads, NY): The Pumpkin Ale was clean a super fresh—thoroughly delightful; the Hot-Jala-Heim had a hot Jalapeño pepper kick to it that was a kick-in-the-pants! It was way better than I could possibly describe. Another standout was the White Aphro from Empire Brewing. The real find, though, was the Bourbon Cask-Aged Mother's Milk Stout from Kingston's Keegan Ales. Cask-aging beer in a spirits keg (Sherry, Bourbon, Whiskey, etc.) seems to be the latest rage in craft brewing. Indeed, matching barrels from the various distilleries to the right brewer has become a viable business in itself. For some beers it's a bit of a gimmick, but when it is done right—as it was in this case—the results can be truly sublime.
Check out Saturday's Tasting Notes for a list of the beers I tried and what I thought of them.