NYC Opening Bash a Smash!

New York City Beer Week got off to a SMaSHing smooth and tasty start last Saturday at the Brooklyn Expo Center in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. SMaSHing because there were several NY State-grown Single Malt and Single Hop beers on display. Sixpoint poured a Kolsch, with Pale 2-Row Malt from Erie Canal and Cascade hops Willet Farms; The Bronx Brewery presented an IPA entitled Not a Brewer We Just Smash a Lot, barrel-aged on Amburana and Palo Santo wood; Kelso tapped Something Ugly This Way Comes, a SMaSH collaboration with Greenport Harbor; and Bridge and Tunnel dispensed a SMaSH Saison collaboration with Blind Bat. Many of the other Bash brews used a variety of NY State hopes, if not malts.

Just shy of 50 breweries offered their liquid wares, about half from NYC and the remainder split between NY State and "further afield". NYC Brewers Guild President Kelly Taylor said guild members wanted to invite breweries with whom they had collaborated to come to NYC. Marz Community came in from Chicago, Burial from Asheville, NC, Proclamation from RI, Civil Society from FL, and Sole Artisan from PA. But the furthest traveled was undoubtedly NYA CarnegieBryggeriet was definitely the furthest traveled – Brooklyn Brewery's partner from Stockholm, Sweden.

It was my first encounter with Hudson Valley Brewery from upriver Beacon with their sour farmhouse brews – Animal Balloon, aged in oak wine barrels on passion fruit, lemon balm and vanilla beans, and Soleil, conditioned on pineapple and marigold flowers. Also new to me, although they have been around for a while was Brooklyn's Strong Rope Brewery with Greyfriars, a delicious, 8% Scotch Ale, malty like chocolate covered raisins; and Seeds of Love and Outrage DIPA.

Hardly a beer style was not represented; naturally, a host of IPAs and DIPAs featuring a smorgasbord of hop varieties Mosaic, Citra, Simcoe, Eureka and Denali, Moteuka, Nelson Sauvin, Equinox, Amarillo, as well as homegrown hops from NYS farms and breweries like Indian Ladder. Greenport's East End Boogie (8%) stood out with Nelson, Citra and Amarillo as did Marz Community's Citra! Citra! Citra! (also 8%) – you get the idea. But there were plenty of approachable session-strength beers as well: lagers – a pair from upstate Suarez Family, Bone Shirt Schwarzbier and Small Talk, a pale ale; pale ales – Derivative Galaxy from Proclamation Ale; pilsners - Vliet Pilsner from Threes; Kolsches from Singlecut Beersmiths and Sixpoint; and plenty of saisons, goses and wild brews too as well as a myriad of ingredients, coffee and chipotle, lemonzest and mint (newcomers Wartega)
; and black raspberries and other fruit.

Back to the big beers – imperial porters, stouts and barleywines – Brooklyn Brewery brought their Cloaking Device, a 10.5% Brett Porter; LIC Beer Project showcased Hell Within, a 10% Imperial Stout aged in Heaven Hill bourbon barrels for 6 months with coffee, Vietnamese cinnamon, cocoa nibs and Madagascar vanilla. But for sheer magnitude, Rushing Duck's Rudy Juice, 15.9% all NYS ingredient barleywine, took the cake.

In the Expo Center the New York Brewers Guild has found a hospitable venue, which can comfortably upwards of 1,000 attendees. The brewers themselves were well taken care of with a roasted pig in the VIP, provided by Blue Smoke.

The only drawback was some of the brewers tapping out on the beers – three sixtels apiece was the (paid-for) asking price, although some breweries brought only two. Not that it mattered, many attendees were done with their pre-gaming by the time the fest wrapped up at 9:30 and were off into the New York night, no doubt in search of more Beer Week bonanzas. Myself, I repaired to nearby Brouwerij Lane for a peaceful pint before and reflection on perhaps the best spread of beers I had ever seen in NYC.

The Opening Bash was preceded by the Fermentation Festival at the same location.

For more information, go to nycbeerweek.com or download the app. Vote for your favorite NYC, brewery, bartender, bar, SMaSH beer, Beer Week event at either place.

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