I love beer, especially hoppy double IPAs brewed in small batches by lovable brewers from small artisanal breweries. However, I’m not in love with all the beer festivals that are sprouting up like hop bines in April. Many are road shows put on by commercial interests, and feature beers you can buy at any well-stocked beer emporium.
The 3rd Annual Craft New York Brewers Festival promises to be a different glass of suds. Coming up Saturday, March 5 at the Desmond Hotel in Albany, it is sponsored by the New York State Brewers Association. This trade group has been an active promoter of pro-brewer legislation, and participating breweries are donating their kegs so the maximum amount of revenue can go to the association. You can get your tickets here.
The main event (VIP early entrance is already sold out) runs from 5 to 8 and features such breweries as Rushing Duck (keeping fingers crossed the War Elephant will be on offer), the Brewery at CIA, Empire Brewing, Good Nature Farm Brewing & Tap, Paradox, Rare Form as well as many more familiar names—45 breweries in total. The beers are poured by real brewery employees (or in some cases reps) so you can hobnob with them and get the stories behind the brews.
There is also a NYS Hops and Malts section where you can meet with the producers of these essential ingredients and, beer in hand, learn about the programs that have helped grow the New York State brewing industry from 95 breweries to 238 today. And there will be food sampling included with the price of admission from The Desmond Hotel, Browns Brewing taproom, Adirondack Pub, Albany Pump Station, Davidson Brothers, Druthers, The Ruck, The American Bounty at CIA, Knot of this World Pretzels, Catskill Food Company, Crossroads Brewing, Chef’s Consortium, The Mohawk Taproom, Honest Weight, The Ruck, The Hollow Bar + Kitchen, 20 North Broadway, Elegant Touch Catering & Events, and more to come.
Online admission price is $40 for the General Session, $55 for the VIP early entrance. Tickets, if still available, will be $15 more at the door so save money and buy yours here. Tickets include admission, a 5-ounce souvenir tasting glass and the freedom to enjoy unlimited 3-ounce samples of the various beers present at the event. This is a 21+ event, obviously.
The Desmond is at 660 Albany Shaker Rd, Albany, NY 12211, right next to the Albany airport. (I’m pretty sure they have a shuttle, if you agree this is worth flying in for.) See you there—I’ll be the guy trying to balance a note pad, a beer glass and a plate of hors d’oeuvres. http://craftbeerfestivals.com/craftnewyork/.