Last Saturday Get Real NY threw an epic bash that will sure to be remembered in cask ale history. The Get Real NY Cask Ale and Food Festival was held at the spectacular space in the Altman Building on 18th street between 6th and 7th in the Chelsea Neighborhood of Manhattan. Craft Beer Week banners hung from the outside of the building and there were happy cask alers milling about, at once this Beer Friend knew he was at a friendly place. Upon entering I was given a list of the featured cask ales and food, a NYC Craft Beer Week passport AND a commemorative glass. As well as unlimited access to all the craft beer and NYC featured food that I could eat. To say that I was exhilarated here would be an understatement. I did a quick round of the place, trying to take in as much as possible before diving in to all the delicious beer and food. A large red curtain hung in the entranceway, dimming that harmful sunlight that we all know can inhibit drinking and make hangovers worse, but while keeping the room classy at the same time. The cask brew kegs were set up in the middle of the room on a three tiered rectangular wooden structure that had to be 10 kegs x 4 kegs x 3 kegs for you geometry nuts out there. The cask structure was then surrounded by serving tables that held even more kegs, with one side completely devoted to specially selected regional homebrew winners. An excellent staff of pourers - including the homebrewers themselves as well as a selection from the NYC Bartending School - were kindly serving up generous samples of the cask ales all the while providing good beer conversation. The food tables lined the walls, with a special selection devoted to even more beer mostly from Duvel and Ommegang. In one corner a 3 piece band - stand up bass, saxophone and electric guitar - made up of the members of the NYC band Big 5 Core (who will be playing at Rodeo Bar on 10/10/10) played jazz/classical/blues favorites with an electric guitar rock twist, which gave the event an edgy-classiness. After taking all this in, I decided to head for the beer.
This is just a short list of the cask brews I sampled during the event. Somewhere near the middle you'll notice that I found the Sixpoint section and got sucked in, rightfully so, to trying 3 new brews of theirs that were not only new to the taste, but I had never even heard of - you can imagine how excited I was. I tried to describe the ones that really stuck out in my mind, but since the sampling of food and brew was so fast paced I wasn't able to record all my thoughts. I will however denote whether or not it was a brew I'd never tried or never heard of before, of which there were many.
Bear Republic - Rebellion - New! citrusy and nicely hopped. Left hand - Milk Stout Greenport - Hopnami Sixpoint - Pumpkin - New! Lighter in flavor but definitely pumpkin pie. Smooth and easy to drink with a thanksgiving feel to it. Sixpoint - Oyster - New! A lighter tasting stout, still big in flavor but real easy in drinkability. Sixpoint - Missionary - New! This beer smells like a hop nugget. I want an air freshener that smells this way. That I could liquify and drink like a beer. Maybe I'd just like this beer all the time. Bruery - Mischief - New! Strong Belgian pale ale Southern Tier - 2x IPA - Hops, hops, hops. Alcohol. Hops. Riverhorse - Hippo Latern Otter Creek - Alpine Black IPA - New! Really roasted malt heavy IPA. The cask brings out that malt flavor, which keeps the hops a little more in check but with out putting them to bed. Lagunitas - Maximus - This beer has been steadily rising on my all-time-favorite-beer-list, and this helped it go up further. The cask style brings out so much of the bready malt flavor and the hops are perfect. If you can find a sixer of this, then do so. Two Brothers - Resistance IPA Blue Point - Toxic sludge Black IPA - New! Another black IPA well worth the adventure to find. Again the cask brings out those dark malts and this one had a bit more hops present than the Otter Creek Alpine. You know how those hops get me goin'. Bear Republic - Norcal Bitter - New! Billingsgate - Belgian Strong Ale - New! This is a home-brew winner made by Dylan and Andrew out of a home-brewery they've named Hell's Gate. Very tart and delicious. I will be plugging you with their info very soon (like two paragraphs from now!) Pretty Things - St Boltophs
Now mind you, these were only sampler pours. Had they not been, well...you can imagine the state I would've been in. Throughout the process of sampling all these delicious cask brews I would head over to grab samples of meat, cheese (Lucy's Whey Cheese Shop), bread (Grandaisy Bakery - their bread is incredible and I probably ate half of it), pretzels (Martin's Pretzel's), salsa (Brooklyn Salsa), olive-based-everything-that-is-delicious-stand (Wall and Water), pickled everything (Sour Puss Pickles), lobster rolls (Luke's Lobster's), cookies (Amy's Cookies), etc. Needless to say, with all these fantastic restaurants participating, I did not go hungry (or thirsty!).
Towards the end of the event I started up a short conversation with one of the home-brew winners that I mentioned earlier. Dylan and Andrew are a home-brewing team that submitted two beers into the Get Real NY Cask and Food event. I got to try their Strong Ale, which was nice and tart with a great drinkable character to it. They've also submitted a couple concoctions to the Whole Foods HomeBrew Contest and are waiting to see how they place. They were friendly enough to chat me up for awhile even as the event was closing down, so I'm sure they'd be friendly enough to chat you up as well. Maybe even give you a sample, or at least tell you where to find one of their brews. You can stay up to date with Dylan and Andrew on Facebook at Billingsgate.
I feel like I can't give this review enough positive feedback to you as a reader, without you having gone and experienced it with me. The music was calming, creative and energetic. The food was top notch and the event space was beautiful. The staff was friendly and familiar with beer and was happy to pour you anything twice. The cask ales gave unique perspectives to familiar brews and offered us fresh tastes of newly brewed (or never had before) creations. This is an event that I will keep coming back to as long as they decide to keep throwing it. Cheers to this one!
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