As many of you drinking aficionados know, we’re smack in the middle of NYC Beer Week, the 6th annual 10-day celebration of local craft beer. NYC Beer Week, sponsored by the New York City Brewers Guild, includes multiple beer events throughout the boroughs, including festivals, tastings, menu pairings, and dinners. NYC Brewers Guild focuses on increasing the visibility of our local breweries and fostering a craft beer industry in our beloved city.
Last night I had the pleasure of attending the marquee event of the week, Brewers Choice 2014, at the Wythe Hotel in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The event featured over 25 local breweries, with tastings of special Beer Week brews paired with snacks from impressive New York chefs and purveyors. This year, the brewers were challenged to create beers using only local grains, which were all featured and poured by the Brewmasters themselves.
GrowNYC, the charity beneficiary of Brewer’s Choice, promotes local grains in the Northeast through several programs focused on connecting local farmers that supply barley and malting grains with breweries, enabling the increased production of local beer. I am truly impressed by their commitment to revitalize the local economy in the beer world, something I don’t often think of when I’m picking out a 6-pack in the local bodega. Brewers Choice was a great representation of the work they’re doing. More info on that, here.
Now, the main event! For those who haven’t yet hiked out to the Wythe Hotel, it’s not really a hike, and you’re in for a treat. Housed in a renovated factory building on the waterfront with an unbeatable view of Manhattan, the beautiful space only enhanced the Brewers Choice event. I learned that much of what you see in the Wythe Hotel was salvaged or created by local craftsman, further supporting the theme of the night.
25 breweries were showcased, with some recognizable names (Ommegang, Empire Brewing) and others I’ll now be searching for in the city. A few of my favorites included Carton Brewing “Regular Coffee” Imperial Cream Ale, Prohibition Pig Xtra Pale Ale, and the Bronx Belgian Pale Ale.
I had the opportunity to meet with Brewmaster Chad Rich from Prohibition Pig Brewpub, located in Waterbury, Vermont. The brew we sampled was their Xtra Pale Ale, which Chad kegged on Sunday and carbonated in his Wythe Hotel bathroom upstairs. We loved his energy and the time he took to describe his brewing process to us, and of course, the beer!
Let’s not forget the food. There was an impressive lineup of grub from NY hotspots, including Bobolink Dairy & Bakehouse, Sigmund’s Pretzels, Nordic Breads, Coach Farm Cheese, Mile End, an Oyster shucking station, Jimmy’s No. 43, and Reynard, the Wythe Hotel flagship restaurant. My personal favorites were the Mile End smoked meat sloppy joes with malt vinegar chips, the Blind Tiger NYC’s braised rabbit mac n cheese, the goat cheese from Coach Farm Cheese, and the Jean Louis cheese from Bobolink Dairy & Bakehouse, but everything I sampled was delicious.
Brewers Choice 2014 was a great event showcasing the work of talented Brewmasters and chefs, and an opportunity to meet the people behind the local craft beer movement that’s beginning to spread its wings in the bars we know and love in New York City. Lucky for you, it’s annual. Don’t miss out next year! Check out other NYC Beer Week happenings here.