The 2012 Brooklyn Pour Recap

2012 Brooklyn Pour Glassware

2012 Brooklyn Pour Glassware

October 6th, 2012 was an important date. Five years earlier, this Homebrewer was lucky enough to marry The Homebrewer’s Wife. It also happened to be the date of the second annual Brooklyn Pour. The Brooklyn Pour was my first beer festival since moving to Brooklyn and my awesome wife was happy to attend it with me. So we made our way to the Williamsburgh Savings Bank Tower, sampled beer, soaked in our surroundings, and toasted another year of wedded bliss.

The Venue

The Main Tasting Area

The Main Tasting Area

The old Williamsburgh Savings Bank Tower is gorgeous. The pictures of the the main hall of building, where most of the breweries were pouring, don’t do it justice. This space is hands down the coolest place for a beer festival I’ve been to. About two-thirds of the beers were being poured in the main hall, while the other third were located in the basement vault. The capacity of these spaces worked well for the number of tickets sold, resulting in pretty much non-existent lines and a level of crowding that was energetic but not claustrophobic. I especially appreciated the plentiful glass tables in the main hall that gave plenty of space to rest your beer and take notes. There was a DJ playing music that fit well with the youngish crowd. My only complaint was that it was very loud and made conversation difficult, particularly in the already very acoustically live basement vault.

Stations Located in the Basement

Stations Located in the Basement

The Crowd

The crowd was great. It was not the over 40 typical beer geek crowd I’ve become accustomed to at other festivals I routinely attend. I love both types of crowds, although probably fit better into the latter. The crowd here was young, enthusiastic about trying new beer, and far hipper than myself. I saw very little over-consumption, something that must be commended especially in a festival that offers unlimited pours.

Serving the Beer

The manner in which the beers were presented sucked. There really is not a nicer way to say it. The vast majority of breweries in attendance were having their beer being poured by BenchMarc Events, whose employees had no clue what they were doing. On three occasions (Allagash Curieux, Het Anker Lucifer, Ommegang Three Philosophers), I was poured the last yeasty dregs from a bottle conditioned beer. I was literally given two ounces of murky yeast for my pour. Additionally, these folks had no idea what they were pouring; for example, Allagash Curieux was described as a ‘Belgian White’ by its server. For all intents and purposes, these people are representing a brewery’s brands and beers at these events. It seems that blindly sending your beers to these events is only handicapping your promotional efforts and not presenting your beers in the best possible light. Element Brewing was a great exception to this. The folks pouring their beer actually knew about what they were pouring and the brewer was also there to answer more in-depth questions.

The glassware (actual glass, yeah!) for the event was great. A line denoted 2 oz. pours although the BenchMarc servers typically filled them to the brim (in spite of my protests). I ended up dumping a lot of excess beer into trash cans so I wouldn’t have to drink a bad beer and so I could sample as many beers as possible. Rinse water at stations and dump buckets were unfortunately non-existent.

The Beers

By and large, the majority of breweries brought their flagship brands and perhaps a current seasonal. This was okay for me since I’m new to the east coast and there were plenty of things available that I haven’t had the opportunity to try. That being said, I’d imagine the selection was probably pretty boring to some of the more experienced beer samplers in the room. Of course, there are always stand-outs. Here are my top three beers followed by notes for the other beers I tasted.

Element Brewing Company – Altoberfest
Really nice big noble hop character. Firmly bitter, but with a nice supporting rich malt component. I’d hesitate to compare it to an Oktoberfest (far too hoppy), but it was a delicious Alt nonetheless.

Kelso – Rye Barrel Porter
So many barrel-aged beers present over-the-top spirit character paired with malt sweetness. That strategy has its place, no doubt. This beer was refreshing in its subtle barrel character and moderate alcohol. It was fairly dry, but had a rich caramel malt component that blended well with the vanilla and oak barrel characteristics.

Smuttynose – IPA
I found this beer to have a very interesting blend of Noble (earthy, herbal) and American (citrus) hops. It was balanced with a good amount of caramel malt and firm bitterness. Very drinkable, especially compared to many IPAs.

Other Beer Notes:

  • Allagash Curieux – Very nice oak character blends well with an almost vinous beer. Quite fruity and very good.
  • Element Brewing E.S.O. – Interesting blend of moderate malt plus oakey vanilla flavors. Found the oak too powerful with a wood chip sawdust character. Slightly phenolic.
  • Slyfox Pils – Unfortunately a diacetyl bomb. Both of their beers tasted dirty, perhaps some issues with their jockey box.
  • Slyfox IPA – I really wanted to like this one. Very muted hop aroma… some citrus. Tons of rough bitterness that lingers and was quite grassy. Beer tasted dirty.
  • Empire White Aphro – Huge cinnamon on nose and palette. Almost horchata-like. Tasty.
  • Lucifer – A classic Belgian Golden Strong. Fruity and delicious.
  • Brooklyn Brewery Defender – Big green, grassy, herbal, hop aroma. Too harsh and grassy. Some citrus as it warmed. Didn’t really care for it.
  • Ommegang Three Philosophers – Dark caramelized sugar, fig, and prune. Very good.
  • Sixpoint Autumnation – Was described by server as being like an Oktoberfest. Big herbal noble hop nose, somewhat grassy. Dry. Pretty average.
  • 508 Dark Sour – Promising nose. Lightly tart. Unfortunately, lots of cardboard oxidized flavors detracted from what was probably a good beer.
  • Chelsea Wet Hopped Pale – Really bad. Certainly infected. Dirt, leafy lettuce, cabbage and cooked vegetables. Some diacetyl.
  • Harlem Sugar Hill Golden Ale – Sweet pears and apple on nose. Lots of light caramel flavors. Pretty pedestrian.
  • Dogfish Head Raison d’Etre – Lots of raisin and prune. Strong turbinado sugar flavors. Sugary flavor, without being sweet. Pretty tasty.
  • Bronx Brewery Rye Pale Ale – Nice citrus heavy nose. Pretty heavy caramel malt flavor. Some citrus and herbal hops. Light rye peppery notes. Very enjoyable.
  • Captain Lawrence Pumpkin – Nice graham cracker crust flavor blended with creamy malt and medium pie spice. Balanced and enjoyable.
  • Weyerbacher Merry Monk – Big banana and bubblegum esters – drinks like a big hefeweizen. Too many esters for my tastes.
  • Oscar Blues Deviant Dale – Huge hop aroma. Mango, grapefruit, pine. Pretty smooth bitterness and fairly dry. Good beer.

A Couple Logistical Pet Peeves

Long Lines at the Toilets

Long Lines at the Toilets

  • It shouldn’t take 25 minutes to get through the line and enter the event. Scanners working or not, when the event runs for a finite amount of time, entry should not take that long.
  • Bathrooms. The lines for the toilets were very long. For the number of people in attendance, having about twice that many toilets would be a good start…we’re drinking beer after all!

Would I go again?

Over and over at this event I felt the need to relinquish my perspective as a craft beer aficionado and advocate and simply enjoy this event for what it was, an afternoon spent in a beautiful venue, with great company, drinking beer that was pretty average. I kept telling myself it was important to temper my expectations and not put myself into a situation of comparing apples and oranges. The festival is very different than all of the other festivals I’ve been to. Namely, this is a festival produced by a for-profit enterprise. Most of the other festivals I’ve been to have been produced by trade organizations whose missions are to promote the industry and the brewers within. For what it was, I found it this festival to be a good time despite the noticeable hiccups. So long as you look at this as an opportunity to drink (mostly) good beer in a cool environment with a good crowd, you’ll have fun. Don’t expect to be blown away by rare or one-off beers. Don’t expect to chat with the actual brewers about their beers. Don’t expect beers to be poured properly by knowledgeable people. Do expect some average beers, a handful of exceptional beers, and more than a handful of dumpers.

The Brooklyn Pour Preview

Note: Tickets are officially sold out.

A week from today (October 6) I’ll be heading over to the old Williamsburgh Savings Bank Tower building in Fort Greene, Brooklyn to attend the Village Voice’s 2nd Annual Brooklyn Pour. This event boasts 65 different breweries plus food, entertainment, and seminars over the course of two 3-hour sessions (1-4pm, 6-9pm). The general admission cost is $45 and includes unlimited samples (within reason). VIP admission (which includes complimentary food, a gift bag, access to a special mezzanine and special drinks) is also available for $65.

The Beer

Brooklyn Pour’s website boasts an impressive number of breweries. Most of these are within the tri-state area along with a handful of breweries from across the states, as well as a few international breweries. The Village Voice currently does not have a list of the beers being poured. Fortunately, The Pour Report was able to contact some of the attending breweries and get information about what they would be pouring. Please note that this list isn’t 100% inclusive and is subject to change. If you’re a brewer coming to the event and would like your information posted here, please contact me and I’ll add it.

Allagash Brewing, Portland, ME

  • White
    Our interpretation of a traditional Belgian wheat beer. Brewed with a generous portion of wheat and spiced with coriander and Curacao orange peel, this beer is fruity, refreshing and slightly cloudy in appearance.
  • Black
    Allagash Black is a Belgian style stout brewed with 2 Row barley, torrified wheat, oats, both roasted and chocolate malt and a generous portion of dark caramelized candi sugar. The silky mouth feel is a great balance to the roasted character, coffee and dark chocolate notes expressed throughout this beer.
  • Curieux
    Allagash Curieux was the first foray into barrel aging. Curieux is made by aging our Tripel Ale in Jim Beam bourbon barrels for eight weeks in our cold cellars. The aged beer is then blended back with a portion of fresh Tripel. The resulting beer is soft with coconut and vanilla notes, with hints of bourbon.

Blue Point Brewing Company, Patchogue, NY

  • Toasted Lager
    Our flagship Toasted Lager still has the same toasted flavor it was named for. Copper in color, our most popular and unique brew is made from six different malts, including English Pale, Crystal, Munich, Carapils, Wheat, and Belgian Caravienna. Toasted Lager’s balanced flavor of malt and hops makes for easy drinking and the special lager yeast we use produces an exceptional, long-lasting smooth finish.
  • Hoptical Illusion IPA
    Our classic, American-style India Pale Ale (IPA) features a rare hop grown exclusively on a small farm in Oregon. One taste and you’ll understand why we bought the entire crop. Our Hoptical Illusion IPA is brewed with a generous amount of this select hop that’s added five different ways for maximum hop flavor.
  • RastafaRye Ale
    A hearty rye malt, blended with fresh West Coast hops resulting in a delicious, deep copper ale with just the right amount of rye flavor to offset the spicy, floral characteristics of the hops.
  • White IPA
    Our White IPA is an unfiltered European-style white ale with a fresh American IPA finish. Brewed with malted and unmalted wheat and just the right amount of west coast hops, it’s fermented with German yeast to give it a perfectly balanced character with less bitterness than traditional IPAs.

Brooklyn Brewery, Brooklyn, NY

  • Defender
    Limited edition beer brewed for NYC Comic Con. Hoppy Amber IPA.
  • Fiat Lux
    What are we drinking this summer? Combining Canadian and American malts with a large proportion of un-malted white winter wheat, Fiat Lux starts with a Belgian witbier inspiration. A blend of Pacific Northwest hops, a little lime peel and a dash of Indian coriander brings a bright blast of citrusy aromatic sunshine, while German Perle hops supply a nice big zap of refreshing bitterness.

Captain Lawrence Brewing Company, Pleasantville, NY

  • Pumpkin Ale
    This is the perfect beer to drink as the weather starts to turn a bit cooler. Brewed with pureed pumpkins added directly to the mash and traditional pumpkin pie spices add to the end of the boil, this beer packs a ton of flavor into a malty and smooth amber-colored ale.

Cisco Brewers, Nantucket, MA

  • Whale’s Tale Pale Ale
    English style pale ale. Cisco’s flagship beer. Wonderfully balanced with Maris Otter malt, hints of crystal malt and generously hopped with East Kent Goldings, it has a rich honey color and fruity hop aroma. It is named in honor of Nantucket’s whaling history.
  • Grey Lady Ale
    Named for the often foggy island where it is brewed. This wheat beer is fermented with Belgian yeast and brewed with fresh fruit and spices. A unique ale that emits a complex, earthy nose and a soft, mid-palate maltiness with hints of tropical fruit. Dry and spicy.

Doc’s Draft Cider, Warwick, NY

  • Apple Cider
    This cider is semi-dry and wonderfully effervescent with a remarkably fresh apple nose. Its crisp, fruit forward taste and a clean, refreshing finish, have won our cider countless awards and praise.
  • Pumpkin Cider
    A seasonal cider made with roasted pumpkins, cinnamon, allspice, fresh ginger and nutmeg.

Dogfish Head, Milton, DE

  • Raison D’etre
    A deep mahogany, Belgian-style brown ale brewed with beet sugar, raisins and Belgian-style yeast.

Element Brewing Company, Millers Falls, MA

  • Extra Special Oak
    Pouring the beer in the glass unleashes notes of vanilla bean and spice with an underlying aroma of rich malt. Layers of flavors follow, from toasted coconut to warm bread to green tea. Full body, this beer will pair nicely with mild charcuterie and soft rind cheese.
  • Red Giant
    Lush English hop varieties balanced with luxurious English malts meld together in this deeply flavored ale. At its core it is food-friendly approachable and makes a style all its own. Pairs well with grilled meat and salty cheeses.
  • Dark Element
    Strikingly viscous and creamy on the palate with citrus fruit and chocolate cream, Dark Element offers enormous density yet preserves the balance that is a hallmark of Element Brewing Company. Use this ale to contrast spicy and acidic foods.
  • Altoberfest
    The current seasonal that we will be pouring is “Altoberfest” it is currently ranked 2nd in the world on Beer Advocate for Oktoberfest style. This fall seasonal, blends the assertive hop character of a classic German Alt with the malt qualities of a traditional Oktoberfest. Fermented with our house ale yeast you will find this ale a superior companion to the fall.

KelSo Beer Co, Brooklyn, NY

  • Barrel Aged Porter
    Malty, chocolatey, with vanilla and rum notes and 6.5% ABV.
  • Kellerfest
    Mellow, light toasted malt, and clean finish at 6% ABV.

Ommegang, Cooperstown, NY

  • Witte
    Wheat ale with spices, sweet orange peel, and coriander. Traditional Belgian-style wheat ale. Flavorful, soft and hazy. A drink of the sun, Witte was made to refresh and restore.
  • Hennepin
    Ale with spices. Grains of paradise, ginger, coriander and sweet orange peel. Hearty and rustic golden ale, full-bodied, hoppy and crisp. Hennepin was made to quench your thirst for the unknown.
  • Three Philosophers
    98% Ale – 2% Ale with cherries added. Unique blend of Ommegang Quadruple and Liefmans Kriek. Three Philosophers was made for contemplation.

Victory Brewing Company, Downingtown, PA

  • Prima Pils
    Heaps of hops give this pale lager a bracing, herbal bite over layers of soft and smooth malt flavor. This refreshing combination of tastes makes Prima a classy quencher in the tradition of the great pilsners of Europe.
  • Headwaters Pale Ale
    Our brewery is blessed with exceptionally pure water that travels just over a dozen wooded miles to reach our brewery. With this pristine water we have transformed floral American hops and subtle, crisp German malts into a refreshing delight.
  • Golden Monkey
    Strong and sensual, this golden, Belgian-style ale glows. The richness of German malts and Belgian yeast are tempered by a sparkling approach and overall light body. Abundant herbal, fruity notes make Golden Monkey® one to savor.

Weyerbacher, Easton, PA

  • Merry Monks
    Belgian-Style Tripel. Pilsner malt combined with an abbey yeast strain yields a remarkable and complex flavor packed with notes of spice, banana and pear. Nicely balanced, with a moderate to dry finish, Merry Monks is bottle conditioned creating a special effervescence and a creamier carbonation.
  • Last Chance IPA
    A full-flavored (West Coast style) hop assault delightfully lacking in balance. We’ve added a combination of Centennial, Cascade, Simcoe® and Columbus hops to produce aromas of grapefruit, pine and citrus. This beer was first released in June and is now available as a year-round release in 5 markets. A portion of the proceeds from sales of this beer goes to an animal rescue organization.

The Crowd and Venue

With 1,500 people attending per session and no limits on the number of pours, I expect this to be quite an enthusiastic crowd. The 60+ breweries in attendance should help minimize lines with exception of those breweries that manage to generate a buzz (pun intended). Skylight One Hanson is a beautiful venue that promises a great beer festival environment.

Are you planning on attending? What are you most looking forward to? Stay tuned for my post-event wrap-up!