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Blue Point Cask Festival 2013: Until Next Year…

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Though the Blue Point Cask Fest did not begin until 2 pm, we arrived shortly after noon to help set up (and get a first look at what the other brewers had on tap). The parking lot of Blue Point Brewery was already buzzing at this point as everyone was congregating under the massive tent that had been set up to house the casks and breweries. We quickly found our way to the Brewers East End Revival (B.E.E.R)  table, which was conveniently located next to the Long Island Beer and Malt Enthusiasts (LIBME) table. In total, B.E.E.R would be serving 8 home brews, one of which was our very own Fünke a Mint Blueberry Kölsch which we brewed with Bobby Rodriguez. Due to the large number of casks present, there was a bit of a tap shortage, but it seemed like everyone was eventually able to work it out and get their beer flowing. Since we were unable to be there when Bobby transferred the beer from carboy into the cask and added the mint and blueberry flavoring, the first time we actually tasted Fünke was a couple short hours before we would be serving it to the thirsty patrons of this event.

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Our beer, Fünke a Mint Blueberry Kölsch poured a very lovely, deep purple color. The color of this beer was immediately intriguing and eye catching to us and those that tried it. Since this was a cask brew, the level of carbonation was subdued which lead to this brew having a modest head but a pleasant level of carb in the body. Fünke offered a pleasant aroma, moving back and forth between blueberry, malt, very mild hop and mint. We felt, as did some others, that the mint came forward more than the other scent components. On the sip Fünke offered notes of a traditional kölsch under layers of sweet, fruity blueberry, cool refreshing mint and left a lightly candied and fresh taste on the palate. The beer seemed to divide the crowd a bit as it was more akin to a fruit or cider beer hybrid with some really enjoying our flavor combinations while others liked the taste but left a little puzzled. It seems a sweet, light bodied brew with mint overtones can turn a few people off. We thought it was a great success and were happy with how it came together as was Bobby.

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After sampling our beer and a few other home brews that were featured at the two tables, it was already 2 pm and the crowd started pouring in. This event sold out extremely quickly and that was evident by the amount of people that began to immediately line up in front of our casks. It seemed like many patrons were drawn to the mint blueberry kölsch, possibly because of the appealing ingredients in the name (or perhaps they wanted a little taste of Tobias Fünke, Analrapist). We were pleased with the amount of guests that seemed to be frequenting the two adjoining home brew tables, as well as the table of The Brewers Collective, another Long Island home brew club, a few “doors” down from us. Overall Fünke a Mint Blueberry Kölsch was very well received. It was one of a handful of beers on hand that was completely finished at the entire event (professional breweries included) and was the only beer to go at the B.E.E.R. table. We were glad we “kicked our cask” as the saying goes. Also, it made a pretty delicious “black and blue” when combined with a dry Irish stout that was brewed by Dave Phillips, a fellow member of B.E.E.R.

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Not only did we get to pour our beer for hundreds of guests, but we also got an opportunity to walk around with our own sample glasses and see what the cask fest had to offer. Many local breweries were represented such as Long Ireland, Great South Bay, Newburgh Brewing, Spider Bite and of course, Blue Point as well as national outfits like Flying Dog, Cigar City and Smuttynose. Some of our stand out favorites were the Sweet Potato Saison from Blind Bat Brewery, which we felt would be a delicious alternative to pumpkin beer in the fall. It was sweet, but not overly so, with hints of nutmeg, caramel and vanilla that were balanced out with a slight tartness. Port Jeff Brewing Company had a sour on cask called “So Fresh” which was bright and sharp with lactic, fruity notes that nicely walked the line between sweet and sour, leaning more towards the latter. We actually had the chance to taste this beer at their first anniversary celebration when it was referred to as “Wet and Wild” and it was brewed using hops from Condzella’s Farm. This sour definitely lent itself well to being casked and has actually improved a bit with age, though it was tasty during both samplings. In addition to traditional breweries, brew pubs and establishments that support craft beer were also in attendance. In this category was New Haven’s Bar, which is a pizza serving, craft beer loving dance club that has been running their own cask ale festival for years now. They were serving two beers, Thousand Pound Gorilla which is a 10% ABV barley wine, a big beer inspired by the brew masters son, and Nine Foot Irish, a 9% ABV Irish ale that is “smooth and easy to drink but with a punch”.  We had the opportunity to speak to Jeff Browning, the brew master at this intriguing hybrid and we be featuring more on that soon. As Jeff said, “you can be 21 or 80 and still have a lot of fun in the place.” We think a ferry ride over to Connecticut is in order to check it out for ourselves.

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As always, the Blue Point Cask Festival was a chance to bring professional brewers, home brewers and craft beer appreciators together for a chance to sample some old favorites and new creations on cask, perhaps for the first time. This event is always a great time and has been selling out quicker and quicker every year, indicating that perhaps the secret is out. When attended our first cask fest at Blue Point Brewery several years ago, the crowd was much smaller and a bit less diverse. However, the 2013 incarnation was packed with patrons of all ages who came out to enjoy some good beer and expand their horizons into the wide world of cask ales. It is really a testament to the event that it has grown so rapidly while still maintaining a solid lineup of beers and including small and up and coming breweries. We know we are looking forward to the 2014 Blue Point Cask Festival and the way things have been going, we may have to get our tickets soon to guarantee a spot!

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