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Spring Craft Beer Festival 2013: Until Next Year…

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This past Saturday, March 9, was the 7th annual Spring Craft Beer Festival at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York. There were two sessions, 12:30 pm-4:00 pm and 5:30 pm-9:00 pm, though we arrived bright and early at 10:30 am to get set up. Upon arrival, the parking lot was already filling up and the bottom floor of the coliseum, where the event was held, was buzzing with brewers and vendors getting set up. Though Starfish Junction did a great job setting this event up, Nassau Coliseum (which was seen better days and may even be a bit behind on the rent) was less than cooperative when brewers and volunteers were arriving to work the event.

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We were stationed at the LIBME table, as we are members of the club and brewed our Saint Remo Gruit Ale to be on their tap. The club had twelve beers ready to be served, spread between two handcrafted jockey boxes. The selections included a pale ale, a white IPA, a smoked coffee stout, 2 Irish reds, a chocolate cherry stout, a citra IPA, an Irish dry stout, a honey wheat ale, a Jagermeister stout, a gluten free beer and lastly, our gruit.

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LIBME was not the only home brew club represented, as The Brewers Collective were also in attendance pouring a few of their handcrafted beers. They featured a witbier, a pale ale and a hefeweizen. This club is actually looking to make the jump from home brew club to licensed brewery, though their club and home brew competitions will still be open to the public.
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In addition to a club presence, many major breweries and cider producers were represented as well. Long Island staples Blue Point Brewing, Long Ireland, Montauk Brewing Company & Great South Bay Brewery were all represented and came equipped with popular members of their beer line ups. But the event was not only limited to local microbreweries. Goose Island featured timed releases throughout the day which always drew a crowd. Craft beer giant Sam Adams had a table where they were pouring some harder to find selections such as Grumpy Monk Belgian IPA. We even had the privilege of meeting some new (to us) breweries like Newburgh Brewing Company from upstate New York. They have a brew pub in Newburgh where they serve their lineup of craft brewed beers. At the show they had their stout, saison, cream ale & more available and based on those samples and speaking with the brewers and owners, we will definitely be making a trip up there soon to check it out.

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Lastly, other members of the craft beer community like Kevin from Tapped Enterprises (for pub crawls, brewery tours and transport to beer fests) and Michael & Travis aka The Beer Amigos were there sampling some beers, promoting themselves and just enjoying the day. If you’ve been to a craft beer event on Long Island, chances are you have at least seen The Beer Amigos. A fairly dead giveaway that you’ve spotted an amigo is the giant sombreros they often sport. But, these two are more than just craft beer and large festive hat enthusiasts. They have a podcast that covers everything from events and bars to new beers to magazines and websites (like this one!). So, as they like to say, “listen to the beer amigos”!

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Although the event did get a little rowdier as day turned to night (what can you expect from unlimited pours of high ABV beer), it was a great turnout of everyone from the casual drinker to harsh craft beer critics, drinking together under one roof. It seemed like the first session was a bit heavier on people seeking craft beer knowledge, while the later session was a bit more focused on craft beer consumption (both work in our book). Earlier in the day we definitely got more questions about the brewing process, including one home brewer who was curious about the clubs use of a recirculating mash. LIBME ran out of all 12 beers with almost 2 hours still remaining in the second session which is a definite testament to people’s willingness to try home brew and different beers. It was also a nice confidence boost for all members of the club who brewed (including us!). We look forward to the 8th annual Spring Craft Beer Festival, as we are sure there will be new breweries popping up this year and making their first appearance next spring.

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