Blog by Nigel Walsh


But Can You Get There From Here?



Blog by Nigel Walsh


But Can You Get There From Here?

I have always been a fan of cask ale festivals, or real ale festivals as some prefer to be called. I only had a chance to attend two before I crossed the pond many, many years ago. One was a small regional festival in the town of Bedford where I was working at the time, and the other was the granddaddy of all real ale festivals, the second ever GBBF (Great British Beer Festival) which was held at the Ally Pally (Alexandra Palace) in North London. I still have my marked-up program from the GBBF squirreled away somewhere.

And then like every other cask beer related activity since I moved stateside, nothing … for a good 25 years.

But recently, things have been looking up, and I usually manage to get out to seven or eight events annually, and that usually means getting out of NYC, with two notable exceptions, Caskalot at Fifth Hammer and Strong Rope’s annual Caskiversary; both attended religiously each year.

The remote events can be broken down into two categories; those that are destinations unto themselves, that require several hours of driving and an overnight stay near the venue, and those that can be reached by public transportation within a couple of hours. It is the second kind, the day trips that I will be rabbiting about here, but I will include information about the weekenders at the end of this blog (next week) for those with the desire and stamina.

This is the first of a two-part blog. Part two will be upcoming next week.

So where can you get to a regional cask ale event from NYC by taking a train or bus? I have six recurring events that are on my radar: three in Connecticut, two on Long Island and one in Philadelphia.

So, let’s go…

Yards Real Ale Invitational

This is a long-time cask event held by Yards Brewing in Philadelphia, returning in November 2022 after a Covid break of a few years.

Yards are located at 500 Spring Garden Street, just a few short blocks north of the Liberty Bell, where the Megabus from NYC conveniently drops you off. You can walk there in under 20 minutes.

The event is held throughout their taproom and the brewing/storage space behind it, and it is like attending a beer event at Costco.

As well as several of their own beers, there were regional beers from the Philly area as well as southern New Jersey and a few representatives from further afield. There were about fifty casks in total, of all styles including some awesome lagers, with selections from local ‘cult’ brewers such as Other Half, Human Robot and The Seed.

A fine event, and should they repeat it this year, I will post details to this blog.

Blue Point Cask Ales Festival

The longest running cask fest in this area (last year was the 18th occurrence) and by far the largest festival in terms of brewers, beers, and attendees; 50+ breweries and 150+ individual casks. This was also last run in November of 2022.

It is an outdoors event run under a big top tent in one of the parking lots at Blue Point Brewing Company in Patchogue, NY (225 West Main Street).

It was, and will be mobbed. On the three occasions that I have attended this event, I have taken the LIRR train from Penn Station and shared carriages with dozens of attendees pre-gaming with cans; this event is not just for the real ale purists… not that there’s anything wrong with that. The venue is easy to find; just follow the crowds from the station. It is about a fifteen-minute walk.

As Blue Point is part of the Anheuser-Busch empire, the event has seen some blowback from local independent breweries (see the next entry), but is still very well represented by both regional NYC and Long Island brewers and for the last two years by several Suffolk County homebrew societies. It benefits from the A-B connection by including beers from their stablemates, from as far afield as North Carolina, Arizona, and Los Angeles. There was even a cask of ‘pre-prohibition’ Budweiser from the A-B experimental brewery last year that was particularly enjoyable and definitely unique.

Again, if repeated this year, I will give a heads-up in this blog.

TBC Indie Cask Fest

This is an indoor event held at The Brewers Collective Beer Company in Bay Shore, NY (1460 North Clinton Avenue).

I took the LIRR to Bay Shore station and then walked about 30 minutes through residential neighborhoods to reach the brewery, which has a nice clubhouse type vibe. The local musicians who performed were awesome.

I love these kinds of events; it showcased many of the smaller independent breweries of eastern Long Island including TBC themselves. I would say there were about thirty beers from 20+ breweries, of an amazing and often experimental style… cask hard root beer anyone?

I returned to TBC for another cask event in January this year, a fundraiser and silent auction for Diabetes Awareness, which had a similar lively atmosphere and extensive cask range.

Hyper local, but I was made very welcome on both occasions and am looking forward to the next event to be held at TBC.

The Wilds of Connecticut…

Watch this space next week.


This Post Has One Comment

  1. Rob

    Count me in – brilliant stuff. Been a few years since I attended the GBBF as well but for a while I went almost every year.

Leave a Reply

Sign Up For News

    Sign Up For News