THE CASK WHISPERER
Blog by Nigel Walsh
Fest Report: 19th Annual Blue Point Cask Ale Festival
I actually had a plan in place for this one…
… with 50-odd breweries and 100-odd casks, well you have to, don’t you?
Fortunately, Blue Point published the list of attending breweries on their Instagram feed beforehand, giving me plenty of time to plot out a course of action before even heading for the LIRR.
There were about fifteen new breweries that I had not experienced before, most from Eastern Long Island, but a few from New Jersey as well, plus two from much further afield; Texas and Oregon.
So, I decided that would be my main focus of the day.
I also planned on trying some of the Blue Point collaboration beers, and there were also several Long Island homebrew clubs in attendance, so I thought that I had it all nailed before I even stepped into the tent…
…where I got a little distracted.
We all pretty much shuffled in through the same (nearest) entrance to the big tent, following the pipers (you didn’t want to get trapped in front of them) and all heading to the same five or six casks lined up to the left of the entrance, so that some substantial lines formed immediately, causing a bit of a bottleneck while the rest of the vast space remained quite empty.
I was all set to do the sensible thing and was heading to the opposite corner of the space when I spotted the Austin Eastciders through the gathering crowd.
Well, it was on my list of newbies, and it was one of the few ciders at the event, and it was quite strong for a cider, so I muscled my way through and grabbed myself a pour to take with me into the open spaces.
It was a good one to start with, a real palate refresher, an apéritif if you will. Pale gold, no head, gently carbonated and subtly hopped with mosaic, very nice.
And then the plan fell apart, at least for a while…
Sipping my cider and wandering aimlessly purposefully, perusing all the brewery names and getting my bearings – wait!
There is Transmitter, and they appear to have brought along their almost mythical cask of dark mild; I had heard rumors many months back that they had such a cask in their possession, but at all subsequent cask events it had failed to make an appearance, I was starting to doubt its existence.
So, by my second beer I was already off track, but it was worth it; opaque deep black in the glass but with sparkling ruby notes when held up to the light, a small frothy head and a simple but full-bodied mild taste, with just a hint of caramel – lovely balance.
I was then diverted to the Saint James Red IPA (shipwreck yeast anybody?) which was actually a nicely balanced old-school American amber ale, before stumbling over the Fifth Hammer crew.
Three beers in, I decided to wander outside the tent to scope out the bathroom facilities (very important at my age), and take some pictures while I remembered, before rededicating myself to my mission to sample all of the new (to me) breweries.
Back inside and it was a veritable sh*t scene, but in a good way; I am sure there were many more attendees this year than in the past three years, could it be because Blue Point is no longer owned by AB-Inbev, and we no longer have to feel slightly guilty about attending?
Not that it ever really bothered me, I will take my casks wherever I can get them, and I kind of liked the cask pre-prohibition style Budweiser that they had last year.
I do not plan on describing all of the beers that I had, but for those interested, the list is below, and for those that are counting, that was 27 different samples: not bad for an afternoon’s work.
I did eventually succeed in my primary mission to sample beers from all fifteen new breweries, and also managed to get in three collaborations and three of the homebrews, including my favorite beer of the event, a perfectly executed Grodziskie named Narf!
Other notable beers for me were the Terp IPA from Zero Tolerance (another homebrew and gluten-free), the three cream ales (starting to become one of my favorite styles in cask) and the Burton Ale from Bucket Brigade; ugly but delicious.
It turned out to be quite a social event with me as I got to spend some time hanging out with the good folks from Fifth Hammer and Strong Rope, and I also got some serious exercise dodging the pipers whenever they made another run at the crowd.
I usually start to run out of steam at cask events after two and a half hours but ended up staying until the very end of this one, the time just flew.
Overall, a great event with an uneventful train ride home, for once.
I love when a plan comes together…
Scorecard w/e 11/7/23
In the past week, The Cask Whisperer has enjoyed the following casks:
- Strong Rope The Inn Autumn Ale @ Jones Wood Foundry
At the Blue Point Cask Ale Festival, The Cask Whisperer sampled the following casks:
- Transmitter Brewing: BNY3 Dark Mild
- Saint James Brewery: Red IPA
- Beaver Dam Brewing Company: Troublesome Creek Cream Ale
- Bonac Brewing Company: Orangilla Cream Ale
- Real McCoy Beer Company: Thai Basil Brown
- Zero Tolerance Gluten-Free Homebrew Club: Summertime Rolls Terp IPA
- South Shore Craft Brewery: Gingerbread Amber
- Austin Eastciders: Imperial Mosaic Cider
- Somerset Brewing Company: Ratskeller Kellerbier
- Schnitz Ale Brewery: Golden Apple Belgian Golden Ale
- Dirty Diamond Brewery: Kane’s Revenge Hazy IPA
- Bucket Brigade Brewery: Bone Yard Burton Ale
- Kidd Squid Brewing Company: Boc Boc Hazy IPA
- Chimney Rustic Ales: Sour King Clancey
- Root+Branch Brewing: ESB
- Montauk Brewing Company: Pineapple Jalapeno Cream Ale
- Green Flash Brewing Company: Hazy IPA
- 10 Barrel Brewing: Pale Ale
- Fifth Hammer Brewing Company: Trippity Trip Trip Belgian Tripel
- Singlecut Beersmiths: Heavy Boots of Lead
- Karbach Brewing Company: Cumulus Drift Wheat
- Blue Point Brewing (Collaboration with Subtle Tea): Raspberry Laser Lager
- Blue Point Brewing (Collaboration with Long Island Cares): Ghoulash
- Blue Point Brewing (Collaboration with Warped Tour): Heavy Lagerbier
- Long Island Beer and Malt Enthusiasts: Narf! Grodziskie
- Brewers East End Revival: Dunkel Nutz Dunkelweiss
- Brewers East End Revival: Bubblegum Blonde Cider
Upcoming Cask Festivals
11/18/2023: Analog-a-Go-Go at Dogfish Head
4/10/2024 – 4/13/2024 (5 sessions): 25th Annual New England Real Ale Exhibition (NERAX)