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THE CASK WHISPERER

Blog by Nigel Walsh

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Fest Report: 5th Annual Long Island Indie Cask Fest

Some background…

This was my second time attending this particular event and third time attending a cask festival at The Brewers Collective (TBC) out at Bay Shore on Long Island.

TBC bill this as a counterpoint to the event run by the big boys (Blue Point) just down the road in Patchogue, with the focus being purely on the smaller independent breweries from Nassau and Suffolk counties.

This year they managed to persuade twenty-five such independents to attend along with themselves, each bringing along a festive seasonally appropriate cask; there were many stouts and porters in attendance.

They always cram a lot of happy people and a lot of unique casks into a small and cozy space, but this should not be confused with any sort of destination bro-fest, the folks who attend are just one big, connected industry family, or collective if you will; just out for a good time with good beer.

And always very welcoming to the stranger in their midst.

Coming up next month will be their sixth annual fundraiser for the benefit of The Barton Center for Diabetes Education an equally joyous occasion that also manages to squeeze in a silent auction along with all of the casks.

So, if you missed this one…

How do we get there?

LIRR is the way to get there from NYC, unless you are one of those masochists who enjoy the Long Island Expressway or the Southern State Parkway and have an equally masochistic designated driver to handle all of the technical stuff.

You will be changing trains at Babylon for the last stop, and may also be changing at Jamaica as well, if you decide to start at Grand Central instead of Penn Station.

But overall, it is pretty much hassle free and only takes about 70 minutes station to station.

From the Bay Shore RR Station, it is less that two miles (35 minutes) walk through quiet residential neighborhoods to get to the brewery itself; with Google Maps as my copilot, I haven’t managed to get lost yet, not even on the way back…

You will be greeted by a short, quickly-moving line that draws you into a long, narrow, festively-lit space with the casks lined up invitingly along one side.

The all-important plan…

My plan for this event was simple; start with the first cask and sample them all in sequence as I worked my way from the entrance to the back, where the bathrooms and entertainment were located.

It was a good plan, especially as the very first cask was the killer 17% Imperial Red Rye Ale (a top-5 for me); you know I also like to get the dangerous ones out of the way early.

Had I stuck to that plan, I would have consumed the beers in alphabetical order, making my note-taking that much easier.

But after the first four samples, I started to panic.

What if all of the good stuff was at the back?

What if all of the good stuff at the back were only pin-sized?

What if the pin-sized good stuff at the back were all gone by the time I reached it?

What if my bladder… you get the idea.

So, I went to the back and started working my way to the front instead.

Waiting for me at the far end of the room was an equally dangerous 14% sweet mead (I guess technically a melomel) with chokeberries, chocolate and coconut; a beautiful deep pink with a fruity nose but tasting of chocolate. I love the occasional disconnects between appearance and flavor, and this also made my top-5 for the day.

I stuck with my revised plan for the next seven samples, clearing out the two back tables before advancing on the bar itself, and I am glad that I did; many of my favorite beers were actually hidden back there.

What did you like?

Well, everything, there were no duds in my humble opinion.

I am guessing that the brewers had a lot of fun coming up with these concoctions and I had a lot of fun trying them all out.

I am going to be boring and state that my favorite overall (I voted for it) was the beer that had the least assertive additions and the most assertive beeriness, which was the lemon-scented Mexican lager from übergeek brewing; cool, malty and faintly bitter, a real palate cleanser.

My second favorite, and the peoples’ choice winner, was the Peanut Butter Lady from Ghost Brewing; this was the beer that had the most additives, pretty much everything that you would find when cleaning out the back of your fridge and spice cabinet.

You name it and it was in there… but it worked.

Rounding out the top-5 was the Handtryk by Stay Green Brewing; a clean citrus-tasting beer/sake hybrid; very unusual and quite delicious.

The honorable mention goes to Long Island Farm Brewery with their brut IPA, which really messed with all of the senses; it was pink from the hibiscus, had a strong fruity nose from the mango, and yet tasted just like the dry bitter IPA that it purported to be.

Was there food?

Food?

Oh yeah, there was an interesting looking food truck parked right out by the entrance and it was doing good business too, but I just grabbed a couple of Jamaican Patties to soak up the beer, from the 7-11 on my walk back to the station.

How did you get home?

Very carefully…

…I will see you all back there in January, folks.

Scorecard w/e 12/05/23

In the past week, The Cask Whisperer has enjoyed the following casks:

  • Strong Rope Growing Round @ Jones Wood Foundry

And has sampled the following casks at the 5th Annual Long Island Indie Cask Fest:

Upcoming Cask Festivals

1/21/2024: 6th Annual Cask Ales FUNdraiser at The Brewers Collective

3/30/2024: Cask.On at Cask & Vine, Derry NH

4/10/2024 – 4/13/2024 (5 sessions): 25th Annual New England Real Ale Exhibition (NERAX)

ASK NIGEL

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