Blog by Nigel Walsh


2024 NYC Beer Week – Opening Bash

In 2016 at the Altman Building in Midtown (Flatiron? Chelsea?) Manhattan, the venerable Alex Hall was instrumental in putting together a massive cask ale festival for that year’s NYC Beer Week.

I was down in DC at the time but made sure that I came up that weekend to attend.

There must have been over sixty casks available, and I managed to sample around 30-35 with the help of my son, acting as wingman.

The most memorable beer on that occasion was Brooklyn Black Ops, although the sours from LIC Beer Project (raspberry) and Big Alice (kiwi) were also up there in my top-5.

Interesting to note that the NYC brewery scene was quite different back then, with contributions from Chelsea Brewing, Kelso, Bronx, Brooklyn, Coney Island, Singlecut plus the aforementioned Big Alice and LIC.

There were also rare casks from further afield, including a couple from Roscoe Beer Company.

The event was a one-off unfortunately, although Fifth Hammer ran a mini-cask festival (Pinlocked) last year as part of the 2023 NYC Beer Week, and will be holding their annual Caskalot! this upcoming weekend (starting Friday at 2:00pm).

All that being said, I had never attended a NYC Beer Week Opening Bash until this past weekend; I attend enough cask festivals and my liver does need a little rest on occasion.

So, what sold me on this one?

Several things:

  • I knew that Strong Rope were bringing a cask. They brought two casks as it turned out, and Finback also brought one along.
  • I was very curious to check out the venue at Industry City. I have visited several times in the past but not that particular building.
  • I saw some of my favorite out-of-town breweries on the guest list, such as Fox Farm and Forest & Main and Upward Brewing.
  • Both of the NYC sake brewers would be attending; both Brooklyn Kura and Kato Sake Works – I like me some sake.
  • When the beer list came out, I noticed several bottled sours that I wanted to sample, and also noticed a great many Czech-style lagers of varying colors, and thought that may be a way to navigate and filter the extensive list.

So, I signed up – late but better than never.

No ferry this time; on previous jaunts to Industry City, I had hiked in from Brooklyn Navy Yard ferry terminal and hiked out the other end to the ferry at Brooklyn Army Terminal, but decided this time that the good old NYC subway was the way to go, despite weekend trackwork which would add an element of randomness.

It worked out just fine and I arrived within fifteen minutes of opening time, which gave me just enough time to beat the boundaries and take a few pictures from the outside before joining the other punters in the line to enter.

It was a long line, about half the length of the building, but it was fast moving, and I was soon inside with wristband and shiny glass, making a sharp left to see what goodies Strong Rope had brought.

Real goodies, both lagers; Eleven, a Bohemian Pilsner and Roebling, a Vienna Lager brewed in collaboration with Dancing Grain Farm Brewery who were hanging out in the adjacent booth.

I got a generous pour of both (so good) and chatted with John and the team before I reluctantly wandered off in search of the third (bonus) cask; I would catch up with Jason later.

I was happy to see that the other cask was from Finback, and even happier to see that they brought along their foeder-aged Pilsner Dot Dot Dot again, but with a different hop treatment than the one they had at Strong Rope’s Caskiversary a couple of weeks ago; this time it was a new one on me, Manalita hops from NZ, very citrusy and funky.

With the mandatory casks dealt with, I was off to try out some sake, heading first to Brooklyn Kura and trying their Blue Door Junmai Nama; at 17% I wanted to get that one out of the way as soon as possible.

And then I totally forgot about sticking to lagers when I noticed the bottles of Long Way Home grape sour (distinctive and delicious) lined up at the Big Alice stand with Scott standing guard over them; Kyle was out and about in the crowd, and I was not able to catch up with him.

New plan – go get some bottled sours and/or farmhouse beers.

I knew where to look too; Fox Farm would be next.

I have had several Fox Farm casks before, both in NYC (Grand Delancey?) and at cask events at Nod Hill Brewing in Connecticut but this was my first opportunity to sample one of their impressive farmhouse/spontaneous sours, in this case Arietta, which was absolutely delicious.

Chatting with Dave, I confirmed that our paths would be crossing again at the end of March when Nod Hill will be reprising their Afternoon of Casks for a third time.

Looking over my shoulder, I spotted that Grimm had also brought a bottled sour along for the occasion, their Gathering: Tart Cherry and Peach variant, also very tasty.

And then it was sake round two, this time Kato Sake Works, starting with their Doburoku; I love the ‘raw’ cloudy sakes, it is that old warm, flat, cloudy thing, I guess.

Chatting with Shinobu (what a nice guy) and Brett Taylor of Wild East who happened to be hanging out at the Kato booth, I was directed to their Tokubetsu ‘sour’ sake and may have found a new favorite; I have to get back out to Bushwick soon and visit the new brewery and taproom.

Then it was time to check out the newcomers to NYC, Nightglow who just opened up in Bushwick (how convenient) and Back Home Beer who I hope have a physical presence soon.

And then a quick swing by Endless Life to say hi to Jeff and get a pour of his amazing Satellites are Spinning Lambic/Pale Ale; delicious as always.

Before circling back to Strong Rope to finish with another generous pour of Eleven.

I think that I may have also sampled KCBC Revenge of the Pils (oh look, a Czech lager), Plan Bee Rose Hill (strawberry and peach farmhouse ale), Upward Base Camp (my only non-hazy IPA), Dyke Beer Gayzy Hazy IPA (yep, my only hazy) and Forest & Main ESB (my only bitter).

Very happy that I finally persuaded myself to attend the NYC Beer Week Opening Bash, and who knows, you may see me there next year as well.

You will definitely see me at Caskalot! on Friday evening…

Scorecard w/e 02/27/24

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

  • Finback Dot Dot Dot w/Manalita Hops @ 2024 NYC Beer Week Opening Bash
  • Strong Rope Eleven @ 2024 NYC Beer Week Opening Bash
  • Strong Rope (& Dancing Grain Farm Brewery) Roebling @ 2024 NYC Beer Week Opening Bash

Upcoming Cask Festivals

3/1/24 – 3/3/24: Caskalot! at Fifth Hammer

3/24/24: An Afternoon of Casks at Nod Hill Brewing, Ridgefield CT

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)

5/18/24: NYS British Real Ale Festival at Seneca Lake Brewing

11/8/2024: Two Roads Cask Fest

11/9/2024: 20th Annual Blue Point Cask Ale Festival

Upcoming Random Casks in NYC

3/6/24: Suarez Family Bitter at Threes Brewing Gowanus for Belgian Tavern Night

NYC Cask Venues

Known Operational/Active Beer Engines

  • Jones Wood Foundry (x2)
  • Fifth Hammer
  • Wild East
  • The Shakespeare (x3)
  • Cask Bar & Kitchen
  • Drop-off Service
  • Spuyten Duyvil

Occasional Pins (worth a follow on Instagram)

  • Strong Rope
  • KCBC
  • Torst

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