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Long Island Welcomes International Beer Expo

Submitted by on November 19, 2009 – 9:38 AMNo Comment
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International Beer Festival

Click here to view pictures from the festival... (photos by Chris Romano)

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Uniondale, NY – Over 50 breweries from more than 20 countries came together this weekend to showcase their finest microbrews, craft beers, and premium best-sellers at the International Great Beer Expo at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

Some of America’s best breweries stood up next to beers from Japan, Germany, Nicaragua, Canada, Indonesia, Trinidad, France, Belgium, Australia, India, Spain, Czech Republic, Mexico, Thailand, Poland, New Zealand, Italy, and China.

Despite the damp, rainy weather outside, Long Island’s own Nassau Coliseum managed to draw huge crowds to the second annual event of its kind with cask-ale demonstrations, a faux-German beer garden, and music provided by WBAB. A portion of the proceeds went to benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and the Terry Farrell Firefighters Fund.

Popular demand brought back the German Beer Hall to the center of the room, helping to feature some of Germany’s best breweries including Hofbrau, Konig, and others. German-style oversized pretzels and bratwurst were served in this Munich-inspired indoor beer hall.

All of Long Island’s major breweries were present at the expo in addition to all the national and international brewing companies. Arguably Long Island’s most notable local brewery, Blue Point Brewing Co. was also one of the most popular featured at the festival. Guests like Melanie Parker, Tom Hansen, and Kaylin Penny all happily pointed out that Blue Point Brewery was their number one beer at the Expo.

Throughout the course of the four-hour event, Blue Point held a constant crowd that rarely wavered. “Our Rastafar-Rye was definitely our most popular pour of the day,” Jim Richards of Blue Point Brewing Co., said.

Long Island and New York City’s locally brewed crafts held their ground to stand out as superior brews at the festival, even amidst the plethora of over 100 beers in the spotlight. Breweries like Southampton Brewing (who showcased their locally famous Pumpkin Ale), Long Ireland Beer Co., Hometown Beverages, John Harvard’s Brew House

and Brickhouse Brewery all displayed some of their finest and most popular brews for the occasion.

Fire Island Brewing Company used the event to get the word out about their new Red Wagon IPA, however the newest brew to the Fire Island name is almost too hoppy, and takes the bitterness a bit too far. On the other hand, Long Island’s newest brewery, Greenport harbor Brewing Co. did manage to successfully create a decent name for themselves with the aid of the Expo. John Liegy and Rich Vanderburgh, both founders of Greenport Harbor Brewing Co., attended the festival and proudly poured their own beers for the event.

Greenport’s Leaf Pile Pumpkin Ale and the company’s outstanding Black Duck Porter were the most recommended by the founders and were definitely popular choices of the drinkers in attendance. The Leaf Pile is a sweet pumpkin-flavored ale that does not need to rely on a sugar-rimmed glass for taste and the Black Duck Porter is a smooth, black and brown ale that is accompanied by the rich scents of strong coffee and buttery nuts.

Of all the local breweries in attendance, certain beers really caught the attention of the masses. Some beer enthusiasts found a favorite in Harlem Brewing Company’s Sugarhill Golden Ale, a lighter-on-the-hops ale that tastes more sweet than bitter. “Because it’s Harlem, it’s a little sweeter,” said Dan Hertzberg, a Long Island native who now resides near Newark, NJ.

There were many traditional lagers and ales up for tasting at the event, such as Kingfisher Brewing Company’s Premium Lager, a beer proclaimed by Kingfisher area sales manager Vidher Kumar Mehra to be the “Budweiser of India.” However, some of the most stand-out tastes came from those who were not afraid to push the envelope on how a beer should taste.

Magic Hat Brewing Company featured its new limited edition American Sour Ale, the latest in the brewery’s whimsical line of Odd Notions. “It’s not for everyone,” John Marchetti of Magic Hat, said. “We don’t put a lot of emphasis on the Odd Notions, but we like to showcase that we can do them.” The American Sour is a brown ale with a strange greenish hue to the color that tastes as if someone had dissolved sour candy into the pint.

Eel River Brewing Co. of Fortuna, California showcased two of the brewery’s darker organic selections: Raven’s Eye Imperial Stout, a dark and smooth Russian stout with hints of caramel and the beautiful smell of roasted espresso; and the deep amber Triple Exultation. “The Raven’s Eye is definitely a fan favorite,” said John Kwamya of Eel River Brewing Co.

Legacy Brewing Co. also showcased a taste for the unusual with its new Hoptimus Prime Double IPA. The nine percent ABV and 92 IBU beer is the newest addition to Legacy’s repertoire of strong tasting beers such as Hedonism Red Ale and Euphoria Ale.

The most popular of the 100-plus beers of the International Great Beer Expo’s first session was Samuel Adam’s Cherry Wheat. Three out of five surveyed after the festival listed the cherry-flavored golden wheat beer as their favorite brew of the festival, although a very close runner-up was Blue Point Brewing Co.’s Rastafar-Rye.