Bier Magazine
Home » events

Beer, Bourbon and Barbecue Festival Goes Big City

Submitted by on February 3, 2010 – 7:55 AMNo Comment
Bookmark and Share

Manhattan, NY  – Last Saturday was a typical blustery afternoon on the west side of Manhattan. The wind whipped off the Hudson River punishing pedestrians with a cruel, relentless sting that sent them retreating into bundles of scarves and upturned collars. But for those passing by the Terminal Stores at 28th Street, the wind became a welcoming carrier of the pleasant smells of summer bursting from the Beer, Bourbon and Barbecue Festival.

Closing out its third touring year, the popular Beer, Bourbon and Barbecue Festival traveled well above its comfortable stomping grounds south of the Mason-Dixon Line in an effort to show the Yankees up in New York City a thing or two about eating and drinking your way into a coma. The show offered up a generous supply of over 60 beers, 40 bourbons and a selection of barbecue and the fixings from pit masters up and down the East Coast.

“We didn’t want to do just a beer festival because it’s so normal,” said Greg Nivens, an affable North Carolina native whose Trigger Agency organized the event. “So I said ‘Hell, if you really want to make a show, you’d make it with barbecue. We’d all have bourbon to drink. We all sat around and thought about what would be really fun, and that’s how the Beer, Bourbon and Barbecue Festival [came to be].”

Nearly 5,000 New Yorkers converged on the festival’s pair of four-hour sessions, an attendance number that floored Nivens. “It’s the first year, we never expected this many people to be here.” Despite the crowd, he was quick to note that things were going well. “We’re still here, we got everybody in and they’re all having fun… [but] we expected to have one third this many people, so now we need two hours to switch [between sessions] and we only have an hour.”

Crowds of eager pork, bourbon and beer connoisseurs were nearly impenetrable as the festival got underway. Tasting lines quickly became blurred in the mess of people, which became frustrating for those who lost track of where to queue. The crush died off as the day rolled along, and festival goers eventually found comfortable spots to spend the day, either in the foggy cigar lounge; by the bluegrass stage, where the Buffalo based Doug Yeoman & Mountain Run performed a killer rendition of The Byrds’ “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere;” or in front of the mechanical bull, where mostly overindulgent men slowly slid off the side of the tamely bucking beast to a sad, comedic effect.

“New Yorkers are so epicurious,” Nivens said of the day’s crowd, “they love good food, they love trying things, they love tasting things and that’s what this show is all about.” The festival featured several choice beers, bourbons and barbecues, including Harlem favorite Dinosaur BBQ, whose chopped pork shoulder and baked beans had a consistently long line throughout the day. Goose Island had a pair of beers up for tasting, including the excellent Bourbon County Stout, and there were a number of other great brewers on site including Heartland Brewing, Flying Dog, Oskar Blues and Smuttynose.

Along with the free food and booze were a number of special guests and panels, including Kevin Smith, master distiller for Maker’s Mark and Harlen Wheatley from Buffalo Trace; and food bloggers Tom Fischer and Anthony Caporale who discussed the magical combination of blogging and drinking

As the day winded down and the barbecue and beer stocks started to dwindle, attendees crowded around the overstocked coat check and bundled up preparing to leave this proxy version of a North Carolina summer. As for Greg Nivens and Trigger Agency, however, the fun never stops. Their next event, the Chesapeake Oyster & Beer Festival, takes place in Baltimore on Feb. 19.