BanBClassic_PSC8020

Take Me Out To The Beer Game: Two New Festivals Bringing Brews To Stadiums

BanBClassic_PSC8020I have a love-hate relationship with baseball. Mostly, I think there should be a shot clock on the pitcher to move things along, but I grew up watching a lot of it on WGN (and still have a soft spot for the Cubs and miss Harry Caray’s seventh inning sing-along stretch). However, despite being one of the more affordable sports options to watch in person, I’ve never been a huge fan of heading out to the stadium to bask in the sun (and hope there are no pop up fouls heading my way).

But if they’re going to be bringing in great beer on a sweaty July Saturday? Yeah, I’m game.

In fact, two baseball stadiums will play host to two new events during this “July Good Beer Month” in NYC: Coney Island On Tap (click here for ticket options) on July 12th at MCU Park (home to Brooklyn’s minor league Cyclones) and the Bacon and Beer Classic (ditto) on July 26th at CitiField (home to the Mets, in case you weren’t aware).

Each event offers a different experience for attendees, and although both have designated driver tickets, the good news for straphangers is the easy access to both venues via (hopefully air conditioned) subway.

Among the features of Coney Island On Tap:

  • Limited tickets – Town Square Media is a veteran producer that has limited the number of attendees to a very reasonable 3,000. They recently added a second evening session to ensure that everyone has easy access to the beer stands.
  • A wide variety of breweries – Nearly 60 brewers are on board, including several that don’t frequent the festival circuit, such as hometown gypsy brewer Radiant Pig Craft Beers and one of my personal favs from NJ, River Horse (their DIPA is to die for!). More than 100 beers will be available with specialty beers in the VIP section.
  • Location, location, location – Whether you decide to head to the beach in the morning, break at midday (for the 1-4 p.m. session) or head to the beach in the afternoon to hang out until the evening session (from 5-8 p.m.), you won’t make a mistake to combine this event with the beach and boardwalk.
  • Affordability – because this is a beer-centric event, the tickets are relatively inexpensive ($40 in advance for general admission). The stadium is selling its own ballpark food, so bring extra cash if you want to drink and dine.

Key features of Bacon and Beer Classic:

  • Restaurants – Let’s face it, beer is great but beer with bacon? Well, that’s just the best. From Tommy Harder’s team at Blind Tiger to off-the-beaten path Queens gastropubs (Oliver’s Astoria, Blackbird’s), there is a great line-up of food vendors to choose from.
  • One hour VIP early admission – Typically VIP options that just throw in some swag aren’t worth the additional price, but when you get in an hour before everyone else, you’re wise to pay up. And in the case of the Bacon and Beer Classic, the VIPs get private tours of the Mets stadium, which is great if you’re a super fan because when else will you get inside the dugout?
  • Demos and education – There will be celebrity chefs and beer experts on hand presenting cooking demonstrations and beer education classes. No doubt with sampling involved.

Both events look like a great chance for the non-Montauk-going set to have the illusion of getting out of town for the day, with a chance to combine baseball lore with everyone’s true favorite pastime: drinking beer.

Marcus_800

Rockaway Brewing: Bringing Beer Back To Queens

tapsThey may only be working a two-barrel system that generates a mere 12 kegs per week, but Rockaway Brewing Company is quickly losing its status as Queens’ best-kept beer secret. Now that the LIC Food & Flea is in session, the growler-only shop has its unofficial “tasting room” across the street, where Flea-goers can drink Rockaway Pale Ale or English ESB in a plastic to-go cup while browsing for cool chandeliers and apartment accessories, or paired with the many food options the Flea is serving up.

grinder

It’s been four years since co-founders and brewers Marcus Burnett and Ethan Long started brewing in their Far Rockaway beach bungalow backyard, but the true impact on the Queens brew scene cannot be overstated. Queens now has several licensed craft breweries, but it was Marcus and Ethan who launched the renaissance back in 2009. They finally were able to distribute city-wide when they opened the brew house in Long Island City last year.

coolerAnd the brewery has progress a long way from the days when they were carting nano-kegs on their bikes. Marcus admits that despite the limited number of kegs, several of NYC’s beer distributors have approached him to carry Rockaway beers. Thanks to the weekend foot traffic, the brew house is regularly selling out its stock with no need for wider distribution channels. Of course, they maintain their presence in the Rockaways, where restaurants with long-term Rockaway Brewing connects have fought back this summer post-Sandy. You can still find Rockaway beers stocked at Rockaway Taco and Caracas.

The brew house itself is largely a DIY set-up that harkens back to the brewers’ homebrew days out on the beach. From the grinder to the cleaning system, Marcus and Ethan have created a brewery for pennies on the multi-thousand-dollar. It’s a truly cool space that anyone brewing in an apartment will appreciate, and a far cry from the traditional setups of larger brewers in the city.

For now, anyhow, Rockaway Brewing is going to maintain its nano roots, and keep bringing great beer to the small masses of Queens.

Rockaway Brewing’s brew house is located at 46-01 5th Street (that’s the corner of 5th St. and 46th Ave., for those who don’t speak “Queens”), and open Friday 3-8PM and Saturday-Sunday 11AM-4PM.

Singlcut Beersmiths' Head Brewer Rich Buceta. Photo courtesy of First We Feast.

Meet Rich Buceta of Singlecut Beersmiths

Singlcut Beersmiths' Head Brewer Rich Buceta. Photo courtesy of First We Feast.

Singlcut Beersmiths’ Head Brewer Rich Buceta. Photo courtesy of First We Feast.

Queens is quickly becoming home to some amazing new breweries. Among the more prominent is Astoria’s Singlecut Beersmiths. I recently had the chance to interview head brewer, Rich Buceta, about the Nano-brew Dinner at Jimmy’s No. 43, part of NYC Beer Week. Singlecut is a micro-brewer, but that’s okay. We’ll take our beer from a multi-barrel system, too!

Singlecut Beersmiths has only been open a few months and already boasts of an impressive line-up of beers, including its Raw Mahogany Ale, which was paired with a Roasted Carrot and Aged Cow’s Milk Cheese on Toasts at the five-course dinner.

Head Brewer and President Rich Buceta updated us on the state of his microbrewery, adding music to the brewery, and his love of craft beer.

What was the first beer you ever drank and the circumstances?

Knickerbocker Lager, my dad’s beer. It was brewed in NYC, and he’d give me a can after cutting the grass (this was in 7th grade mind you!). It was the most delicious thing I’d ever had, and it made me feel funny!

When did you realize that your “homebrew” was ready for primetime (i.e. consumer worthy)?

After consistently winning awards with the beer I’d been making.

Cans, bottles or keg-only? Explain your answer.

Kegs. We will get into cans soon, but for now, we’re in enough debt!

What is your desert island beer (i.e. if you could only drink one beer—or one brewer’s selection—for the rest of your life, what would it be and why)?

Alchemist Heady Topper! So original and superb.

How do craft beer brewers compete with “pseudo-craft,” i.e. special label beers being put out by factory-based commercial brewers (Anheuser-Busch and their ilk)?

No comparison, and the consumer’s taste buds will tell the truth.

What’s your biggest challenge as a micro-brewer?

Fortunately for us, it’s keeping up with demand.

Tell us about the beer you’re bringing (Raw Mahogany) to the dinner and how it will pair with our Roasted Beet, Shaved Pecorino Salad.
It’s walks the line between Pale Ale, IPA, Amber Ale and Red Ale in a way that isn’t on the market. We’re very proud of this beer.

What else do you want us to know about Singlecut Beersmiths?