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Hudson Valley Breweries Win Big at TAP New York

Hunter Mountain’s annual beer celebration marked its 19th anniversary on April 23 and 24

Photographs courtesy of TAP New York

How are they going to keep fitting all of these breweries under the tents?

That’s what I asked myself as I toured this year’s TAP New York Craft Beer and Food Festival, the popular Hunter Mountain shindig that celebrated its 19th year on April 23 and 24. Nearly 120 breweries set up shop indoors and out, alongside food merchants and other vendors, to greet the pretzel necklace-wearing crowds. This year’s theme was the “Great American Burger,” but a variety of offerings came scattered around the lodge; many a flash mob could be seen swooping down upon plates of fresh corn dogs.

Now, on the subject of beer: Last year, my picks for the most significant trends of 2015 were farmhouse ales and the steady dominance of IPAs. This year, I got a very different vibe; the trend seemed to be... everything. There are now so many breweries that the saturation of offerings is fairly complete (with one exception, that I’ll get to later). And with most brewers lugging three or four beers — and a few hauling almost a dozen — there are hundreds of choices. Whatever it is you’re into, you’ll find it.

TAP New York festgoers
Festgoers rocking pretzel necklaces

The Wild Ones

Each year has seen a steady increase in both the number of breweries experimenting with farmhouse ales and the maturity and success of their creations. Perhaps none offered greater evidence of this than Brown’s Brewing (Troy), a longtime presence in the Capital Region, which only recently has shifted toward brewing numerous sour beers through their smaller pilot system. Brown’s made sure these new innovations didn’t go unnoticed, treating festgoers to almost a dozen experimental offerings, half of them falling on the funky and sour side. Newcomers like Common Roots (South Glens Falls) and LIC Beer Project (Queens) brought out some impressive offerings, both wild and of the tamer variety. Returning breweries like Sloop Brewing (Elizaville), Rare Form (Troy), Prison City (Auburn), and Nedloh (Bloomfield) continued to demonstrate their refinement on the wild side of things as well.

The New Guys

The festival is known for drawing brewers from all corners of the state, and it’s great to see such evidence that the beer industry truly is taking off across New York. (Be appreciative that brewers themselves staff their booths at the festival: some of them will have had quite a long drive to make back home on Sunday night, while tragically missing Game of Thrones). There were new names (to me) from every region, like Big Ditch (Buffalo); Paradox Brewery (Schroon Lake) in the Adirondacks; Strong Rope Brewery (Brooklyn); and even the new education-focused brewery led by former Crossroads (Athens) brewmaster Hutch Kugeman, the Brewery at the CIA (Hyde Park). Another newcomer and standout was Sand City Brewery, hailing from Northport, Long Island, whose IPAs and stout were personal favorites.

The Veterans

It can’t be forgotten, though, that the Hudson Valley has been home to some of the best and most exciting breweries in the state for years. While many of them, like Captain Lawrence (Elmsford) and Newburgh Brewing (Newburgh), have now been around and are plenty familiar to the TAP New York crowds, they’re still pouring some of the best beer at the fest. Peekskill Brewery (Peekskill) and Rushing Duck (Chester) can be counted on to bring their finest, including Juices Flowin’ (from the former) and Divided By Zero (from the latter) — by far some of the best beers of the whole festival.

crossroads ch evans

Athens’ Crossroads Brewing Company (left) won this year’s Matthew Vassar Brewers’ Cup (Best Craft Beer Brewery in the Hudson Valley), while the fellas of C.H. Evans Brewing at the Albany Pump Station walked away with the Governor’s Brewers’ Cup (Best Craft Beer in New York State)

Make It Last

My only complaint isn’t specific to TAP New York, but rather, with current beer fests in general: can we please have a few more sessionable offerings? With several hundred options, one has to do some careful accounting to try even a fraction of these, and when a majority of them are boozy imperials, you begin to realize that just one of these heavy hitters might set you back as far as several easier-drinking options. Tremendous flavor can be had with any ABV, and the goal of a beer fest is to try as many interesting flavors as possible. I hope to see brewers start to move away from the overabundance of 8%+ options in future years.

This year will prove to be a noteworthy one for the Hudson Valley beer scene, especially as a number of highly-anticipated breweries are slated to open around summertime. As the New York brewing industry grows, TAP New York offers a glimpse of its progress every April. In 2017, I expect one will wander the mountain and see a whole cast of new faces once again.

Derek Dellinger is the creator of the brewing blog, brewmaster at Kent Falls Brewing Co., and author of The Fermented Man (Overlook Press), out 2016.

2016 TAP New York Cup Winners

F.X. Matt Memorial Cup
Best Craft Beer Brewery in New York State

The Matthew Vassar Brewers’ Cup
Best Craft Beer Brewery in the Hudson Valley

Governors’ Brewers’ Cup
Best Craft Beer in New York State

John Calen Memorial Award
Best Brown Ale in New York State

2016 TAP New York Medal Winners

Wheat Beer
New York State

  • Gold: Southern Tier Brewing Co. (Lakewood) - 3 Citrus Peel Out - American Wheat
  • Silver: New Paltz Brewing Co. (New Paltz) - Hefeweizen
  • Bronze: Local 315 Brewing Co. (Camillus) - Lawn Jockey

Hudson Valley

  • Gold: New Paltz Brewing Co. (New Paltz) - Hefeweizen
  • Silver: Brown's Brewery (Troy) - Raspberry Sour Berliner Weisse
  • Bronze: (None)

Light Lagers
New York State

  • Gold: Sixpoint Brewery (Brooklyn) - Crisp Pilsner
  • Silver: Steuben Brewing Co. (Hammondsport) - The Golden One Lager
  • Bronze: Mad Jack Brewery (Schenectady) - Pilsner

Hudson Valley

  • Gold: Mad Jack Brewery (Schenectady) - Pilsner
  • Silver: Shmaltz Brewing Co. (Clifton Park) - Sling Shot
  • Bronze: Mill House Brewing Co. (Poughkeepsie) - Kold One

Dark/Strong Lagers
New York State

  • Gold: New Paltz Brewing Co. (New Paltz) - Rauchbier Amber Lager
  • Silver: Kelso of Brooklyn (Brooklyn) - Nut Brown Lager
  • Bronze: Blue Point Brewing Co. (Patchogue) - Toasted Lager

Hudson Valley

  • Gold: New Paltz - Rauchbier Amber Lager
  • Silver: Greenport Harbor Brewing Co. (Greenport) - Maibock
  • Bronze: High Point Brewing Co. (Butler, NJ) - Maibock

Light Ales
New York State

  • Gold: Stoneyard Brewing Co. (Brockport) - Toasted Coconut Kareem Ale
  • Silver: Bull & Barrel Brew Pub (Brewster) - Honey Blueberry Ale
  • Bronze: KUKA (Blauvelt) - Palisades Pale Ale

Hudson Valley

  • Gold: Bull & Barrel Brew Pub (Brewster) - Honey Blueberry Ale
  • Silver: KUKA (Blauvelt) - Palisades Pale Ale
  • Bronze: Mill House Brewing Co. (Poughkeepsie) - Queen City Cucumber Cream Ale

Strong Ales
New York State

  • Gold: Lyon Smith Brewing Co. (Penn Yann) - Ryle Pale Ale Strong Bitter
  • Silver: C.H. Evans Brewing (Albany) - Wee Heavy Strong Scotch Ale
  • Bronze: Pine Island Brewing Co. (Pine Island) - Scottish Ale

Hudson Valley

  • Gold: C.H. Evans Brewing (Albany) - Wee Heavy - Strong Scotch Ale
  • Silver: Pine Island Brewing Co. (Pine Island) - Scottish Ale
  • Bronze: Lake Placid Pub & Brewery (Lake Placid) - Red Wheat Wine

New York State

  • Gold: Local 315 Brewing Co. (Camillus) - Soul Kiss IPA
  • Silver: Port Jeff Brewing Co. (Port Jefferson) - Party Boat IPA
  • Bronze: Brewery Ommegang (Cooperstown) - Nirvana IPA

Hudson Valley

  • Gold: Newburgh Brewing Co. (Newburgh) - Mega Boss
  • Silver: Adirondack Brewery (Lake George) - IPA
  • Bronze: Pine Island (Pine Island) - IPA

Strong IPAs
New York State

  • Gold: Shmaltz Brewing Co. (Clifton Park) - Wishbone Session Double IPA
  • Silver: Big Ditch Brewing Co. (Buffalo) - Deep Cut Double IPA
  • Bronze: Common Roots Brewing (Glens Falls) - Daylight DIPA

Hudson Valley

  • Gold: Shmaltz Brewing Co. (Clifton Park) - Wishbone Session Double IPA
  • Silver: Common Roots Brewing (Glens Falls) - Daylight DIPA
  • Bronze: Paradox Brewery (Schroon Lake) - Southern Hemis-phere Double IPA

New York State

  • Gold: Great South Bay Brewery (Bay Shore) - Hog Cabin Smoked Porter
  • Silver: Cooperstown Brewing (Cooperstown) - Benchwarmer Porter
  • Bronze: KUKA (Blauvelt) - Cocoa Ono Porter

Hudson Valley

  • Gold: KUKA (Blauvelt) - Cocoa Ono
  • Silver: Crossroads Brewing Co. (Athens) - Successor Imperial Porter
  • Bronze: (None)

New York State

  • Gold: The North Brewery (Endicott) - God Complex Stout with hazelnut, coffee, and chili
  • Silver: Crossroads Brewing Co. (Athens) - Black Rock Stout
  • Bronze: Keuka Brewing Co. (Hammondsport) - Local Mocha Imperial Stout

Hudson Valley

  • Gold: Crossroads Brewing Co. (Athens) - Black Rock Stout
  • Silver: Common Roots Brewing (Glens Falls) - Coffee Cup Imperial Stout
  • Bronze: Great Life Brewing (Kingston) - 1875 Milk Stout

Belgian Styles
New York State

  • Gold: Destination Unknown Beer Co. (Bay Shore) - Triple Rainbow Belgian Triple
  • Silver: C.H. Evans Brewing (Albany) - Union Station Belgian Quad
  • Bronze: The Farmhouse Brewery (Newark Valley) - Crazy Daisy Belgian Triple

Hudson Valley

  • Gold: C.H. Evans Brewing (Albany) - Union Station Belgian Quad
  • Silver: Chatham Brewing (Chatham) - Ghent Bent Belgian Double
  • Bronze: Blue Collar Brewery (Poughkeepsie) - Belgian Golden Strong Ale

Aged Beers
New York State

  • Gold: Abandon Brewing Co. (Penn Yan) - Rye Whiskey Barrel Aged Porter
  • Silver: Captain Lawrence Brewing (Elmsford) - Frost Monster Imperial Aged Stout
  • Bronze: Nedloh Brewing Co (Bloomfield) - Rickey Aged Belgian Pale Ale with lime

Hudson Valley

  • Gold: Captain Lawrence Brewing (Elmsford) - Frost Monster Imperial Aged Stout
  • Silver: Crossroads Brewing Co (Athens) - Crossroads Aged Barleywine
  • Bronze: Brown's Brewing (Troy) - Imperial Brown Ale Barrel Aged
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