Wednesday, April 24, 2013

2013 TAP-NY Preview

It is almost that time again.  TAP-NY is the biggest festival in New York State and has turned into a yearly holiday for us at TheFoamingHead. 

We attended our first TAP-NY in 2007 and have come back for both sessions each year since.  We published our first preview in 2009, and covered the event with a two part live blog covering Saturday and Sunday.  After a break in 2010 we came back with both preview and recaps in 2011 and 2012. (2011 and 2012 previews and 2011 and 2012 recaps).

The 2013 edition of TAP-NY shows continued growth with 93 breweries receiving invitations to pour their beers and compete for the following awards:

The Matthew Vassar Brewers' Cup
The Vassar Cup is awarded to the best brewery in the Hudson Valley.  The top three beers in the Hudson Valley are also awarded Gold, Silver and Bronze medals under this category.   Chatham Brewing Company took home last year's Vassar Cup with Lake Placid's KB's Wee Heavy Scotch Ale taking home the Gold medal, Captain Lawrence's Imperial IPA taking home the Silver, and High Point's Ramstein Double Platinum Blonde taking home the Bronze.

The F.X. Matt Memorial Cup
The F.X. Matt Cup is awarded to the best brewery in New York State. As with The Vassar Cup, the top three breweries in this category also receive Gold, Silver and Bronze medals under this category.  In a new twist this year, the beer receiving the Gold medal for best beer in New York State will also be awarded The Governor's Cup.  The award was named after Governor Cuomo in recognition of his continued efforts to promote craft beer in New York State.  Spider Bite Brewing was named the best brewery in New York at last year's festival with Bandwagon's High Step Hefeweizen winning the Gold medal, Captain Lawrence's Imperial IPA winning the Silver, and Horseheads' Chocolate Porter winning the Bronze.    

The John Calen Memorial Award
The John Calen award is named after one of the founders of TAP-NY.  Created in 2011 to honor his passing, the event's organizers choose a different style of beer each year and give the award to the best beer in that style.  The inagural award honored English-Style Pale Ales and last year's award recognized Porters. 

*Speaking of medals,  Captain Lawence Captain's Reserve might as well be the official beer of TAP-NY.  We said it last year in our recap and it is worth repeating.  In 2006, the Double IPA won both the Vassar and Matt gold medal. In 2007 it captured the Vassar Silver. In 2009 it won the Vassar gold. In 2010 it took both the Vassar and Matt Silver. This year it again took both the Vassar and Matt Silver medals. Seven years, eight medals for the beer that we scored 96 points and have ranked as the best beer in New York State (out of over 400 we have tasted.)

*There has also been a recent trend of new breweries winning one of the cups.  We caught onto this trend last year and predicted that Newburgh Brewing would win one of the titles.  As with most of our predicitons we were wrong and it was Spider Bite who ended up being the new brewery who impressed.   

*Who are the first time invitees this year?  Andean Brewing Co.mpany, The Beer Diviner, Birdland Brewing, Blind Bat Brewing, Bridge & Tunnel Brewery, Community Beer Works, Council Rock Brewery, Druthers Brewing Company, Brewery at Dutch Ale House, Eataly, 508 Gastrobrewery, Good Nature Brewing Company, Gordon Biersch, Honey Hollow Brewery, Naked Dove Brewing, Naked Flock Hard Cider, Rushing Duck Brewing, Single Cut Beersmiths, Sloop Brewing Company, and Yonkers Brewing Company.  We have not received the final list of which breweries have committed to attending so it makes our prediciton even harder.  If the trend of new kids on the block taking home a trophy continues, mark us down for Rushing Duck (Sorry for the jinx).

*The Bronx Brewery has been in the news a lot lately with their plans to open their own facility as well as the recent release of their flagship pale ale in cans.  Their subsequent releases have been different versions of their classic pale, with rye, Belgian, and black versions.  Let's hope they bring all four.

*We just reviewed Captain Lawrence's Sun Block wheat beer.  One of the best seasonal beers we have had in a long time, we will have more than a few pours of this beer if the temperature heats up this weekend. 

*Cave Mountain may be small but they are constantly keeping things interesting.  Past TAP-NY pours have included a Hemp Seed Ale, and an IPA that checked in at 400 IBU's. What do they have in store for this year?

*After winning last year's Vassar Cup, the boys from Chatham Brewing reveled in their glory.  They also gave me quite a bit of grief for not even mentioning them in our annual preview.  I was able to take a trip up the Interstate to visit them and check out the space for their new brewery.  Head brewer Matt Perry does a phenominal job with the limited space he is currently brewing in and I can't wait to see what he produces once he gets into the new space.

*Not sure if they are coming (Buffalo is a long ways away), but I have heard nothing but good things from people I trust about Community Beer Works.  Let's hope the small brewery brings some of their beer for the Hudson Valley to taste.

*Druthers Brewing will impress at their first TAP-NY.  Head brewer George DePiro is the former brewer of the Albany Pump Station/C.H. Evans Ale where he was responsible for brewing the multiple time GABF winner Kick Ass Brown Ale.

*Eataly and 508 Gastrobrewery have been receiving a lot of press lately.  The two New York Ciity brewpubs have been invited but I have not confirmed their attendance.  Eataly is the joint venture that counts Dogfish Head's Sam Caligione as one of its co-founders.  My collegue and I finally got down to taste some of their beers and they were well brewed and unique at the same time.  508 Gastrobrewery has gaining notorioty after longtime New York beer guru Chris Cuzme took over the reins as head brewer.

*F.X. Matt Brewing has always suffered an undeserved stigma among craft beer "nerds/geeks/snobs" as a "gateway" brewery.  Cliche terms aside I have been very impressed with Saranac's recent expansion of their High Peaks Series.  Hopefully they will be pouring any one or multiple offerings from this series. 
*Just got a chance to taste our first Long Ireland beer.  Their Pale Ale scored an impressive 93 points.  That is all. 

*Peekskill is all moved into their new facility and head brewer Jeff O'Neill has been cranking out impressive beer after impressive beer.  I was able to taste his Simple Sour and it was another incredible sour ale (remember Jeff was the one who brewed Brute during his time at Ithaca).  I have heard that his Amazeballs beer is even better and has now created a Triple IPA to follow in the footsteps of his Eastern Standard and Double Standard.

*We named Rushing Duck as our pick to take home an award and for good reason.  The new Orange County brewery is just a few miles down the road from TheFoamingHead headquarters and we couldn't be happier.  We haven't tasted a bad beer from them and most have them have been very good.  Consider this RD's coming out party. 

*Sloop Brewing is the new local nanobrewery in the Hudson Valley.  We were able to taste their Red C on cask at the Aroma Thyme/Keegan Ales Hudson Valley Beer & Cheese Festival and loved it. 

*Applewood Winery has created their own line of apple ciders and has named it Naked Flock Hard Cider.  They just brewed a cider with hops which I have not had the chance to taste but their pumpkin apple cider was really enjoyable.  I am looking forward to tasting a few more of Naked Flock's varities of cider. 

Below is a complete list of the breweries invited.   

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