Monday, September 27, 2010
This weekend, I had the pleasure of attending Get Real NY, a cask ale festival that is part of New York’s Craft Beer Week. The two-day event took place in the Altman Building and featured cask ales from the some of the country’s top brewers.
For those who are unfamiliar with cask-conditioned ale, it is beer that is naturally carbonated and served at room temperature. For those who just like to throw back a few cold ones, of which there seemed to be quite a few at Get Real NY, cask ale is probably not what you’re looking for. It is a style for beer-lovers who want to taste each and every flavor that is swimming in the beer.
In terms of beer snobbiness, I fall somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. I eschew macrobrews to the point that a 26-year-old male can, but for me, nothing beats an cold IPA on a hot day. While I appreciate the nuances of cask ale, it is not a style I love. With that said, I did try some cask ales that I really enjoyed at the event, including Otter Creek's Alpine Black IPA, Captain Lawrence's Birra DeCicco, and Smuttynose's Robust Porter. As you can tell from my favorites, I find that the best cask ales are the heavier styles; I think the lighter beers tend to taste watered down when served at room temperature with little carbonation.
Fortunately, the event did have a few cold beers available. Had it not, the event organizers may have faced a revolt from some of the rowdier men who showed up in football jerseys hoping to continue where they had left off at the bar. Among the cold beers, I particularly enjoyed Ommegang's Zurr, a sour ale that tasted of tart cherries. According to the Ommegang brewmaster, the Cooperstown brewery imports the ingredients for the beer from Lierfmans Brewery in Belgium. The production of the beer is very expensive, hence the reason that, unfortunately for all of us, the beer was a limited production and the last of it was served at Get Real NY.
I have to give credit to Get Real NY’s organizers, namely Chris Cuzme, Patrick Donagher, Alex Hall, and Mary Izett. The Saturday evening session was extremely crowded, but the lines to all of the beers remained short. Lots of beer and a big crowd usually don’t mix very well, but from what I saw, the event was flawless. All in all, it was a great event with an even better selection of beers.