Monday, May 19, 2014

Shmaltz Brewing’s First Anniversary Bash

iphone 268Last July, I attended the grand opening celebration of Shmaltz Brewery, which was a lot of fun. I was there representing my homebrew club, Albany Brew Crafters, and got to hand out a bunch of homebrew samples to attendees. Well, not even a year later and the same type of event was held on Saturday, the “Beer Gangs of New York” First Anniversary Bash.
It was a little different this time around, mostly due to the fact it was held outdoors rather than within the brewery. Considering the time of year, the weather should’ve been ideal for an outdoor event, but it was surprisingly cold and windy, with temperatures only reaching the low 60s (it felt even colder under the tent in the shade). Not that I’m faulting Shmaltz for the weather, obviously.
The setup to the “Anniversary Bash” was similar to the grand opening, but with even more breweries in attendance this year. There were 17 breweries, two homebrew clubs and two food trucks on site as part of the invited guest vendors. All of the breweries, except one, were from New York; many of them from the greater Capital Region (e.g. Brown’s, Albany Pump Station, Olde Saratoga Brewing, etc.). Since I was working the festival as part of the Albany Brew Crafters, I wasn’t able to check out every brewery’s booth, but did manage to grab a few samples here and there, including:
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  • “Easy Blonde Ale” by Alphabet City Brewing Company: A blonde ale that’s actually not boring.
  • “Fresh Cut Pilsner” by Peak Organic Brewing Company: The brewer described it as “70% grass, 30% honeydew” and I completely agree.
  • “Rutherford B. Haze” by Community Beer Works: Similar to a witbier, but more “Americanized.” Would make a great summer brew.
  • Shmaltz’s own “Death of a Contract Brewer” on cask with fresh cut mango, citra hops and blood orange flavoring: Neither good nor bad, but definitely interesting. Though you know how I feel about using casks as Randalls.
  • “Talon Smoked Double Porter” by Mendocino Brewing: A tasty combination of chocolate, maple, smoke and spicy bitterness.
I did try a few other beers from other brewers, but most of them I’d already had before, or they just weren’t that memorable (or both).
As for the homebrews, they went over very well with the crowd. I brought a few growlers of a standard hefeweizen I make every spring, which everyone seemed to enjoy. However, the kegged homebrews brought by my friend Dustin (who’s also the president of the homebrew club), knocked a lot of people’s socks off:
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  • “Liquid Sunshine” – an exactly to-spec Belgian Dubbel that had a nice balance of sweetness and spiciness from the Belgian yeast.
  • “Maple Porter” – a robust porter brewed with maple sap instead of water. Tasted more like a brown ale as it was quite sweet, but not cloying. Though the mouthfeel was a bit thin.
  • “Barrel Barleywine” – a 10.5% ABV English-style barleywine which was also quite sweet, but contained. Not actually barrel-aged, it is a prototype brew for an upcoming club project whereby we’ll brew this recipe on a commercial system and age it in a bourbon barrel until Christmas.
My only complaint would be the music. There was a band playing an eclectic mix of originals and cover songs, though they were placed entirely too close to the main event area making it as loud as a rock concert. I never understand why festivals like these feel the need to provide live music (or music at all, for that matter). People are there for the beer – not to rock out or to dance. It think it’s common knowledge that loud music (and dim lighting) is a technique bars use to get patrons to drink faster and in larger quantities, but I don’t really see the point in doing this at an all-you-can-drink outdoor venue. If music must be provided, can’t it just be background music?
We’ll be at another local festival similar to this at The Beer Diviner on June 7th. See you then!

SHMALTZ BREWING ANNIVERSARY from PilotGirl Productions on Vimeo.

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