Early morning Sunday on the way to pick up my brother-in-law/photographer with visions of last night’s WWE live event at Madison Square Garden still fresh in my head, I wondered how the rest of the day would unfold. In a few short hours The Hopster would kick off his first ever home brew festival at Beer Closet in LIC. All the planning and hard work in the distance, it would now come down to a 4 hour window on a steamy Sunday afternoon in a bustling and vibrant section of Queens.
Like any brand new venture the weeks leading up to the launch were filled with expectation, uncertainty and doubt. And this is not to be entirely unexpected; a first time event with grand ambitions of providing opportunities and connections for home brewers had a lot riding on it. Sink or swim, pass or fail, insert whatever cliché quip you’d like, but if it tanks The Hopster is shit out of luck. And with that, the home brewers in attendance would have made their trips for nothing, another empty opportunity that wouldn’t come to fruition. Would the brew Gods look down upon us with mercy? Or would we incur their wrath? The funny thing about those wacky brew gods is that you just never know. Conscious of the set up time and wary of the pointed jibes waiting from Pete and Darwin about my never ending lateness, Mark and I briskly strolled through the doors, equipment in hand, at 11:03. Okay so we were 3 minutes late but Pete was getting a steak and eggs at a dinner down the block and Darwin was just finishing his breakfast as I placed the equipment bag on wooden table closest to the entrance. Darwin flashed me a smile as he opened his cooler, filled to the brim with a delicious array of IPA’s from Grimm to SingleCut and beyond. It’s not like we needed more beer at a home brew festival where we were already guaranteed to sample and resample everything that everyone had to offer, but the closet alcoholic in me appreciated his planning. He closed his cooler and I turned away to assess the scene.
The first thing I felt was the heat, it was sweltering, the air thick, the ventilation minimal, summer was in full effect and it permeated every inch of Beer Closet. Next I noticed the home brewers who were working feverishly to set up their stations in order to get everything just right, or as right as they could get it, ahead of the start time. There were some meager smiles, uncertainty was in the air, but people quietly shuffled to and fro moving with purpose and intent. The Hopster greeted us with a big smile, wearing his logo on his t-shirt, small beads of sweat forming on his temples, he was equal parts nervous and excited and we assured him that Beer Today Beer Tomorrow was ready to podcast the hell out this son of a bitch. A moment later Pete arrived and with Mark snapping pics, we started our set up. After meeting all of the home brewers, this much was clear, this was not only a fun and lively group but a collection of individuals with true love and passion for their craft. The tap takeover featured four different offerings from event sponsor Big Alice so we sampled a few before heading back to the table. Moments before the event kick off time, we all sat huddled around a sea of wires and microphones and we stared at one another in silence. It was a brief yet poignant moment. This was it, we were ready. What time was it? Game time hooo!
And so the event kicked off and we interviewed each and every single home brewer and with them they brought the best of their best, their premier showcase offerings. This was their stage, a stage that was the brain child of the Hopster, and it was their time to shine and Beer Today Beer Tomorrow was here to chronicle it. I can tell you, without hesitation, every single beer we tried, (and we tried all of them more than once, some more than twice, others more than that) that these home brewers were the real deal. Their beers were good. They were well done, complex, layered and refreshing in the oppressive heat. Some dared to push the flavor boundaries of our palettes and all exceeded our expectations. Notable standouts included the Hopster’s very own Simply Sheerie Mango Double IPA – floral with a sneaky ABV, Bottle and Flask’s Cherry Stout- delicious cherry notes in abundance and Once You Gose Black by Josh (from Bronx Brewery) and his brew pal Manny – We aren’t big gose guys but we thoroughly enjoyed this one . The beers were swinging in rotation one after another, and more and more patrons, many of which are friends to BTBT, piled into Beer Closet. The good times were rolling, the beer was flowing and for a moment or two you almost forgot about how damn hot it was. The event without a doubt was a success. Shout out to The Hopster, all the home brewers and every single person who made the Home Brew Festival a hit. It’s early but one gets the feeling that this event will grow and get bigger and bigger and we are proud to say we were there when it all began.
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