When Terrapin chef-owner Josh Kroner decided not to renew the lease on the Dinsmore Golf Course catering facility, I wondered what it would mean for the New York State Craft BeerFest. The location, perched above one of the oldest golf courses in America, hosted that exquisite tasting of the beers for the last five years. August came and went without a tiny plastic tasting cup or drop of the sudsy stuff, leaving me sober and chagrined.
Behind the scenes an alternate plan was brewing. Kroner was in conversation with Tommy Keegan of Keegan Ales, who wanted to bring a bigger, better BeerFest to Kingston Point. With more than 500 people attending in 2011, this would mean more brewers, more volunteers, more planning and several permits. Like a fine barrel-aged beer, it would take more time – say till summer 2013.
To keep the cask rolling in the interim, Kroner devised an exciting and exclusive opportunity for BeerFest fans: the New York State Craft Beer Experience at Terrapin Restaurant in Rhinebeck. On Sunday, September 23, fest-goers will sample 40 beers from 25 New York breweries, complemented by a 10-course farm-to-table tasting menu. Beer lovers will pass through ten stations, each dedicated to a different style or cohort, featuring four beers matched with one creative Hudson Valley harvest-time dish. Begin with lighter fare and lagers; end with dessert and hearty coffee stouts. The progressive tasting will be guided by craft beer professionals, offering draught descriptions and answering questions.
It all takes place in Terrapin’s expansive dining room, set in a deconsecrated church on Route 9 in Rhinebeck, built in 1825. Only 100 tickets will be sold.
“We wanted to do something different, something fun,” said Kroner. “Trying three to four beers at each station with a food that’s been paired for that style is an interesting way to be able to compare what’s going on with the beers, and a great way to get to know a lot more about brewing in New York State.”
There are lagers, pilsners, Hefeweizens, ales flavored with blueberry and pumpkin, barley wines and Bourbon barrel-aged beers. Whether enthusiast or aficionado, there will be something there you’ve never quaffed before. For example, Keegan will present his new Rauchbier, a smoked beer made from a recipe dating from the 1800s. He is one of several brewmasters who will be there to mix and mingle with ticketed tasters.
“That’s going to be really small batch,” said Kroner, “and we’re able to bring in some newer brewers, like Newburgh. They don’t do bottle, so you can go to the brewery – which I hear is really nice – but you can’t buy it in stores. Come try it with us.”
Confirmed breweries for the event include: Brooklyn Brewery, Brewery Ommegang, Sixpoint Brewery, Southern Tier Brewing Company, Shmaltz Brewing Company, Lake Placid Brewery, Southampton, Saranac, Fire Island Brewery, Captain Lawrence Brewing Company, Ithaca Beer Company, Blue Point Brewing Company, Keegan Ales, Newburgh Brewing Company, Kelso of Brooklyn, Empire Brewing Company, Crossroads Brewing Company, Brown’s Brewing Company, Chatham Brewing Company, Middle Ages Brewing, Greenport Harbor Brewing Company, and Three Heads Brewery – and more will be added.
It should take about an hour and a half to complete the Craft Beer Experience. Groups will begin the process at ten-minute intervals throughout the afternoon. After the final station, enjoy a finish-line pint of your favorite beer on tap at Red Bistro, just down the hall from the dining room. “We’ll have a wheelbarrow at the end to wheel you into the Bistro,” said Kroner.
The NYS Craft Beer Experience will be held at Terrapin Restaurant, 6426 Montgomery St., Rhinebeck on Sunday, September 23. Reservations are required. Tickets are limited to 100, and are $65 per person, including beer, food and a pint at Red Bistro. Designated driver tickets are $26 per person, and include the ten-course farm-to-table tasting menu. To book, call (845) 876-3330 or visit Terrapinrestaurant.com.