Nov 9, 2013

NYC Craft Beer Festival – Winter Harvest Edition

PR:  New York, NY (Nov. 1st)  The Hand Crafted Tasting Company is happy to announce the return of its NYC Craft Beer Festival – WINTER HARVEST to the Lexington Avenue Armory (68 Lexington Ave.) in Manhattan on Saturday, November 23rd, 2013 for two sessions, and a special afternoon Session on Sunday, November 24th.

The Craft Beer tasting scheduled the weekend before Thanksgiving will showcase Winter releases from 75 of America’s best Craft Breweries, with approximately 150 selections. "When curating this list we wanted to showcase local breweries and how they fit into larger craft beer landscape, as well as some great brews from across the country," said Giancarlo Annese from "In fall and winter you like to have roasty and spicy flavors. But as always, the freshest beer is better beer."

Some of the featured beers on the main tasting room floor include Ommegang’s Take the Black Stout, Southern Tier’s 2 x Xmas, Bronx Brewery’s Black Pale Ale, Six Point Global Warmer, Founders Breakfast Stout, and Lake Placid’s Nipple Top Stout. To add more variety for the attendees’ palate, Hand Crafted is also showcasing a small selection of international beers for the very first time.

In the Connoisseurs Lounge, aficionados can sample additional beers like Allagash Hugh Malone, Corsendonk Christmas, Southern Tier Choklat, Firestone Walker Walker’s Reserve Porter and a selection each from Cigar City, Hopping Frog, Aspall, and Wandering Aengus Cider Works.

Delicious food specifically designed to be paired with the beer tasting sessions will be available for purchase in the food court from Morris Grilled Cheese, Carl’s Cheese Steaks, Cooper's Craft & Kitchen, and El Paso Tacos. Each restaurant will provide vegetarian options.

On Saturday, The NYC Craft Beer Festival will offer two sessions, 2:00 PM-4:30 PM, and 7:00 PM-9:30 PM. VIP’s and Connoisseur Level tickets enter one hour ahead of the posted times. Tickets are on-sale now at On Sunday, there is only an afternoon session.

Our NYC Craft Beer Festival guests favorite venue is the Lexington Armory. And due to recently changed building codes at the Armory, occupancy is reduced. Our guests will have much more room to breathe during the tasting, and we added a third Sunday afternoon session to accommodate demand. We are excited for our attendees to sample our carefully curated selection of the best Winter seasonal brews the brewers have to offer,” said Ken Tesler, founder of the seasonal NYC Craft Beer Festival.

During the tasting, many brewers’ representatives will be available at the taps to educate the guests about their liquid offerings. VIP and Connoisseur ticket holders can enter the Armory an hour earlier and have access to the beer, the brewers and the food during this first hour. This is a great time to speak with some of your favorite brewer representatives and avoid what is expected to be a sold-out, capacity audience later in the day.

There will also be two educational seminars. Jonathan Pogash, aka "The Cocktail Guru", will lead an exploration of one of the hottest trends in beverages: beer-based cocktails aka The Hoptail in his how-to seminar on mixing up your own beer cocktails at home.  Jared Rouben, former Brewmaster at Goose Island Brew Pubs, now at Moody Tongue Brewery in Chicago, will discuss “Culinary Brewing.” During his 2 1/2 years as brewmaster at Goose Island brewpubs, Jared built his reputation by creating lush, flavorful beers that featured food — particularly fruits, herbs and spices — as essential ingredients.  This seminar is sure to be a hit with home brewers across the tri-state area.

Finally, just one hundred & fifty Connoisseur tickets are available for purchase per session. The Connoisseur package offers the extra advance hour of tasting, a speedy entrance line to the Armory and access to the exclusive Connoisseurs Lounge for the entire session. There will be an additional 12-15 rare beers not found on the Grand Tasting floor, and gourmet snacks will be provided at no charge by Route 66 Smoke House. The Connoisseurs Lounge is a great, relaxing place to get away from the throng at the historic armory’s main drill-hall floor.

We offer a private back-stage kind of lounge for beer Connoisseurs to listen to live, acoustic, Blues & Folk influenced music all the while sampling some of the rarest and most exciting beers you’ll ever get a chance to drink. Gourmet finger-foods will be provided at no additional cost,” says Tesler.

Win Your Own BIMC Beer Glass!

I've got 6 classic tulip beer glasses branded with the Beer Is My Church logo up for grabs between November 12, 2003 and mid-December!

All you need to do for your chance to win is be sure you're following me on Twitter and watch my feed on the announced dates!  There will be further details on Twitter as each date approaches.

Your first chance to win comes Tuesday, November 12th!  At 1pm ET I will post a craft beer related trivia question.  The first correct answer tweeted with the #jointhebrewsade hashtag will win!

To qualify for free shipping you must be located in the lower 48 continental United States.

Stay tuned and good luck!

Jun 7, 2013

Circa Restaurant...Beer & Cheese. Yes, Please.

More than eight years ago I moved to rural Hunterdon County and an even more rural town there.  Craft beer wasn't exactly easy to find or close to home.  Just a few years later I spotted a very welcome sight during a drive home one day.  A new restaurant was opening on Main Street of the small boro of my neighboring town, High Bridge, NJ.  Circa, with it's open-air porch, promised to bring some craft beer taps to the beer wasteland that was my new home.

I admit, it took some time for me to check it out, but since visiting that first time we've gone back again and again.  Their food is fresh, homemade and delicious...and while they won't break any records with their number of beer taps, they do deserve mounds of credit for focusing on quality over quantity.

As of today, they have eight craft beer taps (no macros here!) with two taps dedicated to New Jersey's own Carton Brewing as well as one for nearby Weyerbacher's renamed witte offering, White Sun Wit.  The list changes pretty regularly, but you can easily check online to see what will be waiting for you at Circa's own website.  I guarantee you'll find more than a couple you'd enjoy drinking.

When, not if, you visit be sure to sit on the porch with a tasty craft beer and at least a plate (or 2) of their cheese offering.  You'll be served three amazing cheeses (types change depending on availability/quality), some fresh cut fruit, fresh honey/walnuts and their signature sautéed onions.

The rest of their menu is as uniquely varied, interesting and incredibly fresh.  The food is flavorful and prepared with care.  Thankfully, Circa is it the area's destination for great food and craft beer.  If you don't believe me, check out the New York Times' write up here.

So head on over and be sure to check out Circa's craft beers (and cheese!).  And if you see this guy on the porch be sure to let him know you've joined the craft beer "brewsade" too!

Circa Restaurant

37 Main Street.
High Bridge, NJ 08829
Reservations 908-638-5560
Circa is a fun, intimate restaurant located in the small town of High Bridge, just outside of Clinton, NJ.

We offer the best in seasonally fresh & inventive cuisine, and rely strongly on local farms and producers to make our menus possible. Our internationally inspired wine list and extensive bar are hand crafted to compliment our global cuisine.

The dress at Circa is casual. Reservations are always appreciated, and are recommended on weekends.

Apr 26, 2013

Craft Beer...At What Price?

Let me start by saying I'm an ignoramus.  I have to tell you upfront that I do not know how much it costs the average craft brewery to brew a six-pack of their standard IPA or a 750ml bottle of their year-round stout.  It might cost them $6.  Maybe a $1.  I'll be it's neither, but somewhere in between.  I know it's likely a heck of a lot more than it costs SABMiller or one of the other macro-giants.  

But still, beer prices have been on the rise across the board.  Are we seeing an endless upward trend in the average price of 6-pack (or God forbid, downsized 4-pack).  I won't call out breweries or beers by name, but you've surely noticed it yourself.  That $7.99 or $8.99 six-pack of craft tastiness you used to eagerly snap up is now $9.99 or $10.99 or even more.  Or maybe it's still $8.99, but now it's in a 4-pack.  Quick math says it may only be a buck or two, but that's a 20% increase or more.

Chart courtesy Brewer's Association
This begs the question, is the cost to brew a quality craft beer increasing that quickly?  I've read that raw material costs are on the rise.  Those costs get passed on from producer to consumer, and I have no problem with that.  Reports show that, while hop acreage increased YOY in 2012, the yield actually decreased (source).  In a similar twist of grain-related fate, the cost of barely has been on a fairly steady 3-year rise...a 250%+ increase from Summer 2009 to Summer 2012 (source).  However, despite the seeming squeeze on resources "craft beer numbers were up: 18% more breweries in the U.S., 15% more beer produced by volume, a 17% increase in sales, and a whopping rise of 72% in American craft beer exports." - Time Magazine (3.22.2013).  Production has, most certainly, not gone down as a result.

I just can't help but feel that maybe some breweries are piggybacking off their more popular beers, and their high demand, to increase prices across the portfolio.  Maybe it truly is the rising cost of raw materials combined with increased demand that is pushing craft beer prices up and up.  Could it be that retailers are picking our pockets without the knowledge of breweries or distributors (it does happen)?  Perhaps it's a combination of all of these factors.  

And I know, I know.  If I want a craft product, I have to pay craft prices.  If I want a high quality beer, I have to pay higher prices.  If I think it's too expensive I don't have to buy it.  I understand how the free market works.  But frankly, I do have to buy it.  I can't drink macro beer anymore...and maybe that's a factor too.  They've got me...right where they want me.

Mar 21, 2013

Spring Has Sprung & NYC Craft Beer Festival Will Be Hopping

It was just over one year ago that the first American Craft Beer Festival was held in NYC at the Lexington Armory to rave reviews.  Well, Spring 2013 is upon us and the team has put a new twist on an "old" favorite.  March 30th is the date you should have marked on your calendar to attend the NYC Craft Beer Festival's Spring Seasonals celebration at the Lexington Armory which will play host to over 75 craft beer breweries.  Those craft brewers will be offering up nearly 150 seasonal selections.  Word on the street is that Founders Brewing's vaunted Kentucky Breakfast Stout (KBS) will be making a pre-release appearance at the event!

The NYC Craft Beer Festival is offering two sessions, 12:30 PM-4:00 PM, and 6:00 PM-9:30 PM.  Tickets are on-sale now at  They're going fast and won't last much longer, so don't delay!

“The NYC Craft Beer Festival is a true celebration of the American craft beer experience. We invite the country’s best craft brewers to come together at one time, in one place, so attendees can sample a careful selection of the best Spring seasonal brews the brewers have to offer,” said Jim Pickett, Founder Gotham Artisanal and event consultant.

Among the several other speakers and seminars, Giancarlo and Sarah Annese from, will hold a seminar & blind tasting to explore the question, “What is "Craft" beer, really?” Attendees will  participate in a blind tasting of Craft beers alongside non-craft beers to see if they can tell the difference. A spirited discussion will focus on the official definition of "craft" beer, and what it may mean to you.

VIP and Connoisseur ticket holders can enter the Armory an hour earlier and have access to the beer, the brewers and the food during this first hour. This is a great time to speak with some of your favorite brewer representatives.

Just 150 Connoisseur tickets are available for purchase per session. The Connoisseur package offers a speedy entrance line to the Armory and access to the exclusive Connoisseurs Lounge for the entire session where there will be an additional 15-18 rare beers not found on the Grand Tasting floor. 

Craft beer-centric food offerings will be available from NYC hot spots Cooper's Craft Kitchen and Tavern 29.  So don't miss the festival's triumphant return to the Lexington Armory on March 30th.  It'll be here before you know it!


Jan 9, 2013

A New Year, A New Beer...It's Two Thousand 'Thirsteen'

So it's a new year.  I'm sure you've heard something about it.  I think it was on the news or something.  Anno Domini Two Thousand and "Thirsteen" may only be a week or so old, but beer, especially craft beer, has already made the news.  

Whether it be the sale of a bottle of the White House home brew, the "Craft" vs. "Crafty" discussion, the NY Times article on the brewsade's advance in my home state of New Jersey or the many reports on the undeniable and exciting growth of the segment over the last 12 months, it's an exciting time to be involved with craft beer.

It's also a time for resolutions.  What's yours?  I'm hoping it's beer related.  Mine?  Glad you asked.  I'm going to be a good craft beer soldier this year.  I'm going to try more beers.  More new beers.  More beers that are not in my wheelhouse.  Don't get me wrong.  I love new beer.  I just looked at my Untappd check-ins from 2012 and if exclude the seasonal beers (tasted for science reasons) it's clear I drank a lot of new beer, and furthermore that I am a lover of the hop.  IPAs, double IPAs and pale ales dominate my charts.

Therefore, for the coming twelve months I vow to try more daring ales, sours, lagers, witbier, saisons, bitters, Biere de Garde, dunkels, doppelbocks, stouts, porters, marzens, maibocks and other beer-type libations with reckless abandon!  I won't be afraid of those brews without snarky hop-related know who you are.  

As of today I am 175 distinct beers away from hitting the 1,000 mark on Untappd.  My plan is to make at least 75 of those beers something I wouldn't necessarily seek out.  I'm leaving my comfort zone, and I present the same challenge to you.  Make it a year of "new".  New beer.  New beer friends.  New beer places.  Now get out there and do your thing.  I know you can do it.

So look out craft beer world.  I'm coming for you...and I'm thirsty!

Join the's 20"thirsteen"!

- Zach