April 22 will mark the end of an era at Blue Point Brewing Company—the last cask festival at their River Avenue location. Next year the brewery will be expanding and moving, though just down the street to the former home of Briarcliffe College. The cask festival will continue, but there is something about that boatyard parking lot that we are certainly going to miss.
The cask festival had humble beginnings during a time when craft beer was not nearly as popular as it is today. At the time, Blue Point had two casks and there were only a handful of breweries on Long Island. Brewers came down to share their creations with each other and a small audience of mostly friends and family. Fourteen years later, it has become the largest real ale festival in the country. Over 60 local and national breweries, along with a few homebrew clubs, will be serving their beer to almost 3,000 thirsty patrons.
So, what’s the deal with cask beers anyway? For starters, cask ale is unfiltered and unpasteurized. The beer is conditioned in the cask and eventually served from it, without the help of carbon dioxide pressure. This results in a beer that is typically less cold and carbonated than kegged beer, really letting the flavors come alive. Once a cask is tapped, the beer begins to come in contact with oxygen so it needs to be consumed within a few days. Luckily, most casks at Blue Point don’t even make it all the way through the festival.
Blue Point Brewery has a robust year-round cask program and the event always showcases some of their new creations and experiments. Head brewer Jim Richards gave us a sneak peak of what they’ll be pouring including a peanut butter and jelly brown ale, saltwater melon ale with watermelon jolly ranchers, cucumber mosaic session IPA and a scotch ale barrel aged in scotch whiskey barrels. That’s just a small fraction of what Blue Point has in store for attendees—plus they always have a few surprises up their sleeves.
Tickets go on sale Wednesday, 3/22 at noon and are $60 for four hours of unlimited pours of cask ale. If you’d rather sample some beer along with your ticket purchase, they will also be for sale at the brewery when they open at 3 pm. Last year they sold out at record speed, so don’t miss your chance to celebrate cask ale at River Avenue one final time.