By 2:15 p.m., the line for Blue Point Brewing Co.’s Cask Ales Fest looked like one someone would stand in for Disney World’s Splash Mountain. It went down Patchogue’s West Main Street and wrapped around the parking lot near the YMCA—about 40 minutes long for the event that started at 2 p.m.
But people waited it out and were rewarded with a chance to sample brews from Blue Point and more than 80 breweries from around the world at the brewery’s 16th annual Cask Ales Fest. Food vendors, including Blue Island Oyster, Noah’s on the Road and BOBBiQUE Real Pit Barbecue, provided munchies and five live bands played throughout the four-hour festival. It was the first event in the new space on West Main Street, which officially opens April 18 and will include a tasting room, oyster bar and restaurant.
This year’s brewery participation increased about 30 percent from last year, according to Blue Point Brewing Co. president Jenna Lally. Each brewery could bring two casks, and Blue Point had a pair of kiosks on either end of the festival.
“[It’s] a lot of beer for people to be able to try—different styles, different ingredients,” Lally said.
Blue Point beers included the Coffee Coconator, which had smoky notes and tasted like a porter stout, and a Bubble Brain with Banana Chips had a sweet, tropical taste. Montauk Brewing Co., which continues to emerge as one of the most recognizable names on the Island’s beer scene, came with a Double Dry Hopped Truth Serum, a play on pale ale with pineapple and orange flavors, and a refreshing Lemon Ginger Blonde Ale.
There were ciders, too. Po’ Boy Brewery’s Coco Nog Cider went down like tropical Christmas—there were notes of cinnamon and egg nog but coconut as well. Mike Kaminski of Virtue Cider traveled from Fennville, Michigan, to show off the spot’s Lapinette, a dry sipper aged in oak, and Maple Dare, which is re-fermented with Michigan maple syrup to get its ABV up to 10.30 percent. Though beer was center stage, Kaminski didn’t feel out of place.
“We’ve converted some people,” Kaminski said. “Some people see us from a distance and come up and say, ‘Oh, we don’t really drink cider, but we’ll give this a shot,’ and then they keep coming back. It’s fantastic.”
There were also several homebrewers on hand, including some from Long Island Beer Malt Enthusiasts. Ryan Braswell’s Ménage à Trois was a treat—it was sweet, creamy and had vanilla beans and cacao flavors. For homebrewers like Braswell, being able to showcase beers on a bigger stage is exciting.
“It’s just a bigger facility, more brewers, better space, more participants coming through,” Braswell said. “It’s an upgrade over last year’s River Ave.”
The size, it turned out, was a welcome sight for attendees as well.
“It’s more spacious,” said Brian Wishin, who attended last year’s Cask Ales Festival. “You’re not as cramped. They have the same layout, but you’re free to chill and talk and not be immersed in the crowd…you can sample a lot of Long Island and New York breweries and breweries from around the world.”
The location may have changed, and the facility may be larger, but the new digs still feel like home for those who enjoyed the River Ave. location.
“It’s definitely a local feel,” said Craig Charach, who also went to last year’s Cask Ales Festival. “I grew up here. I live here. I am here.”
People will have the chance to attend several more events in the coming months. A concert series will take place this summer, and an oyster festival is on tap, as well. And Charach and locals can rest assured, the vibe will remain the same.
“The biggest thing with Blue Point is we’re welcoming, and we want people to come here, be themselves and have fun,” Lally said. “That certainly hasn’t changed.”