Hundreds flock to East Williamsburg for the ‘Blocktoberfest’ beer festival

October 25, 2016 By Scott Enman Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Representatives from the Coney Island Brewing Company pose for a photo. Photos by Evan Brockett
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Although Saturday’s weather was wet and windy, the inclement conditions didn’t stop hundreds of beer lovers from congregating at The Well in East Williamsburg for the third annual “Blocktoberfest” beer festival.

Beer connoisseurs from near and far came to take part in the celebration, which is organized by the New York City Brewers Guild. The event showcased rare, limited edition brews from 26 New York City breweries, including eight from Brooklyn.

“The last two years we did it at the end of September, outside, and it was 75 degrees and sunny,” Kelso Beer Co. owner and President of the New York City Brewers Guild Kelly Taylor told the Brooklyn Eagle. “This year it was 55 [degrees] and wind was swirling and it was threatening to deluge in the morning, but the festival did very well. A quarter of our tickets were sold the day of. People woke up and they were not deterred [by the weather].”

The event was not only an opportunity for beer buffs to enjoy a cold one, but it also served as a forum and gathering place for individuals from breweries to come together and share their mutual love and appreciation for the drink.

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“Obviously we want to all sell beer, but it really does feel like a family and everyone there is friends,” Sixpoint Brewery Marketing Director Jamie Leithead told the Eagle. “We’re excited to see what everyone is working on and everyone’s personality really comes through.

“What makes an event like this really thrive is the fact that everyone wants to help each other out and see what everyone is pouring,” Leithead added.

And if there wasn’t already enough beer, The Well also boasts 60 beers on tap and 146 bottled beers. Hundreds of guests gathered in the venue’s quarter-acre backyard to enjoy not only beer, but also tacos, live music and outdoor games.

The New York beer industry has been growing steadily over the past few years, which is reflected in the growing number of breweries that are joining the New York City Brewers Guild. The guild added roughly 15 breweries from last year to this year.

Following the festival, the Eagle caught up with Taylor, who articulated why he thinks an event like “Blocktoberfest” can thrive in Brooklyn.

“First of all, Brooklyn’s huge geographically, but there are a finite amount of places where people are hanging out,” said Taylor. “So you’re looking at Williamsburg, Bushwick, Carroll Gardens [and] Red Hook, and that’s where there are the most people drinking craft beer.

“They’re looking for crafty, creative, interesting things to do. Manhattan has a slightly different beast,” he continued. “You get a lot of people, but it’s a different kind of marketing and vibe. You don’t have as many places in Manhattan where you can just go outside, hangout and have a backyard lot where you can sit around and drink beers.”

The guild, according to Taylor, attempted to make “Blocktoberfest” a more personal, interactive experience this year by having attendees only pay for the beers they consumed rather than purchasing a more expensive all-you-can-drink ticket.

“Our brand isn’t just the beer,” said Taylor. “It’s also our breweries and our people that work at them.”

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