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A beer festival grows anew in Brooklyn

Back in the early days of craft beer in New York City (we’re talking 1993-94) Brooklyn Brewery organized beer festivals on the waterfront near the Brooklyn Bridge. Huge white tents lined the esplanade of Empire-Fulton Ferry State Park where dozens of small brewers from across the country and around the world poured samples of their beers to thousands of attendees and dozens of restaurants served samples of their cuisines.

Attendees paid a mere $15 in advance and $25 at the gate to attend the New York Beer Fest, according to a 1994 New York Times clipping (Steve Hindy recalls the fee at $30 in his book, “Beer School”). No matter. It was a bargain and it was hard to imagine a better way to spend a sunny weekend day.  Craft beer was new and exciting and the Manhattan skyline across the river provided a terrific backdrop for the sudsy showcase.

But the festival folded its tents after just two years. In 1995, then New York State Parks Commissioner Bernadette Castro decided she did not want beer served in her park.

The fest was “the perfect embodiment of the sort of beer culture that we were trying to promote in New York City,”  Hindy wrote, adding, “I still hope a festival of that nature can be revived at some point for the city’s sake.

Looks like HIndy’s wish is being fulfilled. A new beer festival, dubbed the Brooklyn Waterfront Beer Festival, is scheduled for June 16 at 5 N. 11th St. at the waterfront in Williamsburg, just one block from the Brooklyn Brewery.

The organizer, the Hand Crafted Tasting Co., a unit of concert promoter Mad Dog Presents, has put together a two-session event — 12:30 p.m.-4 p.m. and 6 p.m.-9:30 p.m. — with 75 breweries pouring 150 craft and imported beers.

And there’ll be food for sale from a variety of Brooklyn-based gourmet and specialty food purveyors, including Sheep Station (Australian lamb sandwiches and meat pies); Brooklyn Star (meatloaf sandwiches; sea food specialist Cornelius (shrimp and grits); Coolhaus with its all-natural ice cream sandwiches, and the Morris Grilled Cheese Truck.  Live bands will also perform.

“Between the outdoors, Williamsburg waterfront location, seasonal summer craft beers, live music, and great food, we think The Brooklyn Waterfront Beer Festival will be a beer tasting, block party people won’t want to miss.” Robert Howell, producer for Hand Crafted Tasting, said in a press release.

In addition to the main event, there will be first-come-first served seminars, limited to 50 attendees, focused on women in beer and urban home brewing.

Those who want to splurge can upgrade to VIP and Connoisseur tickets offering an extra hour of tasting and express entrance lines to the festival.  Connoisseur ticket holders also get access to a Connoisseurs Lounge for the entire session with a selection of such rare beers such as Blue Point Sour Cherry Stout, Bruton Stoner Ale, Alchemist Heady Topper, Founders Double Trouble, Cigar City Maduro, Corsendonk Apple White and others not available in the main tent.

General admission tickets are $55, VIP passes are $75 and Connoisseur packages cost $125 and all can be purchased online. Add $10 if you pay at the gate. Will I see you in Williamsburg?

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