While Hoboken was set upon by the Irish and fake-Irish this past Saturday for their annual LepreCon, those looking to celebrate beer without wearing green or binge drinking were at the Morristown Armory for the Big Brew Beer Festival. Best of NJ attended the first of two sessions, and while the doors opened at Noon, a sizable group had already lined up outside twenty minutes beforehand.
Upon entry, attendees were given a 5-ounce sample cup, and it was off to the races. The raucous but well-behaved crowd – many wearing pretzel necklaces – ranged from those who had just turned 21 to elderly beer enthusiasts; there were even some babies in attendance. With over 200 vendors, there was no shortage of beer to try, including a coffee stout called Espressway perfect for the early crowd, courtesy of Two Roads.
While some of the big guys, like Samuel Adams, were in attendance, they were vastly outnumbered by smaller breweries, many of them from New Jersey; highlights included Dogfish Head’s “Beer to Drink Music To,” Horny Goat’s “Chocolate Peanut Butter Porter” and Southern Tier’s “Imperial Ginger Beer.” Although the event was about 1,500 beer drinkers strong, there was never that long of a line at any of the many breweries.
To pair with all the drinking, plenty of food options were available to those in the Armory; Handsome Devil BBQ and Mr. Crabbys were among the food vendors onsite while The Cow and the Curd food truck was also parked inside. As for the drink selection, there were some pretty non-traditional choices amongst all the beer vendors for those in need of a breather from all the IPA’s, stouts and porters. Plenty of cider companies were represented, like Ironbound, 1911 and Woodchuck, as well as hard seltzer, courtesy of Press. You could even buy doughnuts, alcohol-infused cigars or spreadable bacon(!) from vendors. All the while, the live soundtrack for the Big Brew Beer Festival was provided by acoustic duo Sick Star Nation.
Those in attendance could also vote for their favorite beer. Perhaps not surprisingly, a New Jersey company – Linden-based Two Ton Brewing – won for their Extra Special Chocolate Vanilla Porter, which they describe as “chocolate milk for adults.” Mount Olive’s Jersey Girl Brewing came in second. As the first of the two sessions came to an end, satiated attendees in high spirits made their way outside to call a Lyft or wait for a shuttle bus to take them back to the Morristown train station, as those inside set up for round two.
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