My experience with the Central New York Brewfest began at the Finger Lakes Beverage Center where my friends and I purchased tickets for the event. The cashier wished us well and offered one piece of advice: wear boots. Why, you ask?
Not because the event is held outdoors or because it was snowing. Nope; he informed us that it is a good idea to wear boots to protect oneself from the many a guest who tend to vomit. He demonstrated this by slowly circling his hand up from his mouth and out into the surrounding vicinity.
So began our drive to Syracuse. A quick stop at Dinosaur Barbecue and we were ready to consume all of the foamy, malty, hoppy and sweet beer that our hearts desired. The CNY Brewfest was a spectacle. A hundred or so vendors filled one of the convention centers in the Fairgrounds, each trying to entice the guests with a sample of “the hoppiest” or “the darkest” or “the BEST” beer.
Most of the beers I tried were definitely on the hoppy side. Did someone say double IPA? I was definitely in need of something salty to balance that one out. The pretzel necklaces suddenly made sense.
As we made our way from the New York breweries to the West Coast breweries, we began to figure out what we liked. While I sufficiently enjoyed all the beers, I prefer darker beer with just enough hops to get a good aroma, but not too much that I cannot finish even a sampling. Others adamantly stood by the lighter beers or the red and brown ales. My favorite, while not dark, was White Aphro from Empire Brewery in Syracuse that was flavored with lemon, ginger and lavender. I hear they have a great brunch as well. Any takers?
On the hunt for something out of the ordinary, I stumbled upon an unassuming stand toward the back of the building that was offering Woodchuck Cider. The bubbly, pale, fruity beverage that is hard cider has never been my drink of choice. It is either too sweet or too dry and boring. That all changed when I tasted the Woodchuck Spring Cider popping with maple, brown sugar and apple perfection. Hooked.
My evening of ecstasy in Syracuse ended more quickly than I would have liked, but I left with clean boots and a sophisticated palate… for beer. Why, then, am I writing a mixology post about something that one does not mix, and an event that happened about a month ago? Well, if you must know, today was the first day that I have been able to find Spring Cider at the store. This has been after making weekly calls for the past four weeks, so yeah, I’m excited. You should be, too. Now stop reading and go try it with some pancakes on the side.
One more thing! If you find that you cannot get enough cider, try these varieties:
Original Author: Sarah McKeen