A Day Of Beer, Bourbon & Bacon In Rhinebeck
By Andrea Pyros
Just the words “Beer, Bourbon & Bacon Festival” is enough to have us plunking down our credit cards as we ask, “Where and when?” The answer to that, by the way, is Saturday, June 21 at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds in Rhinebeck. After all, is there anything else you need to know before you’re all in?
Admittedly, the mouth-watering name is going to be tough to live up to, but this one-day event, presented by the Hudson Valley Craft Brew Festival, is shaping up to be as cool as it sounds. Attendees will have the opportunity to sample top-notch craft beers, both from local brewing companies as well as those further afield, along with bourbons and other spirits from independent distilleries. Food vendors interested in setting up shop for the day were only okay’d to do so if they worked bacon into their menus, so you’ll be able to seriously overdo it on snacks, main courses and desserts, all featuring the beloved meat.
Don’t worry if you’re not a “beer geek,” says Paul Lloyd, the festival’s event organizer. “This event is for anyone who is a beer enthusiast and wants to try something new in a different setting.” “It’s not a frat party,” he adds. “It’s for people of all ages interested in sampling and having a good time.”
Once you’re past the general admission gate, you’ll receive a tasting glass and beer and bourbon samples. It won’t be possible to sample it all, though. There are 90 breweries scheduled, and each brewery will offer at least two of their beers to visitors. Lloyd expects about 10 or so regional distilleries offering up their own spirits—bourbon, of course, but also whiskey, moonshine (!) and more. The beers and bourbons are included in the admission price, but plan to bring money for food, which isn’t included, as well as for crafts and other items from vendors.
Rhinebeck’s beloved Grand Cru Beer & Cheese Market is sponsoring the sold-out V.I.P. experience at the event. Grand Cru, co-owned by the husband and wife team of Rod Johnson and Alicia Lenhart, is excited to be a part of the day, says Lenhart, who adds that there’s been a great deal of thought put into selecting a range of beers and breweries, so that regardless of your experience with drinking craft beer, “everyone will find something they love” at the festival.
From the greater Rural Intelligence area, keep an eye out for beers and spirits from the popular Sloop Brewing (Poughkeepsie), Hyde Park Brewery (Hyde Park), Mill House Brewing Co. (Poughkeepsie), Rushing Duck Brewing Co. (Chester), Last Stop Brewing (Poughkeepsie), Keegan Ales (Kingston) and Onyx Moonshine (East Hartford), along with an array of beers from across America and a few all the way from Europe.
The event has been set up to make sure people have a good time without it turning in to a keg party, explains Lloyd. You’ll be given a card allowing you to sample a dozen beers (in 3-oz. pours). After that, you’re welcome to get another card for extra samples at no additional charge, but note that legally the organizers have to evaluate attendees to be sure no one is, as they delicately put it, “overserved.” There will also be plenty of non-alcoholic beverages and complimentary water stations set up. Not a drinker but want to go for the food, friends and live music? There’s a heavily discounted “designated driver” ticket for teetotalers.
Though the months of planning for this first-time event have been intense, Lloyd is expecting a laid-back and enjoyable day. “People are coming for a good time. It’s not a snooty crowd at all. It’s just beer and good food.”