It goes without saying, but here it is anyway: NYC Beer Week is a magical time!

This past Saturday might have been one of the longest days of my post-craft beer life, but I can say without a doubt it was worth it. Why? Because that day signaled the beginning of NYC Craft Beer Week! A true celebration of craft beer has begun here in our fair city, and bars and breweries all over are pulling out all the stops to celebrate. I figured I’d give you all just a taste, and run you through my first day experiencing all this craziness.

The Ultimate Start to NYC Beer Week
Henry from Monkish Brewing chills with an Other Half line-waiter.

The day opened for me how the previous night ended – at Other Half. One of their biggest collaborations of the year is always with Monkish Brewing out of California. Rumors circulated in the days leading up to the official announcement of not one but two new IPAs, and as soon as I saw the Instagram post I knew it was going to be a nightmare of a line. So after work, I cabbed over to the brewery, foldable chair in hand, and camped out starting at 11 PM Friday night for a beer that would release at 9 AM Saturday morning. Crazy? Yes, but I’m glad I showed up since I was able to not only meet Henry of Monkish Brewing, but participate in a secret beer share with him, Sam from Other Half, and everyone else who was crazy enough to line up this early. If you are thinking of lining up for beer sometime, check out my article about making your first wait awesome – and please, don’t make a line like Saturday’s your first!

The Ultimate Start to NYC Beer Week
Strong Rope pours a glass of their award-winning brown ale.

After loading up on collaboration goodness, I somehow made it home awake and immediately proceeded to record the second episode of my new beer podcast (shameless self promotion: check out the first episode here!). Needless to say, my co-host and I barely survived that recording session. Because I hate my life, I started editing the audio right away, but it was only a couple hours until the real event of the day, the NYC Beer Week Opening Bash, began. This huge beer festival, put together by the NYC Brewers Guild, pulled breweries not only from all over the city, but New York State and even beyond! The event kicked off at around six, and the room was instantly packed with beer drinkers and beer makers. There were more than 60 different breweries packed into the expo center that night, stationed all through the expansive space.

The Ultimate Start to NYC Beer Week
NYC locals pitched in to assist visiting breweries like Florida’s J. Wakefield Brewing.

It was really hard to hit all the breweries between the lines, trying to say hi to everyone I knew and taking footage for this article and more. Plenty of local breweries were getting a lot of love, like Finback and Folksbier, but I wasn’t surprised to see some huge lines around the out-of-state brewery tables. Including Monkish, Aslin and JWB (above), as there were some real heavy hitters present from all over the nation. Some of my notable samplings of the night were some great sours from Casa Agria, and a super-rich stout from The Answer, but there were honestly too many great beers to remember! Plenty of local beer nerds and brewery staff were helping the outside breweries keep things running smoothly, which was a great example of the amount of collaboration and community going on that night. I was so exhausted when I got home, but after seeing all these people and trying all these great beers, I knew it was a day well spent.

Class is in session with this nostalgic glassware!

Of course, it wouldn’t be NYC Beer Week if I didn’t talk about some NYC beer! I was lucky enough to receive a care package from Five Boroughs Brewing Co. in Brooklyn, one of my favorite new breweries in the city. Class of 2017, a New York City Pale Ale, is actually a collaboration between nine (yes, nine) breweries, as Five Boroughs teamed up with all the other breweries that opened in NYC last year. This Pale Ale was a very well-balanced, refreshing brew made with over 20% NYS made ingredients. I got some flavor notes of stone fruit, citrus fruit and piney dank hop notes in a sweet, slightly sticky malt body. If you live in Brooklyn, you should definitely pay the place a visit and try this beer out!

If you’re reading this article now, NYC beer week might still be going on! I highly recommend doing a quick google search to see what beer events are going on around the city. Craft beer bars like Tørst are a safe bet, so I would start there. If you’re not in NYC or read this after the festivities have finished (around March 5th), no worries! There’s always next year, and even without a specific event, there is so much craft beer to enjoy every day of the year here. Cheers!