Tap New York
Hunter, NY

As our good friend, Joe Meloney, so aptly stated "The secret is out!" referring to the crowds at the Ski Lodge at Hunter Mountain for the 10th Annual Tap NY. This would be our fourth trip in five years and we watched the attendance grow steadily each April. Now the Saturday session reminds me of the GABF on a Saturday night. The young people found that they can get a good $40 drunk and have invaded a once more than excellent festival. That point was quite well made when we saw cases of Bud Light and Keystone Light being carried into the hotel accompanied by comments like "It's quantity not quality that counts". That really is contrary to the spirit of the fest and the lesson taught by the craft beer industry. Oh well, their money is green and that keeps the festivals returning!

The venue is quite large, but barely enough to accommodate the crowds they now sell to. Long lines for beer and food are now the norm. I suppose that helps in keeping some from overconsuming, but with 5 hours, it's hard to prevent that no matter what! Brewers are running out of beer on Saturday and blowing off the Sunday session. The only thing that survives is the food. The price of the ticket is worth what you can eat let alone drink. This festival has the best food I've ever had with the exception of the newly-conceived Winterfest at General Lafayette(see page). As much as we like this event, I don't see us returning to another Saturday session.
One of the advantages of increased attendance is the increased availability of lodging. The first couple of years, there were limited local places to stay. Most close up when the ski slopes do, but now they've found that the weekend is profitable enough to open up for. I would still recommend that you book early as most sell out quickly.

This was the first visit for many of my friends. They made the trip and were quite impressed if not overwhelmed by the choices and the crowds. My friend Bill LeNoir and Ted Briggs, brewmaster at the AC Tun Tavern, made the trip together as well as Tom & Peggy of Heavyweight fame. Patrick brought a group from the Drafting Room in PA and a bus trip from Six Point Ales secured a large NYC contingent.
The usual suspects were there pouring their beers also: Albany Pump Station, Olde Saratoga, Great Adirondack, Cooperstown, Ommegang, Unibroue, FX Matt, High Point, Cooper's Cave, Lake Placid, Brooklyn, Ithaca, Six Points, Hyde Park, Southampton, Gilded Otter, Keegan, Brown, Black Forest, Southern Tier, Wagner Valley, John Harvard's, Captain Lawrence, Blue Point, Chelsea, Heartland, Roosterfish and then there were some new ones: Defiant, Kelso and Chatham.
Thank God for a beautiful day as there was some respite from the warm tents and halls by going outside to enjoy the spring weather.
Of course, the positives are that you can find some great beers there and enjoy them at whatever level you wish. It was just fun to get to catch up with some people I don't often see. Leaving a beer fest sober is not a bad thing!
Lake Placid Brewing won both the Matthew Vassar Cup and the FX Matt Memorial Cup for Best Brewery in the Hudson valley and NY State, respectively. Their Twice Bitten Barleywine was the hit of the Festival.
Cooking demonstrations took place all day during the fest for those with a culinary bent.
Chefs Joe Messina, Ric Orlando, Jordan Schor and Shamus Butler who accompanied Garrett Oliver demonstrated their culinary skills to the attendees.
Vendors of all kinds attend this happening to sell their wares: Ale Street News, The Brewing News, Ireland on the Road, Palatable Pepper Products, A Couple of Nuts, Suprenant's Berry Farm, The Cellar, Saint Obnoxious, etc.
 Overall, if you don't mind crowds, this festival is a great one. Bring your designated driver and they can enjoy the foods and vendors, something very unusual at a festival.
While your in the area, be sure to stop at Last Chance Cheese Shop and Antiques in Tannersville. The food is homemade and they have an excellent bottled beer selection. You may also find an interesting antique to carry home!
Check out their website for lots of info on the fest and tickets for next year when they go on sale.