What It's All About Blog – Tony Forder
Snow on the ground, cold in the air, Pearl River on a Monday, put me in mind of something Abominable – namely the Abominable Snowfest. Vermont brewers Paul and Destiny from Zero Gravity and American Flatbread had stopped off in Pearl River to say hi to Defiant Brewing Co. owner Neil Acer. I joined them for the full Irish breakfast (for lunch) at The Gracie Rose. Afterwards we repaired to the brewery to sample the current Defiant wares along with some of Destiny's American Flatbread growlers.
Monday afternoon session: Forder, Woods, Acer, Sayler.
The brewery was closed of course, only brewer Tom Woods was active in the brewhouse. As Neil and Paul peeled off layer after layer of philosophical discourse, attempting as always to reveal the very heart of the onion, I began to hear whispers echoing between the empty cavernous walls. Whispers of Bigfoot, Yeti, the Abominable Snowfest.
I think there's been five of them, maybe six. I've been to three, maybe four of them. Definitely a unique experience – each one. Neil corrals as many brewers as he can in a 100-mile radius with the requirement they show up in person. Being winter, the goods are usually on the strong side – not for the faint of heart.
Here's an excerpt from the last Snowfest in 2020 from the White Rabbit, writing for Ale Street News:
"Attendees beware, Abominable is a multi-sensory event in that it delivers a swift, powerful assault, in the best possible way, to all your senses – the taste of the biggest and some of the best locally available beers accompanied by the taste of slow smoked pork and bbq meats and Defiant’s legendary Mac and Cheese (to the 10th degree); the feel of the cold, curvy tasting glass grasped tightly in your anticipatory hand; the sight of the freshest, hoppiest beers around, making their way from that same curvy glass to your mouth; all tied up with the hypnotic sounds of incessant inside industry chatter and beats which lure the crowd toward the stage. Can I get an Amen for the glorious smell of bacon which hangs thick over the room that’s also filled with those cereal smells from the brewery. Yes, Abominable is not for the sensory challenged, as everything here is go big and then go home...or to one of the many after parties."
And ain't that what it's all about!
My first Snowfest was something of a debacle. I had only half a deck to begin with, having just driven back from Easton, PA where the night before I tangled with a Weyerbacher barrel tasting event. Having deposited my car safely behind the brewery, to be rescued later at undetermined time, I girded myself for Abominable:
"The room was humming harder, as my Scotch egg flew away
When we called out for another taste, the brewer gave us tres
And so it was that later, as Frankie Dee told his tale
That my beer at first just gose-ly, turned a Witter shade of Pale...ale"
And.... heartfelt words post-event from the Defiant's Facebook page:
"Thanks so much to everyone that came out today and helped us celebrate local craft beer!!! Also, this may have been the closest us Hudson valley breweries have been to each other... It's ok... We love each other. Is love too strong of a word? We say no. No.... Love is not too strong of a word.
I made it to the after party which was held in nearby Nanuet at Ambulance bar appropriately enough, because by that time I needed an ambulance. Thank you white knight for getting me home!
Wednesday, same week, yes this one, I stopped into Andy's Corner in Bogota, NJ three miles from my house, to grab a beer with a couple of friends, 3.30 pm. Pushing through the door I realized the place was packed. What's going on, did someone die? The beer list was all Troegs, ah ha, promo...well it was a Wednesday and Andy's had been famous for its Wednesday night promos – sometime back in the distant past. Many memories of Andy's do I have – for another time!
But was a dreaming? Was I on some kind of throwback time loop, after all it was Groundhog Day. But no, halfway through my Nugget Nectar I began to feel fuzzy inside. The first Andy's Corner promo since 2019 – a sign perhaps that things may at last be getting back to some semblance of normalcy.
The BeerSensei showed up, an easy jump for him across the GW Bridge from NYC's upper west side. I had a Grand Cacao Chocolate Stout in front of me. Very nice, but a little thin on the body. Wonder what it would be like with a bit of Mad Elf mixed in? The bartender gave us a sample of Troegenator Double Bock. We threw that in too – wow pretty nice cocktail.
For better or worse I had to tear myself away – I had a date with my candy man. A fresh bucket of honey to make more MEAD – and ain't that what it's all about!