Saturday, February 8, was the first ever Hops & Props Craft Beer Festival at the Cradle of Aviation. Though a similar event has been held at The Museum of Flight in Seattle for the past 12 years with great success, this was Long Island’s first introduction to the merging of craft beer and aviation. An unlikely match, sure, but they seemed to pair together almost flawlessly.
Since this was the first time this event was held, both the participants and attendees were not positive what to expect. We spoke to many brewers and exhibitors who told us when they arrived earlier in the day to set up they had no idea how the evening was going to pan out. Instead of having everything set up in a large, circular arena, which is how many craft beer festivals tend to operate, Hops & Props saw vendors sprawled throughout the museum in an almost maze-like set up. We admit that it took us quite a while to make our first pass through, though this was more due to lots of stopping and chatting rather than getting lost. The amount of aviation exhibits that were existing in harmony with the craft beer and food tables was really a sight to see, and to everyones credit it seems like the venue was treated with respect.
The Cradle of Aviation housed over 40 tables most of which were pouring beer. Along side those were tables from Tapped Enterprises, The Beer Amigos & Earth Glass Project on hand to compliment the craft beer being served. In addition to the pretzel necklaces that could be had by simply signing up for the Tapped mailing list, there was also food for sale and to a lesser extent, free samples.
The local Long Island brewing community was well represented at Hops & Pros. We enjoyed the brews being offered by many of the local establishments. A few standout beers were being poured by up and coming breweries The Brewers Collective and Saint James Brewery.
Owner and brewmaster Jamie Adams was manning the tap handles himself behind the Saint James Brewery table. He was serving up his delicious Belgian inspired IPA, Single, Dubbel and Quad to event patrons. Each beer was well crafted and carefully considered. The Quad is a brew we wish was available commercially. Hopefully that day will be coming soon as Mr. Adams is working on getting SJB up and running (our article on SJB is coming soon). These are nicely produced ales and we believe they will satisfy both beer and non-beer drinkers of Long Island.
Our comrades The Brewers Collective are another local group looking to make the move from homebrewers to professional brewery in the near future. The BC, in keeping with their off-kilter brewing themes, is not aiming to accomplish this goal in the “normal” manner. More on their long march toward their dream soon. At Hops & Props The Collective once again was offering an eclectic selection of hand crafted beer. Arguably one of our favorites was Tim Dougherty’s “Fallout Stout”. This dark, smoky ale is a play on the brewery’s standard dry Irish Stout (ICBS). According to The Collective Tim, “…added some smoked malts from his backyard smoker” which achieves the perfect combination in their estimation. This beer was a highlight for both of us at Hops & Props and at The Brewers Collective Winter Homebrew Contest where we first sampled it. The beer that attendees could not get enough of was Brad Khole’s Black Berry Wheat Beer. The Collective told us that it was, “…the first keg to “get kicked” with people saying it was, “…like drinking fruit loops”. How could a beer like that not go over well? Excellent job comrades!
Among the up and coming breweries Long Island staples like Blue Point Brewing Company, Montauk Brewing Company, Great South Bay Brewery, Long Ireland Beer Company and Greenport Harbor Brewing Company were also out in full force. We even got to try beer from breweries which were new to us, such as Singlecut Beersmiths and Chatham Brewing LLC. To round it all out, craft beer giants and favorites like Sam Adams Brewery, Dogfish Head Brewery & Founders Brewing Company each had a few taps flowing. In a complete turn was Crabbie’s alcoholic ginger beer, which was fairly flavorful and could make a decent hot summer day cocktail.
Though we were a bit tired from the Southampton Publick House Russian Imperial Stout release earlier that morning (more about that soon), we enjoyed our time at Hops & Props thouhrally and wound up staying until the very end. The setting definitely enhanced the beer sampling experience and it is an event that we hope to participate in for years to come. All in attendance seem to have had a great time and we would declare the innaugural Hops & Props at The Cradle of Aviation a success. Beer & aviation…who knew?