A cask shaped glass from the 2016 Long Island Nano Cask Ale Festival with a small amount of dark beer lingering in the glass

RPAB 7th annual Nano Cask Beer Festival

The Rocky Point Artisan Brewers 7th annual Long Island Nano Cask Ale Festival marks the unofficial beginning of the 2016 Long Island beer-festival season. Held at the Rocky Point Clubhouse, in Rocky Point, New York, the event highlights nano- and small-craft breweries and brewing clubs from Long Island. With very limited ticket availability, it’s an exclusive treat for those who enjoy tasting one-of-a-kind brews in a relaxed atmosphere. This year, while inspecting the casks on each brewer’s table, we were serenaded with live jazz by The Nick Gianni Trio, while noshing on homemade, gourmet jerky by Two Big Jerks Jerky—the peach mango habanero jerky sold out in less than an hour—and cheese platters made from sheep and cow milk, specially curated by The Big Cheese.

The Nick Gianni Trio at the 2016 Long Island Nano Cask Ale Festival

The Rocky Point Artisan Brewers host this event “as a celebration of small, Long Island brewers. They ask all participating brewers to brew a special cask ale on a nano scale. We want the brewers to bring something they made just for this festival. The brewers often bring additional beers of their choice. In past years we have had a great selection of really unique and tasty beers.”

This year’s brewery line up included: 1940’s Brewing Company, Barrage Brewing, Bellport Brewing, Lithology Brewing, Po’Boy Brewery, Moustache Brewing, Port Jefferson Brewing, Rocky Point Artisan BrewersSaint James Brewery, and Sand City Brewing. Brewing clubs included Beer Loves Long Island, Brewers East End Revival, and Long Island Beer and Malt Enthusiasts.

I got to taste some unique beers:

  • Barrage Brewing Company Assault n Fudgery, a salted caramel and fudge porter, which had attending homebrewers scratching their heads wondering how it was made, keeping brewer Steve Pominski busy answering their questions.

  • Rocky Point Artisan Brewers Chocolate Doppel Dunkel Bock won over some ardent IPA lovers in my company. It was rich and creamy, without being cloyingly sweet.

  • Bellport Brewing Company whiskey-barrel-aged Fireplace Bay, a Russian Imperial stout made with Tend Coffee’s Special Prep. For lovers of coffee, this beer was like a strong drip, big and bold.

  • Sand City Brewing Southdown Stout, a breakfast stout cask conditioned on Madagascar vanilla beans. This recently opened brewery in Northport is getting a lot of buzz from not only beer drinkers but other brewers. Keep your eye on them.

  • Port Jefferson Brewing Company Life Preserver, a cask-conditioned Vienna lager, was a welcome change from all the porters and stouts available; although, that didn’t stop me from tasting their Peanut Butter Porter right after I finished the lager.

Both Moustache Brewing Co. and Long Island Beer and Malt Enthusists served up coconut beers. LIBME had Coconut Brown Ale that gave no apologies, with in-your-face coconut, while Moustache Coconut Milk Stout, cask-conditioned with vanilla beans and cinnamon, was more sublime and well balanced.

The size and exclusivity of the Nano Cask Ale Festival may make it easy to miss some of these casks, but many of these brewers will pour at the largest cask festival on Long Island, the Blue Point Cask Festival, April 16th, at the Blue Point Brewery in Patchogue.