It doesn't take much exploring to experience how important craft beer has become to Long Island nightlife.
Venture into most of LI’s newer pubs, and chances are the brew menu will feature more than just the Buds, Coors and other mainstream suds that once dominated the cooler space that holds a venue’s frosty libations in check, as craft beer (a beer produced by a brewer whose annual production stays at 6 million barrels of beer or less, as stated by the Brewers Association) has become an in-demand item at taverns across the Island. And furthermore -- as Nassau and Suffolk counties are home to several craft breweries -- it’s not uncommon to find a locally sourced stout, lager or other sort of ale as readily obtainable for purchase as are the bigger brands of beer.
To informally gauge the popularity of craft beer, spend some time both in the bars (where chalkboard menus often announce what unusual options are available by bottle or on tap) and on social media (where beer-serving establishments regularly promote their craft-related current events).
However, to get an intensive idea of the current state of craft beer, consider checking out the “Hops & Props Craft Beer Festival,” a massive happening set to take place at the Cradle of Aviation Museum in Garden City on Saturday, Feb. 8.
Close to 60 different breweries will be participating -- including those that are stateside and others as far away as Germany and Lebanon -- and unlimited 2 oz. samples of beer will be served during the event from 7-10 p.m. In addition, several Long Island companies will be present, such as Blue Point Brewing Co., Fire Island Beer Co., Greenport Harbor and Great South Bay, among others.
Tickets are available in advance (at hopsandprops.com) for $65; any remaining admissions will be sold at the door for $75. Those who'd like first crack at the sudsy selection may also consider the VIP package, which offers an additional, earlier hour of entrance (6-7 p.m.; for $85 online, $95 day of) – and for those who attend as designated drivers, tickets are only $20 and include limited food sampling. Parking is free, but for $90 a lift can be had by taking advantage of an entrance deal that offers a round-trip bus ride (from specific pickup points; see libeerbus.com for more details and purchase. There is also a $40 trip-only option).
Age of admission is 21 and older; there will also be food, a cigar bar and ticket holders will receive a souvenir beer glass. For more information, visit hopsandprops.com.
The Hops & Props Craft Beer Festival at the Cradle of Aviation Museum: Charles Lindbergh Boulevard, Garden City, 516-572-4111.