The Spring Craft Beer Festival will be held on Saturday,...

The Spring Craft Beer Festival will be held on Saturday, March 26 at Nassau Coliseum...Photo by Joseph Caggiano Credit: Joseph Caggiano

After a three-year hiatus, the Spring Craft Beer Festival is back at Nassau Coliseum featuring more than 40 brewing companies offering samples of their products to Long Islanders 21 and over.

"The festival is an opportunity for people to have a good time sampling beers they might not necessarily have tried before," says show promoter Andy Calimano from Starfish Junction. "During COVID, there weren’t a lot of tastings going on. People were sticking with their tried and true brews. At the festival, they can do some experimenting."

BREW CREWS

Breweries from all over the tristate area will fill the rows in the center of Nassau Coliseum’s 66,000-square foot exhibition hall giving out 2-ounce samples of two or more craft beers as well as some promotional swag.

"You’ll see a mix of popular and eclectic brands," says Calimano. "We are in a renaissance with American brewers and this is a way for them to showcase some of their creativity."

Long Island will be well represented by a series of local breweries from Nassau and Suffolk. Some are veterans who are returning while others are newcomers.

Long Ireland Beer Company of Riverhead has been participating at the festival since opening in 2009. "The biggest take away for us is the immediate feedback," says co-owner Gregory Martin, who will be pouring Celtic Ale, an Irish amber as well as Hooligan Irish Stout. "You have a person holding this beverage that you created and you can see the expression on their face as they drink it. It can be good or bad, but that immediacy is the beauty of the festival."

Montauk Brewing Company is celebrating its 10th anniversary and will be sharing its popular IPA Wave Chaser and Belgian white ale Easy Riser with the crowd.

"The enjoyable thing about craft beer is that it attracts a wide demographic," says co-founder Vaughan Cutillo. "On Long Island, we are lucky to have such quality craft beer which draws a lot of different people making for a really strong showing of the product coming from here."

Of course, no beer festival is complete without the presence of Long Island’s biggest craft beer brand, Blue Point Brewing Co. in Patchogue, which will showcase its flagship beer Toasted Lager, a tropical IPA Spectral Haze, blonde ale Imperial Sunshine and Legalize Wheat, a dry-hopped American wheat ale dosed with sour diesel terpenes.

The festival is a "way to emerge from winter hibernation, and after the last few months you’ll be able to feel the energy in the room," says communications director Shelby Poole.

New this year will be Lost Farmer Brewing Co. in Mineola pushing its Top Gunn IPA and Peconic County Brewing in Riverhead, which will offer its New England juicy style IPA Hampton Haze and smooth drinking Colonial Amber Lager. Both will be promoting their new taprooms along with South Shore Craft Brewery in Oceanside, who plans on spotlighting its double IPA Shark Bite and traditional German Pilsner Haviland.

"We opened our tap room just months before the pandemic started," says South Shore's head brewer Peter Tripp. "This festival is a good way to let people know we are here."

GAME DAY

New this year will be a free play video game section called Arcade Alley featuring 20 different titles including Pac-Man, Ms. Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, Asteroids, Galaga and more. Plus, there's axe-throwing (for an additional fee), a basketball toss, corn hole, giant Jenga and even an Instagram trail to take selfies being added.

"The goal is to create an atmosphere where people are able to enjoy time with their friends and family, which is something they haven’t had in a long time," says Calimano.

MUNCHIES & MARKET

Food will be sold by the Coliseum concessions and there will be special items such as bratwursts, pulled pork and hot dogs all cooked in beer.

A marketplace will also be made available with 15 different vendors selling a variety of products such as T-shirts, dog biscuits, beef jerky, spices, hot sauce, cigars and sports memorabilia.

Attendees who want to go in style can buy a general admission-plus ticket for an extra $20 to get in an hour early and enjoy reserved table seating. See website for COVID protocols.

SPRING CRAFT BEER FESTIVAL

WHEN | WHERE 2:30 to 6 p.m. (starts at 1:30 p.m. for general admission-plus ticket holders), March 26, Nassau Coliseum, 1255 Hempstead Turnpike, Uniondale

INFO springcraftbeerfestival.com

ADMISSION $70 ($60 in advance) — general admission; $90 ($80 in advance), general admission-plus; $15, designated driver ticket (no alcohol), must be 21 or older

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