The first Long Island Nano Cask Ale Festival was a fluke.
Three years ago, a group of home brewers were preparing for the annual Blue Point Cask Ale Festival when the date was suddenly changed.
For the individuals, the difference of even a week meant having to start from scratch because cask ale is brewed to be served immediately.
The beer they were fermenting for the festival would have gone bad by the new date, said Donavan Hall, one of the three brewers who comprise the Rocky Point Artisan Brewers, which was headed to the festival that year.
“So we all had all this beer,” said Hall, 43, of Rocky Point. “A bunch of brewers said, ‘What are we going to do with all this beer, because we have to make new beer for the festival anyway? So, let’s just drink it.’”
On Sunday, Rocky Point Artisanal Brewers organized the third annual Nano Cask Ale Festival at the Rocky Point Clubhouse, and sold out of tickets in the days leading up to the event.
About 150 people attended, sipping cask ales -- beer conditioned in a cask without the addition of carbon dioxide pressure -- supplied by seven nanobreweries and two local homebrewing clubs.
Hall, who along with partners Yuri Janssan and Mike Voigt, comprise Rocky Point Artisan Brewers, said microbreweries have become popular with the general public for their carefully crafted beers and tendency to use local resources. He said nanobreweries are even smaller and more community-based – in most cases just a few people brewing at a small local space.
“A lot of people know about microbreweries,” he said. “That’s sort of now a misnomer because they produce so much.”
He said some popular microbreweries produce more than 50,000 barrels a year; his brewery produces about 25 barrels. Blind Bat Brewery, of Centerport, which was also at the festival, produces about 60 barrels a year.
This year’s festival also included ales by Port Jefferson Brewing Company, Barrier Brewing Company, Barrage Brewing Company, Spider Bite Brewing Company and Ghost Cat Brewing. The Long Island Beer and Malt Enthusiasts and Brewers East End Revival – or B.E.E.R. – also brought casks.
Paul Dlugokencky, 52, of Centerport, launched Blind Bat Brewery out of his basement in 2008. Now, he brews cask ales, bottled beer and “regular kegs,” which are sold at beer distributors, bars and restaurants across the island, as well as at the Northport Farmers Market.
He said Long Island is the perfect market for artisan brews because people are already very focused on locally made products.
“It’s really just grown exponentially,” he said of the craft beer culture. “It’s locavores, people are into local foods, and this is no different.”
Amanda Danielsen, 34, of Miller Place, walked around Sunday’s festival with a copy of the Long Island Beer Guide, written and published by Hall, and she was asking brewers to sign it.
“I’m a beer dork,” she said.
Danielsen said she’s so interested in craft beers that she’s tried her hand at brewing herself, but as free time got more scarce and microbreweries and nanobreweries got so popular, she’s focused more on trying others than making her own.
“It’s so much easier to find great beers than it used to be,” she said. “Now there are so many people who know how to do this much better than I did.”
Above: Larry Goldstein, of Spider Bite Brewing Company, serves beer from a cask during the Long Island Nano Cask Ale Festival. (Feb. 19, 2012)