CNY Brewfest proves to be a ‘Sip of Sunshine’ for all

CNY Brewfest proves to be ‘Sip of Sunshine’

The 23rd annual festival sold out both sessions with 3,000 people and more than 120 vendors
Published: February 4, 2019 | Updated: February 6th, 2019 at 1:02 pm
Syracuse CNY Brewfest
Opening its doors for the 23rd year, the CNY Brewfest added new breweries for a total of 132 to include Stone Brewing, Samuel Adams and many other local favorites.

With 132 breweries in attendance, the 23rd annual Central New York Brewfest continues the tradition this year with several new vendors, beers, and pretzel necklaces.

Walking into the Horticulture Building on the State Fairgrounds, local band Born to Run plays Bruce Springsteen’s hit, “Dancing in the Dark.” Volunteers are sell special beer glasses for the tastings. Lines are long and winding at every tap table.

This year Jason Purdy, organizer of the festival, decided to cap the sessions at 1,500 people.

“The evening session was especially busy last year, and it got kind of hectic. We thought around 1500 people is the perfect amount [per session] to avoid the long lines,” Purdy said.

Purdy, who is also the owner of Now & Later beer bar, has gotten nothing but compliments since taking over from the founders, Bill Newman and Mick Wysochanski, three years ago.

He explains this festival is curated for both beer lovers and new comers as there are ciders, IPA’s – hoppy and fruity – and everything in between. He challenges people who claim to not like beer to stop by Now & Later. He guarantees to find a beer for every pallet.

SU CNY Brewfest
“He makes me a new pin every year we come,” said Richard Hagenmayer, left of his friend Rob Davis, right. Davis and Hagenmayer are engineering technicians and have been coming to Brewfest for 20 years.

Canadian hopheads, Keith Diagle and David Aiken, say they make the trip to the CNY Brewfest every year, travelling all the way from Nova Scotia and Ontario.

“It’s been like 15 years now we’ve been traveling here for this. We love it and we make a vacation out of it,” Diagle said while sipping his double IPA. “It gets better every year!”

The inventor of the pretzel necklace, Rob Davis, was also in attendance. Friend and engineer, Richard Hagenmayer, made Davis’ presence known as shouts “he invented the pretzel necklaces everyone is walking around with,” to tasters wandering by.

There were a few fan favorites at the first session. Lawson’s ‘Sip of Sunshine IPA’, and Other Half’s ‘Einstein’s Daydream Imperial Oat IPA’ are at the top of the list among the reviewers.

“Sip of Sunshine is my favorite, and my husbands. It makes a day away from the kids even brighter!” said Brewfest regular and local Meghan Davidson.

Abigail Grimes dances to ‘Born in the USA’ as she listens to Eastwood Brewing give their spiel to new tasters.

“I volunteer every year to simply learn about beer. There are so many kinds and so much to learn, it’s a blast,” Grimes said.

SU Brewfest CNY Syracuse
Bob Shepherd, left, serves Sheps beer at the Central New York Brewfest. Shepherd has been attending the fest for five years.
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is a staff producer for The NewsHouse.