I have only been able to attend one event of the many being held during NY Craft Beer Week. Eighty-three bars are participating and a $35 passport enables you to go to any of these places and pay $2 for a pint of that bar’s featured beer. The passport also gives you a discount for other events including the Women in the Beer Panel.
There are also a series of dinners, Zagat House Specials, which are $40, three-course,with beer, meals. The most expensive meal appears to be tonight. You could pay $350 for a seven-course dinner paired with Brooklyn Brewery Beer at Per Se. Thomas Keller owns this restaurant which is in the Time Warner Center, Columbus Circle.
Andy Crouch, Beer Scribe has written about the questionableness of such an expensive meal. In a a larger sense, I wonder what the organizers of NY Craft Week are trying to accomplish. The women on the panel all spoke about promoting craft beer and creating wider exposure to its good taste and qualities. Are $350 dinners the way to do that? Even the $35 passport which gets you $2 beers seems problematic. The whole experience seems to require that a participant already has knowledge of both the beers and the bars.
The organizers have created an equivalent to the gallery scene I described in an earlier post. They are not relying on street traffic to generate business. Beer festivals do seem to be more accessible.
Craft brewers may have an identity crisis. Are they aspiring to achieve the elitist status of wine or do they wish to get some of the market share that the poor tasting mega beers occupy? These goals are contradictory.