The Great Beer Expo, Long Island’s most popular fall beer festival, marked its triumphant return to the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Veterans Day on Nov. 11.

First held in 2007, the annual brewfest was held at Belmont Park for the past five years while the Nassau Coliseum was being renovated. Organizers Andy and Lynda Calimano of Starfish Junction Productions celebrated the return to the Uniondale arena by showcasing more than 60 breweries offering more than 100 beers for tasting.

The stars of the show were more than a dozen Long Island brewers, including both homebrewers and craft breweries founded by former homebrewers. Long Island Beer & Malt Enthusiasts (LIBME), a homebrew club based in Suffolk County, held its fifth annual Beer and Mead Competition at the festival, attracting over 200 entries in more than 20 categories.

The Brewers Choice award went to Mark Williams and Justin Hansen of the Brewers East End Revival (BEER) homebrew club, and their winning beer will be brewed at Sand City Brewing in Northport early next year. Also participating in the competition and serving their homebrews at the festival were members of Handgrenades Homebrew Club (Grenade Brigade), based in Nassau County.

Long Island brewers that participated included several that got their start in the homebrew clubs. Among those pouring beers at the fest were Barnshed Brewing (Bryan Murphy, Grenade Brigade), Barrage Brewing (Steve Pominski, LIBME) and 1940s Brewing (Charlie Becker, LIBME). Also participating for the first time at the Great Beer Expo were two of Long Island’s newest craft breweries, BrewSA Brewing of Freeport and Jamesport Farm Brewery from the North Fork.

Particularly appropriate since the fest was held on Veterans Day, Starfish Junction chose as the event charity a local group, Project 9 Line, which works to empower veterans with reintegration through the arts and activity. A portion of the event proceeds went directly to Project 9 Line along with proceeds from raffles and a silent auction. Attendees were also able to show their appreciation for men and women currently serving by signing a giant Thank You card and writing holiday cards for the troops.

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