Blue Point Holds Last Bash at River Avenue Brewery

first firkin
Blue Point’s cask master Jim Richards (right) overseeing the tapping of the First Firkin at the 15th annual Cask Ales Festival.

Blue Point Brewing held the “absolute” last beer festival at its original River Avenue brewery in Patchogue on Saturday, according to co-founder and brewmaster emeritus Mark Burford. 

Thousands of festival goers enjoyed a sunny spring afternoon at the 15th annual Cask Ales Festival tasting cask-conditioned ales brewed by 70 breweries from across Long Island, the U.S. and even a few from England, where cask ales were first produced hundreds of years ago. 

In opening the festival, Burford joked that last year’s Cask Ales Festival was billed as the last at River Avenue, but construction of Blue Point’s new brewery on West Main Street took longer than expected.  Now scheduled to open this summer, the new 60,000-square-foot brewery on the former site of Briarcliffe College will feature a tasting room overlooking the expanded brewhouse and an outdoor beer garden.

Blue Point was founded on River Avenue in 1998 and held its first Cask Ales Festival in January 2004 in the middle of a blizzard, with many people making it to the festival on cross country skis and snowshoes. Since then, Blue Point has led the way in popularizing cask ales on Long Island and the festival has grown to become one of the largest cask festivals in the U.S.

Cask-conditioned ale, often called “real ale,” is unfiltered and naturally carbonated without the addition of nitrogen or carbon dioxide, producing smooth beer with intense flavors. Blue Point’s cask master Jim Richards pulled out all the stops for the last festival at River Avenue, serving 14 cask ales with unique ingredients including wasabi and ginger (Sushi Prop Stopper IPA), dried mint cacao nips (Armchair Stout Mint Chocolate) and dragon fruit and habanero (Dragon’s Breath). 

Richards also brewed several collaboration beers using ingredients from local companies such as Amagansett Sea Salt (Everything Bagel Ale), Martha Clara Vineyard (Beach Plum Goes Rose Soaked Oak), Montauk Rum Runners (Coconut Rum Dopplebock) and King County Distillery (Kings County Armchair). 

In addition to cask ales from craft breweries, Long Island’s three homebrew clubs – Brewers East End Revival, Handgrenades Homebrew Club, and Long Island Beer & Malt Enthusiasts – served dozens of homebrewed cask ales, ciders and mead. Also on hand to provide food to hungry festivalgoers were local food trucks from Bobbique, Chiddy’s Cheesesteaks, Island Empanada and Brockenzo’s Pizza.

Bernie Kilkelly is the editor and publisher of LIBeerGuide.com.