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Defiant Brewing’s 5th annual Abominable Snowfest was another smashing wintertime hit as curious local minions and professional beer geeks once more collided on a cold January afternoon to plow some of the finest regional draughts. As usual, the amiable hour-and-a-half VIP pregame featured many fantastic one-off ‘big beers’ (most of which I sampled and described below) while the entire 5-hour gathering also benefited from good BBQ, fine pub fare, great live music, an elastic female contortionist and a ceiling-raising stilted lady.

Proving again that there are an ever-increasing amount of local breweries within a 35 mile radius, the Snowfest brought aboard a few more recently opened businesses. Naptime, Big Alice, Fifth Hammer, Long Lot and Gentle Giant were represented alongside another dozen or more regional establishments.

Getting there at a quarter to twelve, the line has already started. I meet veteran 381 Main promoter, John Fladung, then receive my complementary Defiant Abominable Snowbeer, an easygoing Belgian-styled golden ale aperitif with spritzy lemon zesting picking up orange-candied tartness and mild white-peppered honey spicing over dry pale malts.

Keeping it light, pale and sessionable, musky honeyed grains and lemon-rotted Noble hops casually consumed off-dry German-styled(?) moderation, Big Alice NYC Pils, respectable blue collar Brooklyn fodder.

Carefree dry-bodied moderation, Barrier Extra Krona IPA (a collaboration with NYC nano  Brewski), let tart guava and passionfruit adjuncts gain lemony grapefruit-orange tanginess alongside botanical grape tannins and pale malt spicing, gaining light musky hop astringency by the finish.

Rye-caramelized pale ale, Fifth Hammer Autumn Rye, did a fine job as a moderate-bodied early afternoon eye-opener, leaving wispy floral-spiced sweetness and earthen hop foliage upon pumpernickel rye breading.

Glistening lemon-peeled grapefruit, orange and tangerine spicing embraced approachable Millhouse Led Ashtray IPA, which stayed mild via oats-neutralized pale malting.

Light lactic-soured milk sugaring and subtle vanilla creaming grazed brisk mango-pineapple-papaya tropicalia and candied citrus spicing for commendable Millhouse Cashazacca India Pale Ale 

Durable Peekskill Pantry Beer, a briskly clean coffee IPA, linked dark-roast Ethiopian coffee to black chocolate malting without totally compromising its contrasted citric-spiced pale malting.

Brewed with Graft apple cider, fine saison hybrid, Newburgh Farm Boss, mingled Spanish cedar, elderflower and coriander subsidies with herbal lemon tea reminders, relegating its sweetly soured cider finish.

Bitter dark cocoa, burnt coffee and sour dried fruiting aligned with bitter nuttiness for Broken Bow Nick’s Hazelnut Praline Porter, leaving sweet hazelnut and praline adjuncts to get pushed aside.

Velvety spirits-aged, Pine Island Bourbon Barrel Porter, let sweet bourbon vanilla alacrity drape cocoa-sugared brown chocolate malts and wispy spiced rum licks.

A few rangy rye-influenced Imperial Stouts from Brooklyn’s KCBC caught my attention next. Firstly, medium-roast iced coffee tenacity scored for KCBC Ryders of the Black Rainbow Imperial Coffee Stout, leaving nutty brown chocolate malting upon sweet rye breading.

Then, KCBC’s rye-barreled Demons On The Dancefloor, a smooth 11% potion loading bittersweet cocoa nibs onto dry rye, bourbon and burgundy elegance, proved to be an ultra-relaxing solution.

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Defiant started really packing up by 1:30 as I got my hands on a few more craft suds while diggin’ the BBQ.

Dark chocolate-caked cold brew coffee consumed Big Alice Date Night Bro Stout, a bitterer-than-sweet full body with nut-charred dark roast hop abundance.

Creamy black chocolate syruping coated hop-charred vanilla bean bittering for Pine Island Oatmeal Creme Stout, but its up-front ‘heaviosity’ soon retreated atop the oats-sugared malt base.

Lactic liquid cocoa (cholaca) escorted black chocolate, vanilla bean and coffee bean bittering thru sweet cardamom spicing and brief cayenne peppering for briskly clean milk stout, Naptime Fika, a bustling mocha-spiced Swedish dark ale.

Silken mocha-enriched stout, Captain Lawrence Double Pull, guided coffee-roasted black chocolate bittering towards espresso-milked nuttiness above lightly charred oats.

Conditioned on chocolate-coconut- vanilla, heavenly Imperial Milk Porter, Brix City Coconut Crème Choco-Lit Pastry Party, let fudged brownie, chocolate mousse, malted milk and coconut cream pie illusions rise to the confectionary mocha-candied surface.

“Udderly sweet” Finback Coquito Milk Stout brought richly lactic brown chocolate malting to cinnamon-spiced coconut toasting, sweet vanilla creaming and wintry nutmeg snog in fabulous dessert-like fashion.

Even more profound, superb Rushing Duck Dirty Chai Ded Moroz Imperial Stout, a kaleidoscopic variant on its mocha-enriched dried fruited original version, adds chai-spiced black peppering to medium-roast coffee, dark chocolate, anise herbage and cinnamon-spiced Graham Cracker sugaring.

Before heading out, I went sour for a nifty change-up. Winterized by tart plum and cranberry adjuncts, mildly acidic sour ale, Rushing Duck Don’t Stoke The Bear, gained a harmonious lemon-limed green grape pucker.


-John Fortunato

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