Albany Times Union: Chad Polenz on Leading a Beer Tasting at a Wine Festival in the Hudson Valley
By George de Piro, Ben Harris and Chad Polenz
Hosting a beer tasting panel… at a wine festival
Tuesday, May 28, 2013 by:Chad Polenz
If you know me you know I’m a beer guy, not a wine guy. So I was pretty surprised when I was asked to host a beer tasting panel at the Hudson Berkshire Wine and Food Festival on Sunday, May 26 (Ben was invited too, but he was out of town). When I first received the invitation from Carlo De Vito, the head organizer of the event, I panicked a little. I’ve never done any presentations for a live audience and it’s been about 15 years since my last Public Speaking 101 class. He assured me it would be a casual, friendly crowd who just wanted to try some good local beer and I had nothing to be anxious about.
Carlo and I spent a few days trying to come up with a selection of beers from breweries located in the Hudson Valley and Berkshires. We wanted to exhibit dark and light beers, as well as showcase as many breweries as possible. Trying to narrow down the list down to only one beer per brewery was quite a challenge. I gave Carlo a ridiculously long list of beers to procure, and he was able to come through with some pretty good ones.
“Chad’s Weeknight Wheat” (my homebrewed hefeweizen)
Barrington Brewery’s “Not Your Father’s Dortmunder”
Brown’s Pale Ale
Discussing Captain Lawrence Brewing’s “Captain’s Reserve Imperial IPA” with the audience.
Captain Lawrence Brewing’s “Captain’s Reserve Imperial IPA”
Chatham Brewing’s “Maple Amber”
Crossroads Brewing’s “Black Rock Stout”
While six beers may not sound like a lot, I think we were able to demonstrate what craft beer is all about and what breweries in this region are doing. I would have preferred to include a few more beers among the panel, but time was limited. It was fun interacting with people and answering their questions about beer. I’d imagine these are the perks professional brewers get to deal with often.
I was also pleasantly surprised by the casual and relaxed atmosphere. I’d never been to a wine festival before, so I was expecting clientele from that Paul Giamatti movie “Sideways.” Fortunately, it was everyday people who just wanted to try some good food and drinks. After my discussion ended I checked out the entire festival. I tried quite a few wines and found some that were tasty, but none that I enjoyed as much as beer (though there was a pumpkin wine I liked enough to consider buying). I had a similar reaction to the mead and the distilled spirits that I sampled; they were good, but I don’t feel the need to drink them more often.
I’m already looking forward to next year and have plenty of ideas on how we can improve it. Thanks to everyone that came out. I’ll see you in 2014!
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