The Show Went On: OctFest Gave New York a Fun Weekend of Beer at Music Despite Rains

Cover Photo by Andrew Benge

We came, we drank, and we danced in the rain.

OctFest produced by Pitchfork and October (an online outlet for beer lovers) took place this past weekend at Governors Island in New York. The sold out event combined music and beer for a truly unique two day festival. Each ticket holder was given 15 samples to taste beer or cider from breweries all around the world while they enjoyed music on two stages. Performances from Vince Staples, NAO, Nile Rodgers and CHIC, and the Flaming Lips as well as beers from Koana Brewery, MIA, Wicked Weed made for an incredible weekend despite the rain.

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Photo by by Alexa Viscius

Having two stages made it so that there was enough entertainment but also ample amount of time to enjoy all the various breweries. There were no conflicting times, only once one set ended on the stage did the other one begin on the other stage. We typically would try a couple while we walked in between performances and made sure we had a full one to enjoy while we danced.

With over 90 options, it could have been a very overwhelming task to choose which beers to try. Luckily, the festival did a wonderful job of organizing the breweries by region. Each one was color coded and sectioned off based on the part of the world it. From Taiwan to South Africa to California to Brooklyn, there were over 90 options from all around the globe. We tried to rotate through each region so that our palettes got a taste of a little bit of everything.

One stall that stood out in particular was Taihu Brewing, from Taiwan. Every time I walked by their stand there was always a line at least 15 people deep. It should be noted that there was never a line at most other stalls, often we would walk right up to get our sample. They offered their Woo May, a sour beer made using Taiwanese smoked plum tea, and the Black Bear, barrel-aged stout with a 10% ABV.

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Photo by Avo John Kambourian

The best part of all the options was that many of them have never been served in New York before, making the festival a truly worthwhile event for beer lovers. One of my favorites that had never poured in NYC before was Live Oak Brewing. Their HefeWeizen in particular was one I wish I could have again.

Sunday was met with non stop rain but that did not stop the show. VIP ticket holders were not only provided with snacks and cans of beer from select breweries but there were also umbrellas available. Everyone bore ponchos and rain boots (or some opted for no shoes at all). Fortunately, high energy performances from Nile Rodger and CHIC as well as an outrageous Flaming Lips set kept the crowds in good spirits.

The Flaming Lips had an explosive, standout performance Sunday night. Massive balloons, huge hands that shot out lasers, a larger than life unicorn, and a big inflatable rainbow were just some of the highlights from their fiery performance. They got the party started by releases dozens of balloons into the crowd and holding up ones on stage that said “F*CK YEAH OCTFEST”. At one point lead singer Wayne Coyne was outfitted with giant hands. Before we knew it, those giant hands were shooting green lasers across the crowd before shining on the disco ball, which then lit up the whole stage in green and sparkles.

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