Best Fall Festivals in Brooklyn

Best Fall Festival in Brooklyn Brooklyn Pour

Autumn in New York is the greatest time to visit the state. Upstate’s fall foliage is beatific, Long Island’s surf is epic, the city’s weather is perfect, and Brooklyn’s festival season is in full swing. This fall, I attended three events that are the best fall festivals in Brooklyn.


The Brooklyn Pour: A Brooklyn Beer Festival


I’m a sucker for any festival that centers around beer. Thus, the Village Voice’s Brooklyn Pour, a craft beer festival with more than 100 brews on offer, was a fall highlight (especially since a torn hamstring prevented me from hiking through that aforementioned fall foliage and riding those hurricane-crafted waves). Set at Skylight, a defunct bank that also plays host to the Brooklyn Flea, where sunlight hits the beautiful murals at the far end of the room and becomes hazy with the changing light and tippled beer, I couldn’t get enough perennial fall favorites. (Though I could do without the myriad pumpkin ales.) The beer was so good at this event that I actually avoided most of my go-to IPAs in order to experience the unfamiliar. Founders rocked the first floor with their porter, (though I won’t even try to offer specifics as I was already well into the tasting by then. I just remember liking it. Was it even a porter?)


Downstairs, in the bank vault, where the one-foot-thick, metal doors were swung open, I found my favorite stories of the day. In beer-related news, I met the husband and wife team of Grimm Artisanal Ales. The couple is nomadic, and rents space and equipment from other brewers in order to make their delicious beers. “All we own are the kegs,” Joe Grimm told me.


I also ran into this guy:


Ask Me About My Ninja Disguise t shirt


I asked.


Ask Me About My Ninja Disguise t shirt


The one thing I’ve discovered about beer events is that the VIP tickets often have great perks. VIP tickets for the Brooklyn Pour gave an extra hour of crowd-less beer drinking. It also offered exclusive access to an upstairs landing that overlooks the main floor, where VIPs could snap cool photos of the drunk masses below, but more importantly eat coffee-rubbed sirloin cooked medium rare and Whole Foods’ brats, smothered in mustard and sauerkraut, and shoved into miniature pretzel buns.


Brats in Pretzel Buns at Brooklyn Pour


Every beer festival always has one great irony and it’s usually some non-beer-related vendor attempting to appeal to the drunkards, by totally going against their main message. For instance, gyms promoting through beer pong games makes me smile.


Best Fall Festival in Brooklyn Taste Talks


Taste Talks: When Chefs Come Together


(Since this is a long post, take a break and allow voice-over artist Matthew Jay Cwern to give all the details about the Taste Talks festival. Just click the player below. Or, you can read on your own and take breaks here and there to allow MJC to provide his gift and flavor.)



Set in the East River State Park on the edge of Williamsburg, the Taste Talks festival was the smallest of the best fall festivals in Brooklyn. With about one dozen tables set up, local chefs paired up to invent recipes for this day of gastronomic experimentation.


While I felt that the most audacious dishes were the Spotted Pig’s and Allswell’s pairing of chargrilled beef heart with preserved lemon relish on house bread, or maybe Mile End Deli’s and Chromeo’s collaboration on grilled beef tongue with pearl cous cous and matbucha, my friend, the voice-over sensation, future recipient of a Hollywood star, and amateur chef, Matthew Jay Cwern, was not impressed.


(Since you, dear reader, may not be blessed to know this triple threat, I thought I’d let Matthew Jay deliver the review, while I lay down stage directions. For full effect, read in a deep voice that echoes both intelligence and doubt. Voice should sound like a young Jack Nicholson impersonating an older Dennis Leary.)


MJC: The natural flavors of the beef heart were lost to the overpowering relish… The tongue wasn’t chewy enough and the cous cous was a weird pairing.



(Now picture MJC turned on by the tag-team between Pies ‘N Thighs and Saltie to create an ancho and coriander-rubbed smoked chicken skewer doused with yogurt, pickled onions, and herbs. Then, imagine him skipping over to enjoy the mash-up of Dinosaur BBQ and Stumptown Coffee Roasters who rubbed brown sugar and coffee on their pork sliders. And finally, envision the fork dropping like a microphone being released from a voice-over artist’s hand after delivering the best “I Never Wanted a Coke So Bad…” commercial of his life, which came close to happening when he sampled Bedford Post Inn’s and Hill Country’s tenderloin and summer corn succotash.)


MJC: Simple is best.



(But that all changed when he laid eyes on Fatty Cue and Mast Brothers Chocolate’s creation: smoked bacon with mole and salsa verde.)


MJC: The mole mellows out the fat. And it’s balanced with the acids of the salsa verde.



(MJC and stage-direction-man chase the bacon with rum, which Fatty Cue and Mast Brothers kept in a glass pig on the table. Then, the pair found two ladies with all-you-can-drink beer bracelets, making friends for the afternoon.)


MJC: Let me tell you about the time I…



Brooklyn Book Festival: The Smartest of the Best Fall Festivals in Brooklyn


The Brooklyn Book Festival has become a yearly event for me. It’s partly because it involves some of my favorite writers. It’s also because it’s nice to witness a borough get excited about books. But in the interest of full disclosure, it’s partly because I may meet a publisher or agent, pitch out one of my three in-progress books (not the free one on my blog, which you can get for free), and then, seven years later, see my book hit shelves, while my friends attend the launch party… partly because they’re my friends and partly because I’ll be serving sushi.


In years past, while I did meet a few agents and editors who have invited me to submit–no sushi yet, friends–I also got to listen to some of my favorite writers read their works, like Jonathan Safran-Foer.


This year was no different. I joined generations of shocked Lois Lowry readers, who were discovering along with me how humorously curt and ironically impatient the incredible writer of young adult novels had grown with age.


“I’m appalled by the imprecision of kids’ language,” Lowry railed. The word “like is troubling to me.” She went on to, like, tell stories about receiving poorly written emails from a 12-year-old girl eager to become a novelist. The email lacked proper grammar, capitalization, and punctuation. Lowry’s response was one of reproach.


“Thanks for ruining my daughter’s self-esteem,” the parents wrote back.


Lowry talked about the forthcoming movie of The Giver, too, and when the moderator asked if she was eager to meet Meryl Streep and Jeff Bridges, two stars of the film, Lowry replied, “No, actually I’m not.” She was more interested in meeting the special effects team.


The best event at the Brooklyn Book Festival this past year was set inside St. Ann and the Holy Trinity Church, which in retrospect was probably the wrong setting for the literary triumvirate, which included the foul-mouthed Sapphire, the bizarre Tao Lin, who read two droll, sarcastic poems and a strange essay about his recent book tour, and one of my favorite writers, the perverted and eccentric Jonathan Ames.


Ames announced, “I didn’t realize that today’s reading would be in a church… I thought of reading ‘I Shit my Pants in the South of France’ or ‘Bald, Impotent, and Depressed.'” Before his reading, which did not include either of these two pieces, Ames decided that he wanted to take advantage of what he rightly predicted to be fine acoustics, stood up, tilted his head back, cupped his hand around his mouth, and gave what he called the “Harry call,” which sounded like Chewbacca yodeling. After demonstrating the call, Ames read from two of his novels, one of which included characters obsessed with transexuals.




Posted on by Noah Lederman in New York, Or Bust

4 Responses to Best Fall Festivals in Brooklyn

  1. Sam

    As a born and raised Brooklynite…watdoyathink? Only trees grow in bklyn?

  2. elyse

    you should also attend the wine events held at the bank in the spring…equally impressive

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