2016 New York Super Craft Beer Festival’s Abraham Merchant on the Jul. 30 event and more

by | Jul 15, 2016 | Business, Culture, Dining, Events, Real Estate


Simply put, Abraham Merchant is a business magnate, real estate developer and a restaurant owner. He is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Merchants Hospitality Inc., a New York City-based company founded in 1986. Merchants Hospitality properties include hotels (e.g. Hyatt Andaz, Westin Aruba), office and retail buildings (e.g. 350 Madison Avenue, 260 Park Avenue South), restaurants (e.g. Philippe Chow, Watermark Bar, Pound & Pence), and destinations (e.g. Pier 15 at South Street Seaport).

As if that weren’t enough to manage, Abraham is also behind the 2nd Annual New York Super Craft Beer Festival. Set for Jul. 30 at Pier 15’s Watermark Bar, the event will bring together top-tier craft breweries from all over. Unlike many prominent beer festivals — which broken into sessions — tickets to the New York Super Craft Beer Festival will not limit guests to a window of time, instead granting all-day access to attendees. The event is scheduled to run from 12:00 PM until 11:00 PM with tickets starting at $15; no matter your ticket’s cost, you will come away with a souvenir glass.

Abraham caught up with Downtown about the origins of the festival and what else he has coming up. For more info on the festival, click on over to www.newyorksupercraft.com. Abraham himself is on Twitter as @AbrahamMerchant while his company is online at www.merchantshospitality.com.

Abraham Merchant

Abraham Merchant

This will be the second edition of the New York Super Craft Beer Festival. Where did the idea for the inaugural festival come from?

Abraham Merchant: Over the years I have become a beer enthusiast more and more. Craft beer has really made a big impact on my pallet, and now I drink craft beer as often as I drink wine. When I first got into the scene — and I’m still trying to expand my experiences and knowledge — I attended and continue to attend a few craft beer festivals a year. Often times as someone with a long history in hospitality, I’m a bit disappointed in the curation and the commercial nature of many of them. So, instead of commenting on the lack of selection, I created my own festival and introduced rare and hard to find beers…with an all day ticket structure instead of limiting people to sessions.

How would you describe the festival to someone that didn’t get to attend last year?

AM: In a nutshell, it will change your life. You will never think of beer the same way. The world of craft beer can be an overwhelming scene for many people, but this festival makes it accessible and takes the intimidation out of learning about it. It makes newcomers feel welcome and veterans feel empowered. There’s a huge sense of camaraderie within the Craft Beer Festival at Watermark Bar, which I think sets it aside from other festivals.

Oktoberfest at Watermark - Abraham included

Oktoberfest at Watermark – Abraham included

What is the biggest challenge of running a festival like this?

AM: Curating a massive event with hard-to-find and rare beers are no easy feat. Probably the biggest challenge is making sure we pick the most seasonal yet unique beers from each brewery so we have a well-rounded versatile selection of offerings.

Other than your own, what’s the best beer festival you’ve been to?

AM: I love Oktoberfest in Germany. Yes, I know it is not a craft beer festival, but I love it nonetheless. I go every year!

As a real estate developer, I figured I’d ask: When did you first really get into beer?

AM: Three years ago. To be honest, I was not a beer drinker, I am a scotch drinker. However, as the craft beer scene exploded in U.S. and in New York, I was amazed at the creative passion and the complexity that is involved in beer making and fell in love with it Now I try new beers all the time, I try never repeating the same beer again.

Do you remember the first craft beer that really made an impression on you?

AM: Cane and Abel.

Do you have a favorite New York-based brand?

AM: LIC Beer Project Gal Friday.

Abraham Merchant with friends

Abraham Merchant with friends

Is there a bar in Manhattan that you consider to be your home bar?

AM: Well, I’m a bit biased as a bar owner, but Art Bar in the West Village I opened so long ago, and to this day, it remains a neighborhood establishment full of locals and regulars. Always a great time. Outside of my own bars? The Jeffrey on East 60th is one of my other favorites in the city.

Other than the New York Super Craft Beer Festival, what’s coming up for you?

AM: Oktoberfest, this will be our second year hosting it at Watermark Bar. Last year the response was huge. It’s the most authentic, close to Germany, Oktoberfest as you can get in the city. Everything from the décor to the beer to the music is authentic, and I know because I’ve been and try to recreate it as intricately as I can.

The Olympics, too! We are showing them at all Merchants properties and I just feel like it’s a great time for New Yorkers. No matter where you come from, everyone can unite over the games.

When not busy with work, how do you like to spend your free time?

AM: Play Tennis, squash, skydive…I love to play baseball with my son.

Finally, Abraham, any last words for the kids?

AM: Know your limits. The purpose of the Craft Beer Festival is to get familiar with the craft beer scene as a whole and to taste the incredibly unique creations that these breweries pour their souls into making and serving craft beer fans. We want you to try everything and to really appreciate what you’re trying, so slow down and know your limits! Drink responsibly.


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