Five years ago, self-professed beer geek Josh Schaffner had a dream: to promote NYC's unique, vivacious, and largely overlooked craft beer community. And if it took a nine-day annual festival to do so, then so be it. But now, Schaffner is handing over the reins of New York Craft Beer Week to the newly-formed New York City Brewers Guild (NYCBG)—and they'll be announcing the schedule for this year's festival at an opening bash in May.

Tickets for the opening bash—which takes place on May 22 at Brooklyn Brewery in Williamsburg—are $75, and good for a commemorative tasting glass and unlimited samples of each brewery’s offerings. Food will be provided by Guild members Eataly Birreria & 508 GastroBrewery. For an additional $50, one can receive a discounted year-long Individual Guild Membership to the NYCBG. Regular membership after the fest will go up to $75. The Individual level of membership includes VIP access to official NYC Brewers Guild events, VIP tours and tastings at Guild breweries and brewpubs, and an official Guild t-shirt.

The NYCBG includes Bronx Brewery, Brooklyn Brewery, Chelsea Brewing Co., Eataly Birreria, Harlem Brewing Co., Heartland Brewing Co., KelSo Beer Co., Shmaltz Brewing Co., Sixpoint Brewery and 508 GastroBrewery. All the ticket info is here—there were 250 individual tickets still available to the opening bash as of publishing.

While you get your beer drinking gloves pressed and ready, you can read part of Schaffner's farewell letter about his inspiration for starting the festival:

For several years prior, I traveled extensively around the country in the pursuit of great beer. I sought out brewery tours, craft beer bars, restaurants and stores, festivals, specialty beer dinners—I was a beer geek who benefited greatly from working in the travel industry. Yet just about everywhere I went, people assumed that I must be taking in the pleasures of their beer communities because New York was insufficient. They claimed that when they thought of our New York, their minds led to fine dining, the sights, the sounds, the Broadway shows, the sports, the parks; just about anything beyond the beer.

Being a native New Yorker, I was clearly defensive. New York has great beer, I would say in response. We had (and have) tremendously talented breweries, creative bar owners, innovative distributors, and a bold collective of home brewers. When we arrived at the Blind Tiger, I mentioned to Alan Jestice that I thought our city should do more to promote our beer community. We should show off and strut our stuff like New Yorkers are known to do. Before I knew it, the next week he had me sitting in front of a group he assembled of several other craft beer bar managers and owners. I laid out my pitch—my hope was to inspire them to action so I could enjoy the fruits of their labor just as I had enjoyed many a beer in their bars. They had another thing coming for me, and I was too young, naive and excited to say no. With their initial advice and some choice introductions, I was now on a mission to create NY Craft Beer Week and demonstrate to the world and ourselves how great of a destination the city could be for beer.