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Little Beer / Big Festival

May 17, 2019

It’s almost beer o’clock on Friday! I think that means it’s okay if I write one of my periodic beer posts. Tomorrow, is the Saratoga Brewfest and Yelp is a promotional partner. As such, not only will I be there, but a bunch of people from the Yelp community will be too.

Just so you know, tickets are still available, and the weather at the Saratoga County Fairgrounds is looking beautiful for Saturday!

It wasn’t too long ago that I attended my first beer festival. I had heard them criticized for pouring big supermarket brands, and being little more than glorified fraternity parties where people drink to get drunk. But over the years, I’ve come to love these celebrations of beer, with their small sampling glasses, and the ability to take little tastes of a wide variety of brews. Including some from smaller breweries closer to home.

In fact, that’s exactly my plan for tomorrow. And while I do enjoy IPAs, New England IPAs, and Double IPAs, I am even more interested in trying some other styles. Tomorrow’s festival has a lot to offer, but instead of telling you, maybe it would be better to show you.

Beer Festivals can be overwhelming. It helps to have a plan. But as Mike Tyson is credited with saying, “Everyone has a plan… until they get punched in the mouth.” So the plan might have to be flexible. What follows is far from a comprehensive list of the beers and breweries who are slated to attend the festival. It’s being marketed as including over 70 breweries and over 130 beers.

For reasons we can talk about at a later time, these are the local beers I’m most interested in trying, in the rough order I would like to drink them. Starting with the lighter ligers:

Indian Ladder Farms Cidery and Brewery from Altamont: Indian Lager Farms (Pilsner)
Frog Alley Brewing from Schenectady: 1903 Vienna Lager (Vienna Lager)
Crossroads Brewing Company from Athens: Greens Fees Pilsner (Pilsner)
C.H. Evans Brewing Company from Albany: Quackenbush Blonde (Kölsch)

It’s going to be tempting to have a small sip of Sam’s Big Crane Pale Ale too, and I might just have to do that. But I do plan on having some kind of palate cleanser in between styles:

Beer Tree Brew Co from Port Crane: Slightly Fuzzy (Berliner Weisse)

Everyone’s favorite beer these days are the cloudy and fruity New England IPAs. And while I’m growing weary of their ubiquity, they are popular because they are delicious. So I’ve found three local ones that I’ve never tried and would like to seek out:

Artisanal Brew Works from Saratoga Springs: Picture Day #3 (NEIPA)
Brown’s Brewing Company from Troy: Sometimes IPA (NEIPA)
Mill House Brewing Company from Poughkeepsie: Grocery Getter (NEIPA)

All that citrus and tropical fruit needs to be cleared out before moving forward. My thought right now is that a spicy Saison might do the trick:

Bolton Landing Brewing Company from Bolton Landing: Saison Du Lac (Saison)

There are a few beers that list themselves as just straight up IPAs. But I have my doubts. With all the NEIPAs out there, IPAs are getting hazier across the board. And in fact, one of these two makes a nod to the style in its name. So this may really be simply a second NEIPA round, but I hope to note some differences.

Saranac Brewery from Utica: Summer Haze IPA (IPA)
Common Roots from South Glens Falls: Pillow Gossip (IPA)

Have you ever had the mead made in Delmar? This is one of the few brews on my list that I’ve had before, but it will do a bang up job in helping to refresh my taste buds as I move towards the heavier hitters:

Royal Meadery from Delmar: Meadjito (Mead)

Finally there are the Double IPAs, which I’ve kept to just two. The hops just tear up your tongue, even though they are balanced with higher levels of malt, it’s hard for me to even go two deep.

Rare Form Brewing Company from Troy: Moxie (2XIPA)
Rohrbach Brewing Company from Rochester: Space Kitty (2XIPA)

And since I don’t want to leave with hop-mouth, I have a fruity sour treat planned at the end. Although, as I think about it, this might be a terrible plan. Unified is such a popular new brewery, and its sours so sought out, they might run out before the festival is over!

Unified Beerworks from Ballston Spa: Mostly Elemental 2019 Triple Berry (Sour)

But wait, that’s not all. Because LIC Beer Project from Long Island City is going to be there with two American Pale Ales. The one I’ve had and loved is Coded Tiles. The other one that I really want to try is Dream Shovel. In theory I could sneak them in before the IPAs.

Plus, one of my all time favorites isn’t from New York at all, but Maine. Yes, the Maine Beer Company will be bringing their Lunch IPA, which is fantastic. However, I may have to skip it. The hardest thing about these beer festivals is that even taking small samples, you just can’t try them all.

Which, perhaps, is another reason why I find these events so useful. They help me work through the major issue I face, of wanting to try all the things, but not being able to try all the things.

Mostly, I’m looking forward to hanging out with some of my Yelp friends, and those of you who are buying tickets to join me in Ballston Spa. Hope to see you there. Cheers!

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