The First Annual Saratoga Beer Week is brought to you by the same group that hosts the Saratoga Brewfest each summer and Oktobeerfest in autumn. Garth Ellms and AJ Bodden of Saratoga Festivals say the success of Saratoga Brew Fest led to the creation of Saratoga Beer Week, as a way to break up the end of February with an annual citywide event.
While Saratoga Brew Fest is more of a craft beer event, Saratoga Beer Week will offer a bit more in the way of variety. While the craft breweries will be represented in full force, Beer Week will include a more international selection, with breweries from places ranging from Chile to Poland and much more in between.
If you’re so much of a beer fanatic that you’re planning to attend all the festivities, you may be interested in purchasing a “Beer Week Passport.” Passport holders are granted entry into each of the marquee events during the week, without having to purchase a separate ticket. Passports will only be sold prior to Beer Week, so be sure to purchase yours ahead of time. If you can’t make it to any of the featured events, you can try and attend dozens of promotions being held at local restaurants and venues over the course of the weekend. Admission for many of the local promotions is free, but expect a cash bar at most venues.
With literally dozens of promotions taking place throughout the weekend, you’ll be able to experience what makes Saratoga Beer Week such a unique event. On February 23, you can head on down to the tasting room at Olde Saratoga Brewery to take part in the kick off party. Brewers from all over New York State will be in attendance for you to meet, and they’ll be serving up some rare brews for your tasting pleasure. New York State is home to many great craft breweries such as Brooklyn, Davidson Brothers, Ommegang, Brown’s and the unofficial host of Saratoga Beer Week, Olde Saratoga.
“It’s a unique chance for customers to try different New York State-brewed beer, all in one place,” said Max Oswald of Olde Saratoga Brewery.
February 24 offers more in the way of beer education, with two separate seminars being held at the Saratoga Springs City Center. The first session starts bright and early at 9 a.m., and touches on food pairing and home brewing. Andy Schwarz, head brew master for Redhook, Widmer Brothers and Kona, will be speaking on his experiences running a craft brewery. Seminar two will feature speaker Adon Allen, the Brewing Ambassador with Anheuser-Busch. Tickets to each seminar are $30 and free to passport holders.
February 24 will feature a “Grand Food and Rare Beer” tasting event exclusive to passport holders only. Each brewery will be paired with a food of choice and participants can enjoy local musicians while mingling with national brewers.
February 25 gets going early too, as Olde Saratoga Brewery will offer tours of their brewery starting at 10 a.m. This is in anticipation for the main event of Saratoga Beer Week, the pair of tasting sessions at the Saratoga Springs City Center. Session one runs 12:30 p.m. - 4 p.m. and session two will take place from 5 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. The only difference between the two sessions is when you’d like to start drinking. Tickets are $20 in advance, $30 at the door. Summit tickets are going fast, so be sure to get yours ahead of time. Your ticket includes admission, four beer or food sampling tickets, and a commemorative sampling glass. More beer tickets can be purchased at the event.
Ellms says he’d like to add a day each year, eventually making it a full week-long celebration. For now, the three-day festival is as much an experiment as it is a chance to bring a fun new tradition to downtown Saratoga Springs each February. The size of the festival should already rival the annual New York State TAP Festival in Hunter Mountain each spring, which featured 72 breweries at their 2011 festival.