The Saratoga Brewfest held it’s third annual celebration of beer at it’s new location, the Saratoga County fairgrounds in Ballston Spa, NY where about 2500 people came to soak up the sun and sip craft brews. There were 68 American craft brewers at the event with over 150 beers to choose from including IPA’s, hefeweizen, saisons, stouts, lagers and much much more
A few of my favorites were the Koko Brown from Kona Brewing Company which is brewed with coconut and has a nutty, toffee like flavor. Stone Brewing’s IPA was great and the 2025 Hefeweizen from Mad Jack brewing company, which is right here in the capital district, was outstanding! It had a cloudy golden color to it with flavors of cloves, banana and a hint of bubble gum!!! There were definitely some other beers that stood out like Saranac’s Lemon Ginger beer, Shipyards Applehead and Brooklyn Summer Ale (I know that some of these beers could be considered “girly” but I don’t care- they were delicious!!). What I loved about these beers is that they captured the essence without being too sweet or overpowering.
The brewfests are put on by Saratoga Festivals and after speaking with the owner A.J. Bodden, I can see why they are always a huge success. In the fall of 2008, one of A.J’s co-workers at Peak Organic Brewing Company (yes, A.J, not only has the coolest job working at a brewery but he also runs all of these beer festivals. I think he may be my hero!) told him that he should start a brewfest in the Capital District. After doing some research, he held the first beer festival in June of 2009 at the Ellms Family Farm. A.J. began the process by contacting beer distributors to find out information on how to get licensed and what would be involved in terms of getting the beer to the festival and serving it. He then contacted a family friend from the Ellms Farm to see if the beer fest could be held on their beautiful property. Well all of his hard work paid off because the first festival was a huge success and it continues to grow. Saratoga Festivals also hosts an Oktobeerfest which features fall and German beers and new this year, the Parrot Head festival which is filled with island inspired fun and Jimmy Buffet tribute bands. This past winter, the first Saratoga Beer Week kicked off in February and consisted of 3 days filled with seminars, beer tastings and food.
A.J.s festivals are so successful because he is driven to create quality events. He said that he doesn’t want people to wait in long lines, there has to be great music, great food and beers featured at the events that you can’t find anywhere else. After attending almost all of his events, I can say that he has accomplished his mission because they are a blast! A.J. and his team at Saratoga Festivals will kick off the first annual Parrot Head fest this weekend and make sure to mark your calendars for September 29th when their third annual Oktobeerfest will take place. I know I will definitely be there with a pretzel and dunkelweizen in hand! Prost!!