Portland and North San Diego County may disagree, but I have decided Saratoga Springs, NY is as good a place as any if you are a lover of intensively hoppy craft microbrewed IPAs with an ABV of 7.0 or higher.
As proof, consider the second annual Saratoga Springs Beer Week which commenced today. In comparison to the inaugural event where there were a couple of sessions of beer tasting at the City Center, this year there are over 100 events including beer dinners, supervised tasting, beer plus music and sessions with the brewers. I just came back from the kickoff at the Olde Saratoga Brewery where the highlight was a comparison of cask conditioned and kegged pulls of a unique collaboration between OSB (Imperial Stout) and Adirondack Brewery (Cherry Porter). There was no comparison: the cask conditioned beer was far more flavorful, with an added kick from a “sparkler” brewmaster Max Oswald used to aerate the beer. (Cask conditioned means the beer has no added CO2, unlike the standard keg which is hooked up to a gas canister.)
I also submit in support of my obviously outrageous claim:
- The comforting and aromatic (when the mash is cooking) presence of Olde Saratoga Brewery, which in addition to its OSB and Mendocino brands produces contract brews for a wide variety of America’s famous and obscure names.
EBI, almost certainly the world’s finest beer store, with four taps of IPA and other microbrews (available to taste before you buy) plus a firkin on most Fridays.
- Near proximity to many hop-obsessed craft brewers including Ithaca and Southern Tier in western NY, Victory and Troeg (both in northern PA) and Adirondack in Lake George (their piney Iroquois Ale is a thing of beauty).
- A climate where you can grow hops in your back yard.
- The presence of Parting Glass, recently voted one of the world’s top 100 Irish bars based on their skill in pouring a pint of Guinness.
- And two promising craft beer bars that have recently opened down the street from me, the Henry Street Taproom and Merry Monk, as well as Druthers which is a very excellent brewpub.
If you love strong and crafty beers, come to Saratoga, check into one of our many fine B&Bs or hotels, give your car keys to your landlord, and then toddle downtown. You will be well served.