Beer and baseball have always been two things that marry well. So it's no surprise then that the 2nd Annual Capital Region Craft Brewer's Festival, held at the home of the Tri-City ValleyCats stadium, was the perfect backdrop for the event. Although the ValleyCats weren't playing, breweries from all over were pitching their best brews to beer geeks. One of the smaller beer festivals I've attended, it nevertheless exceeded my expectations for a great time. There were loads of conversations with fellow beer lovers, plenty of food, free souvenirs, but most importantly, tent after tent of ice cold kegs. Featuring mostly North-Eastern breweries, this was a type of festival that had a "homier" feel with the purpose of celebrating local craft beer. And although it was well above ninety degrees, nothing cools one down better than a cool glass of ale, even if they were 3oz pours.
The Joe Bruno Stadium, most commonly known as the Joe, is a short ride from Saratoga Springs. Starting at 2:30pm, we arrived at 2:35pm to find that there was a line spilling out of the stadium into the parking lot. To my surprise, the line was incredibly slow and seemed almost endless in the hot summer heat. After ten to fifteen minutes, however, we were in and quickly found some shade. With a brief look at the booklet featuring each brewer, we hastily shoved the pamphlet into our backpack and just started walking. The set up was great as each brewer's tent lined the edges of the stadium pouring some of their greatest brews. If you had any questions, owners, brewers, and reps were there to answer any beer-related subject matter. For my husband and me, we kept finding ourselves separating in order to talk to some of our favorite brewers. While my husband enjoyed hanging around Wandering Star Brewery's tent talking to Chris, I found myself deep in conversation with John, the owner of Adirondack Pub & Brewery. Talking about growing hops, contests, the outdoors, home brewing, and of course beer, I spent a good amount of time sipping on Dirty Blonde Ale picking the brains behind these great beers. Upon leaving, the gentlemen were then kind enough to give me a Bear Naked Ale T-shirt which goes perfectly with my Bear Naked Ale glass I already have at home. But besides talking to brewers and drinking, there was also a lot more going on at the event; a great band was playing, there was a home brewing demonstration, and contests. We also stopped by Hoosick Street Beverage where we picked up a complimentary growler for our next visit there. And since we bought the Grand Slam Package, we also enjoyed the shady VIP area with a free catered lunch. After four hours, while most beer lovers were long gone, my husband and I sadly left with loads of goodies in our hands.
Summer is a great season for a beer-lover due to all the festivals this time of year. However, while some can be a miss, this one was a hit. Tickets were fairly priced and included goodies depending on what package you received; almost all received a free baseball ticket. And although four hours seems like plenty of time to try almost any beer there, I probably spent most of my time talking to other beer geeks. Trying some brews I probably would never had tried before, this festival gives one the opportunity to try something new with no real pressure. As I've posted before, these festivals never fail to be a good time. So in case you missed out, no worries, I'm sure there will be another one here in the near future... After all, Oktoberfest season is coming up here soon.