SARATOGA SPRINGS — Saratoga Beer Week wrapped up on Saturday as about 1,500 people flooded into the Saratoga Springs City Center to sample beer from more than 100 breweries.
The seventh annual Saratoga Beer Summit brought out craft beer enthusiasts who filled up 5-ounce glasses with an unlimited number of samples.
Ron Reisner donned a necklace with pretzels hanging from it to help cleanse his palate in between beer samples.
“I saw others doing it, so I thought I’d do it,” he said. “It really helps.”
The Saratoga Springs resident said it was his sixth year attending the event.
“I like trying different beers and I don’t have to buy a six pack to try them,” he said. “There’s a lot of variety and it’s really fun.”
Reisner said the local craft beer scene has “exploded” in recent years.
“It’s huge now,” he said.
Kyle Folk, lead brewery cellerman at Wolf Hollow Brewing Co., said it was the second time the West Glenville brewery had a presence at the Saratoga Beer Summit.
“We want to get our beer out there and I love talking about our beer with people,” he said. “It’s great to be able to tell people the story of our beer and talk them through the different ones we offer.”
Like Reisner, Folk said the craft beer scene in the Capital Region is booming.
“It’s heading in the right direction,” he said. “I hope there are more collaborations with local breweries.”
Folk said he hopes Wolf Hollow continues to have a presence at the event in the future.
“This is the best industry to work in,” he said. “I get to drink beer and talk about it.”
Ashly Keating, director of live events for America on Tap, said the Saratoga Springs-based company, which puts on the event, wanted to bring something to the city in the off-season.
“People are always looking for something to do in the winter,” she said. “We wanted to bring something different.”
The Saratoga Beer Summit is the final event for Saratoga Beer Week, which also included Saratoga Whiskey Night on Thursday and Saratoga Cider Night on Friday.
Keating said the three events combined draw nearly 3,200 people.
“We see a lot of return customers,” she said. “It’s become a big event for Saratoga.
“It’s not just about the three events, there are 20 or 30 other events held at bars and breweries throughout the city, so it turns into beer city for the week.”
Schenectady County Community College had a presence at the summit to promote its craft beer brewing program.
Jay Larkin, assistant professor at the college’s School of Hotel, Culinary Arts and Tourism, said nearly a dozen students will be the program’s first graduating class in May.
“This is a great opportunity for us to get more interest and show the local community that we have this program,” he said of the beer summit. “There’s a great need for talent in the industry.
“There are so many new breweries popping up and they need people who know what they’re doing,” he said. “Putting this information out in the community is the biggest thing we can do.”
Larkin said the college is also adding a craft distillation program to its curriculum this fall.
“The American palate is drifting towards quality over quantity,” he said. “There needs to be more talented people who are making a product that stands out.”
Danielle Medbury traveled to her hometown of Saratoga Springs from Poughkeepsie for the beer summit for the third year in a row.
“It’s a good time and the beer is delicious,” she said. “America on Tap does such a nice job selling enough tickets and not having people wait in line.”
Medbury said she enjoys the event because it brings people together.
“I hope it keeps expanding,” she said. “Even if it stays the same, I love it, so I’ll still come back.”
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