Saratoga Beer Week, which starts this afternoon with beer sampling at the Olde Saratoga Brewing Co. on Excelsior Avenue, is bringing 150 different craft beers from 76 breweries to Saratoga Springs.
The week builds up to the Saratoga Beer Summit on Saturday afternoon and evening at the Saratoga Springs City Center.
A total of 28 bars, restaurants, and businesses are participating in the event.
Some of the unique lagers and ales featured during beer week are “a little more potent” than ordinary beer, said A.J. Bodden of Saratoga Springs, a co-founder of Beer Week.
“People are encouraged to drink less of those,” he said about the ales that can have an alcohol content as high as 10 or 11 percent.
Today’s event from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Olde Saratoga Brewing Co.’s taproom in Saratoga Springs features a cherry porter beer created specially for Beer Week in a joint venture by Olde Saratoga Brewing and Adirondack Brewery of Lake George.
The exotic brew “equals a rare porter with a firm malt backbone and a subtle hint of fruity cherry flavor in the middle of the sip,” according to a description of a beer that is a blend of sour cherry porter made by Adirondack and barrel-aged imperial stout made by Olde Saratoga.
The kickoff event also includes pizza from David Britton’s “Pies on Wheels” and a complimentary Beer Week 5.5 ounce tasting glass, all for $7 per person.
Garth Ellms, a Beer Week co-founder and organizer, said this is the second winter he and Bodden have staged a beer event in Saratoga Springs. Last year, the event was three days; this year’s edition is a five-day affair.
Last year’s main event in the Saratoga Springs City Center was sold out, with more than 4,000 participating.
Beer Week also features more than 100 events in more than 25 bars and restaurants throughout the city.
The schedule features:
-- A Rare Beer and Cask Ale event from 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday at the City Center. This event offers a variety of special brews not available anywhere else. Tickets are $50 per person and includes beer sampling, food and live music.
-- New York State of Mind event from 7 to 9:30 p.m. Friday at the City Center. New York State craft beers will be served and the Billy Joel tribute band Storm Front will perform. Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 at the door. Cash bar and food for sale.
-- The Saratoga Beer Summit on Saturday with session one from 1 to 4 p.m. and session two from 5 to 8 p.m. More than 150 different beers from 76 craft breweries in the United States and around the globe will be served. Live music by Rich Ortiz. Tickets for the Beer Summit are $40 in advance or $50 at the door and include three hours of sampling and souvenir glass.
Tickets and event information and schedules can be found at www.saratogabeerweek.com. Organizers urge those planning to attend the Beer Summit to order their tickets early.
Saratoga Beer Week is sponsored by Saratoga.com, Saratoga Convention and Tourism Bureau, Saratoga Eagle, Saratoga City Tavern, Healthy Living Market and Cafe, DeCrescente Distributing, Zappone Motors and Druthers Brewing Co.
“Saratoga Beer Week is quickly turning into a signature event for Saratoga. Last year’s inaugural event was a huge success, bringing thousands of people into town during a need time for our hotels, restaurants and shops,” said Todd Garofano, president of the Saratoga Convention & Tourism Bureau.