The events at Saratoga Beer Week have been pretty hit or miss. Some are just bar crawls with no actual beer specials, some serve readily available beers but you get to take the glass home, some feature shelf Vermont beers and somehow try to make an event out of it, some center around truly awful Olde Saratoga beer. The entire week is definitely promotion driven with a lot of fluff and BS. However, Pig Destroyer Jon and I did want to get up there for at least an event or two to show our support for the beers we love and support for events that we think are actually worth attending. Without at doubt, Henry Street Taproom definitely has the most interesting events going on for the week.
Knowing that Remarkable Liquids was tapping a bunch of great kegs there on Tuesday night and Oskar Blues was going to tap a keg of Chardonnay Barrel-Aged Mama’s Little Yellow Pils last night, it was a no brainer to go and get the best offerings from both nights. To my surprise, there was a last minute change to the lineup and the Founders Rep was also in the house, providing arguably the best best tap list in all of Saratoga that night, possibly the Capital Region.
It was nice to hear that the OB barrels at Henry Street were slated to appear at Night of the Barrels, again lessening the blow of not being able to attend the rescheduled event in March (in additional to getting a growler of Night Shift’s NotB offering, Snow, this past weekend). The wine barrel-aged Pils was the main reason why I was there, so I found an open spot at the bar and immediately ordered a pint, much to the surprise of the bartender, given its $12 price. Yes it was steep, but when else was I going to get a chance to try this?
Things were a little fuzzy at this point.
Its appearance did not vary much from traditional Mama’s Little Yellow, but the white grape in the nose was evident. On first sip, the wine barrel dominates the taste with a slow transition and follow up of malt and hops in the backend. It’s sweet wine at first with a bit of tang before the moving on the tradition pils experience. This is delicious and extremely balanced, and what I imagine when I think of the wine hybrids that Sam Calagione attempts and instead produces absolute train wrecks. Seek this brew out, if you can.
The next beer was Oskar Blues Chaka, a collaboration with Sun King I’ve had my eyes on for a while but have yet to get my hands on (it’s in a unique resealable Alumi-Tek Bottle if you ever seen one). This is a very big (8%) sweet Belgian Pale Ale, one that I don’t think that has been brewed in a while so I imagine any hops in this beer have been long gone. It was tasty enough, but for the style it was too malty and sweet. I’m interested in trying this again when it’s brewed fresh.
The next beer was Founders
All Day IPA “Definitely Not ‘All Day IPA'” IPA. I hold all sessionable IPAs to the standard of Lawson’s Finest Liquids Three Penny Especiale, and while the 4.7% ABV Not All Day IPA was tasty and extremely chuggable, I could have used some more hop flavor (but there aren’t many IPAs I haven’t said that about).
We rounded out the night by splitting a couple of glasses of both the 2010 Oskar Blues Ten Fidy and the Evil Twin Imperial Biscotti break, both outstanding Imperial Stouts, and the Biscotti the first time I’ve seen this tapped in the area.
If your looking for something above the status quo to do for Saratoga Beer Week, Henry Street is absolutely your best bet. And one of my biggest complaints in my last stops, the “Cold as the Rockies” serving temperature of their beer, seems to have been fixed. As these beers kick (and surely they will soon) they’ll be replaced with some great beers from Sixpoint for their cheese pairing today with R&G cheese and some even better Brett beers tomorrow with Jeremy Irving from Remarkable Liquids. Check them out!