With Saratoga Brewfest right around the corner, I understand it can be a little tough to prepare for the 200+ breweries that will be there, but I am here to help. I don't think I, or anyone, can will their way through all 200, but everyone needs a starting point. Here are the first five breweries I will be sampling before I begin to just randomly float around beer heaven for the rest of the day.

1.) Ithaca Beer Company -  I am a big fan of IPAs. I love the hoppy, bitter taste, and high alcohol content because I can sip slowly and still keep pace with my friends who drink the lighter stuff. Many people can't get into IPAs, and I don't blame them -- it's an acquired taste for sure. Ithaca Beer Co. also understands that, and offers an IPA that I would recommend to any beer lover. The Flower Power IPA is simply perfect. A hoppy beer with a grapefruit and pineapple finish -- this is one that everyone's palate is sure to love! IPA drinker or not, try this beer at some point during your time at Brewfest!

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2.) Dogfish Head - I am going to stick with the IPA's on my second choice as well. Dogfish Head offers a great selection of beers, but IPA fans -- go for the 60 minute, or even 90 minute IPA's. The 90 minute IPA has been named by Esquire Magazine as "perhaps the best IPA in America," and in my opinion, it definitely is up there. This is the first beer that Dogfish Head continuously hopped to bring out the savory scent of the beer without sacrificing its flavor. The 60 minute IPA was created based around the same concept, but it's less hoppy. These beers have more of a raisiney flavor, but are delicious nonetheless.

3.) Ballast Point - Ok, last IPA, I promise. I discovered Ballast Point when I was out in San Diego, and immediately fell in love with them! Ballast Point brews so many different kinds of beers, including many IPA's. Their Sculpin IPA by itself is amazing, boasting hints of apricot and other fruits -- but here is where Ballast Point gets really crafty: they infuse other fruits into their award-winning Sculpin IPA to make new flavors! Pineapple, grapefruit, and even habanero peppers are some infusions. This is one company I will sure be sampling at for a good amount of time at Brewfest.


4.) 21st Amendment - Fine, I am done with the IPA's, but I'm not done sampling! Check out 21st Amendment's Hell or High Watermelon Summer seasonal, and you're welcome. This beer is amazing for a hot summer day, kicking back by a pool. As they say on their own website, it's "summer in can." This wheat beer is infused with real watermelon, making it crisp and refreshing. Just sayin' -- try it. Not only will you not be disappointed, but you may just find your beer of choice for this summer.

5.) Albita - This is a company founded in the party city of America: New Orleans! They brew many different beers, including some good IPA's, but I am all about the Purple Haze. This beer has a cool name, and an even cooler logo. Oh, and by the way, it tastes amazing. Made with raspberries, it has a fruity aroma and a somewhat tart taste. It also has a "subtle purple color and haze...you may see fruit pulp in the beer," according to Albita. Albita really impresses me -- not only with their actual beers, but with the artwork that individualizes all of their brews. Check them out! Sample the Purple Haze, and admire the artistic talent that goes into every beer label.

Well, there it is. Though I stopped listing at five, that doesn't mean I'll stop sampling at five. Brewfest offers over 200 breweries with many samples, so enjoy beer heaven, and please remember to be responsible!

For more information regarding brewfest, or to buy tickets to the sampling session, visit here.