Last month, I attended SAVOR at the National Building Museum. Colleen, Tierney, and Chelsie all attended as well, but on Saturday. I went on Friday, since I had plans to rock out to Iron Maiden on Saturday (side note: excellent show). It was a bit odd attending a beer festival by myself, as I usually go with my husband or another friend. I caught up with friends of mine in attendance, and made some new ones; but navigating through the crowds on my own was a new experience — and one where I had to adjust my thoughts on crowds.
I can’t stand crowds. Hoards of people in one space make me feel closed in and very uncomfortable. I do like beer festivals, though; and beer helps ease my discomfort. But beer and fun don’t stop me from finding the most open corners to drink and people-watch when I go to these fests.
This habit prompted me to wander up to the second floor. Doing so promised a few beers on my list to try, as well as a great view of all the attendees below.
When I got up there, though, I found a second floor that was much more than what was there in years past. Previously, it was just home to the salons. This year, several brewers had beers to try — and more food to pair those samples with. SAVOR is almost as famous for its cheese, and the cheese line stretched well past the line for the women’s bathroom when I attended last year. This year, the cheese was spread (heh) across the different corners of the second floor, and joined by artisan dark chocolate and sausages.
I passed on the sausage, but the cheese and dark chocolate were amazing. My favorite pairings were Wild Wolf’s Area 151 Belgian Blonde with Blackberries paired with manchego cheese, and the Wolverine Smoked Lager paired with Nathan Miller’s chile dark chocolate. The smoked lager/chile chocolate pairing was the highlight of my night. The lager itself was smooth and, well, smokey; and the chocolate had just enough heat to enhance the palate. Fire and smoke, what’s not to love?
I also found a beer that advertised itself as ugly. Atlas Brew Works teamed up with MOM’s Organic Market to make a beer with “ugly” peaches – peaches deemed too ugly to sell but are perfectly good to eat (learn more about the ugly fruit and veg initiative here). Rescue Brew, Batch 1: Stoned and Ugly was a delicious sour ale made with peaches. I loved the beer, which had great tartness and a beautiful gold color — far from ugly, and even farther from inedible.
While tempting to do so, I didn’t spend all of my time on the second floor. Most of the action was on the first floor, and thankfully, the action was better laid out this year, with most of the breweries lining the walls for easy movement between them. Last year, I tried a little of everything, and many things at that — leading to a not-so-fun morning after. This year, I wanted to be in good shape for the concert the next day, so I kept my samples to a minimum and mostly to lower-ABV beers. Some of my favorites this year included Flying Dog’s Foeder-Aged Orchard Ale (especially with the ricotta fritter); 4 Hands Kriek, which was brewed with cherries and aged in Cabernet barrels (my tasting note was “F*cking YUM,” so you tell me what I thought of it); and Propolis Beltane, a fruitier Brett beer.
I enjoyed attending this year, and hope to return next year. If you decide to go, look for me on the second floor. I’ll be near the chocolate, and in the least-occupied corner.