SAVOR: The Premier Craft Beer & Food Pairing Event Held June 3-4, 2016
Presented by the Brewers Association
We’re still reeling from the greatness that was the ninth annual SAVOR craft beer and food pairing event last Friday in the gorgeous Great Hall at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. Sonora and I got an invitation to attend and we jumped at the chance. I mean where else can you find 76 emerging and known U.S. craft breweries from all over the country in just one place – for just one night? In total, 28 states and Washington, D.C. were represented. It was pretty mind-blowing to say the least.
“Once again, SAVOR was top of class and provided an experience like no other in terms of access to craft brewers, education and pairings,” said Julia Herz, craft beer program director, Brewers Association. “The evening allowed beer lovers to not only connect directly with the personalities behind their favorite small and independent producers, but to sample and add lesser known breweries to their roster of favorites.”
There was a staggering 157 brews to sample and pair with exquisite small bites of food such as fresh shucked oysters, artisanal cheeses, braised rabbit, oil poached swordfish, and tons of other selections. As in past years at SAVOR, the Brewers Association collaborated with likeminded small and independent farms, ranches and fish mongers to incorporate local and seasonal ingredients in as many menu items as possible. (See the Entire List of Beer & Food Pairings)
With so many beers to choose from, Sonora and I made our own individual game plans prior to the event using the handy app Pombe (all the beers from SAVOR were listed there). You could save your must-try beers in a wishlist, then rate/review them at the event.
I had 45 must-try brews on the list and was able to get to 37 of them. Taking the time to experience and taste all the flavor nuances in each. Not bad for this Beer Hunter.
Helpful Tip for Future Attendance:
The SAVOR website also had a printable floor plan where each brewery would be located. I, of course, downloaded this as well and highlighted the stations where my wishlist beers could be found. I guess you could say, I took this hunt seriously! I found the floorplan more helpful during the event than the app in terms of moving through the space and locating the beers quickly. After all, there was only 3.5 hours to take it all in.
Our goal was less about Eating All The Food but more about Exploring Brews we might never ever have a chance to get our hands on otherwise. We skipped a lot of the food mostly because there was limited time to experience everything. And, because we’re not the usual eaters. I have various food sensitivities and Sonora is Vegan.
No worries! We knew what to expect going in and ate prior to the event thanks to a recommendation from our fellow female craft beer enthusiast, Chrystalle Ball from the Girls Pint Out D.C. Metro Chapter. (That’s her in the photo wearing the lovely green dress alongside Miss Jen Jackson from DC Brau Brewing Co. Beer Girls Rule!!!)
That’s not to say we didn’t nibble here and there on some extraordinary, crafted-with-love foods. My favorite was the goat cheese baklava.
But let’s talk more about the BEER!!!
It was difficult to narrow it down to just a handful of favorites. Just about everything I tried was out of this world with me rating each 4 or higher in Untappd.
- Adroit Theory: Triptych Brandy
- Crux Fermentation Project: One-Off [BANISHED] Apricot Farmhouse
- D9 Brewing: Systema Natvrae Devilwood & Apricot
- Dogfish Head Craft Brewery: Bière de Provence
- Perennial Artisan Ales: Savant Blanc (2016)
- Tröegs Independent Brewing: Wild Elf Ale with Cherries & Honey
- Saugatuck Brewing: Serrano Pepper Ale
- Southern Tier Brewing: 3 Citrus Peel Out
- Uinta Brewing: Cucumber Farmhouse
I seriously could list 20 beers as favorites out of the 37 I was able to sample that night. To see all the brews I tasted and how I rated them, follow me on Untappd: @dzyngrl.
- 4 Noses Brewing: Cabernet Barrel Aged Vier Neuzen Belgian Tripel
- Bell’s Brewery: Expedition Stout (Barrel-Aged)
- Country Boy Brewing: 4th Anniversary Wild Red Ale (Whiskey Barrel-Aged)
- Hardywood Brewing: Grobe Teufel Berliner Weisse
- Saugatuck Brewing: Neapolitan Milk Stout
- Shorts Brewing: Superfluid Imperial IPA
- Strange Craft Brewing: Breakfast Grapefruit IPA
- The Lost Abbey: Track #8 – Number of the Beast Belgian Quad
- Two Roads Brewing: Espressway Oatmeal Stout
To see all the brews Sonora sampled, follow her on Untappd: @sonorasunset31.
What else did we love about this event? Many of the brewery owners and/or brewers themselves attended SAVOR and were available for questions, mini-interviews, and obliging for an occasional quick pic.
We’re talking, Jim Koch (Samuel Adams Founder), Dick Cantwell (Quality Ambassador for the Brewers Association and Elysian Co-Founder), Rob Todd (Allagash Founder), Peter Bouckaert (New Belgium Brewmaster), Bill Covaleski (Victory Co-Founder), Sam Calagione (Dogfish Head Founder), John Trogner (Tröegs Co-Founder), Mark Osborne (Adroit Theory Owner), Gary Fish (Deschutes Founder), Pat Conway (Great Lakes Brewing Co-Founder) and so many more. We wished we had had more time to interview and pick the brains of these brewing rockstars.
It was also the Who’s Who in Craft Beer & Food writing. We bumped into so many people we’ve never met in person but converse with regularly on Twitter about industry trends, beer reviews, brewing techniques – pretty much everything Craft Beer. It was great to hang and chat with them all.
Sonora and I took a quick time out from eating, drinking and socializing to learn about barrel-aging beer. There were tons of educational sessions (aka Salons) during SAVOR that we could choose from. For us, the Cooper’s Dance: Wood and Beer salon was right up our alley with promises of barrel-aged New Belgium brews to be sampled during the talk.
Presenters Peter Bouckaert (New Belgium Brewer) and Dick Cantwell (Quality Ambassador for the Brewers Association) demonstrated and explained how to choose and maintain a wood barrel for aging beer – what to look for, smell for, feel for, etc.
And, the icing on the cake for attending this Bucket List craft beer event, we got to go home with our tasting glass and a caged and corked, 750ml bottle of the official collaboration brew of SAVOR 2016: Pettygrove’s Chance Sparkling Pale Ale. It’s the brainchild of Allagash Brewing Company and Deschutes Brewery.
“It is sure to be bubbly. On the nose, it is fruit forward, with yeast driven esters, some light citrus and floral notes. On the palate, candied sweet malt notes come through, although the color and texture is light, the malt adds a definitive sweetness and roundness to the beer. It is finished with a champagne yeast and bottle conditioned, which will leave it crisp and dry on the finish,” says Veronica Vega, Deschutes Brewery brewmaster.
We’re both looking forward to digging into this one-of-a-kind brew to taste it for ourselves!
“Cheers and Thank You” to all the folks at the Brewer’s Association and their supporting teams for putting on an exquisite event. Definitely an evening to remember for a very, very long time.
While I highly recommend that you attend the next SAVOR in person in 2017, here are some pics we snapped during the evening so you can see for yourself what it’s like:
(Follow Me On: Twitter & Untappd: @dzyngrl | Instagram: @dzyngrl14)