Sunday, June 5, 2011

Beer Glorious Beer: Savor 2011

Savor DC 2011

As a craft beer loving blogger -- this girl loves her beer (and wine) -- I am so happy that beer pairings are catching up to those of wine (perhaps even surpassing the latter on the innovation front) and capturing the imagination of foodies.  Last night I was delighted to attend for first time Savor: An American Craft Beer and Food Experience, an annual event showcasing the technique of matching cutting-edge craft beer with food. 

Now we know Washingtonians likes their beer.  We are fortunate to have the passion of Greg Engert of Birch and Barley and its sister restaurants in our backyard, but if the crowds at last night's event were any indication, DC is thirsty for more.  Last year Savor sold out in minutes, and even with the addition of another night this time around, tickets once again proved hot commodities in this its forth year.  This year the National Building Museum was filled with:
  • 72 craft breweries,
  • 82,000 prepared menu items (not including cheese, oysters or sushi),
  • 1,705+ gallons of beer,
  • 20,000 pounds of ice,
  • 2,000 attendees,
  • 250 pounds of artisan cheese,
  • 2,000 sushi rolls,
  • 2,200 artisan chocolate truffles, and
  • 2,600 oysters.
I was over the moon to be counted among the lucky few to snag media credentials, but I would have paid to attend in any case.  First, let me start by saying the beer guy, that stereotypical bearded, nonchalant fella is quite good company.  These guys cannot help but make the atmosphere decidedly chill.  No pushing, no shoving, no pretense; just adoration and good-natured passion for the best of the craft beer  movement.  In line for Dogfish Head, (which with Sam Adams attracted the most interest), I met two pilgrims who had traveled from Arizona to attend Savor.

And of course Jim Koch, the widely recognized founder of the American craft beer movement (and Sam Adams), was the center of attention.  He held court with beer worshippers angling in for photographs and handshakes.  And in a nod to his New England origins, the lobster roll at Sam's booth was the best pairing of the night.  My old stomping grounds fared well, with Trinity Brewhouse (Providence) and Harpoon Brewery (Boston) both selected for the event.

And if the madness of the main tasting floor is too much choice for you to handle, the ticketed salons provide a deeper dive.  I sampled an assortment of Bourbon barrel aged brews from Full Sail Brewery, each vintage of which possessed a uniqueness of character.  And as if that were not enough, the brewery is led by a woman, which from what I can tell is a rarity in the beer world.

And while California breweries dominated in terms of sheer numbers, it came as no surprise that Oregon stole the show.  From Oregon alone, there were so many contenders that it really was hard to pick a favorite.  Homegrown brews on the other side of the Mississippi--like Louisiana's Bayou Teche and Illinois's Two Brothers--have extremely limited distribution, so it is only at events like Savor that you get the opportunity to sample them in DC.

And just in case you are lamenting that all good things have to come to an end, this is not true for Savor.  All attendees left with a parting gift: flowers.  And by flowers I mean the Dogfish Head/Sam Adams collaboration rose water based brew.

So be on the lookout for Savor 2012 -- it is a can't miss for beer lovers; just be ready to buy tickets the second they go on sale. While NKOTB was performing the same night down the block,  I think Savor was the hottest ticket in town.

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