Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Savor June 2011 Recap - An American Craft Beer & Food Experience

On Saturday, June 4th my fiancee and I attended Savor in Washington DC. Simply put, this event featured 72 American craft brewers who each brought at least two different craft beers to sample with a food pairing that was prepared by a team of chefs who worked to ensure that the food and beer pairings were spot on.

As we approached the venue we were awestruck by the building itself. The large National Museum Building was masterfully constructed of red brick and took up an entire city block.  Even the marker at the corner of the street was impressive!
As we entered the building the feeling of awe continued to take over.   This is a huge building with soaring ceilings and the gigantic pillars greeted us in an impressive way.  The tables were set up in squares, in which, each side was a different brewery.  The Savor information booklet we were given had a clearly labeled map of what we should expect to find at each table.
We also noticed some Cleveland love inside of the National Museum Building!
We were so mesmerized by the venue that we totally forgot to pick up our glasses!  We were given a very nice glass with the Savor logo printed on it and clearly drawn 2oz and 4oz pour lines.
With our glasses in hand, we headed out to get our first taste of the evening.  As we were walking I noticed John Lane, the owner of the Winking Lizard, talking to the Ommegang reps.  It is always good to see a Clevelander when at an out of town event, so we decided to join them and sample the Ommegang BPA (Belgian Pale Ale).
We then made out way back to the first set of tables.  I sampled the Cigar City Humidor IPA and paired it with the Devils on Horseback.  The sweet dates were wrapped in a salty, crispy bacon and paired very well with the hoppy, and tasty IPA.
While I was standing at the Cigar City table chatting it up, my fiancée made her way over to the cheese table and quickly called me over to try the Barely Buzzed Beehive Cheese. Here is the official description: "This is a full bodied cheese with a nutty flavor and smooth texture. The cheese is hand rubbed with a Turkish grind of Colorado Legacy Coffee Company’s “Beehive Blend”. The blend consists of a mix of South American, Central American, and Indonesian beans roasted to different styles. French Superior Lavender buds are ground with the coffee and the mixture is diluted with oil to suspend the dry ingredients in the rub. The rub imparts notes of butterscotch and caramel."  This was my favorite of the 6-7 different cheeses I had the chance to sample.
Next, I tried the Wooden Nickel IPA that was paired with a Bratwurst and Potato Pancake.  I really didn't care to much for either parts of this dish.  The IPA was a little too malty for me, while the sour cream in the pancake just didn't do it for me either, plus the pancake itself was a little too doughy.
Luckily my next stop left me with a smile on my face!  We decided to make our way over the Dogfish Head booth to see what Sam Calagione and company brought to the party. As you can tell from the board HellHound and Bitches Brew made me a very happy craft beer drinker. (More on Savor Flowers later on.)
Dogfish Head had the longest line in the place, around a 15 minute wait to get a sample.  When we got to the front of the line we had a chance to talk with Sam for a minute and he graciously offered to take a picture with us!   Sam was not the only person from Dogfish Head in the house willing to chat it up about beer.  His wife and head brewer Floris Delee were also hanging around. I had a chance to talk with Floris for a few minutes about craft beer which was very fun and informative.
After our little photo session, we walked away with a HellHound in my hand and Bitches Brew in my fiancée's hand.  The HellHound was paired with a very moist and flavorful Crab Croquette while the Bitches Brew was paired with some dark chocolate bites!  This was my first time tasting HellHound and I have to say I was a fan.  I really do hope to score a bottle before its gone so I can give a fair and honest review!  Also, I later went back for a second round so I too could have a glass of Bitches Brew, which I love!
HellHound and Bitches Brew
By this point in the night the crowd was pretty large.  Here is what I looked like from the first floor.
We decided to walk upstairs to get a view from above!  
When then walked back downstairs and headed to the Great Lakes table.  It was great to see three representatives from Great Lakes at this event!  They had brought with them the Edmund Fitzgerald paired with a Hickory Smoked Beef Riblet and Holy Moses paired with a corn salsa.   We both opted for the Edmund Fitzgerald pairing and were were very impressed by the moist, warm, and flavorful beef!  The slight smokey nature of the beef paired perfectly with the porter.  We liked it so much we had a few of them, and both thought this might have been the best tasting food and beer pairing of the night.
I also really enjoyed the Fort George Vortex IPA because of its crisp hoppiness that paired excellently with the sweet potato and corn salsa which had a sweet heatness to it.
By this time it was already 9:30pm and we noticed that the food selections were starting to dwindle because of the masses.  Luckily, we were getting filled up by this point thanks to the 4oz pours and delicious food pairings. We decided to simply walk around and sample a few more beers that I've never had, or were very hard to come by, such as the Founders KBS that we found along side the Double Trouble!  The Crawfish Fritters that came with the Double Trouble were light and flavorful!
Great Divide was in attendance with their excellent Chocolate Oak Aged Yetti and their farmhouse ale Colette.  We stopped and had a nice chat all about how versatile Yeti is!  We did not sample any food at this particular stop.
Oskar Blues Brought the Ten Fidy Imperial Stout and the Gubna Imperial IPA, both of which were excellent!
Two beers that my fiancée and I really enjoyed towards the end of our evening were the Caldera IPA and the the Caldera Mogli Chocolate Oak Aged Imperial Porter (which was my fiancee's favorite beer of the night!)
Caldera Mogli and Caldera IPA
We rounded out our evening with a few great conversations with local DC craft beer fans about beer and about area restaurants.   We also had a chance to end our night with a few final samples, the Oakshire Brewing Overcast Espresso Stout, the Arcadia Ales Whitsun Ale, and the LaurelWood Workhorse IPA.  I wish I could have tried the Workhorse IPA food pairing of Beef Riblet to compare to the Great Lakes Pairing!
A few thoughts about the event:
  1. Each table was well represented with at least one rep.
  2. All of the reps were more than willing to talk about their beers with the crowd and educate the public about their product.
  3. The venue was well spaced, and even with a very large crowd the average wait time for a pour was short (outside of the Dogfish Head line).
  4. Call this a "rookie Savor attendee" mistake, but next time we would be sure to get our food sampling and pairing done earlier in the evening.
  5. Having seating and standing room tables was very helpful.
  6. We would have liked a plate that had a stemware holder similar to what I was given at the Market Under Glass event in Cleveland.  This would have made it easier to do the food and drink pairings while walking around.
Overall this event was a success from our point of view.  From the amazing venue, to the smart food and beer pairings, we had a blast from start to finish.  At the finish of the event, everyone was given a bottle of the Savor Flowers collaborative beer by Dogfish Head and Sam Adams.  I cannot wait to crack one of these open very soon to review it!  We both are already looking forward to the Savor 2012 event!
Be sure to check out my other site that is 100% dedicated to Craft Beer!

Disclosure:  After submitting an application for media credentials to cover this event I was granted permission to attend and cover the Saturday June 4th session.  All other expenses were paid for by me and the thoughts and opinions expressed in this write up are 100% my own.


CLEgal @ Why CLE? said...

Sounds like an amazing event! Hope you enjoyed your first time in DC...such a great city!

Renee said...

Fantastic review! You did a great job of conveying your excitement for the event. I could feel it!

What a gorgeous building. I'd love to attend Savor just to see that space!


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