Recap of Savor: an American Craft Beer & Food Experience 06/03/11

by Kevin on June 5, 2011

What do you get when you mix 72 Breweries, 1,700+ gallons of craft beer, and nearly 85,000 food samples for a two night period? You get an American Craft Beer & Food Experience event called Savor.  For the fourth year in a row the Brewers Association hosted this sold event to an attendance each night of 2,000 thirsty and hungry craft beer enthusiasts.

After attending the Great American Beer Festival last fall, I must say that Savor has a completely different atmosphere.  Hilarious costumes were replaced with casual cocktail attire, brewers/representatives were pouring their beer on the floor, and higher quality glassware sure does make a difference when you want to enjoy the aroma in your beer.

Savor is the perfect event for anyone looking for an education experience while drinking American craft beer from all over the country.   The Brewers Association provided 18 different educational and tasting salons for their two day event that attendees had the option to purchase tickets for, all of the salons sold out pretty quick.

If I am willing to fly out to Colorado for beer, why not take a five hour train ride. Prior to attending Savor, I attended the “American Craft Beer Revolution” press conference presented by Flying Dog.  This event had a ‘rockstar’ panel that consisted of:

J.T from Flying Dog mediated the press conference and asked some pretty great questions regarding the future of the craft beer industry.

J.T –‘ As the America Palette continues to develop, more exciting extreme beers are coming out and sometimes I wonder do we risk moving too fast, are we getting ahead of ourselves to brew more outside the box or is that continual evolution of the beer?’

Sam – ‘Our brewery focused on stylistically irrelevant beers, my opinion is that beauty is in the eye of the beer holder. ‘  Sam goes on to talk about how one style of beer dominates the market, but now even though we are in a recession consumers are buying higher quality beers with funkier ingredients more now than ever.  Consumers love all the different choices out there.

Several other questions consisted of brewery expansion, why they have no interest in taking their companies public, and what is up with all the fall beers coming out in July/August.  I was very impressed with the panels answers, professionalism, and they all truly want to do what is best for the craft beer industry as a whole, not what is best for their company.

Prior to making my trip down, I made sure to check out savorcraftbeer.com for information which breweries will be attending, what beers they are bringing, and what foods will be paired with their beers.  I knew I could not taste them all, so I made a list of the beers I must try based upon their availability in the New England area and rarity. I know most people came here for the beer, but I wanted to make sure I made this experience more about education and to have the opportunity to talk the people behind these beers.  I had the opportunity to talk with Brian Dunn of Great Divide, Bill Covaleski of Victory Brewing, Tomme Arthur of The Lost Abbey, Joseph Lemnah of Evolution Craft Brewing, Chad Melis of Oskar Blues, Ken Grossman of Sierra Nevada, David Wollner of Willimantic Brewing Company, David Walker of Firestone Walker, Jim Caruso of Flying Dog, Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head and Jim Koch of Samuel Adams.   The ability to have them pour me a sample of their beer and talk to me about it made this whole trip worth it.  I talked to other brewery reps and staff as well and they were very knowledgeable about what they were pouring.

I attended the Educational Salon with Sam and Jim as they discussed the process of making Savor Flowers.  This Salon was a great opportunity for me to learn about how the idea of this beer started and what it took to actually make a beer with rose water.  Living on the East Coast, it was Jim who inspired me to begin drinking craft beer and it was Sam’s 60 Minute IPA that opened my eyes to this amazing style of beer.  Having the chance to listen and talk to these ‘rock star’ brewers was the highlight of my night.

Some of the standout beers that I was surprised with that I had were Evolution’s Spring Migration, Schlafly’s Hop Toddy, Caladera’s Mogli, Funkwerk’s Saison, Lonerider’s Sweet Josie, and Boulevard’s The Sixth Glass.  Of course Parabola, KBS, Black Betty, Alaskan’s Smoked Porter, Dihos Dactylion, Three Philosopheres, and The Dissident tasted amazing, I was just unexpectedly impressed with the others.

The floor of the event was well organized with several water/soda stations, an abundance of food that will appeal to anyone, and plenty of signs describing the food and beer pairings.  I loved how they positioned the Artisan Cheese Table on the east side of the venue and the Choptank Oyster Bar which both seemed to always have a crowd.  I really enjoyed the Five Spice Chicken, Stout Meatballs, the DLT, Rogue’s Hop Cheese, NY Style Cheesecake, and the Smoked Pepper Salmon.  I found that all the food and beer pairings that I had were well thought out and tasted great together.

This was not your ordinary beer festival; I mean that in a good way. My overall experience at Savor was phenomenal, I drank great beer, enjoyed good food, talked with numerous brewery folks and other craft beer enthusiasts who I knew from twitter.  Education is an import part in the growth of the craft beer industry and if you want to learn more about it, I encourage everyone to attend Savor at least once.  I would like to thank all the members of the Brewers Association and the Federal City Caterers for all their hard work in making this event a success.

Cheers,
Kevin

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