Savor Washington D.C., June 8, 2012
There was a time when I dreamed of attending the Great American Beer Festival in Denver. The problem was that I rarely had available time or available money at the same time to make the pilgrimage. Then came the glorious day when time and money synched and I was amazed. Beer. Beer everywhere. More beer than a man could drink in a day, with so many choices that I was overcome with emotion. With racking sobs I vowed to return every year for as long as I lived. Well ..... I lied. The GABF was later discovered by those who also witnessed that there were more beers available than a man could drink in a day, but vowed to try to drink them all anyway. And they brought their friends. The pigs had conqurered the GABF and the geeks were pushed out to wander the streets, looking for a venue to supply the liquid that they craved. Then we discovered Savor.
This is our second year at Savor and I must say that we are mightily impressed. Why is Savor so much more satisfying than GABF? The number of breweries are limited to 74 rather than infinity and are said to be chosen by lottery (but I am skeptical). The number of attendees are limited to app. 2,000 per night, giving you plenty of room to wander and time to enjoy. Lastly, each beer has a food pairing created by a popular or famous chef. This year's chef was Adam Dulye from the Monk's Kettle and Abbott's Cellar in San Francisco. I hope and pray that they don't cave in to the pressure and change the format in the future to allow greater numbers of attendees. As it is, this event is a beer geek's idea of heaven.
If you will allow, I will toss you some impressions of some of the beers that we sampled. As that we were given only small samples to taste, photos are worthless.
- Coronado Brewing Company from Coronado, California supplied us with a brandy barrel barley wine named .... Barrel Aged Barley Wine. Their process of doubling the boiling time and adding lots of sugar sources makes for a quick buzz and lots of interest.
- Two Brother Brewing Company from Warrenville, Illinois supplied Domaine DuPage, a terrific farmhouse saison and the chef supplied the amazing lamb meatballs with tomato and ricotta. Divine.
- The Double Black IPA from the Revival Brewing Company in Providence, Rhode Island was as great as the Belgo American Saison. I would recommend seeking out the offerings from these guys.
- Did you know that the is a brewery in Little Rock, Arkansas called the Diamond Bear Brewing Company? You are probably better off not knowing.
- Avery Brewing supplied the best rocket fuel of the evening with a one off called Uncle Jacob's Stout with a whopping 17.42% ABV and so thick that it stained my glass. If you find this one somewhere, grab one for me, 'cause this is one magnificent brew.
- Natty Greene's Pub and Brewing Company only sells beer in their native North Carolina. Stop in and have a Muzzleloader Baltic Porter and you may just decide to remain there. It was paired with Kentucky Hot Brown which was roasted turkey, brioche, bacon and gruyere. Boinggggg.
- The Denver Brewing Company supplied us with Graham Cracker Porter and Kaffir Lime Wheat beer. Both were absolute crap.
- Citrus Cured Salmon with grapefruit and and Pistacio Cream Cheese was the pairing for the Breakaway IPA from the American Brewing Company in Edmonds, Washington. The beer was a typical west coast IPA but the Salmon was terrific.
- Fat Heads Brewery from Cleveland, OH created the belgian style Sorcerer ale but the mole Pork Belly with pumpkin seeds and orange zest was the reason I went back for seconds.
- Mother Earth Brewing Company from San Diego produces a magnificent, fat IPA called Sisters of the Moon. Many hops and few malts. Dandy.
- Moon River Brewing Company from Savannah, Georgia brought 2 fine, fine offerings. Dixie Crystal is a really good Belgian Style triple and the Rosemary Swamp Fox IPA was also quite nice. I am anxious to try their other offerings.
- You may have seen Cherry Hill, NJ's Flying Fish brews at the new Total Wine on Central. The Exit 8 Belgian Chestnut Brown ale was excellent as was the Exit 4 American Tripel. Go get youself some, now.
- Fegly's Brew Works from Allentown, PA produced a couple of mightly fine brews. Arctic Alchemy is a hybrid cross between a barley wine and an old ale. "Made from 158 year old recipe. This arctic ale was originally brewed by commission of her majesty queen Victoria. This special beer is mahogany in color, has a caramel and toasty sweet malt flavor and earthy hop tones." Their Hop'solutely is an American triple IPA with Cascade, CTZ, Summit, Amarillo and Chinook hops. Dry hopped with Chinook and Amarillo. Intense. I don't know if their beers are available anywhere close, but I will be looking.
- Upland Brewing Company from Bloomington, Il produces a forgettable stout with the unforgettable name Teddy Bear Kisses. Don't bother.
- Founders Brewing Company in Grand Rapids, MI produces many, many beers. Some good, some not so good. The Old Ale however, is perhaps the perfect example of an old ale. Brewed with molasses and oak aged it is sweet and somewhat dry. Nice, easy drink.
- New favorite brewery that I have never visited and probably never will: Short's Brewing Company from Bellaire, Michigan.
The Saturday session sold out in 4 minutes and you must be a member of AHA to even try to get a ticket, but if you can, make the time and spend the money. You can thank me later. GABF? Sigh, yeah, we'll probably go, but only because I made a promise.