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The Beer Circle » Beer Week » Guest Post: SAVOR Craft Beer Festival: Good Beer, Great Food, Amazing Experience

Guest Post: SAVOR Craft Beer Festival: Good Beer, Great Food, Amazing Experience

Editor’s Note: This is another of what we hope are many contributions from our readers. These guest posts come from our friends, followers, and fellow beer geeks who have something they want to share. If you’ve attended a great event, tasted a rare beer, want to give your favorite brewery some love, or share anything else beer related feel free to send us an email at and let us know!

Last Saturday, I had the pleasure of attending the SAVOR Craft Beer festival at the National Building Museum in downtown Washington, DC with a couple of fellow beer nerds. Unfortunately, none of the regular Beer Circle crew were able to attend the event, so as Russ’ frequent drinking companion, the task of providing a write-up has fallen to me. A mighty challenge to be sure, but one that I’m willing to take on.

The highlight of a week-long event featuring tap takeovers and beer pairing dinners at some of DC’s premier beer bars, SAVOR is beer festival with a twist. In addition to featuring 144 craft beers from 74 of the premier American craft breweries, the event also featured a food pairings from Chef Adam Dulye, the chef/owner of The Monk’s Kettle and The Abbot’s Cellar in San Francisco. I’ve been fortunate to have been able to sample a significant amount of craft beer in my time, but rarely has the beer been paired with such delicious food. In the words of my buddy Brian, “whoever created the pairings deserves a medal.” The food was really that good. Red velvet cake pops, red chili braised goat, duck confit tacos, and Maryland blue crab were some of the highlights but, in reality, there were far too many options to be able to try them all.

Inside SAVOR

Anyway, on to the beer. With breweries such as Founders, Dogfish Head, Sierra Nevada, Bell’s, Deschutes, and New Belgium participating, we were fully expecting the beers to be “out of this world.” Unfortunately, I feel like our expectations were perhaps a bit unrealistic. While I certainly enjoyed almost all of the beers I sampled, and quite a few of the beers received 4 “caps” on my Untappd check-ins (a truly scientific rating system, to be sure), the only beer of the night that received a 5-cap rating wasn’t even offered as part of the main event.

Thanks to friendly event organizer Julia, we were able to attend one of the education salons featuring John Mallet of Bell’s Brewery. John’s talk focused on Maillard reactions and how these browning reactions have a substantial effect on beer and food. The talk featured food pairings and a selection of Bell’s beer, one of which completely blew me away.

Every year at the Bell’s brewery, they create a beer using whatever ingredients they feel like. These “eccentric” creations are then aged for a year and premier their Eccentric Ale at “Eccentric Day” every November. The 2008 version that we sampled featured a variety of different notes, including caramel, juniper berries, syrup, elderflowers, etc. The beer had a wonderful drinkability for something so complex and poured a wonderful brown color. It was truly the star of the event, which is such a shame that only about 40 of us were able to sample it.

Which brings me to my final thoughts about the event. On our metro ride home, Brian and I had a discussion about the dynamics of these sorts of events, in regards to making a beer that truly sticks out. With so many high quality breweries participating, a beer had to be truly spectacular or unique to stick out. It was apparent that there were some breweries who attempted to come up with such a beer. Flying Dog created a Chocolate IPA specifically for the event, that had the potential to be something truly unique, but unfortunately didn’t live up to it.

In the end, we were able to sample several dozen quality brews at one of the most beautiful event spaces in Washington, all while having some unbelievably delicious food. Sounds like a success to me.

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Written by Chase Tralka (Guest Author)

Chase has Russ and Garrett to thank for his somewhat excessive affinity for craft beer, having spent many a night spent at Zeno's Pub in State College. Through his adventures into the beer world, he's had the opportunity to visit some great bars and breweries, meet some great people, and of course, have a good number of tasty brews. Always on the lookout for a beer with an even higher IBU count, Chase proudly labels himself as a hop head.

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