Stouts. Porters. As I walked the National Building Museum’s expansive floor, pausing at various brewery tables to read the cards flaunting a beer name/style and its tasty looking small bite pairing, it struck me. There are a lot of stouts and porters for a summer event. And that is fine by me.
At the 9th Annual SAVOR (An American Craft Beer & Food Experience) on Friday, June 3rd, if I had counted all the beers I tried, I suspect 75% or more were on the dark side.
Of the 76 craft breweries on hand (from 28 states), 26 of those chose to pour a stout (16 breweries) or a porter (10). Compared to the far more common approach to feature IPAs (33) and other lighter, summer styles.
Some of my favorites:
- Vanilla Java Porter (Atwater Brewery, Michigan)
- Stavropol Russian Imperial Stout (Confluence Brewing Company, Iowa)
- Sérendipité Stout (Parish Brewing Co., Louisiana)
- Salted Caramel Imperial Stout (Southern Tier Brewing Co., New York)
As a beer and food experience, I appreciated the opportunity to sample small bites with each beer (and especially the separate cheese table), yet I remained primarily interested in the new and yet-untried beer offerings. I do like the idea of food pairings, a unique experience when compared to other local beer festivals, but it wasn’t essential to my enjoyment of the beers. The tiny spoons and forks were cute. If that’s radical, then there you go.
Many of the breweries don’t distribute in DC, as their smaller production output keeps them local. Having visited a few breweries in my travels around the US, I was pleased to see a few I recognized and had enjoyed previously. Atwater Brewery (Detroit, Michigan), BJ’s Brewhouse (Texas) and Saugatuck Brewing Co. (Michigan) to name a few that might not be known here.
Taking in the sights and the aromas and well-dressed revelers, I eagerly perused the list of breweries, seeking representation from Washington state (my home state). There were none. Yet seven from Oregon. What? If I was going to complain about anything, that would be it. It makes little sense given the depth of breweries in the Pacific Northwest, until you realize the process to select breweries is not curated specifically by the organizers, but more of a lottery system. In fact, 53 of the breweries were not at SAVOR last year and over 50% had never previously participated. It would be difficult to vet over 4,400 US-based breweries down to 76. Advice to the organizers for next year: Seven from Washington state. Thank you.
The event went smoothly on Friday, and outside a few instances of food pairings being devoured before they could be replaced, there were few lines and it was easy to move around to hear from the brew masters touting their wares with pride, including Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head Brewery.
It would be prudent to start saving for next year’s event, and witness what new beers and flavors the brew masters can invent for your enjoyment.
Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head Brewery