The buzz inside the National Building Museum Saturday night was near deafening. Glasses clanked, people’s discussions echoed through the great hall, and music floated through the air. From jeans and tee shirts to high heels and cocktail dresses, the crowd at the American Craft Beer & Food Experience known as Savor was in full swing when I arrived around 8 p.m.
With 136 craft beers from 68 breweries, plus food pairings, I have to admit, it was a bit overwhelming. But in the best possible sense of the word.
The room was arranged into 15 tasting tables, with four breweries at each table, with each brewery having two beers to sample, plus a food pairing. There were also a large amount of more popular mainstream breweries (Sam Adams, etc.) surrounding the fountain in the middle of the museum. Upon entering you were given your 2 oz glass, and a map, and off you went into the wide world of craft beer.
Ever type-A, I decided the only way I could possibly conquer an event like this would be to do what I do best, make a list and follow it. I got myself an online subscription to Beer Advocate and set out to figure the best possible breweries and beers for me.
Even with my list in hand, I still had so many beers to taste, I honestly have to say I can’t remember them all, but I can share with you the highlights. I’m a summer beer kind of girl, and my favorite beer all night was Boulevard’s Saison-Brett, a limited release farmhouse ale. I stood in the long long line to get to Russian River’s Piney the Elder, a BA A+ beer. Food Editor of the Washington Post, Joe Yonan, live-tweeted the entire thing, commenting “Line for Russian river brewing is like for space mountain at Disney when I was a lad. I threw up then. Now?”, eventually liking it.
Joe and I also agree on another thing: the food was poorly done, almost embarassing. I love the thought of beer pairings with food, there was even an oyster bar, but I was sad to see sporadic catering trays piled high with jumbled lamb sliders, patties no longer on buns, tossed aside among the masses. There were a few stand-outs, with the pairings, the blue cheese was great, the salmon skewer (although cold) was nice, but other than that? Do not attend Savor for the food. In fact, eat before you go. (Especially so you don’t wind up meeting your friend after Savor at RFD to continue the fun and wind up eating their sliders. Shudders.) Yonan wound up tweeting “I’m seeing crabcake sliders and mini lamb burgers at more than one brewery. They couldn’t each pair to a unique dish?” and I totally get it, he’s 100% right, each beer is unique, so let’s do the food justice, okay? Also, aren’t there some beer loving chefs in the area ready to whip up paired food? The Rustico guys were on site, where were they during the planning of Savor?
All in all, a wonderful time for beer-lovers. It was fun to be in such a jovial environment (I even heard Avery fans sing Happy Birthday to the brewmaster) with DC-ites that love beer. Here’s hoping the Brewers Association makes Savor happen again in 2010.