Guest Post: Savor Festival Review, Part 2
By Ed Roberts
This is part two of Ed Roberts’ SAVOR weekend recap. You can read part one here.
Saturday was a bit more relaxed compared with the frenetic pace of Friday. We slept in a bit and headed to Birch & Barley for the SAVOR Brewer’s Brunch, which started at noon. There were approximately 65 folks in attendance.
This amazing event covered six food and beer paired courses with a representative from each brewery to talk about their beer. Greg Engert, the beer director for Birch & Barley/ChurchKey would discuss the food item on behalf of Chef Kyle Bailey. At $55, the cost felt like a bargain.
Here’s what was offered:
Bloody Beer/Short’s Brewing Company/Michigan
Joe Short spoke about this being a personal favorite beer, the Bloody Mary beer. He said they enjoy doing unconventional beers. This beer was certainly unique and was probably my favorite of the event.
Grilled Asparagus, Radish, Lemon Vinaigrette
Chatoe OREgasmic/Rogue Ales/Oregon
Sebbie Buhler (pictured on the Rogue Chocolate Stout bottle) invited us to visit Rogue and their hop farm and explained the Chatoe Rogue products to us. I thought the beer and the salad had fairly light flavors and complemented each other well.
Whiskey French Toast
Apples & Mascarpone
D’Icer Dunkelweizen/Big Boss Brewing Company/North Carolina
Geoff Lamb seemed like a very genuine humble guy. He said they like doing straight forward beers. The French toast was by far my favorite food item. It had almost a “magic shell” exterior with a soft scrumptious center.
Housemade Brioch & Red Eye Gravy
Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale/Boulevard Brewing Company/Missouri
Steven Pauwels explained the process of the making of this Smokestack Series beer and how there is really no consistent standard for the saison/farmhouse style. This was my first experience with poached egg. It was not a favorite.
Corned Beef Hash
Peppadews & Parsley
Oliva Abbey Dubbel/Sierra Nevada & The Abbey of New Chairvaux/California
Ken Grossman spoke about the Oliva series and how it came about, and about the project’s website. The corned beef hash was quite different than what I remembered my mother making and almost seemed to melt in my mouth. The malty aspects of the Dubbel were quite complementary.
Bittersweet Chocolate, Lemon-Poppy Seed Glazed, Toffee Bacon
Avant Peche/Odell Brewing Company/Colorado
Doug Odell discussed the making of the beer, an imperial porter aged in oak barrels with Colorado peaches and wild yeast. The peach flavor is light and the beer has a slight sour aspect. I enjoyed it. My favorite doughnut was the bittersweet chocolate.
After the Brunch
We rushed over to Heavy Seas Brewing in Baltimore, Maryland, for a 3:30pm tour. We got there just in time. The tour was free, and it was $5 for a pint glass and five tokens you could exchange for samples in the tasting room.
The passionate shipping and receiving manager Chris Farley led our tour. He was very detailed and said they like to keep their machinery simple. Heavy Seas is growing very quickly and has an expansion plan underway that will increase production considerably. Product is shipped out almost immediately after packaging. An interesting point made was they do not hire brewers with previous experience at another brewery.
When the tour finished, we went back to the tap room and gift shop. They had a fair amount of various 22 oz. limited bottles for sale and tons of assorted merchandise. I felt the six tap selections could have been a bit more exotic for a brewery taproom but I enjoyed my samples of core products and Letter of Marque.
A local business that makes handmade gourmet chocolates called Parfections was there offering free samples. What I sampled was excellent. Some of their products are made with Heavy Seas beers, and they do ship their products.
We took the Metro to the National Building Museum for SAVOR. The line was considerable but once the doors open people were moved in quickly. We were given a nicely sized stemmed tasting glass and a booklet that had the beer and food pairings, explanations for the pairings, and a map. The complete food and beer pairing list can be seen here.
The room was set up with about 15 numbered tables, with about four breweries per table. They were organized by region. In the center of the room were the 12 supporting breweries. Each brewery would have two beers being sampled and two food items they were paired with. A single food item could be repeated with several different beers. Each table would have water to rinse your glass and a dump bucket for waste.
There was a cheese station at one end of the room and an oyster station at the other end. There were also strategically placed water and soda stations around the room.
Lines were tolerable and you could ask questions of the brewery representatives, who were happy to answer any questions. The event ended at 11 p.m. Tampa’s Cigar City was the first brewery that I saw that completely ran out of beer. That was about 9:30 p.m. In general it seemed like food was running out before the beer. By 10:30 p.m. a fair amount of beers were gone.
I was satisfied though. I got to try most of what I wanted to. My advice would be that if you have beers you consider must try, plan in advance and hit those first just to be sure.
My standout food item was the cheesecake. It melted in my mouth. One of the best I’ve ever had. The Carr Valley bread cheese was excellent. Most of the meat items were really good with the exception of the meatballs.
The standout beer items for me were Caldera Mogli, Deschutes The Dissident, Firestone Walker Parabola, Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout, Nebraska Brewing Company Black Betty, Odell Friek, The Bruery Loakal Red, Lost Abbey Red Poppy, Schlafly Hop Toddy, and RJ Rocker Son of a Peach.
If I gave an award for the best overall pairing it would go to Captain Lawrence Golden Delicious tripel aged in apple brandy barrels paired with caramel apple hand pie. Both items were delicious on their own and complemented each other very well.
On the way out we were given a bottle of SAVOR Flowers as a gift. This collaboration between Dogfish Head and Samuel Adams was brewed exclusively for this event and was a nice way to wrap up the evening.
Thanks to Ed for the excellent reporting on this year’s SAVOR festival. Tickets go quickly for this one, so anyone planning to take a Road Trip for Beer to it next year needs to stay on top of it.