Looking Back on SAVOR 2012
After a few weeks of catching up on operations here at the brewery, I’ve finally found a couple minutes to jot down some thoughts about the endless food and beer wonders at this year’s SAVOR event. For those not familiar with SAVOR, it’s a beer festival unlike any you may have attended before. As the website describes, SAVOR is a “must-attend for craft beer aficionados and foodies alike” and as an avid fan of both, this event definitely lives up to the description. SAVOR takes place in the beautiful National Building Museum in Washington D.C. (again, this isn’t your everyday beer festival) and 75 breweries are there pouring their brews with appetizers that compliment each style. The food and beer combinations that come together never cease to impress me and they seem to get better each and every year (I’ve been each of its five years of existence). You may recall the collaboration brew we released with Dogfish Head Craft Breweryat last year’s SAVOR event.
Events like SAVOR exemplify the fusion of these two movements and demonstrate the boundless creativity in the craft beer community. I frequently tell friends who want to jump into cooking with beer, the flavors offered from beer are much more complex than wine and there really is no way to make a dish unpalatable because of the addition of beer. I can honestly say I’ve never created a dish with beer that I didn’t enjoy. Sure recipe tweaks and changes are a part of being a good cook, but removing beer as an ingredient is never an option for this cook. I knew I was onto something when my friends started planning what they were drinking on a Sunday afternoon during football season based on what I was cooking. Trust me, if you knew this crew, you’d understand how proud a moment it was.
This year I wanted to bring an array of flavors to SAVOR for attendees to try. We brought our Samuel Adams® Grumpy Monk (from our IPA Hop-ology variety pack) because of its unique contrasting flavors between its spicy clove & fruit notes of Belgian yeast and hoppy bitterness of an IPA. Grumpy Monk was paired with Burrata (a fresh Italian cheese) on toast with arugula pesto and lemon zest which helped cleaned a drinker’s palate with every sip. We also brought a beer that is special to me, Samuel Adams® Oyster Stout, which is brewed with actual oyster’s (15 pounds to be exact) from Wellfleet, Massachusetts, a popular vacation destination where I spent my summers since I was old enough to remember. The roasted flavors with a hint of saltiness in this dry stout were paired with prosciutto wrapped in grilled asparagus and shaved manchego to create an excellent balance in flavors.
Among other brewers in attendance, here are a few (of the many great) pairings that stuck out to me:
- Smoked Vienna Lager from Bell’s Brewery Inc. (Paired with Duck confit taco, queso fresco, pickled cherry)
- Indra Kunindra from Ballast Point Brewing Company (Paired with Coconut macaroon, whipped crème fraiche and lemon zest)
- Highway 78 Scotch Ale aged in Scotch Barrels from Stone Brewing Company (Paired with Butterscotch cheesecake)
- Noble Rot from Dogfish Head Craft Brewery (Paired with Warm Maryland Blue crab; shaved cauliflower curry; pickled grapes and lavosh cracker)
Hopefully, this has helped whet your appetite for all that’s possible with food and beer combinations. I can’t stress enough how easy and fun cooking with beer can be and the amount of variety that beer offers as an ingredient. They key to success (at least for me) is a love of beer and food, a creative imagination, and no fear of failure.
I’ll be sure to check back in with some fun pairings I’m working on… especially during football season!