"We Laughed, Literally, THE WHOLE Time!" | SAVOR: An American Craft Beer & Food Experience

June 18, 2013

By Lois Lewis | SanDiegoVille Contributor and Mother Extraordinaire 

For the past five years, the Brewers Association of America has hosted SAVOR: An American Craft Beer & Food Experience in Washington, D.C., but this year they brought the event to the Big Apple to honor small and independent craft brewers. Being that New York City is the culinary capital that we were raised in, we at SanDiegoVille knew we had to seize the opportunity to cover such a diverse sampling of 'hometown' beers paired with gourmet bites in a dynamic setting, so we sent our east coast correspondents and lovers of beer to survey the scene and sample some of the 76 beers of 39 different styles, hailing from 31 different states, representing all regions of the country, all paired with gourmet tastes. Read on for the ReCap!

Entering the charming Altman Building in downtown Manhattan, we were immediately impressed by the sprawling venue. Our first stop upon entering was Boulevard Brewing Co. out of Kansas City, Missouri. I was greeted with a huge smile and a glass of 80 Acre Hoppy Wheat Beer which was to be paired with roasted scallop, cauliflower pineapple and preserved lemon with fried caper and coriander. Unfortunately, the food pairings were not yet ready and we were drinking on an empty stomach, but no worries, the alcohol content (ABV) was only 5.5%. The beer was light in body, a distinctive ale with the aroma of an IPA and a refreshing taste of wheat.

From there we headed to the Dogfish Head Craft Brewery from Milton, Delaware. Already a fan of the 60 Minute IPA, we were thrilled to try the recently-debuted Sixty-One IPA, especially after learning that it is actually the 60 minute IPA with the addition of one new ingredient: syrah grape must from California. A beer and wine hybrid! My partner Hank tasted the Dogfish Head Positive Contact, a combination of fugi cider, slow roasted farro, a bit of cayenne and fresh cilantro - very interesting, but we both agreed that the Sixty-One seemed more of a 'crowd-pleaser'. Still no food pairings, so we eased our way over to tables adorned with huge arrays of artisan cheeses and crackers provided by American Cheese Society, just to put something besides beer into our happy yet flooded bellies. We also stopped at ChopTank Sweets for a refreshing treat of premium Chesapeake Bay oysters.

Saranac Brewery, hailing from Utica, New York offered their White IPA, which really piqued my interest. This time the pairing of sepia (cuttlefish), compressed watermelon, basil, chili oil and pistachio was available and made for a tangibly-harmonious combination. Seconds, please? Why thank you! Be it competitive or complementary strategy we are unsure, however Harpoon out of Boston was also serving up their own rendition of White IPA at a neighboring table. Harpoon's recipe tastes fruity, spicy, and a bit on the bitter side, but clean and refreshing when combined with the jumbo lump crab cake with corn, sweet peppers and citrus.

On the brink of being overwhelmed by the festivities, it was time to slow down, so we decided to do a little walkabout considering we had so many more beers to try. We didn't make it very far before spotting Easy IPA from Flying Dog Brewery of Frederick, Maryland. By now, you may realize that I am a huge IPA fan, and was definitely seeking out those hoppy bastards. The Easy IPA had a bold, tropical fruit taste, with pleasant mango flavor at the forefront. It should be telling that I plan on "sampling" this one again really soon, and may even place it among summertime staples.

Realizing – i.e. coming to terms with the fact that – we could not sample every beer at this great event, we accepted the need to focus our tasting choices and start being picky.  Husband Hank chose Samuel Adams' Tetravis, a Belgium-style strong ale with an alcohol volume of 10.2%. We appreciated the deep chestnut color and the aromas & flavors were fruity, bready and surprisingly delicate for such a strong beer – a definitive favorite!

Ok, my turn to pick! We began to seek out my personal all-time favorite, San Diego's own Stone Brewing Co.! I have loved every one of Stone's 'Enjoy By' beers that I have been lucky enough to try, so I was especially excited to see the Stone Enjoy By 7.04.13 IPA sitting gloriously on the table. This beer was paired with chicken and ricotta meatball with Amatriciana sauce and fiore sardo. As always, I was beyond-pleased with the fresh, florally taste of yet another Stone masterpiece. I was also very fortunate to meet and share a laugh with the famed Greg Koch, Stone Brewing Co.'s co-founder and CEO. Can you say "genius"?! Ahhh. At this point we were really exuberant, 'feeling no pain', and loving life.

Next up: dessert! It felt time to cleanse our palates and change tasting profiles. We sampled some delicious organic chocolates from Green & Black's, and then moved on for some "smaller" beer samplings. No need to drink more than 2 ounces per sample, at this point! We enjoyed No-Li Brewhouse's Jet Star Imperial IPA out of Spokane, Washington which was nicely-paired with shortbread biscuits, stilton cheese and pear. Also, Legend Brewing Co.'s Hopfest IPA paired with marinated and charred squid with chickpeas and tomatoes, as well as their Porter paired with a decadent combo of chicken liver and chocolate. Another unique sampling was San Diego's Ballast Point Brewing Co.'s Habanero Sculpin IPA, boasting a helluva-lotta heat that was actually quite enjoyable. It was coupled with crispy shrimp shumai with lemongrass and tamarind made for an especially exotic pairing.

And we received parting gifts!!!
Acknowledging the right opportunity to round out our scope of the event, we make way towards the direction of the exit, sporting full bellies and drunken smiles. However, let's just try The Bronx Brewery's Bronx Belgian Pale Ale with its pairing of goat cheese cheesecake with crunchy caramel corn! Mmmm. Close by was San Marcos' The Lost Abbey serving Deliverance (old & strong Ale) paired with seaweed nougat drizzled with honey and sesame, a delicious sweet and salty combination, and a very welcome finale to a truly awesome evening!

SanDiegoVille is honored and grateful to have played part in this world-class celebration of craft beer and it's place in the culinary world as a perfect beverage pairing. Next year, SAVOR will be moving the event back to the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., set to take place May 9-10, 2014, so stay tuned for details. Cheers, and bon appetit!