SAVOR is everything GABF is not, and that’s not a bad thing

(Photo: Saranac Brewing)

(Photo: Saranac Brewing)

Glancing around the elegant room at the National Building Museum, no where in sight is a single pretzel necklace, no dude-bros in PBR onesies or Waldo costumes. In fact, no matching outfits at all. I managed to drop and break my tasting glass and not a single “Ohhhh” was heard. Not one volunteer pouring my beer told me “I’m just volunteering; I don’t know anything about the beer,” because the volunteers pouring my beer were the brewers.  No hotdogs, no pizza, no giant pretzels. Where was I?  Clearly not the typical beer fest.

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(Photo: SAVOR)

SAVOR, a food and craft beer showcase, held its sixth annual event last weekend in Washington DC. A ticket as tough to get as Avery Sour Fest (seriously, anyone have extra tickets please contact me), but I was lucky enough to score. Replace all the things that irk us about GABF with fancy people dressed in fancy outfits, eating fancy food, and drinking craft beer, in a gorgeous event space and you will have an idea of what SAVOR is like. And, did I mention the raw oyster bar?

Well-organized and staffed by either the brewers themselves or incredibly knowledgeable brewery staff, SAVOR is definitely worth the ticket price of $135. The food bites were well paired but started to grow pretty scarce with a full two hours left of the event, making that the only low point of the evening. The duo of the night was definitely the Raw Creation from Dogfish Head, paired with a saffron and coconut crab with shaved cucumber and harissa. Raw Creation is a collaboration between Dogfish Head and D.C. based company Goûter that creates organic tonics. Based on a recipe for their Midis Touch beer, the brewers went with the Hydrate Tonic with coconut, lemon, lemongrass, and cucumber. It made for an extremely crisp brew that was perfect for the heat already permeating D.C., and perfect with the fresh flavors of the crab and cucumber.  The pairings were created by Chef Adam Dulye of The Monk’s Kettle in San Francisco and you can read about all 76 of them here. I warn you, it will make you hungry. And jealous. Very very jealous.

(Photo: SAVOR)

(Photo: SAVOR)

Other tastings of note:

And not to be outdone by the coastal breweries,

  • Saison from Funkwerks in Fort Collins paired with Cured Salmon with Lardo Butter and Powdered Lemon

Speaking of Colorado breweries, they were in full representation at SAVOR. Representing a full 10% of all breweries, Colorado made quite the showing. Copper Kettle, Crazy Mountain, FATE, Funkwerks, Left Hand, New Belgium, Odell, and Telluride all brought their finest. I was extraordinarily proud to be from such a beer prolific state and as I walked around, it was interesting to overhear all the opinions of Colorado and our beer. All overwhelmingly positive.  California also had 8 out of the 76 breweries.

For an extra $20 on the ticket price you can attend one of the 16 different educational or tasting salons. From discussions that were very beer centric such as “IPA Nation: How Breweries are Helping Beer Drinkers Navigate a Sea of IPAs” or “Saisons: Running the Gamut” and “Revolution Brewing: The Best of Barrel-Aged” to pairing sessions like “The Art of Pairing Craft Beer and Jerky” and “Master Pairing Craft beers & Artisanal Doughnuts,” the variety of the 16 choices was really nice. Topics like bottle conditioning, yeast strains, proper glassware and the trend in brewery collaborations were also covered. This is an area I see ripe for improvement within GABF. I would be very willing to pay an extra ticket price or buy a separate ticket if the GABF organizers would add more educational sessions. With that many beer people, fans and industry folk all in the area for the week, it seems like a missed revenue opportunity.

SAVOR featured over 26 seminars to choose from. (Photo: SAVOR)

SAVOR featured over 26 seminars to choose from. (Photo: SAVOR)

Much like Denver during GABF, D.C. bars pull out the stops for the SAVOR week as well. Tap takeovers from Boulevard, Ommegang, Flying Dog, 3 Stars, Firestone Walker, Schlafly, Cigar City, Stone, and so many more were literally everywhere. We even wandered into a 100% Colorado Breweries tap takeover at one of the larger beer bars in D.C. Another proud moment for this Colorado native.  Other highlights from the week included, a Funkwerks beer and food party, a Firestone Walker kegger, rare beer tastings, beer cocktail competitions, release parties, cheese parties, collaboration parties, pre-parties, post-parties, sour parties, porter parties, beer dinners, beer lunches, beer brunches, and my personal favorite a meet and greet for ladies who are involved in or who are fans of the craft beer industry. It was exhausting just planning a schedule, let alone actually making it to the events all week. Add to that the time spent crawling the craft cocktail bars and oyster houses and this lady is exhausted. And thrilled. It really is difficult being me.

SAVOR is a really lovely event of a caliber that I think Denver is definitely ready for, as evidenced by the quick sellouts of the Denver Bacon and Beer Festival and the first of what I hope is an annual BrüFrou. I would love to see some effort being placed on nicer events focused on pairings and education vs. yet another beer and bro festival hosted at inappropriate venues say…a music venue on Colfax, for example. Sometimes less really is more, Colorado.

Note: The author acknowledges that as a Colorado native and frequent flyer of beer things she is very spoiled with the amount of beer festivals to choose from. She is not anti-GABF or an asshole. Okay, she is not that much of an asshole.  

About Michelle Simons


Michelle likes beer, booze, bands, beards and boys. And alliteration.