Editor’s Note: This sponsored column is written by Nick Anderson, beermonger at Arrowine (4508 Lee Highway).
You may have noticed an unusually high number of special beer-themed events happening around the area this week. Well, you can thank SAVOR for that. SAVOR is a yearly festival run by the Brewer’s Association, a trade association representing the interests of craft breweries. SAVOR features craft breweries from all over America (many of whom aren’t available in our area yet) and focuses on pairing craft beer and food. Over the past few years, SAVOR has quickly become one of the can’t-miss events on the beer geek’s calendar.
SAVOR brings hundreds of big names from the beer business to the D.C. metro area, and as with most of the major beer events (Great American Beer Festival, World Beer Cup, Extreme Beer Fest, Craft Brewer’s Conference) the week preceding SAVOR has become a smorgasbord of insane beer dinners, tap-takeovers, and celebrations of our favorite beverage. Even if you’re just finding out about all of the happenings reading this column, there are SAVOR after-parties Saturday night and at least one SAVOR-themed beer brunch happening Sunday morning.
If I may — a bit of a confession: I’ve only attended SAVOR once. The first year of the festival, I scored a couple tickets from a friend of mine at Dogfish Head and went in with only an idea of what to expect. What I got was a chance to try some amazing beers and meet many of the luminaries of the industry that I had only read about. If you get a ticket (and those can be hard to come by) it’s well worth going just for the access SAVOR provides to some of the best and brightest American craft beer has to offer. This year marks my return to SAVOR after missing the last couple years (when I was working for wine importers and couldn’t justify the expense) and as much as I’m looking forward to it, I’m more excited about and proud of the scene the festival has built around itself in our area.
The word around the campfire is that SAVOR will be held in New York City next year. There’s nothing to say that the move is permanent, but being a defensive “everyone loves NY but hates us” D.C. area guy I can’t help but see some writing on the wall. If the rumors are untrue, that’s just fine by me. But I sincerely hope that if SAVOR is held in New York next year that at the very least the Brewer’s Association considers alternating years between here and there. The D.C. metro beer scene has fought and kicked and screamed for years trying to earn the recognition and respect that other cities have gotten from the beer industry, and now that SAVOR week has become such a benchmark for beer fans all over it would just feel like another example of D.C. having the rug pulled out from under it.
Perry Soulos, Arrowine’s Cheesemonger, and I have talked about it many times and feel like the solution is simple: If SAVOR has grown enough to be held in New York, why not hold a spring and fall session with one here and one there? The number of world-class breweries in the U.S. right now provides a seemingly limitless roster of guests and beers to present, and we’ve seen here with the D.C. event just how much demand there is for tickets. I understand perfectly wanting to take SAVOR to the “big” city, but if anyone from the Brewer’s Association is reading this, please don’t take the excitement and the attention away from all the great things happening in our area.
If you’re going to SAVOR this Saturday, I’ll be the guy wandering around bugging all the brewers who aren’t available here yet. Don’t hesitate to say hi. Until next time.