Staring Down the Barrel of Savor, America’s Premiere Beer and Food Event


It’s been a crazy week in these parts, but ol’ reliable Friday is here once again, and that means it’s time to start thinking about what we’ll be drinking this weekend.  For me that answer is easy: EVERYTHING!

I’m going to be attending Savor in New York City, the premiere food and beer pairing event in the country, at least according to Sam Calagione on today’s edition of CBS This Morning.

It’s actually a pretty daunting event that the Brewers Association puts on every year, with over over 150 beers, each paired with a delectable bite of fancy food on a mission to take your palate to new places.

For instance, here’s what the folks at Bell’s will be serving up: 

Black Note Paired with Black and Tan Brownie with Butterscotch and Pretzel Bite
Chef’s Notes: The dark fruit, coffee and dark chocolate notes in the beer are enhanced by the brownie. The pretzel helps invigorate the palate.
Raspberry Wild One Paired with Duck Rillete with Peach Hoisin on Black Brioche
Chef’s Notes: The brioche will soften the raspberry and allow the duck to come through before the beer cleanses the palate.
And here are the offerings from Cigar City:
Cucumber Saison Paired with Fluke Crudo on Cucumber with Rhubarb and Vermouth
Chef’s Notes: The saison delicately lifts the fluke off the palate, leaving the rhubarb and notes of cucumber.
Jose Marti Paired with Glazed Short Rib of Beef with Soft Polenta and Crispy Leeks
Chef’s Notes: The richness of the short rib allows roasted malt to stay on the palate before notes of chocolate finish the bite.
And that’s just two of the over 75 breweries that will be pouring beers at the event. You can see a complete list here.
I’m obviously excited to go, but I’m also a little nervous.  I’m covering the event for, so I can’t just stumble through the place, eating and drinking myself into oblivion and slurring praise upon the brewers I meet. That would be…unprofessional.
Even if I sample just two ounces of every beer there, I’d be drinking the equivalent of over 25 bottles of high-grade awesomeness while eating enough finger food to stuff a hungry elephant.  There’s not much upside in doing that, except for potentially setting the world record for projectile vomiting (in both volume and distance).
Instead, I need to be selective, and figure out which beers and brewers I want to write about and hit those tables first, before I become slightly incoherent and before all the attendees start streaming into the building (the media has the run of the place for 45 minutes before the doors open to the public).
This kind of stinks, because I would prefer to walk in the door with an open mind and see where the night leads me creatively.
I guess we’ll see how it all turns out, but I probably won’t be as extreme in my preparation as my wife – she’s creating a spreadsheet of all the beer/food pairing she wants to enjoy so she can deftly navigate the event.
While I appreciate this approach, it greatly reduces the chances of finding something new and unexpected, which is the best thing about attending events like this.
Whatever the case, I need to get my act together before I walk in, or I’ll simply have an awesome time and an empty notebook.
First world problems, I know.
How would you approach the event if you were going?
As always, let us know below, and happy Friday!

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Categories: Beer, Event


Craft beer nerd, frequent beer blogger and occasional home brewer.

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25 Comments on “Staring Down the Barrel of Savor, America’s Premiere Beer and Food Event”

  1. June 14, 2013 at 10:26 am #

    Whenever I go to a beer festival, I plan ahead and carefully select the beers I want to try. More often than not, the plan is shot to hell within 15 minutes due to word of mouth about certain beers that were not on my list. I can imagine this being even more of an issue at Savor: “Good God, man. You haven’t tried the barleywine and Caesar salad pairing at the Great Divide table yet? Mouthgasm.”

    • June 14, 2013 at 10:34 am #

      Yeah, that’s exactly what I think will happen Alex. Add in the fact that I’ll see something shiny and be pulled off course, and it’s pretty clear I’m doomed. Maybe my piece should be about how I can’t seem to navigate a beer festival.

  2. Michael
    June 14, 2013 at 10:28 am #

    I’m not sure of the total layout. However, if possible try some pairings that would be difficult for the average reader to experience and then try some that might be available to more readers. Pairings that involve new beers would be great. Write about all of those. Some pictures, if allowed, of the size and scope of the whole experience would be great. Give us some word pictures of people, both presenting, and experiencing the whole show. Just a few thoughts. Thanks for sharing the whole plan with us.

    • June 14, 2013 at 10:36 am #

      One thing I do know is I’m going to try beers from across the country, just to make sure anyone who reads the resulting piece can get a taste for themselves, wherever they might live. I also plan on taking pictures, but I’m guessing I’ll slowly forget to after I get a few beers in me!

  3. June 14, 2013 at 10:31 am #

    I was going to point out that this was a First World Problem, but you beat me to it. My suggestion is you give me the ticket and I’ll take care of that “problem” you have. My being on the Left Coast presents a problem, but it’s not insurmountable. I can just make it if I drive like hell, drink coffee non-stop, wear astronaut diapers, and pay no heed to speed limits. I may even need to use meth (I haven’t worked out all the details yet).

    Actually, I suggest you compromise with yourself. Cut your list in half and use the extra time for unexpected and serendipitous finds. You have a story and some fun. It’s not perfect, but neither was my first plan.

    Good luck. I look forward to reading about your experience.

    • June 14, 2013 at 10:40 am #

      You had me at astronaut diapers, Norm!

      I need to study up on the beer list and figure out what I want to do. The no-brainers are rare beers and high profile breweries that aren’t distributed out here (Cigar City, 3 Floyds, Bell’s, etc). The hard part is staying away from beers I know and love, especially when I can taste them in a new way due to the food pairings.

      I think I’ll do a combo of geography (choosing breweries around the country), exclusivity (rare beers that people are curious about) and whatever’s goofy (there’s a Strawberry Schwarzcake beer that I can’t pass up). Once my notebook is full for work, I’ll turn to play (and probably get the best material of the night!).

  4. June 14, 2013 at 10:47 am #

    Sounds as though Norm’s option #2 is the way to go.

    As for me, I’m invited to several events so hope to be trying some new (to me) brews this weekend.

    • June 14, 2013 at 11:00 am #

      I agree – less is more, at least until I’m satisfied I have enough to write. At that point, more could be more. 🙂

  5. June 14, 2013 at 10:50 am #

    So you’re not a spitter? enjoy Cigar City, I happened upon them last week in Tampa and was quite impressed. The cucumber saison is very good.

    • June 14, 2013 at 10:58 am #

      I’m looking forward to that one _ i’m a big fan of cukes, and I imagine they’ll ad a wonderful and sweet lightness to the brew.

      And I’ll be spitting plenty, probably more than I drink. I hate to do it (especially in front of the people who made it and served it) but I’m sure they don’t mind and there are way too many beers to taste!

  6. Michael
    June 14, 2013 at 10:54 am #

    I’m just being selfish as I want you to do all the work and then I get to reap the reward of vicarious pleasures while sitting here drinking a home brewed Saison or a Wee Heavy Scotch Ale, or even a Belgian Tripel. Kinda like watching a football game from home versus playing the game and having a 300 lb. goliath stomp on your chest or head. OK, maybe that’s a bad comparison but you get the idea. You work and we enjoy the show. I know it willl be good based on your writing in the past. Any lists of new beers would help the readers set up some plans for trips, tasting, for their own pairings. Thans again for sharing the experience. If my writing or grammar is atrocious, I can’t see the screen well due to some eye treatments today.

    • June 14, 2013 at 10:56 am #

      You’re doing fine, Michael. But I’m going to use that “eye treatments” one in the future. 😉

  7. Wendi
    June 14, 2013 at 11:20 am #

    My question is….who’s driving home?

    • June 14, 2013 at 11:27 am #

      The Hampton Inn Chelsea.

  8. June 14, 2013 at 11:58 am #

    Aww crap! We seriously considered coming up for this event. Had we known you were going, we would have joined you. I believe The Alemonger is in NYC right now on business. Track him down on Twitter. Maybe you two can get together for a beer.

    As far as how to approach the event, over the past few months, I’ve attended 6 massive food and drink fests. I tried to have a game plan before going in to each of these events, but at the last minute decided against it and just went with the flow.

    There was good and bad to my approach. Good because I stumbled upon some pleasant surprises. Bad because after hearing what other people had, it turns out that I missed many things that I probably would have enjoyed. While I love all this food/beer paring stuff, my only real complaint is the fill factor. I just can’t eat and drink like I used to. Makes me sad. All I can say is wear some cozy clothes! Leave the skinny jeans at home.

    • June 14, 2013 at 12:14 pm #

      Don’t worry – I’m attending in a Lycra body suit! There’s an image for ya.

      I think I’ll frontline like 8-10 beers, just so I know I have a good base for a story, and then I’ll go with the flow.

      And then I’ll puke in the street. 🙂

      • June 14, 2013 at 12:16 pm #

        Good man! To the pain is the only way to fly at events like this…

  9. klanzundkecker
    June 14, 2013 at 1:56 pm #

    Wow… I hope some time there will be a similiar event here in Austria, sounds great – Greetings from Vienna!

    • June 14, 2013 at 2:10 pm #

      I guess you’d better start planning! 🙂

  10. John
    June 14, 2013 at 3:36 pm #

    If you don’t hit at least 75 samples = EPIC FAILURE…

    • June 14, 2013 at 4:26 pm #

      The gauntlet has been laid down!!

  11. June 14, 2013 at 7:12 pm #

    Well…getting back to the original “what are you drinking this weekend?”… it’s a typical Friday… started off with two pints of Southern Tier IPA at my favorite watering hole then got home and started working on my homemade IPA… which, by the way, actually hold up quite well compared to the ST… I’m thinking there will be a cigar involved soon.

  12. Mark S.
    June 14, 2013 at 8:46 pm #

    Green Flash Double Stout and Founder’s Curmudgeon for me!

    Have fun at the event! It looks awesome, but the price…

  13. August 1, 2013 at 12:14 pm #

    Reblogged this on The Starbucks Blog – Or: Why We Love Coffee So Much.

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