The art of pairing food and wine has long been understood and practiced by sommeliers and haute cuisine restaurants; a true art to be shared with those who understand the indisputable magic that happens when perfect food and wine combinations come together at a single table.
So it should be no surprise to those of us who appreciate the complexities and seemingly infinite flavor combinations found in craft beer, that an even greater potential for magic can happen when exquisite craft beer and expertly prepared dishes are paired.
The craft beer movement has dutifully shared this truth with the world, and this study, this alchmey of cuisine and craft, is now more evident than ever in the rise of the Cicerone – the sommelier of the craft beer world – and the increasing popularity of craft beers being served in the finest of restaurants, offered right alongside some of the biggest names in wine.
Many leaders in craft beer are responsible for this trend. Many evangelists have long preached the magic of craft beer and food pairing. But only one event, held over a single weekend per year for the last eight years, has brought so many of them together to one place, at one time, to simply crush any doubts anyone has ever had about the glory of pairing craft beer and fine food.
SAVOR: An American Craft Beer & Food Experience is the annual event hosted by the Brewers Association to explore this magic, to demonstrate its power to thousands through small bite dishes, to initiate those new to it and wow even the most jaded of foodies. This year SAVOR is bigger than ever, showcasing the offerings of 76 of the United State's premiere breweries (representing 28 states and Washington, D.C.) – each bringing two of their signature beers to be paired with a dish strategically designed by an expert tasting panel.
Among others, this panel of experts includes Chef Adam Dulye, executive chef at the Brewers Association and Chef Kyle Mendenhall, BA chef consultant and executive chef at The Kitchen. This panel was responsible for deciding on the very best choice for over 150 beer and food pairings, designed to highlight the best characteristics of each; a task dwarfed only by the thought of preparing thousands of each dish to join their beer partner in the spotlight.
Spanning two nights, June 5th and 6th, in the breathtaking, Italian Rennaisance-inspired Great Hall of the National Building Museum in Washinton, D.C., SAVOR's sold-out crowd of 4,000 attendees mingled with "rock stars" of the brewing industry – not just to hob-nob, but to discuss the food and beer pairings, served by the very people that made them.
This truly uncommon access to the brewers is yet another of SAVOR's biggest draws, giving you a chance to discuss the pairings and expand your palate with advice and input from the very people responsible for the beer in your glass.
That said, should attendees choose to take their food pairing education to the next level, AND they're fortunate enough to have gotten a highly elusive Salon Package ticket before they sold out, there are also special "directed tasting Salons" being held. Attendees lucky enough to get one of these tickets will find themselves in an even more intimate setting, receiving direct instruction on tasting and pairing from stars from craft beer and food scenes around the country.
Those wishing to attend SAVOR next year should be on the look-out in March, when tickets typically go on sale. We also highly recommend you become a Brewers Association or American Homebrewers Association member before then to participate in the member pre-sale, because SAVOR will surely sell out quickly again next year. This year's tickets were $135 each, good for one evening Friday or Saturday. Salon package tickets were $155 each, and included a single Salon of your choice. The Salon schedule from this year will give you some idea of what to expect, so you can get a jump on getting one of these extra-limited tickets. (You'll need to know what Salon you wish to attend at the time of your ticket purchase, and they sell out unbelieveably quickly.)
Best of luck. Hope to see you there in 2016!