Monday, June 11, 2012

Savor 2012

Saturday was one of those days when, if someone is making a movie of your life, you pray they had plenty of film. I started the day on a Poker Run to raise money for one of my favorite charities: Fisher House. We launched, about 200 bikes, from Patriot Harley-Davidson and did a little rolling pub crawl, picking up a playing card at each stop. My hand sucked, pair of deuces, but I did not care! Four new beers under my belt, and proceeds to a great cause.

Then on to Rick's Wine and Gourmet to taste some summer beers and grab some for the fridge. Tried five, three of which were new to me, and bought the Terrapin Easy Rider and Bell's Oberon to take home in the saddle bags of my Road King.

All of this was just prelude to the big event: SAVOR 2012.

That's Kathryn, not Sue, whom I met in line.

I had the time of my life. Absolutely the best cocktail party ever. Great beer, great food, great venue, and great crowd.

I tried 34 beers at SAVOR, all new except the Epic Brainless on Peaches and Yazoo Rye Saison which are mighty hard to pass up.

Of course I did my homework, listing all the breweries, beers, food parings, and tables and mapping out my route and objectives in a custom spreadsheet. Choosing 30-ish beers from among 150 options requires forethought and planning!

At Lou's suggestion, I made a copy of my spreadsheet, wrote Sue's name the top of it, and then proceeded to ask every pretty girl if she was Sue, because I had this spreadsheet custom-made for a girl named Sue and I needed to find her so I could give it to her. I met Kathryn, whose silhouette appears above, plus Jane, Katie, Ruth, and Dani but no Sue. And that's alright.

During the festivities, I had fun interacting virtually with many friends on the micro-blog known as Twitter, or on Facebook. Thanks to @bluesandbarbq, SummerWineFan, @CurtisFaulk, @MAJ_Chicken, Sassy, @timmyk77, @Dansting, DCFengShui, ceepropco, @BeerBrewin, and rainman. Hope I didn't leave anyone out!

I shook Sam Calagione's hand, took a pic of him signing Katie's program with MY pen, and asked him what it's like to be a rock star. He said he just likes to brew beer. Right, Sammy!

I took a picture of Paul Kavulak from Nebraska Brewing, holding a bottle of his Gold Medal winning Melange a Trois. Priceless. I told him how I became Facebook friends through our mutual friend Jon, and not only did he play along, but he even held back the "stalker" comment rolling in the back of his mind. As @Dansting says, Paul's one of the best in the business. A brewer must also understand people.

In all, 43 beer samples on the day, 39 of them new to me, and all of them delicious. Some more delicious than others. A summary is shown in the table below, and the complete list of beers by name, style, and state of origin is at the bottom.

The Quest for Brewed Nirvana
  • 43 beer samples over the day, all but 4 new to me. 
  • Sampled 34 beers at SAVOR, the equivalent of a 6-pack, consumed over the course of 3.5 hours. That's 1.62 beers per hour, more than 1.5 "Better get a cab," but less than 3.0 "Forgot where I live."  Thankful for Metro!   
  • Spread the wealth:  I tried beer from 16 different states. Two-thirds of the beers (28 of 43) came from 5 states: MI, VA, CO, CA, FL 
  • Variety is the spice:  I tried 31 different styles. There were 5 IPAs, 4 Stouts, 3 BSAs, 2 Browns, Baltic Porters, and Pales, and 1 ea of 25 others 
  • Only got to about 20% of the beers available at SAVOR, but when you add in the 26 I had tried before SAVOR, it's more like 43% coverage.  

I had been one of the first 20 of 2000 in the National Building Museum's door, and at the end of the evening, I was among the last 20 to leave. I walked across the street on my own power and took a safe Metro ride home carrying two souvenirs: the rinsed tasting glass, and a cork-finished bomber of Terra Incognito, the Boulevard / Sierra Nevada collab.

Life has its ups and downs. This was an UP day.

Based on small samples and impaired judgement, these are the beers in approximate order of merit. Note the emphasis on smoke, roast, and tart at the top. Hop, malt, crisp, and spice beers are strong in the middle. The bottom third a mix of beers that didn't impress, even though I would still happily drink most of them again.

Please visit these sites for more information:
  • All the preview details, including the beer and food menus, are available at the SAVOR 2012 website.
  • A nice post-event write-up and video clip is available from Channel 9 News
  • Excellent photos by Kyle Martell
  • Great business idea by new friends Ruth and Mike: Beer Vacations