The sad truth is that most beer festivals have outlived their usefulness. Before craft beer was so widely available, these gatherings offered drinkers a rare chance to try interesting new beers that they couldn't get in their area. This is now a problem that rarely needs solving. Bars with dozens of taplines are proliferating in every city and beer distributors and bottle shops offering hundreds of beers are sprouting up everywhere. Suddenly the idea of plunking down $75 to compete in a four-hour race to drink the same beers we can find in our local pub doesn't hold the same appeal.
Fortunately there are still a few festivals that are still worth our time and money. By focusing on interesting locales, new and rare beers, and an overall great experience you can still have a great time at beer festivals.
Gourmands are finally beginning to wake up to the fact that there's more than one choice of libation available when to seeking a drink to pair with fine foods. The Savor Craft beer festival held annually makes the case for pairing craft beer with fine food. And why not? The many styles of beer offer diners a wide array of choices when seeking flavors to complement and contrast with the food on their plates.
Savor is run by the Brewer's Association and has been held annually in Washington, D.C. with the exception of 2013 when it moved to New York City. The festival is back in the Great Hall at the National Building Museum in D.C. for 2014 and it promises attendees a variety of small plate foods paired with craft beers from over 70 breweries. The food menu is supervised by Adam Duyle, the chef and owner of The Monk's Kettle in San Francisco, who consults with brewers about how best to match his food up with their beers.
For an additional fee festival-goers can also attend private tasting salons presented by brewers. The 2014 Salons have yet to be announced, but previous year's topics ranged from "Cajun and Creole Artisanal Foods and Bieres in Quadraphonic Sensaround" to "Single Hop Brews: IPA Deconstructed" and "Dogfish Head's Off-Centered Beer and Food Journey with Sam Calagione."
More info: This year's Savor Festival will be held on May 9th and 10th; savorcraftbeer.com.
Credit: PHOTO © 2013 JENSEN SUTTA