Review: SAVOR 2022 Recap Part 1

SAVOR 2022 (Photo courtesy of Backbone Media)

Now that we’ve had time to reflect on the 2022 edition of SAVOR, held for the first time at The Anthem, let’s look at some of our impressions.

Random Stats
  • Number of Breweries Represented: 110
  • Number of Beers to Sample: 225
  • Number of Attendees: 2300 (ish)
  • Number of States Represented: 36
  • DC Breweries Represented: 4 (DC Brau, Atlas Brew Works, Right Proper, Bluejacket)
  • Virginia Breweries Represented: 16 (2 Silos, Adroit Theory, Board Room, Caboose, Dynasty, Fair Winds, Garden Grove, Hardywood Park, Hawksbill, Lake Anne, O’Conner, Old Bust, Parkway, Port City, Readbeard, Vibrissa)
  • Maryland Breweries Represented: 5 (Denizens, Smoketown, Heavy Seas, Manor Hill, Union Craft)
  • Washington State Breweries Represented: 4
  • States with Most Breweries Represented: Virginia (16), California (8), and Florida, North Carolina and Pennsylvania (7).

The Good

SAVOR is back! After a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the top beer festivals in DC returned. People were excited to be there, and the brewery representatives were excited to share about their offerings.

The food prepared by Adam Dulye (Brewers Association Executive Chef) and the local and country-wide culinary team, was mostly fantastic, and in some cases the presentation was also noteworthy. I didn’t try everything (who has that much room?!), but I’ll highlight a few below. Other local members of the team included Nathan Anda (Red Apron), Mike Friedman (The Red Hen & All Purpose), and Danny Lee (Mandu & CHIKO).

The printed program details were thorough, giving the location and description of each brewery’s beer + food pairings. We also put together a Cheat Sheet of all the beers. Be on the look out for that next year as well.

Bringing together 110 breweries from 36 states is a remarkable feat. Getting to try such a diversity of beers from across the country is always a welcome opportunity. Sadly, I did not try them all. Not even close.

The Less Good

Not that many SAVOR related events were held during the week leading up to Friday’s Main Event. Usually there are tons of beer events for ‘SAVOR Week’. Breweries sent fewer representatives this year, so there was less opportunity to engage bars and restaurants in events showcasing their beers. Hopefully this will course correct for next year. Those events are a fun time to try out of market beers.

It’s a pricey event. There were three admission tiers, General ($144), Premium ($184), and VIP ($254) before fees. I don’t know what the VIP option was like, but it included a few of the chefs in person and special beers from local breweries (Atlas Brew Works, DC Brau and Right Proper). If anyone had a VIP ticket and wants to share their experience, let us know.

More is not better Part 1. Despite the clear energy around bringing together 110 breweries, there was not enough space between the tables to move around or line up comfortably. This came up multiple times when talking with the brewery reps as well, so I’m confident a new and improved floor plan will be introduced next time.

More is not better Part 2. With so many food pairings (for 225 beers), food didn’t start showing up until after 7pm, and it was mostly immediately gone. People grabbed food off the trays as servers brought it to the destined table. But towards the end, it became easier to find the food pairing to match its proper beer.

A Few Highlights

1) Beer: Anabasis Blend #5 Barleywine by Side Project Brewing (14% ABV) – Damn, this did not taste like a barleywine, and it was delightful.

2) Beer: Portified Black Tuesday by The Bruery (12.4% ABV) – The rep claimed this tasted like a Port, and he was correct. Smooth. All that was missing was a fireplace and a red velvet smoking jacket.

3) Beer: Peach Afternoon Sour Ale by The Lost Abbey (6.0% ABV) – Like nectar from the Gods.

4) Food: Ceviche with coconut and lime – Very refreshing.

5) Food: Scone with Devonshire cream and blackberries – Shucks, you had me at scone. 

6) Food: Carne asada taco – No brainer, since it’s a taco. But the meat was tender and lovely.

7) Food: Jerk chicken with rum & mango glaze and jicama slaw – I will deny it in court, but I ate far more than one of these…

8) Beer: Astronaut Food: Blueberry by Urban Artifact (15% ABV) – If astronauts are drinking this on a regular basis, I picked the wrong career. It went down smooth, and did not taste strong, but maybe I was less inclined to notice at the point I sampled this.

In Part 2, we’ll include beer highlights from Jeff Lucas.

Author: Jeremy Bailey

Writer and editor living in Washington, D.C.

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