Crooked Stave Surette paired with Goat Cheese Cheesecake and Crunchy Carmel Corn
One of the standout parings of the night: piquant goat cheese cheesecake balanced the tart, dry finish of Surette's barrel-fermented, brettanomyces and lactobacillus notes. The caramel corn's sweetness helped cut through the funk to heighten the brew's rustic grain bill (it's made with barley, wheat, oats, rye and spelt). I'll definitely be trying this sort of pairing—sour beer and sweetened goat cheese—again at home.
Linden Street Brewery Biere de Tartine
Restaurant/brewery collaboration beers were a popular trend at Savor this year and there was no better example than Biere de Tartine from Oakland, California's Linden Street Brewery. Ambitiously brewed using sourdough yeast from San Francisco's Tartine Bakery, the unique fermentation finishes surprisingly crisp with tart, cider-like notes ideal for cutting through rich dishes.
The Brewer's Art Ozzy
I expected to see more canned beers at Savor. But perhaps that was last year's trend. Packaging aside, what set's Ozzy apart from other American-made, Belgian-style Golden Strong Ales was its dry finish and easy drinkability. This is a style that is difficult to make and many American brewers produce sweet, under-carbonation versions of their Belgian counterparts. But Ozzy is a Belgian-beer-loving backpacker's dream and can easily stand up against some of the finer Abbey examples.
Firestone Walker Pivo Pils paired with Fluke Crudo on Cucumber with Rhubarb and Vermouth
Another masterful pairing at Savor was this combination of dry vermouth-dressed fish and noble hops. Here, Firestone Walker's hop-driven Pivo Pils provided a refreshing balance to the light fluke preparation while the earthiness of the rhubarb and vermouth highlighted the brew's earthy hops and floral character.
Yazoo Brewing Company Brett Saison
Brett Saisons were abundant at this year's Savor and our favorite was from Tennessee's Yazoo Brewing Company. Fermented with two strains of brett provided by Crooked Stave, the brew leads with big, green apple flavors before turning to a leathery, dry finish. This was an impressive showing from a decade-old brewery that recently began producing wild ales.
Bell's Brewery Raspberry Wild One
Bell's Wild One begins its life as over a dozen separate beers fermented in oak wine barrels with a blend of wild yeasts and microorganisms. After several months, these beers are sampled and blended to balance clean acidity, and bright citrus flavors while reducing the vinegar-like harshness found in many sour ales. This version, Raspberry Wild One takes the beer one step further through an additional fermentation with fresh raspberries. The final beer is driven by a tart, berry pucker. A wonderful example of the benefits of blending sour ales.
The Lost Abbey's Saint's Devotion paired with Crispy Pork Belly in Kimchi Rice Balls
Here, a blend of pomacious fruit flavors and barnyard funk in the Brettanomyces-spiked Belgian Pale Ale mingle with the fermented flavors of the Kimchi Rice Balls. Was it too much funk? Maybe. But a bit of pork belly added some richness and rounded out the palate.
Magnolia Gastropub & Brewery's Bonnie Lee's Best Bitter paired with Charred and Marinated Squid
While big, complicated beers still rule the day at Savor, an easy-going, session ale can cut the clutter of imperial stouts and funky sours. Few do session ales as well as San Francisco's Magnolia Gastropub & Brewery. Bonnie Lee's Best Bitterhad a malty, fruity flavor and earthy backbone to prove that small beers can be big on flavor. An unlikely, yet successful pairing of English-style beer and charred seafood showed that food pairings can bridge geographical boundaries.
Black and Tan Brownie with Butterscotch and Pretzels paired with Imperial Stout or Barleywine
Pairing brownies Russian Imperial Stouts or Barleywines is a decedent no-brainer. Still, the nuance of these little, chocolate morsels is what sets Savor apart from your everyday pairing event. Here, the butterscotch helped complement caramel notes in these sweet ales while the pretzel helped accentuate grain character. These brownies worked with just about every big beer we tried but our favorite pairing was with Firestone Walker Parabola.
Bull & Bush Brewery Turnip the Beets
The unexpected use of root vegetables in Turnip the Beets adds an earthiness to this 'field beer' perfect for light salads and spring harvest fare. The sugar beets and turnips are mandolined paper-thin and added to the secondary fermentation. This is as true to farm-to-table as you find get in a beer and an eye-opener to the potential of aging beer on vegetables.
Oakshire Brewing Frederic C. Noir
Like the Great American Beer Festival, one of the true advantages of Savor is the ability to drink ales from far off breweries unavailable at your local bottle shop. Like this rare release from Eugene, Oregon's Oakshire Brewing who were pouring for their first time ever in New York City. We particularly enjoyed their Frederic C. Noir, a farmhouse Saison brewed with green oolong tea and aged for two years in used Pinot Noir barrels with brettanomyces. Surprisingly cohesive for its complex description, Frederic is dry and slightly tart with unassuming winey notes. The green tea provides a bit of tannin as an undertone to the tartness and barrel character.
Short's Hopstache paired with This Guy
Every beer festival needs a few good IPAs and there were no shortage at Savor. While it was clear that experimental hops are gaining momentum and finding favor with brewers, we found ourselves gravitating towards the classic American varieties. Short's Hopstache features three popular hops—Simcoe, Amarillo, and Citra—whose citrus character is enhanced with the addition of fresh grapefruit zest. This big American IPA received bonus points for featuring an employee on the label.