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Your Beermonger: The Can’t Miss Tables of SAVOR 2014

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Editor’s Note: This sponsored column is written by Nick Anderson, beermonger at Arrowine (4508 Lee Highway).

SAVOR, the Brewer’s Association’s annual showcase event focusing on craft beer and food pairing, is back in D.C. where it belongs for 2014. The event itself kicks off tonight, and by the time this column runs, many of the great local bar/restaurant events planned for “SAVOR Week” will have already taken place.

That doesn’t mean you’ve missed all the fun, though: SAVOR tickets may be difficult or impossible to come by, but there will be special beer events in our area through Sunday. The gang at DC Beer have done a great job compiling a list of SAVOR-related events, along with brewery profiles for nearly all of this years’ participants.

I was originally planning to attend SAVOR, but a scheduling conflict means I’ll be missing out this year. If you are attending, consult the DC Beer profiles to see which breweries pique your curiosity the most, and here is a list of the breweries whose tables I had put on my “must-see” list, in alphabetical order:

Allagash: If you’re attending SAVOR, you are probably as familiar with Allagash as I am. Their table made my list because Rob Tod is a really good guy who is always great to chat with, and because they’re bringing their Coolship Red to sample along with their new Saison. The Coolship beers have all been outstanding so far and the Red — aged in wine barrels with raspberries — sounds like another great Sour Ale.

Elysian: Elysian has been around for a while, and is available in Maryland and the District, so perhaps it’s old hat for some of you but outside of a couple collaboration beers I haven’t been able to try anything of theirs. Their Dragonstooth Stout sounds like a treat, but it was the Dayglow IPA with its Mosaic, El Dorado, and Centennial hops that I was looking forward to trying.

Funkwerks: If you’re into Belgian-style Ales and you aren’t familiar with Funkwerks yet, get familiar — this Fort Collins, Colo., brewery is on the rise. I got to try their Tropic King Saison a couple months ago with some friends and fell hard for it; the beer had a beautiful, complex yeast character that never felt too rich or overpowered the rest of the beer. If you find your way toward them at SAVOR, you’ll get to try their Saison and a Cognac barrel-aged version of Deceit, a strong Belgian-style Ale featuring a great deal of Pilsner malt.

Great Raft: Prior to opening Great Raft Brewing last year in Shreveport, Louisiana, Andrew and Lindsay Nations lived here in the area, where Andrew was an editor for DC Beer. Great Raft’s SAVOR offerings are a pair of Lagers, the hoppy Southern Drawl Pale Lager and Reasonably Corrupt Schwarzbier. Andrew and Lindsay are good people making, by all accounts, some great beer. Seeing them with a table at SAVOR is pretty damn cool.

Kuhnhenn: I’ve only known Michigan’s Kuhnhenn Brewing by its reputation as a brewery unafraid to try anything, and usually make something great out of whatever it tries. From Raspberry Eisbock to Imperial Crème Brulee Java Stout, Kuhnhenn takes chances for the fun of it, and many consider them to be the best brewery in Michigan — high praise. SAVOR attendees will be able to sample their Fourth Dementia Olde Ale and DRIPA–Double Rice IPA, paired naturally with rice pudding.

Nebraska Brewing: At SAVOR in 2012, I was impressed with Nebraska Brewing’s Melange a Trois, a Strong Belgian-style Blonde aged in Chardonnay barrels. Now available in D.C., Nebraska’s beers command premium prices, but are delights for craft beer fans. This year’s SAVOR table includes a Stranahan’s Whiskey barrel-aged version of their Black Betty Russian Imperial Stout and Apricot Au Poivre Saison, which as the name implies is a Saison with apricot and black pepper before aging in third-use Chardonnay barrels.

Odell: From Fort Collins, Colo., Odell is yet another brewery whose beers I’ve never tried that I was going to check off of my list this year at SAVOR. Their Lugene is a Chocolate Milk Stout, a style I’m always curious to try, but their Tree Shaker Imperial IPA was what really caught my eye. Tree Shaker is a 10.1 percent ABV Imperial IPA brewed with 3,000 pounds of pureed Colorado peaches. Oh yes. I’m bitter (no pun intended) I’ll be missing out on this one.

Surly: A lot of us beer geeks in the area are desperate for Surly to come out this way, but so far have to content ourselves with the occasional trade or online purchase to get our fix. Surly brings bold, focused flavors out in everything they make, and have a knack of producing beers with unexpected balance. Their Coffee Bender is an outstanding Brown Ale that is a must if you’ve never tried it, and Pentagram — a Dark Ale aged in red wine barrels with Brettanomyces–sounds wonderful.

If you’re going to SAVOR — enjoy one of the best beer events in the U.S., and if you aren’t do try to make it out to one of the other dinners/tap takeovers/brunches being held while some of the best brewers in the world are in town.

Until next time.

Nick Anderson maintains a blog at www.beermonger.net, and can be found on Twitter at @The_Beermonger. Sign up for Arrowine’s money saving email offers and free wine and beer tastings at www.arrowine.com/mailing-list-signup.aspx. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

Community discussion guidelines: Our sponsored columns are written by members of the local business community. While we encourage a robust and open discussion, we ask that all reviews of the businesses — good or bad — be directed to another venue, like Yelp. The comments section is intended for a conversation about the topic of the article.

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