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Posted at 5:00 PM ET, 05/25/2010

Drink up: Savor festival brings beer events to D.C. bars

By Fritz Hahn

The annual Savor craft beer festival returns to Washington on June 5, with 70 brewers from across the country bringing their finest ales and lagers to the National Building Museum. Attendees can sample up to 140 different beers -- all paired with regional foods -- while getting the chance to chat with brewers and take seminars from leading names in the industry.

No wonder all public tickets for this 2000-capacity event sold out in less than 10 minutes when they went on sale in February.

If you didn't score Savor tickets, you're not left completely out in the cold. Many of the brewers coming to Savor will be in town for several days, and numerous beer dinners, tastings and meet-and-greets are planned. Here's a day-by-day rundown of some of the best. (We're still waiting for some bars and breweries to finalize details, so check back for updates.)

Sunday, May 30
Birreria Paradiso beer director Greg Jasgur recently paid a visit to the Captain Lawrence Brewery in Pleasantville, N.Y., and brought back eight different beers that aren't usually available in D.C. Beginning at 5 p.m., they'll be available for purchase at Pizzeria Paradiso in Dupont Circle while supplies last.

Tuesday, June 1
ChurchKey, which has the largest number of cask-conditioned ales in the area, is hosting a Cask Party, filling its five taps with offerings from Harpoon, Dogfish Head, Heavy Seas, Peak Organic and Flying Dog, and putting even more beers on regular tap lines. You pay for what you drink.

Wednesday, June 2
Beers from Munster, Ind.'s award-winning Three Floyds brewery make rare appearances at Birreria Paradiso and ChurchKey, but on this night, you can taste eight of their brews at the Brickskeller while getting insight and commentary from owner/brewer Nick Floyd and brewer Barnaby Struve, whom you may remember from his time at the Rock Bottom Brewery in Ballston. Tickets are $35 from lovethebeer.com.

If you've been craving some new pint glasses for your kitchen cabinet, this is your lucky night: During happy hour at the Pizzeria Paradisos in Georgetown and Dupont, which runs from 5 to 7, you can take home some branded glassware from Ommegang, Flying Dog and other breweries every time you buy a half-price beer. (The giveaways will extend beyond happy hour if there are glasses left, but the liquid discounts will not.)

The venerable Anchor brewery, famous for Anchor Steam, celebrated its 30th birthday last August by brewing a brand new beer: Humming pale ale. The Humming Ale release party at ChurchKey marks the beer's seasonal debut, and special Anchor beers will also be offered on draft while supplies last.

Thursday, June 3
Regular Nightlife Agenda readers will know how much I enjoy the Belgian- and European-style beers from the small, family-run Bruery in Orange County, Calif. Brewer Patrick Rue is in town for Savor, and will be hosting an intimate 25-seat dinner at Brasserie Beck on Thursday night. Chef Robert Wiedmaier's four-course, five-beer menu features such pairings as the roasty, malty Rugbrod ale with New Frontier bison strip loin accompanied by fingerling potatoes, spring asparagus and horseradish cream in a pinot noir reduction. (And wait until you see the cheese course.) Tickets are $85, which excludes tax and tip, and on sale from the restaurant. These will go fast.

Fresh off their tasting at the Brickskeller, the busy Three Floyds brewers host a pair of beer dinners at Birreria Paradiso in Georgetown. The four-course, seven-beer dinners begin at 6:30 and 9 and cost $65 including tax and tip. This should be one for the connoisseurs -- Birerria says the beers will include a barrel-aged version of the Dark Lord Imperial Stout, which is sold only on one day in April every year. Call for reservations.

The beers from the Odell Brewing Company never make it over the Mississippi River -- except when Doug O'Dell brings them east for Savor. He leads a tasting of eight of the Fort Collins, Col. brewery's products at the Brickskeller, including, if we're lucky, the gorgeous Scotch-style 90 Shilling Ale. Tickets are $30 in advance from lovethebeer.com.

Meanwhile, R.F.D. is hosting what you could call a consolation Savor in its back room, with samples of rare and unusual beers on draft and in bottles from Dogfish Head, Ommegang, Stoudts, Cisco, Southampton, Peak, Otter Creek and many others. Brewery reps will be on hand to answer questions, and light snacks will be provided. Tickets cost $30 from lovethebeer.com.

(Find more Friday through Wednesday events after the jump.)

Friday, June 4
If you want to hear about the state of craft beer in America from some of the country's top brewers and experts, you need to be at the Brickskeller's "The Night Before Savor" tasting and panel discussion. Among the brewers bringing their rare beers for tasting and discussion are Greg Koch of Stone, Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head, Kim Jordan of New Belgium, Rob Tod of Allagash, Ken Grossman of Sierra Nevada, Nick Matt of Saranac and Virginia's own Bill Madden, who won numerous awards at Capitol City Brewing Company and is about to open his own brewpub, the Mad Fox, in Falls Church. Bob Pease, the chief operating officer of the Brewers Association, will also be in the house. THIS EVENT IS SOLD OUT.

Looking for a smaller no-cover option? From 7 to 10, brewers from Southampton, Ommagang, Flying Dog, Smuttynose and Victory, among others, will be meeting and greeting at Birreria Paradiso's Meet the Brewers Night. There's no cover charge -- just pay for the beers you drink while chatting with the folks what made 'em.

If you've ever been to the University of Georgia, you've probably tasted beers by the Terrapin Brewery, located just outside downtown Athens. Terrapin brewmaster and co-founder Spike Buckowski will be at Rustico from 6 tp 9 p.m. with his super-hoppy Hopsecutioner IPA (dry-hopped with Centennial hops), the Hop Karma IPA, some vintage Gamma Ray wheat beer, and the current "Side Project" Boomshakalager, a dry-hopped imperial lager. The only cost is for the beers you drink.

So this is more of an off-premise event than a bar party, but we couldn't pass it up: Dogfish Head founder Sam Calagione will be signing copies of his new book "Extreme Brewing" and leading a free tasting of Dogfish's new Festina Peche summer beer at the D'Vine's beer and wine shop in Columbia Heights between 5 and 6. Buy a book and get a Dogfish Head glass (and Calagione's signature). Call ahead and you can order a limited edition growler full of one of Dogfish Head's limited edition beers, including Palo Santo, World Wide Stout, 120 Minute IPA, Black and Blue, Immort Ale, Midas Touch, Olde School and Burton Baton. (The take-home growlers start at $45.)

Before heading to the Brickskeller event mentioned above, Sierra Nevada founder Ken Grossman is making an early stop at ChurchKey for a meet-and-greet. If you haven't sampled the brewery's offerings beyond the legendary Pale Ale, this is a great time to start: ChurchKey will be serving five Sierra Nevada beers on cask and giving away logoed glasses.

Louisiana's Abita brewery revels in its title of "The South's largest craft brewer," and it's celebrating Cajun-style at Eatonville. Six Abita beers (and root beer) are paired with gumbo, fried oysters, BBQ shrimp and other treats. A live band will enhance the New Orleans atmosphere. The party runs from 6 to 8, and the $10 cover includes food and one beer.

Saturday, June 5
This is the big day: Savor runs from 7:30 p.m. to 11. But before that, Greg Koch of the cult Stone Brewing Company is hosting a lunchtime event at Rustico. Meet Koch and try some of Stone's heavyweight ales between 11:30 and 2 p.m., including a double-dry-hopped keg of the Stone IPA, a keg of the 10th Anniversary edition of Stone's Russian Imperial Stout, which blends various vintages from 2003 to 2010 together to create an all-new beer, and a cask-conditioned version of Ruination IPA. If you love big, hoppy beers, this is not an event to miss.

Sunday, June 6
The perfect way to recover from a late night at Savor? A boozy brunch featuring the beers of Allagash and the Bruery. Dupont Circle's Pizzeria Paradiso will play host to the four-course, six-beer meal, which starts at noon and costs $60, including tax and tip. Brewery representatives will be on hand to discuss the beers.

All week long, the Black Squirrel is celebrating the women of brewing by offering a special menu featuring food paired with beers from breweries that were founded by women (like Rogue) or feature female brewers and cellarwomen (like Flying Dog). To wrap up the week, the Squirrel's second-floor lounge is the site of "All 'Ale the Ladies," which features women from all strata of the industry gathering between 6 and 8:30. Meet Ellie Tupper (the co-founder of the Tupper Hop Pocket Brewing Company); Julia Herz, the director of the Brewer's Association's Craft Beer Program; Flying Dog quality control chief Gwen Conley, Rogue marketing expert (and Chocolate Stout label star) Sebbie Buhler; and beer writer Carolyn Smagalski, aka the Beer Fox. Tammy Tuck of the Washington City Paper's Lagerheads bloggers and Deverie Robinson of Hurra Bier! and DC Beer.com are the hosts. There will be specials on numerous beers, starting at $4, and free appetizers to anyone who RSVPs through the City Paper Web site.

Rick Chapman, founder of San Diego's Coronado Brewing Company, brings two casks of his beers to Rustico between 2 and 5 p.m.: Sample the Coronado Irish Stout and the Nutter Brown.

Monday, June 7
Despite the TV ads, there's only one family-owned brewery in St. Louis: The Schlafly Brewery, which produces some very tasty beers. (Their Kolsch is one of the finest American examples of the German style.) Schlafly's brewers will be hosting a post-Savor meet-and-greet at the Big Hunt from 5:30 to 7:30.. Try the Kolsch, Pale Ale and American Pale Ale on draft ($6 each), and one of their Belgian styles in bottles, plus a special cask ale from the Big Hunt's new cask system.

Wednesday, June 9
While it's well after Savor, we couldn't pass this up: James Watt, one of the brewers and founders of Scotland's eclectic and inventive BrewDog brewery, will be visiting ChurchKey, with "4 or 5 casks and 6 or 7 drafts." Watch this space for more details.

-- Fritz Hahn

By Fritz Hahn  | May 25, 2010; 5:00 PM ET
Categories:  Bars and Clubs, Events  
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