Last week's seventh annual "SAVOR: An American Craft Beer & Food Experience," if you missed it, is a reminder that the popularity of American-made craft beer isn't only about the variety of aromas and flavors that the smaller brewers have explored and shared with consumers. It's also about the ways contemporary consumers, especially Millennials, consume and think about their beverages.
Photo Courtesy of Meadhall Boston
Presented by the Brewers Association (BA) each May, SAVOR is considered one of the nation’s marquee craft beer and food pairing event. Over the course of two nights, 4,000 attendees sampled a selection of craft beers from 76 small and independent brewers, paired with a menu designed by BA culinary consultants Chefs Adam Dulye and Kyle Mendenhall.
“Craft beer has evolved the food arts world and SAVOR is the perfect platform to portray this evolution,” said Julia Herz, craft beer program director for the Brewers Association. “As the beer culture in America continues to advance, U.S. foodies and beer lovers alike are thirsty for the pairing experience that SAVOR delivers.”
To make the event more than simply another fun opportunity to sample an array of beers, SAVOR's food menu is planned by an expert tasting panel led by Dulye, chef/owner of The Monk’s Kettle and The Abbott’s Cellar in San Francisco, and Mendenhall, executive chef at The Kitchen in Boulder and Denver. The chefs marry their impressions of the craft beers with feedback from the panel to devise the paired menu.
But to this day, few restaurants bother with making food and brew pairing recommendations on their menu, and it is hard to understand why not. Even in restaurants that don't make much of a claim to fine dining, there are beers that go better with some dishes and some that probably should be avoided. The higher one goes on the quality level in a restaurant, the more sense it makes to make the effort to pair brews and dishes, especially given how busy most servers are at crunch time, and how little in general table servers know about beverages.
As a time saver, as a promotional tool, as a way to highlight your beverage awareness, as a sign that you actually care about how your customers view you; for a myriad of reasons, making the same type of effort that chefs and brewers do at SAVOR is a winning strategy.