This year marks the sixth anniversary of SAVOR: An American Craft Beer & Food Experience, as well as the first year it will be held in SAVEUR's own backyard of Manhattan. To welcome the brewers and their beers to New York, we spoke with the principles from Dogfish Head, New Belgium Brewery, and Brewery Ommegang about their craft and their participation in this year's event. First up, Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery…
1. Why and how did you get into the business of making beer?
After college, I was living and working Manhattan where I was first introduced to home brewing. I bought some cheap home brew equipment and set out to make my first batch. The first one I made was delicious and I announced to my roommates at the time that this is what I wanted to do with my life—perhaps a little overzealously, because my second batch was a total bust.
I began experimenting with the recipes and realized my passion for finding new and interesting flavor combinations. I remember for one of those first few batches I had picked up overripe cherries from the bodega on my way home from work—not because I understood how the fruit would work with the beer, but because they were on sale. The combination worked and I knew then my desire to make something that wasn't just another beer, but liquid food that people could consume with the same gusto and intrigue as a good meal.
2. What makes your brand different from others?
When we started making Dogfish Head out of a small restaurant in Rehobeth, Delaware called Dogfish Head Brewings & Eats we became the smallest brewery in the country. With the restaurant being just upstairs, we created a culture for ourselves that made Dogfish a food-centric beer since its inception.
The idea of food as an inspiration and our own motto of "Off-Centered Ales, For Off-Centered People" is what drive us to create new products with exotic ingredients, not typical of most brewers.
For this year's SAVOR event, Dogfish Head is releasing two special brews to pair with small dishes created by Chef Adam Dulye of The Monk's Kettle in San Francisco:
Brewery Pairing Menu:
Positive Contact: Paired with Crispy Pork Belly in Kimchee Rice Balls with Green Garlic Aioli
Sixty-One: Paired with Pigeon Crudo with Olive Oil, Juniper Ice Cream, and Smoked Grapes
3. What does being part of the SAVOR: An American Craft Beer & Food Experience event mean to you as a craft brewer?
I am one of the founding supporters of SAVOR and have been showcasing at the event for six years running. Each year, I'm more and more excited to see my fellow American brewers producing beer on the same level of other world-class beers and then embracing the food culture that I love so much.
And what impresses me the most is the beer and food IQs of the SAVOR attendees. I get to geek out with them over the unique pairings and the incredible things American craft brewers are doing. Its what I look forward to every year.