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Savor 2022: The Weird Ones

SAVOR presents us with a chance to taste some oddities, two to three ounces at a time. Here are some beers we’d like at least a sip of at the upcoming 2022 event. 

The Bruery, Portified Black Tuesday, Imperial Stout, 17.9% alcohol by volume

“We started this project over three years ago with our standard Black Tuesday base and laid it to rest in port pipes [the casks used for maturing this wine], says Barry Holmes, CEO of The Bruery. “We blended in fresh Syrah grapes to sweeten the base beer through the years. We let it age until it finally felt ready to unleash upon the world. Portified Black Tuesday is an immensely complex, concentrated, and decadent beer. This ‘beer’ is best enjoyed like a digestif as it’s packaged still,” with no carbonation. 

We’ll add that in order to buy a 500mL bottle of this beer, for, uh, $55, you have to be a member of The Bruery’s Hoarder-level membership. Get your money’s worth at SAVOR. 

Dogfish Head, Fermentation Engastration, ???, 10% abv

Dogfish Head, the undisputed apex brewer of the weird, may have outdone themselves this time, collaborating with Atlas Obscura’s Gastro Obscura. Per a press release, “Fermentation Engastration is brewed with… barley, spelt, muscat grape juice concentrate, flaked rice, apple juice concentrate, honey rice syrup, date syrup, yeast, hops and rose petals. On the nose, this brewing innovation is bursting with classic spicy phenols, while the tasting experience packs an explosion of fruit character balanced by a slight sweetness.” Ordinarily we’d politely chuckle, but SeaQuench taught us a lesson in dismissing DFH. Never again. 

Sam Calagione, Dogfish Head Founder & Brewer notes, “As brewers and ‘mad scientists’ of sorts, it’s always been a fascination of ours to deconstruct, reimagine and reassemble how drinkers experience each sip of a new beer. Our latest example of that thinking is Fermentation Engastration, kind of like the ‘turducken’ of beer, which artfully melds a whole myriad of complex ideas and brewing concepts into one multi-layered drinking event.” The brewery made about a thousand bottles of this beer available, and didn’t send any to the DMV for retail purchase. Ten-percent alcohol by volume, and perhaps one-percent of the entire batch will be in DC on Friday, June 24. 

Garden Grove Brewing and Winery, Honeysuckle Honey Wine, Mead, 7%

This Richmond, VA brewery might have an IPA on tap, as in one. It’ll probably be good, but that’s not why you’re there. Instead, Garden Grove hits the continental European styles and does them well, but they also make their own wine, using Virginia grapes, and mead. As far as we can tell, this is the only non-beer at SAVOR, as massive amounts of local honey get fermented with wine yeast to create this gluten-free beverage. They have a dry-hopped version, too, but we don’t think you’ll see that at the event. Haven’t had a mead yet? Give this a spin. 

Hi-Wire Brewing, Japanese-Style Dry Rice Lager, 5%

The 2021 GABF Gold Medal winner for Best Experimental Beer, this lager was brewed with koji, a fungus used to make rice more fermentable, typically employed in sake. A grain bill of 49% rice and an extremely low fermentation temperature with lager yeast create an ultra dry finish. “A delicate umami mouthfeel is accentuated by aromas of steamed rice and flavors of young coconut.” Slightly weird, definitely crushable. 

Lake Anne Brew House, Nordic-Knot Pretzel Beer, 6%

There’s an Eastern European tradition of brewing with bread instead of, or alongside, malted grains, called kvass. Here’s a pretzel kvass. And by the way, these pretzels were originally baked with spent grain from the Reston, VA brewery. Meta!, or, the Circle of Life. There’s also some Belgian-style yeast involved, because why not. 

Shades Brewing, “Kveik Series: Thai Tom Kha” Sour Ale w/ Coconut, Lemongrass, Galangal, Kafir Leaf & Lactose, 6.5%

So, uh, there’s a lot going on here. It also won gold at GABF in 2019 in the Herb and Spice beer category and boasts a 4.2 on Untappd. Allegedly it really does taste like the Thai soup. Put us down for at least a sip. 

Switchback, SOS (Smoked Oyster Stout), 5.1% 

In what’s become something of a tradition, Vermont’s Switchback brings at least one of their Flynn on Fire series of smoked beers to SAVOR and we rave about it. This one’s an Irish-style dry stout, with oysters, and smoked malt. Oysters will add some texture to the body of the beer, plus a bit of minerality, and then the smoke should take over, with a nicely carbonated dry finish. It rates a 76% on Switchback’s Smoke-ometer, which is a real thing they put on the side of their bottles. Ask to see it when they pour for you. 

Urban Artifact Astronaut Food: Blueberry, Fruited sour, 15%

This Ohio brewery has long-sought to cram as much fruit into their beers as possible and they finally figured out the limitations of fresh produce: the water content. Thus, why not get as much freeze-dried fruit as possible and put that in a beer? It works for hops! We’re told that all said and done, there are over $1,100 worth of ingredients per barrel of this beer, largely thanks to freeze-dried fruit. “When we first came up with the idea for Astronaut Food, it wasn’t about the price. Our best ideas come from separating ourselves from constraints, and, in doing so, the question became how we could possibly fit more fruit in a can,” said Bret Kollmann Baker, one of the co-owners. Profits be damned, try this beer, poured out of 8 ounce cans thanks to its very high ABV. 

So, that’s eight oddities. Stay tuned for what we’d like to have multiple pours of. Maybe they’ll even be some overlap. While VIP tickets are sold out, the other two ticketing options are available.

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