The Savor craft beer festival finally begins tonight, and whether you have tickets or not, the happy hours and late-night "Savor after-parties" continue though the weekend.
Meridian Pint's traditional "Old and Sour" tasting of vintage and funky beers has been split in half this year. Friday is now just "Old," which means the bar will be dipping into its stash of aged barrels and kegs. Treats on tap include a 2009 version of Dogfish Head's heavyweight World Wide Stout, 2012 editions of Avery's the Czar Russian Imperial Stout and Goose Island's Bourbon County Stout, and a 2011 Epic Smoked and Oaked Belgian dark ale. These are big beers – thankfully, they're all available in 4-ounce pours. (The full list of 20 drafts is on Meridian Pint's site.)
Florida comes to Adams Morgan as Cigar City and Proof breweries take over 10 taps at the Black Squirrel, beginning at 4:45 p.m. Both breweries are promising to bring special brews that rarely leave their taphouses. On a more local note, the bar will also be pouring rare beers from Richmond's Strangeways brewery. All the beers from the three breweries are listed on the Black Squirrel's site.
Once the fun at the National Building Museum ends, breweries will head to nearby bars to continue the party. The most exciting one is the Colorado Brewers' Night at City Tap House, which features 40 taps from Odell, Funkwerks, Great Divide, Left Hand, Avery, Oskar Blues, New Belgium and Boulder Beer Company, for $5 to $10 each, beginning at 10 p.m. (Take a look at the pretty epic draft list.) The brewers and staff from Ommegang and Boulevard will be at R.F.D. with a selection of rare and popular beers, including the first keg of Boulevard ESB to come to Washington. The Brooklyn Brewery team will host a tap takeover at the Big Hunt, while Smuttynose sponsors a party featuring DJ Dredd and $5 drafts at the Black Cat.
The most star-studded event of the day isn't in Washington but Fairfax, where Dogfish Head founder Sam Calagione will preside over Belgium on the Beltway, a day of tasting Belgian-inspired beers from eight of America's biggest craft breweries, at the Dogfish Head Alehouse. Beer celebrities in attendance include Kim Jordan of New Belgium, Steve Hindy of Brooklyn, Rob Todd of Allagash and Dick Cantwell of Elysian. A $30 ticket, which can be purchased in advance or on site, includes tastes of all 16 beers and live music all day. (The party runs from 10 a.m. to midnight, but the brewers will only be there from noon to 2 p.m.)
Stone takes over GBD, beginning at 2 p.m., as brewery co-founder Steve Wagner brings 15 beers to the Dupont Circle bar's taps. The highlights will be D.C. debuts of Sesquipedalian IPA and Collective Distortion IPA, but look out for the Stone Farking Wheaton W00tstout, an imperial IPA brewed with actor (and avid homebrewer) Wil Wheaton.
Cleveland's Great Lakes Brewing has a huge following in Washington, which should make head brewer Luke Purcell's afternoon appearance at the Black Squirrel very popular. He's pouring some of the brewhouse rarities that rarely find their way outside of the taphouse, including Rally Drum Red Ale, Triple Dog Dare, Alberta Clipper Porter and Rye of the Tiger IPA, beginning at noon.
Once again, there will be parties after Savor officially wraps up for the night. Flying Dog and Firestone Walker, the breweries that collaborated on this year's official Savor beer, will take over taps at the nearby City Tap House. Try the Hydra Cuvee, a blend of black rye IPA and imperial porter, as well as other beers from the two brewers. ChurchKey is hosting an event with Bluejacket, Brooklyn and New Belgium, which will mark the debut of three new beers that brewers Greg Engert (Bluejacket), Garrett Oliver (Brooklyn) and Peter Bouckaert (New Belgium) worked on together at Bluejacket. Other beers from the three breweries will also be on tap during the event, which begins at 10 p.m.