SAVOR week in Washington is a great time to sample pop-up beers that have an equally ephemeral life span.
Perhaps the most anticipated of these limited-release libations is Savor Flowers, a collaboration between two Sams: Sam Calagione of Delaware’s Dogfish Head Craft Brewery and Jim Koch of Samuel Adams fame.
The pair hashed out the recipe in a series of letters. “For decades, craft brewers have been doing amazing stuff with three of the four main ingredients in beer: yeast, hops and barley,” noted Calagione. “But what about water? Let’s use rosewater to brew this Savor collaboration.” Calagione ran 50 kegs of a distillate of rose petals through his pot still and sent them up to Boston Beer Co.’s pilot brewery in Boston.
Koch suggested flavoring the beer with a “killer flower tincture” that included lavender, hibiscus, jasmine and rosebuds. As a further twist, he whipped up this tincture in “Barrel One,” which he claims is “the first barrel used for spirits that was then used to age beer.” (For the last 17 years, the historic barrel had held Triple Bock, Koch’s pre-Utopias attempt at a record-breaking super-strong beer.) The flower beer was spiced with an experimental hop variety from Yakima, Wash., dubbed “369,” said to have an especially floral aroma.
The Brewers Association, the group that sponsors SAVOR, has for years been commissioning a special Symposium Ale (or Ales) for its annual brewers’ conference. The idea behind Savor Flowers is to offer a similar, one-of-a-kind brew for SAVOR, with the collaborating breweries and recipe changing from year to year.
However, because of the limited supply, the beer will only be available at SAVOR. Calagione and Koch will serve samples at their respective booths, and all attendees will be handed a 750-mililiter bottle as a parting gift.
Every night this week, however, brings multiple beer events, and many will feature rare beers. Tomorrow, Rustico in Alexandria will tap a special cask-conditioned version of DC Brau’s The Public, the first time this hoppy pale ale has been served via a British-style beer engine. As an added twist, the brewers have spiked the cask with fresh juniper berries.
Another local operation, 3 Stars Brewing Co., will debut its maiden beer, The Syndicate Saison, a collaboration with Evolution Craft Brewing Co. in Delmar, Del. Look for the first tapping tonight at ChurchKey in Logan Circle. 3 Star founders Dave Coleman and Mike McGarvey will follow up with a brewers meet-and-greet at Pizzeria Paradiso in Dupont Circle on Wednesday; Thursday happy hour at Bourbon in Adams Morgan; and an Evolution tap takeover at The Big Hunt on Saturday featuring the sole cask of The Syndicate.
Pirate-themed Heavy Seas beer in Baltimore is premiering its new Plank series. “We’re doing totally new things with beer and wood,” boasts founder and general partner Hugh Sisson, saying the beers steer away from mellowing in a standard bourbon barrel. Plank I is an English-style old ale (strong and malty) aged for four weeks over yellow poplar planks that were “heated one-third of the way to charcoal” to release the resins in the wood. Sisson describes the 8 percent alcohol-by-volume ale as “subtle,” with a “soft, rounded, woody finish.” Look for Plank at a Heavy Seas tasting at the Bier Baron tomorrow; at Smith Commons for Heavy Seas Hubbub on Thursday; and at a Heavy Seas Tap Takeover at the Elephant and Castle on Pennsylvania Avenue on Friday.
Earlier this year, Flying Dog Brewery in Frederick brewed a special beer to celebrate the 25th anniversary of In de Wildeman, a celebrated Amsterdam taphouse. Farmhouse IPA, according to brewmaster Matt Brophy, is an “assertively hoppy” IPA brewed with some rye and oats, and fermented with a Belgian saison yeast. Most of the single 50-barrel batch was shipped to Europe, but a few kegs lingered behind. These will be tapped tomorrow at Pizzeria Paradiso on M Street for “MPaired,” a taste-off with Lagunitas Brewing Co.; and on Wednesday at The Big Hunt for “Death by Hops and a Smoke.” The latter event will also feature Backyard Ale, Flying Dog’s collaboration with Volt chef Bryan Voltaggio: an amber ale with a dry, slightly tannic finish imparted by a pinch of cherrywood-smoked malt.
A number of out-of-town breweries that don’t normally distribute in Washington will be showcasing their portfolios. On Thursday, ChurchKey will hand over 30 of its draft lines to Short’s Brewing Co. from Bellaire, Mich. Regroup at ChurchKey on Saturday for a pre-SAVOR tasting of selected brews from Cigar City Brewing Co. in Tampa, Fla. I’m not familiar with either of these breweries, but I can vouch for Odell Brewing Co. in Fort Collins, Colo., which will be feted at Birch and Barley on Friday. Hopheads will want to try the Myrcenary, a double IPA. The name is a pun on myrcene, a hop oil that imparts rich, resiny, tropical-fruit flavors. Drinking this beer is like sticking a straw in a hop cone.
Note: Some of these events require prior reservations, and all will probably crowd up quickly. For more information on these and other tappings, check out the SAVOR site.