Our 10 Favorite Beer Pairings From Savor NYC

Savor NYC brought 76 craft brewers and 152 beers together under one roof Saturday night. Each beer offered was paired with bite created by a chef specifically for that beer. No offense to our nation's capital (the event is usually held in D.C.), but... well okay, offense. New York is better, as demonstrated by the incredibly varied, lively and yes, drunk crowd that packed into the Altman Building Saturday night. Plus, unsurprisingly, everyone was just plain old happy. Here are my 10 favorite picks from the event.

Oakshire Brewing: Watershed IPA

An incredible 33 of the 152 beers at the event were IPAs — you just can't escape them these days (and why would you want to?). Some are overly hopped, but more and more, brewers are finding a better balance. Watershed IPA stayed true to its piney, hoppy roots without being too overwhelming to enjoy with food. It was paired with a savory olive oil financier topped with eggplant caponata that was the perfect, earthy-sweet balance to the bitter hops.

Crux Fermentation Project: Crux Imperial Stout

The first Imperial Stout I ever tried was one of the worst beers I ever had (it shall remain nameless). I was in the parking lot of Dodger Stadium before the game, and it was just disgusting. We poured it out on the asphalt, and when we came back after the game, the beer had literally stained the asphalt a darker color black. Crux Imperial Stout is not that beer. This was luscious and sweet and absolutely amazing, but the best part was the pairing: black and tan brownies topped with butterscotch and chocolate chunks. The individual elements were both delicious, but when you put them together it was explosive and each component just amplified the flavor of the others. New thing: Imperial stouts and brownies.

The Bronx Brewery: Bronx Pale Ale

This pale ale straight from the Bronx came with a chicken meatball loaded with creamy ricotta in spicy amatriciana sauce. As you can imagine, these flew off the tables. The beer was a sharp, clean contrast to the richness of the meatball and cheese. The next time I make meatballs, I'll definitely be sipping this — it was a perfect nod to local beers and cuisine alike.

Left Hand Brewing Company: Good Juju Ale

I usually don't like beers with too much spice, but this remained well-balanced while still undoubtedly being a spiced ale with a bracingly strong ginger flavor. Paired with a crispy fried shrimp shumai with a lemongrass-hoisin sauce, the ginger in the ale ended up being the perfect finish.

Ballast Point Brewing Company: Habañero Sculpin IPA

Another one of the more interesting beers I tried. I wanted to finish this Habañero Sculpin, but it was so hot I didn't want to annihilate my palate for 10 precious minutes of tasting glory. The name does not lie; this beer was spicy and also very delicious — like cold refreshing carbonated hot sauce in a glass. If you're into micheladas, this is definitely the brew for you. It was also paired with the lemongrass shrimp shumai and the grassy flavor of the chile made for a really well-rounded flavor experience.

Choc Beer Co: Signature Dubbel

A classic dubbel that was sweet but not too sweet. It was rich, almost ambrosial, and the pairing followed suit. Creamy, fatty duck rillettes sat on top of a black brioche toast slathered with apricot jam. This was one of those pairings where you stick around the tap for a while and pop a few while talking intensely about beer with the brewer.

Upland Brewing Company: Infinite Wisdom Tripel

Tripels are one of my favorite styles of beer, and this was the best one I had last night (out of many). Big on flavor while maintaining its balance, the tripel came with a shooter of super-rich cumin-spiced Indian lentil soup that the beer's own spice flavors really stood up to.

Heavy Seas Beer: Loose Cannon

Let's be honest here: I walked over to these guys because of the lardo sitting on their table. But this was one of the better IPAs I've had. It was heavy on flavor, but not in feel, and really washed down the fatty lardo toasts for an incredibly refreshing finish. Like I said to their guy at the tap: "I came over here for the lardo, but I'm going to remember the beer." Plus, it comes in a can!

Newburgh Brewing Company: Newburgh Brown Ale

The first beer I ever drank that wasn't domestic crap-in-a-can was Newcastle, and the experience totally changed me. That said, after trying this beer, I'll take a Newburgh over a Newcastle any day. It came with a little pastry purse filled with apples and brie, and I could have stood there and had that combo all night long reminiscing about simpler days.

Oakshire Brewing: Frederic C. Noir

By far my favorite beer of the night. It's a saison aged for two years in pinot barrels, and is one of the best sour beers I've ever had. Sometimes sour beers can be too sour, but this was perfect (as are these awesome 7). Both sweet and sour, it was perfectly balanced and a true pleasure to drink paired with an elegant silky green tea panna cotta. I had a chance to talk to the brewer — there's a lot of love in this beer. He said "I just made something that I would want to drink." And let me tell you, you want to drink this beer too.

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