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Savannah Craft Brew Fest – Part 3 of 3 – The International Tasting

Savannah TrolleyWelcome back to Savannah!

After two days of experiencing all that the city of Savannah had to offer and trying a large number of local craft beers, we wanted more. This fueled our excitement for the last event of the weekend: the International Craft Brew Tasting!

Because the tasting was located across the Savannah River at the Westin Savannah Harbor Golf Resort and Spa, we boarded the free Savannah Belle’s Ferry from our hotel and made our way over.

The Harbor LawnUpon our arrival at the Westin, we immediately noticed a difference between the International and Grand Tasting Events (see Part 2). Sunday’s event was being held in one of Westin’s large banquet rooms, the Harbor Ballroom, and opened up to an outside area, the Harbor Lawn. Overall, the atmosphere was substantially more chic.

Over 35 breweries from around the world were categorized into country of origin and placed along the perimeter of the Harbor Ballroom for attendees to visit. Additionally, a few breweries were located under tents outside in the Harbor Lawn area providing an escape from the popularity of the ballroom.

Craft Brew Fest SponsorsThe list of participating breweries included Rochefort (Belgium), Palma Louca (Brazil), Hitachino Nest (brewed in Japan, distributed by China), Samuel Smith (England), Pinkus (Germany), Tucher (Germany), Famosa (Guatemala), Beerlao (Laos), and Innis and Gunn (Scotland).

As if craft beer from 17 different countries wasn’t enough, the organizers of the event also created a food pairing menu which included 12 different dishes from South American, German, Asian and English kitchens.

From Crisp Empanadas with Chorizo and Chipotle Lime Dip, to Bratwurst with Sauerkraut, to Cottage Pie with Red Leicester Cheddar, there was something for the even the toughest food critic to enjoy.

Craft Brew Fest SWAGAlthough we did not purchase a ticket for the food pairing, we did chat with a few folks who were chomping on some extremely delicious looking food. They did not hesitate to give the beer and food pairing a big thumbs up!

I mentioned in the second part of the festival recap that my ultimate goal at all beer festivals is to find three beers which I’ve never had before that truly stood out to me. The International Tasting was no different!

  • Der HirschBrau/Privatbrauerei Höss: Doppel-Hirsch – A 7.2% ABV dark doppelbock with expected yet extremely well balanced caramel and roasty tastes. Hints of fruits and plums come in really making this one stand out!
  • Innis and Gunn: Rum Cask Oak Aged – Although available in the northeast, I actually never had the I&G Rum Cask prior to this festival. A 7.4% ABV Wee Heavy ale aged in, well, rum casks, with a number of “hearty, feel good tastes” like oak, vanilla, caramel and biscuit!
  • Tucher: Dunkels Hefe Weizen – This 5.35% ABV dunkelweizen was my favorite of the three as it completely messed with my brain as I was trying to interpret the tastes. The label noted hefeweizen so I was prepared for banana and citrusy notes – they were noticeable, but in addition, the beer presented with stronger tastes like caramel and even cocoa. A great experience!

One of the more unique experiences for me was the ability to try beer from very remote (at least to me) areas of the world like Kenya (Tusker, East African Breweries Ltd.) and Ethiopia (St. George Beer). Although nothing more than standard adjunct lagers, I felt like an explorer traversing the world in search for new beer as I enjoyed samples from these breweries.

The weather was absolutely gorgeous throughout the International Tasting which lead to us spending a substantial amount of time on the Harbor Lawn hanging out with other festival attendees. We met a number of people from different parts of the country as we chatted and discussed our favorite beers.

The entire experience reaffirmed the common notion that “beer people are good people”.

Freemason HouseAfter the tasting was over, we hit the Savannah streets and further explored the city! Check out some of these pictures of a few interesting landmarks that we found.

In conclusion, the three days that we spent in Savannah were extremely entertaining and exciting. We had an opportunity to try new craft beers, meet new people, and explore places we’ve never been to.

Forsyth Park MonumentThe dates for the next Savannah Craft Brew Fest have been set – August 31st through September 2nd of 2012!

There’s a good chance that you’ll find us there amongst the many in the crowd – see you in beautiful Georgia!

If you haven’t gotten the full story yet, keep scrolling or click to read Part 1 and Part 2!

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