By Anthony Galliano
Savannah Hayes Orr lives, breathes and, yes, partakes of craft beer. She’s covered craft beer in northern Colorado for Scene since January of this year. And she is also community outreach coordinator for The Hop Grenade, the local taproom originally founded outside San Francisco.
Savannah’s life story is a cultural mishmash that spans the globe. She is the daughter of two parents who was raised in southern Africa. Her mother was born to Belgian parents in the Belgian Congo, and her father was born in Angola to an Irish/Dutch mother and a Portuguese father. The two were always drawn to the American lifestyle, and they lived in nearly 17 countries together before immigrating to Pensacola, Florida. For the most part, when her father’s job in the oil industry wasn’t moving them to far-off places like Venezuela or England, this is where Savannah grew up.
She first visited Fort Collins with her high school sweetheart, Josh, when they were in college. Hailing from the sunny beaches of Florida, the couple came to see her brother one spring break and found a new home in the Rockies. “I kind of fell in love with how people live here,” she says. “People choose to be here and I think that’s part of the reason why they’re so happy.” Savannah and Josh have lived in Fort Collins for six and a half years now. “It’s a beautiful way of life,” she says.
She also discovered craft beer in Fort Collins. As a matter of fact, Savannah only had her first craft beer after moving here. Touring local breweries and exploring the industry, she found a passion. “I love drinking, but I love it for the craft. I don’t like getting drunk, and I don’t go crazy,” she says. “I want to really enjoy the entire experience. And I learned how to do that at craft breweries.”
For Savannah, people are a part of the experience. She takes pride in the supportive and friendly community that distinguishes craft beer from other industries—brewers know each other, they frequent each other’s breweries. Business competition makes way for a shared passion. “One of the reasons this industry is so cool and inviting is because the people are so happy to do what they’re doing,” she says.
Savannah and Josh wedded in the summer of 2017 after 11 years together. Her dachshund, Dolly, who had also been with her 11 years—Savannah likes to say she got her husband and Dolly at the same time—was the “maid of honor.” A veterinarian friend made a special rope harness for Dolly so they could festoon her with flowers for the wedding. “They’re just my whole life and I love them dearly,” Savannah says. The couple was married by a small waterfall at Lory State Park, the first marriage ceremony that has taken place there.
As a Cicerone Certified Beer Server, she can keenly detect the myriad notes and flavors that make up your favorite craft beer. But for her, the joy and fun of craft beer should never be forgotten. “I think craft beer is becoming a little too snobby, and I get frustrated with that, especially working in this industry and loving it so much for exactly what it is,” she says. “It’s an art. It’s a beautiful art. And it’s a beautiful science. And I love how they coexist.”