August 12th to the 18th happens to be DC Beer Week, which is a fantastic celebration of craft beer. It has gotten better because DC has so many fun new breweries opening such as 3 Stars and the Bluejacket and also the city has access to a lot of great breweries from Michigan to New Hampshire. If you take the time to look at the list of events, you realize that there are so many events that it can be a little overwhelming. Where do I go? Why? Is it worth it? Let me break it down for you. These are the 3 steps I take when considering which beer events to attend:
- Rarity: A lot of bars such as the Churchkey can get kegs from anywhere, so it is always good to stay on top of restaurant emails and twitter. If a one of a kind keg is coming in, a special limited release, or a brewery labeled “unavailable” in this area…you should be there. It might be one of the few chances you will have to try something you have never had before.
- Location: Pretty self-explanatory. I prefer to frequent bars that focus on craft beer because I know they will respect the beer. If Ruby Tuesday is having the same event as a single location beer bar…I’m going to go to the beer bar. I don’t think I really need to explain this further.
- Cost: Usually this isn’t a determining factor, but I don’t think any of us are immune to a good deal.
Sunday August 12: DCBW Craft Beer Cruise & Dinner @ the Odyssey Waterfront, DC.
So, to start my beer week, I was able to get tickets to the special craft beer cruise they have done the last few years to kick off beer week. I know, it’s $125 a person but I will say…if you can spare it, you should definitely try this. You get to try beers from 40 different breweries and you can talk to the distributors and brewers face to face. Really a fun experience, and the food wasn’t half bad either. I will not forget sailing down the Potomac with glass of beer at sunset. Tough to top that image.
The main star of the event was the special Solidarity Saison, a blend of seven saisons brewed by D.C.-area craft brewers for Beer Week (3 Stars, DC Brau, Chocolate City, Gordon Biersch, District ChopHouse, Mad Fox, and Capital City). It reminds me of the style of blending lambics in Belgium and imperial stouts before they are carbonated. I haven’t seen it with a Saison, and the brewers I talked to seemed to think it was a fun style to mix. The beer was light and crisp with the slight hint of the farmhouse graininess. I will note that 3 Stars brewed a Basil Lime flavored Saison, which seemed to dominate the blend. It’s definitely worth trying and you can get it at rotating bars throughout the week.
Monday August 13th: Michigan’s Best @ The Big Hunt in Dupont.
So, this was an event that was not hard to decide on after I got to try the Solidarity Saison. It was all about the rare beers. Founders brought out the super rare Kentucky Breakfast Stout. For those of you who don’t know, this is their popular Breakfast Stout aged in Bourbon Barrels. It is really hard to find and I was convinced that every other beer nut in the DC area conspired to make sure none was left for me. I’m not bitter. Founders also brought their new Frangelic Mountain Brown Ale which is a funky beer using hazelnut coffee. It tastes like a coffee beer with Frangelico. The real gem is the Bell’s Black Note Stout. Speaking of blending…Bell’s blends 2 of their stouts together and ages the mixture in Bourbon Barrels. Its dark, rich, Bourbon, chocolate goodness. No other way to put it. You can’t really find this anywhere short of dropping over $100 on ebay to try it (WHICH YOU SHOULD NEVER DO….). They also had the Oracle Double IPA and Kalamazoo Hopsoulution Ale. Rare beers for the hop head. I didn’t really want to mess with my palate much by mixing coffee and bourbon with tongue bruising hops. Not a bad event for 95 degree DC weather.
Anyway, I know I wasn’t really on top of letting you know whats going on this week, so, here is a short list of events.
Samuel Adams Small Batch Specialty Draft at Thunder Burger from Aug. 13-18:
4 rare small batch drafts will be available at Thunder Burger in Georgetown all week. They have not released a menu but this is a good excuse to try Thunder Burger if you haven’t. It’s a really cool place with a lot of good beer and bar food that doesn’t have the reputation of other Georgetown bars.
Huge Smuttynose Draft & Cask Party at Churchkey Tuesday August 14:
Smuttynose is one of the more inventive craft breweries on the east coast so a collection of beers from them will be pretty interesting. Also, this event is being billed as one of the largest collections of their beers on tap but not much else has been released.
Rogue HH & Tap Takeover Pizzeria Paradiso (Dupont and Georgetown) Wednesday August 15:
Rogue is a funky brewery out in Oregon that is part of a farm that supplies the brewery with hops, malt, and various other brewing ingredients. All of their beers are very good and this is a good event to check out if you haven’t had their beer.