The page of events for D.C. Beer Week, August 14-22, is already a 10-minute scroll from top to bottom, with more than 100 tastings, dinners, talks and other happenings scheduled.
You can take a brews cruise on the Odyssey on Sunday, August 14, setting out from the Southwest Waterfront with a cargo of more than 60 craft beers, including three New Belgium brands making their D.C. debut (Fat Tire, Ranger IPA and Hoptober) as well as B.W. Rye, the collaboration between Washington’s 3 Stars Brewing Company and Baltimore’s Pratt Street Ale House.
You can attend a tasting dinner three consecutive nights at Granville Moore’s, sampling the beers of Duvel Moortgat (Monday, August 15), Schlafly Brewing Co. (August 16) and the Trinity Brewhouse (Wednesday, August 17). The latter is a Providence brewpub whose beers are rarely seen outside Rhode Island. Teddy Folkman, Granville Moore’s founder and chairman of D.C. Beer Week, met the head brewer at June’s SAVOR festival; Folkman actually traveled to Rhode Island with his chef Maria Evans to help brew a bourbon-barrel-aged double IPA called Decadence that will be featured at the meal.
If you fancy British-style real ales, served naturally carbonated and in an active state of ferment, you can gather at the District ChopHouse on Thursday, August 18, for Cask Night, when brewer Barrett Lauer will tap at least 11 barrels, ranging from a rich, malty wee heavy to a sour rye saison.
And what happens if — God forbid — you get tired of beer?
A suggestion: Jocelyn Cambier, local importer of wines and beers, has branched into cider — not the unfiltered fresh apple juice you buy in plastic jugs at farmers markets, but alcoholic hard cider. The French Canadian ciders that Cambier imports fall somewhere between American ciders (which tend to be sweet, fruity and straightforward) and European varieties (often more complex, but too dry and thin for American tastes).
From Cidrerie Michel Jodoin in Rougemont, Quebec (a 45-minute drive from the Vermont border) comes La Grande Tentation, a light cider made with 100 percent McIntosh apples, which comes in four-packs and in draft form as well. The cidery also produces a more complex sparkling blanc cider with a honeyish sweetness and notes of fennel or anise as well as a sparkling rose cider made from an Old World apple strain called the Geneva, whose flesh is as ruddy as its skin. The latter two come in cork-and-cage 750-milliliter bottles, highlighting the schizophrenic nature of cider, which is sometimes clothed as a beer and sometimes as a wine.
From another small Quebec cidery, Les Vergers de la Colline in Ste. Cecile de Milton, comes Cid, which emerges with a pale pink hue, the result of being macerated and fermented with the skin still clinging to the pulp. “A lot of Spanish restaurants have shown an interest,” comments Cambier, possibly because the name reminds them of the Spanish national hero, El Cid. (In fact, the name is short for “cidre,” the French word for cider.)
The Canadian ciders, which range between 6 and 9 percent alcohol, balance the sweetness and fruity aroma of fresh apples with a refreshing acidity and a slight tannic bite on the finish. Except for the delicate La Grande Tentation, which is easily overwhelmed by strong flavors, they tend to get along well with a variety of foods. “If they can’t eat and drink at the same time, they have an issue,” says Cambier of the Quebecois.