DC Beer Week officially launches Sunday with cruise


From left, Claire Jaja, Sara Cardello and Jennifer Hill drink up last year's Beer Cruise. (Gene Merritt)

As of Friday, about 50 tickets remained at $125 a pop for Sunday’s Beer Cruise aboard the luxury yacht Odyssey, the kickoff event for DC Beer Week. This year the entire boat has been reserved for the three-hour floating bacchanal, which means everything has doubled from 2011.

“Two DJs, two dance floors, two buffet lines,” says Folkman. About 45 breweries will be serving approximately 75 beers, promises spokeswoman Melissa Gold. The cruise will mark the debut of Solidarity Saison, a blend of seven different saisons from area brewers.

If you get left at the dock, Solidarity Saison will also be tapped at ChurchKey/Birch & Barley on Monday; Pizzeria Paradiso in Dupont Circle on Tuesday; the Big Hunt on Wednesday; the District ChopHouse and Brewery on Thursday; Meridian Pint on Friday; and Smith Commons on Saturday.

ChopHouse brewer Barrett Lauer is doing the blending. On Thursday, Aug. 16, the ChopHouse will host its second annual Cask Night, featuring a buffet dinner, a souvenir glass and a minimum of 17 cask ales, including a sour-mash saison that Lauer contributed to the mix. Tickets are $50.

Brandon Skall and Jeff Hancock of DC Brau are emceeing a beer-centric Pub Trivia Night at Fado Irish Pub on Monday, Aug. 13, and will release three collaboration beers later in the week: Embers of the Deceased, a rare gratzer-style beer (smoked wheat ale) co-brewed with Bluejacket; Fight Club Anti-Gravity Lager, a malt liquor-influenced strong golden lager formulated with help from Devil’s Backbone Brewing Co. in Roseland, Va.; and Middle Name Danger, a saison made in conjunction with Brian Strumke of Stillwater Artisanal Ales.

Look for Embers of the Deceased to hit the taps at ChurchKey on Friday, Aug. 17. Fight Club will premiere the next day at Breadsoda, and Middle Name Danger will close out DC Beer Week with a launch at the Dupont Pizzeria Paradiso on Sunday, Aug. 19.

Meanwhile, Chocolate City Brewing Co. will celebrate its first anniversary by tapping four beers at Penn Social on Friday, including First Coast Bohemian Pils, an aggressively dry-hopped version of the classic style with some rye thrown in for extra spiciness.

Washington’s newest brewery, 3 Stars Brewing Co., premiered its first three brews at ChurchKey on Thursday. Partner Dave Coleman says he’s set aside a few special casks, including Southern Belle (his imperial brown ale) spiked with cacao nibs as well as versions of his Urban Farmhouse saison aged over lemon peels and juniper berries. There was no word as of press time where these will show up. On Wednesday, however, Granville Moore’s will be the scene of a 3 Stars Meet and Eat, offering such pairings as Southern Belle with buttermilk-fried alligator bites.

If you got shut out in the mad scramble for Savor tickets, you’ll have a second chance to try the special Savor brew, Terra Incognita, when the Black Squirrel taps a half-barrel, also on Wednesday. This hoppy wheat ale, aged in Missouri oak with the wild yeast Brettanomyces, was a joint effort between Sierra Nevada and Boulevard Brewing. The Black Squirrel will also be tapping Boulevard’s new imperial IPA, Double Wide, says owner Amy Bowman.

That same evening, the party spills over into Northern Virginia as Mad Fox Brewing Co. in Falls Church hosts a five-course all-cask beer dinner (cost: $75 per person).

This out the full listings here.

Folkman is already plotting innovations for DC Beer Week 2013. He says he’d like to schedule more “educational outreach events” as a prelude to applying for non-profit status. (Homebrew demos are noticeably absent from this year’s roster of happenings.) The timing for DC Beer Week will likely remain the same, more or less between Philly Beer Week in June and Baltimore Beer Week in October.

“August is the slowest time of the year for bars and restaurants,” Folkman adds.

Well, it used to be, anyway.

Further reading:

* 3 Stars Brewing’s debut: A big, boozy porter

* A star is born: 3 Stars Brewing’s debut beers

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