You can’t escape Cherry Blossom Festival tie-ins in Washington. Restaurants cash in on, I mean, celebrate the pink flowers with special menus, museums offer Japanese exhibits and bars shake up cherry blossom cocktails. (Room 11 makes a wicked Cherry Old Fashioned with bourbon infused with cherries and cinnamon.)
Local brewers are not immune to the cherry madness. Even after the blossoms fade, it will be easy to find cherry beers on tap.
Capitol City Brewing Company traditionally makes a beer for the festival, but this year’s 100th anniversary recipe is a little different: It’s a medium-bodied ale that tastes of sour cherries — a bit simiar to a Belgian kriek. It’s crisp and easy to drink, but I’m not sure I’d want to drink more than two in a row — it’s a little more cherry flavor than I need. It’s on tap at both Capitol City Brewing Company bars (downtown and Shirlington) and 901 restaurant for the duration of the festival, April 27. I paid $3.85 for a pint, including tax, at Cap City downtown yesterday.
Oliver Ales may be located in Baltimore, but it makes a cherry beer for D.C. in the spring. The Cherry Blossom Ale is an English-style wheat ale with hundreds of pounds of cherries in each batch. Brewer Steve Jones tweeted that it was on at the Elephant and Castle on Pennsylvania Avenue NW, so I stopped by last night for a taste. (The bartender said they had a different Oliver ale on draft, but after one sip, I knew it was the Cherry Blossom. They just forgot to change the tap handle.) The Cherry Blossom Ale is nice for sipping on the Elephant and Castle’s large patio on a warm afternoon — it tastes exactly the way you’d think a wheat beer with sour cherries in it would — but it’s not something I’d go across town for, especially because the pub is charging $8 per pint.