Tonight is all about beer. Here are five fantastic events, all of which are worth your time.
1) After more than 17 years as the brewmaster for the local Sweetwater Tavern brewpub chain, Nick Funnell has left the area and moved to Portland to work for the Brewers Supply Group. (You can read about Funnell's legacy and departure over on the beer blog Yours For Good Fermentables.) His long, award-winning tenure is being honored at a roast at the Mad Fox Brewing Company. The night kicks off with a fun kick-the-keg contest between DC Brau, Devils Backbone, Lost Rhino, Mad Fox and Port City. All five breweries tap a keg of something extra-special at 6:30 p.m. The first one to be drained wins bragging rights. (My recommendation: Go for the Devils Backbone Beta Max double IPA.) There's no charge for the party, you just pay for your beers.
2) Shaw's Right Proper Brew Pub continues its string of excellent collaboration beers with the Lady Came From Baltimore, a saison brewed with Brian Strumke of Baltimore's Stillwater Ales. Right Proper co-founder Thor Cheston tells me the new brew is made with wheat, oats and cider tips, and it will be tapped for the first time tonight. A reason to head to T Street: Strumke is driving down I-95 for the occasion, and "he's bringing some cool stuff with him," Cheston says. Color us intrigued.
3) Speaking of new releases, Salisbury's Evolution Brewing Company has created a new batch of its tart Nouveau Rouge, a Flanders-style sour red ale. The official D.C. debut is at the Big Hunt tonight, where Nouveau Rouge will pour alongside six other great Eastern Shore beers: Lot 3 IPA; Lot 6 double IPA; Rise Up stout; Fall Migration, a Belgian pale ale aged in chardonnay barrels; Natural Selection, an ale brewed in collaboration with Flying Dog; and Incubator 3, a dry, unfiltered saison.
4) Atlanta's Sweetwater Brewing Company -- not to be confused with Northern Virginia's Sweetwater brewpubs -- has finally entered the D.C. market after years of teasing. Five of their beers will be available for tasting at ChurchKey tonight, including the four you're going to see a lot of around town: the hoppy 420 Extra Pale Ale, Sweetwater IPA, the sweet and malty Georgia Brown, and the summery Blue, which is made with blueberries. The one to look out for is Happy Ending, a seasonal (and strong) imperial stout
pale ale from the limited-release Catch and Release line. All will be available in four-ounce pours and pints.
5) Finally, DC Brau's third annual Twist-Off is taking place at Dodge City, beginning at 9 p.m. There is an actual dance competition while DJ Soul Call Paul spins oldies and R&B, and there are always DC Brau specials. It's free and a blast. Just wear your dancing shoes.