This weekend's Savor craft beer festival brings brewers and beer fans from across the country to the National Building Museum for two nights of tastings and seminars. But the real fun takes place at local bars in the nights leading up to the festival, with happy hours, brewer meet-and-greets and rare-beer events. Every day this week, we'll publish a list of that night's must-do events, which don't require RSVPs. Just show up and pay for what you drink.
The reason craft beer geeks love Savor week is because it offers an unparalleled chance to taste acclaimed beers from across the country that don't usually make it to Washington. The Best of the Midwest event at Smoke and Barrel tonight is a great example: You've probably had fantastic brews by Bell's, Founders and Schlafly, and might have seen a Perennial tap or two around town lately. But Sun King's beers don't leave Indiana, which means only frequent travelers have tried the acclaimed Fistful of Hops IPA, or the Batch 666: Sympathy for the Devil Black IPA. It's a similar story for Country Boy Brewing, a Lexington, Ky., brewery only sold in Kentucky and Tennessee, or Off Color, which stays mainly in the Chicago area. You can try multiple beers from all these breweries among the 24 drafts, as well as rare beers from Bell's, Perennial and Schlafly, beginning at 5 p.m. (Check out the full draft list.)
Firestone Walker's Wookey Jack and Union Jack are familiar sights on taps around D.C., but the Paso Robles, Calif., brewery has many other beers worthy of attention: the Velvet Merkin oatmeal stout; the Lil Opal barrel-aged saison; and Agrestic ale, an English-style pale ale inoculated with multiple yeasts and aged in oak barrels for 14 months. These will be among the 13 taps at ChurchKey's Firestone Walker Keg Party, which kicks off at 6 p.m. (See the full beer list.)
Looking for a good craft beer happy hour? Firestone Walker and Flying Dog – the two breweries that collaborated on this year's exclusive Savor beer, a blend of imperial porter and black rye IPA – are teaming up to put a dozen beers on tap at Pizzeria Paradiso in Dupont Circle. All beers will be half-price between 5 and 7 p.m. (The full draft list is online.)