There are beer dinners where brewers or brewery representatives bring four to six samples of their products to a bar, pair them with food, and let you sample the line. Then there are beer tastings at the Brickskeller and R.F.D., where legions of the area's top brewers show up with their latest creations, chat a little bit about the mechanics of the beer (be ready to hear a lot about hops and the intricacies of the brewing process) and, more importantly, provide you with samples. If you don't feel like driving all over creation to taste seasonal beers, then R.F.D.'s annual Strong Beer Tasting is prime one-stop-shopping territory. (Actually, make that two-stop-shopping territory -- there are so many brewers participating that the event's running on consecutive Wednesdays.) Tonight's first round includes a strong Frederick contingent -- Brewer's Alley and Flying Dog -- as well as representatives from Shirlington (Capitol City Brewing Company), Leesburg (Vintage 50), Delaware (Dogfish Head), Baltimore (Pratt Street Ale House, formerly known as the Wharf Rat) and San Francisco (Schmaltz Brewing, the makers of He'Brew). Tickets are $35 from lovethebeer.com.
-- Fritz Hahn (February 2009)