Bromance: Fun things to do on Guys’ Night Out

March 17, 2011

Bros: Can we have a word?

Look, we all know romance is tricky: From choosing whether to call or text (and when!) to picking the perfect first-date activity or dinner spot for a particular occasion. It’s seriously easy to douse the fireworks before they can ignite, but when everything goes off without a hitch, it’s a beautiful thing.

Thankfully, the same pitfalls do not apply to the ever-
important pursuit of your bromance: You know, the titanium bond you have with your lifelong guy friends, the ones who will be there to dutifully ridicule your dating prospects or your marital bliss; the ones with whom you can have frank, unedited discussions on matters large and small.

Which is to say, bromantic partners are extremely important to a well-rounded life, and it’s time you appreciated them as such: We’ve put together a list of our favorite bromantic excursions (granted, many are beer-related, but what can we say? This area has become a mecca for good — as in good — beer) to show the guys in your life just how much they mean to you.

Behind-the-scenes tours

It’s safe to say that lots of guys are fascinated by beer.

But enjoying the taste of it, playing games with it and basking in the social currency that comes from knowing about obscure bottles of it are just the beginning: More and more, guys want to know how the stuff is made (and that’s if they aren’t already attempting to brew their own at home).

That’s why a trip to Alexandria’s brand-new Port City Brewing Co. is not just a great guys’-day-out activity, but an informative (and thirst-quenching) one as well.

Port City owner Bill Butcher leads tours of the facility, inside a nondescript warehouse just west of Old Town, every Saturday at 12:30 and 2 p.m. For $5, you’ll see where Port City’s four flagship brews — the Belgian-style Optimal Wit, the crisp Monumental I.P.A., the chocolatey Porter and the well-rounded Essential Pale Ale — are born, from the moment the ingredients are added to one of the 60-barrel stainless-steel fermentation tanks through the bottling and kegging process.

But let’s be honest: The real point of a brewery tour is to sample the goods, so Butcher keeps the informational portion of the tour to about 20 minutes. From there, you’re free to linger in the tasting room, where you can cash in your four tasting tickets to sample each of the beers in a tasting glass that’s yours to keep.

It’s also an ideal setting to do some mingling, which brings us back to our original point about males and beer: We’re not alone, gentlemen. The male/female ratio on a recent tour was tilted heavily toward the female, so if you’re looking to hit it off with a fellow hop-head, Port City should be on your radar.

Port City Brewing Co., 3950 Wheeler Ave., Alexandria. 703-797-2739. www.portcity
brewing.com
.

Home on the range

Look, if it was May, we’d happily suggest a day trip to Whiskey Creek Golf Club in Ijamsville, where you can play 18 holes on one of the area’s best-looking public courses, followed by a nice Scotch or bourbon in the clubhouse. However, walking a golf course isn’t as much fun in chilly, wet weather. That’s why we like Top Golf in Alexandria. The outdoor driving ranges are covered and heated, so you don’t have to worry about rain or bitter cold. The high-tech greens are equipped with targets that track the length and accuracy of your shots, so you don’t have to argue about who hit the green the most (even if that is a lot of fun). And the servers will bring food and beers right to the “golf suite” on the range. A perfect day, and a good deal — $4.80 buys 20 balls per player. Or head to the range on Wednesday nights for “Guys’ Night” to save even more, with $3 domestic beers and $4 premium drafts from 7 to 9 p.m.

Top Golf, 6625 S. Van Dorn St., Alexandria. 703-924-2600. www.topgolf.com.

Manly meals

Beer dinners are a staple of the boys’ night out — a chance to sit around, eat, drink some brews and maybe even learn something before it’s done. But the underrated Leesburg beer bar at the restaurant Tuscarora Mill — fondly known as Tuskie’s — takes it to the next level with its special themed menus. Earlier this month, Tuskie’s hosted a meal in which each of the five courses contained bacon. (Think seared Irish bacon and polenta paired with Stone Smoked Porter, or spicy sausage bites with gouda cheese accompanied by Bell’s Two Hearted Ale.) Dreamy.

The next dinners will feature manly meals to go with hearty, traditional Belgian ales from the Cooperstown, N.Y., Ommegang Brewery (April 8), and the more experimental and hoppy brews from Athens, Ga.’s Terrapin Brewery (May 11). And then talk about manfest: On June 1, chef Patrick Dinh hosts his annual barbecue dinner in Leesburg. This year’s menu features ’cue matched with beers from California’s fantastic Lagunitas Brewery. Tickets are $85, which includes food, drinks, taxes and gratuity.

Tuscarora Mill, 203 Harrison St., Leesburg. 703-771-9300. www.tuskies.com.

Taco time!

Sure, taco love knows no race, age or sex, but both Taqueria la Placita in Hyattsville and Tacos el Costalilla in Alexandria provide perfect opportunities for authentic gastronomic bro-bonding.

In Hyattsville, Taqueria la Placita serves amazing al pastor tacos — marinated pork cooked on a spit — served with slivers of fresh pineapple, as well as selections that include sliced cactus and classics like grilled beef and braised pork. Other items are enticing as well, including some of the best tamales you will find in the area. For the ultimate taco bro-trip, try to get there for a taco breakfast when owner Javier Martinez opens his shop in the wee hours, sometimes as early as 5 a.m.

Down Richmond Highway in Alexandria, in an unassuming and somewhat run-down strip mall, you can find La Placita’s spiritual cousin, Tacos el Costalilla. There, you can pick up Mexican favorites (including another great take on al pastor) as well as more adventurous selections such as tripe, tongue and brain tacos and pork skin in vinegar tostadas. I have yet to find something I would turn away.

Finally, for those bros in search of a hangover cure: On Saturdays and Sundays only, the restaurant serves steaming, spicy bowls of menudo soup, a traditional dish made with tripe. On a recent trip, the tables were full of haggard looking dudes.

Taqueria la Placita, 5020 Edmonston Rd., Hyattsville. 301-277-4477. Tacos el Costalilla, 7862 Richmond Hwy., Alexandria. 703-704-9088.

A draft and the Caps

Beer and hockey make for an easy bromantic date. From R.F.D. to Rocket Bar, many bars near Verizon Center can help you celebrate this great pairing, but few are as comfortable as the recently opened Redline. There, lush booths outfitted with taps give bromancers the opportunity for pregame drinks where you control your consumption, unencumbered by the speed of the server.

It’s a good idea to meet up before a game, when a hometown loss can’t yet cloud your enjoyment of the puck sodas. On the other hand, should the Caps suffer yet another hometown shutout, beer is there to lessen the sting.

Redline, 707 G St. NW. 202-543-1724. www.dcredline.com.

Get ‘Arrested’ . . . on the big screen

The Arlington Cinema ’N’ Drafthouse can satisfy your need for stationary socializing with the birth of TV Party. On Sundays at 7 p.m., the Drafthouse will screen a string of episodes from your favorite shows while serving up live entertainment and food specials to match: First up is the best of “Arrested Development” Season One, with a character impersonation contest, a chicken dance-off and frozen bananas, just like the ones they sell at the Bluth Frozen Banana Stand.

So why is this better than just throwing on the DVD in the comfort of your own man cave? Your screen isn’t as large as the Drafthouse’s, for one thing, nor do you have the benefit of a full kitchen, bar and wait staff at your service. And let’s be honest: No matter how tight you and the members of your wolfpack are, you aren’t about to start doing your best Gob Bluth chicken dance without a little prodding.

It’s also unlikely that your media library goes as deep as the Drafthouse’s. Upcoming TV parties based around “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” “Mad Men,” “Friday Night Lights,” “The X Files,” “Six Feet Under” and “The Wonder Years” are already in the works (dates TBD). Good luck finding all of those on Netflix Instant Watch.

Arlington Cinema ’N’ Drafthouse, 2903 Columbia Pike, Arlington. 703-486-2345. www.arlingtondrafthouse.com. $12.

Mmm . . . smoked meat

There are few things that men love more than barbecue. Whether cooking it in the backyard on a summer afternoon or diving in to a heaping platter of smoked meat, it’s the ideal nourishment for a group of hungry guys. All hail American Ice Co. The hip, just-off-U-Street bar-and-’cue joint smokes its own brisket, turkey and pork before adding tangy sauce, sides of cole slaw and homemade bread-and-butter pickles. Don’t miss the inventive “Swachos” — a cardboard tray of tortilla chips covered with melted cheese and smoky pork. And as a bonus, it’s possible to eat your meat at midnight, thanks to the “All-Nighter” sandwiches. (“Possible” is the key word there: On busy nights, American Ice frequently sells out of meat on the early side.)

To accompany this manliest of meals, bartenders pour draft beers into 16-ounce Mason jars and shots of rye whiskey into mini jars. The Old Fashioneds are made perfectly, right down to the twist of lemon. And with a group of bros, you might just want to consider ordering your own keg. Okay, so it’s really a five-liter mini-keg that fits comfortably atop your table (or on the bar) and holds about 10 pints of beer.

American Ice’s front patio is full of picnic tables that are perfect for groups; if you want a table inside, arrive on the early side, as this is a popular pre- and post-9:30 Club gathering spot.

American Ice Co., 917 V St. NW. 202-758-3562.

Alex Baldinger is editor of the Going Out Guide blog, which covers food, drink, arts, music, events and other curiosities in the D.C. area. He is forever in search of a great sandwich.
Fritz Hahn has written about bars, drinks and nightlife for the Washington Post Weekend Section since 2003, but he also writes about everything from Civil War battlefields to sailing classes. A product of Prince George's County public schools, Fritz majored in journalism at the University of Maryland and lives in the District.
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