It’s a great time to be a beer drinker in Washington: DC Beer Week, which started Sunday, brings eight days packed with beer dinners, tap takeovers, meet-and-greets with brewers and chances to sample out-of-state ales.
Wait, is this deja vu?
In March, we had a week of similar events that coincided with the Craft Brewers Conference in Washington. May brought another week of tastings and gatherings around town in honor of American Craft Beer Week. Last month, there were parties and happy hours for Eat Local First Week.
When you add those events to the lineups of brewery events that draw crowds to ChurchKey, Pizzeria Paradiso, Scion and Meridian Pint year-round, I have to wonder whether the five-year-old DC Beer Week will get lost in the shuffle. I think the organizers have had the same thought, because this year’s flagship events are bigger than ever, including a craft beer tasting at Nationals Park and a concert with up-and-coming bands at the Howard Theatre. These are events designed to appeal to casual beer drinkers, not those of us who freak out about 26 English ales at ChurchKey on a random Wednesday.
That said, for every event that features Brooklyn, Boulevard or another brewery whose beers are easily found in Washington, there’s another that offers a chance to expand your palate or have fun while trying something new. Some of our top picks follow.
More than just an evening of sipping, these events will actually teach you something.
Funky sour beers are all the rage, but creating one isn’t as simple as tossing some Brettanomyces yeast in a barrel. Lauren Salazar, the sensory specialist for New Belgium’s sour beers, will lead classes on how it’s done at the Black Squirrel on Thursday. Students will sample five wild ales before learning how to blend samples from four barrels into one balanced beer of their very own. Each session will last about two hours, and tickets are required.
All too often, people stick to what they know rather than try a beer they’ve never heard of. That won’t be an option at Scion and Crios. Two dozen IPAs will be on tap, but neither the name of the beer nor the brewery will be on the menu. Instead, guests will have to choose beers based on vague tasting notes. The beers come from 12 well-known breweries, including DC Brau, Flying Dog and Ballast Point, and there will be some brand-new beers in the mix, including Evolution’s Incubator #2 and Boulevard’s Pop-Up IPA. Everyone gets to vote for their favorite beer of the night — and only then will they learn what they were drinking. You may be in for a shock.
Sour Blending Workshop: Thursday at 6 and 9 p.m. The Black Squirrel, 2427 18th St. NW. 202-232-1011. www.blacksquirreldc.
Blind and Bitter: Hop Faceoff: Friday at 5 p.m. Scion, 2100 P St. NW. 202-833-8899. Crios Modern Mexican, 2120 P St. NW. 202-822-8800. www.dcbeer.com. Beers, $2 per four-ounce sample or $5 per pint.
beers from Maine
The Pine Tree State is the place to be for beer: Both Meridian Pint and ChurchKey are hosting nights dedicated to Maine. ChurchKey is bringing down the team from Maine Beer Company on Tuesday and will feature nine draft beers, including collaborations brewed with Nogne O and Bluejacket. Meridian Pint is hosting its own party Wednesday, with Allagash, Oxbow and Maine Beer Company on tap. Look for selections from Bunker Brewing and Rising Tide, two breweries that don’t usually send beer to D.C., as well as Maine hard cider.
ChurchKey, 1337 14th St. NW. 202-567-2576. www.churchkeydc.com. Beer prices vary.
Meridian Pint, 3400 11th St. NW. 202-588-1075. www.meridianpint.com. Beer prices vary.
Marylanders know there’s no finer summer meal than blue crabs and beer. But if you limit your pairing to cans of Natty Boh, you’re really missing out.
Ten breweries will be featured at the Black Squirrel’s Maryland Beer and Crab Fest on Wednesday, and brewers from Oliver, Union and Burley Oak will be talking about their brews with the crowd. Pair your crab cakes and old-school crab boil with 12-ounce cans of Stillwater’s Classique, a hopped, lightly fruity take on Natty Boh.
The same night, DC Brau will host its annual crab feast at the Quarterdeck in Arlington. The $50 ticket includes all-you-can-eat crabs and deeply discounted beers: Think $1 pints and $3 pitchers of Brau all night. The event is expected to sell out in advance.
Black Squirrel: Wednesday at 5 p.m. 2427 18th St. NW. 202-232-1011. www.blacksquirreldc.com.
DC Brau: Wednesday at 5 p.m. The Quarterdeck, 1200 Fort Myer Dr., Arlington. dcbraudcbeerweekcrabfest.event
DC Beer Week might be the ideal time to launch a new brew, and several are making their way through taps during the celebration.
Exquisite Corpse is a collaboration among Pizzeria Paradiso beer director Greg Jasgur, Meridian Pint beer director Sam Fitz, Stillwater brewer Brian Strumke and DC Brau brewer Jeff Hancock. Jasgur, Fitz and Strumke selected the beer’s grain, hops and yeast without consulting each other, while Hancock brewed the result. It’s being launched Sunday at a moveable feast of a dinner: Patrons get two courses and two beers at either Meridian Pint or the Pizzeria Paradiso in Dupont Circle between 4 and 7 p.m. When they’ve finished, they can head to the other bar for two different food courses and beer pairings, available between 7 and 10 p.m. Tickets are $65 including tax and tip, but not transportation.
Meridian Pint: 3400 11th St. NW. 202-588-1075.
Pizzeria Paradiso: 2003 P St. NW. 202-223-1245.
DC Brau is unveiling Heurich Lager, a re-creation of the beer Washington brewery magnate Christian Heurich made before Prohibition, at the Heurich House Museum on Monday. Tickets are $80, or $150 for a Founding Member ticket that includes a one-year museum membership.
Heurich House Museum, 1307 New Hampshire Ave. NW. 202-429-1894. heurichslager.
Smoke and Barrel also is collaborating with a brewery: Bartender and home-brewer Erich Streckfuss created a recipe for a golden IPA, which was brewed at Mad Fox. It’s named the Ambassador, after the former Adams Morgan concert hall, and will go on tap Tuesday during a Mad Fox tap takeover.
Flying Dog, which just released its Duvel-inspired Belgian Devil strong golden ale at ChurchKey, will release the Truth, a hefty 8.7-percent ABV imperial IPA made with five hops, at Smoke and Barrel on Aug. 16 at 6 p.m.
Smoke and Barrel, 2471 18th St. NW. 202-319-9353. www.smokeandbarreldc.com. Beer prices vary.
Lost Rhino is taking over the taps at Meridian Pint on Aug. 16. Among the offerings will be Birth of Ace — it’s an Ace Ventura reference — which Meridian Pint’s Sam Fitz calls “a 100 percent brett-fermented IPA made using yeast from a famous lambic brewery.”
Meridian Pint: 3400 11th St. NW. 202-588-1075.
www.meridianpint.com. Beer prices vary.