Going Out Guide: Cask Ale at Black Squirrel and Cherry Blossom events

By Going Out Guide
Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Celebrate Cask Ale

Over in Britain, National Cask Ale Week is underway, with seven days of events celebrating traditional "real ales." These beers are served without extra carbonation or pasteurization and at around 50 degrees, so they have a unique spectrum of flavors that you don't find in ice-cold fizzy lagers. While cask ales are still something of a rarity in the United States, an increasing number of local bars now offer them. New to the real ale game is the cozy Black Squirrel, which is celebrating National Cask Ale Week by offering its first firkin: a special cask of Snake Dog India Pale Ale from Maryland's Flying Dog Brewery, which has had Simicoe hops added after fermentation for extra aroma. (Non-cask versions of several other Flying Dog beers, including the dark, smoky Dog Schwartz, will be available on draft.) Plan to arrive early: The first 25 customers who order a cask ale get a special pint glass to take home.

6:30 p.m. Wednesday. The Black Squirrel, 2427 18th St. NW. 202-232-1011. http://www.blacksquirreldc.com. Cask beers cost $5.50 and drafts are $7-$8.

Sharon Van Etten

It would be easy to label Sharon Van Etten's solo acoustic compositions as depressing or downtrodden. After all, her slow-burning songs and sedated voice don't exactly inspire dancing, let alone standing. It wouldn't be shocking to see some concertgoers sitting on the floor at the Black Cat's backstage, where she'll be opening for North Carolina rustic-folk band Megafaun. But there's a certain elegance to her unadorned tunes -- it's just her and her guitar onstage -- that makes them uplifting and captivating.

9 p.m. Wednesday. Black Cat, 1811 14th St., NW. 202-667-4490. http://www.blackcatdc.com. $10.

Cherry Blast

Events tied to the National Cherry Blossom Festival tend to be family-friendly gatherings, such as fireworks, kite-flying and balloon-filled parades. That changed last year with the debut of Cherry Blast, an underground-ish mix of projected art, dance performances, live music, fashion and DJs that took place in an empty (but festively decorated) Anacostia warehouse. (Most of the crowd was shuttle-bussed in from Dupont Circle.) This year, Cherry Blast II -- the creation of artist Philippa P.B. Hughes -- moves to a storage warehouse in Adams Morgan, but the aesthetic remains the same. Artists will have their works displayed or projected on walls in several rooms. Music comes from the funky Fatback DJ crew, Maureen Andary of local folkies the Sweater Set, DJ Alex Gold of the Fridge and the duo of DJ Chris Nitti and multi-instrumentalist Matt Hemerlein. Throw in a sake bar, a "marshmallow arts play room" and other surprises, and it's sure to be a night to remember.

9 p.m.-1 a.m. Friday. 1701 Florida Ave. NW. http://www.cherryblastdc.com. $10. Tickets purchased in advance include one free drink.

Cherry Blossom Boombox Walk

The next day, a handful of local musicians will be getting their avant-garde on to celebrate cherry blossom season. Local electro-rock duo Bluebrain enlisted Geologist of Animal Collective, Chad Clark of Beauty Pill, Sean Peoples of Sockets Records, electronic producer Outputmessage and DJ du jour Will Eastman to create a site-specific work, but you can participate, too. Bring a boombox -- you know, that thing Will Smith held over his head in the credits of "Fresh Prince of Bel Air" -- and you'll get a cassette recording of their composition. Everybody hits play around the same time, and some sort of wonderful cacophony will commence.

5:30 p.m. Saturday. Carousel on the National Mall, 900 Jefferson Dr. SW. http://bluebrainmusic.blogspot.com. Free.

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