This week is American Craft Beer Week, a nationwide celebration of microbrews. It seems superfluous for the D.C. area – given the quality of beer bars around here, every day could be Craft Beer Day – but hey, if they want to give us an excuse to sample some tasty ales and lagers, we're all for it. Here's a rundown of some of the more interesting events, including bars that are spreading celebrations over several days; we'll update the list as we receive more.
Tuesday, May 14
Mikkeller's Yeast Series 2.0 is an educational and delicious set of four beers brewed using the same hops, malt, water – everything is identical except for the yeast strain used in fermentation. Tasted side-by-side, they allow you to explore the difference between American ale yeast, English ale yeast, lager yeast and saison yeast. ChurchKey will have all four available, beginning at 6 p.m. For your edification, order four 4-ounce taster glasses.
"Hops and Spice and Everything Nice" is the name of a four-course IPA dinner at Dogfish Head in Falls Church. (Think spicy shrimp rolls and 60 Minute IPA, or fried grouper tacos with tomatillo sauce and Burton Baton.) Dinner runs from 7 to 9 p.m. Tickets are $50, including tax and tip, and reservations are required.
Fort Collins, Colo., has a solid claim as the country’s capital of craft beer. New Belgium, Odell and Funkwerks are among the better-known breweries from Fort Collins, but don't overlook the Fort Collins Brewery. Whether a hoppy IPA, a sweetly malty Maibock or the potent Obsessed Barleywine, every beer brims with flavor and personality. The brewery makes its D.C.-area debut with a special launch party at Rustico in Alexandria. Ten brews will be unveiled at 6 p.m., including a couple of limited editions. There will be free glassware – and seriously, don’t miss the Maibock.
Oregon's Crux Fermentation Project is a brewery dedicated to, in their words, "non-traditional brewing methods like decoction mashing, open fermentation, oak barrel aging, wild yeast strains and experimental hops." New to Washington, Crux is tapping five beers at Georgetown's Birreria Paradiso. Arrive between 5 and 7 p.m. for the half-price happy hour.
Wednesday, May 15
The Big Hunt honors the Brooklyn Brewery by offering five taps, including the new Brewer's Reserve Scorcher 366. (The Big Hunt boasts that the session ale, made with experimental hops, "has not been released anywhere else.") The Silver Anniversary Lager and barrel-aged Vintage Black Chocolate Stout are also worth a try. Taps open at 4 p.m.
Thursday, May 16
We're loaded with craft beer these days, but that wasn't always the case. A totally awesome party at Bier Baron celebrates four pioneering breweries – Samuel Adams, Harpoon, Sierra Nevada and Anchor Steam – that persevered through the dark days of the '80s. DJ Mellie Mel spins '80s hits on vinyl from 6 to 10 p.m., and there will be prizes for the best costumes.
Three of the five beers served at Mad Fox Brewing Company's American Craft Beer Week dinner have won medals at the Great American Beer Festival. The mouthwatering five-course menu hits its peak with a combination of pan-seared, ham-brined duck breast, apple-hazelnut duck sausage and a foie gras potato puree, paired with the hoppy Elixir Maibock, which took a silver medal at last year's GABF. Tickets are $65, not including tax and tip.
Saturday, May 18
Wrap up American Craft Beer Week by celebrating the beers of the Free State: the Maryland Craft Beer Festival brings 24 brewers to the banks of Carroll Creek in Frederick. The full list of participants includes more than a few names you may not have heard before, so explore the tents with an open mind.
Dogfish Head Fairfax
Fairfax's Dogfish Head Alehouse will be reaching into its stash of vintage bottles this week, pouring four-ounce tasters of some aged ales every night, beginning at 7 p.m. It kicks off Tuesday with 2008 Burton Baton, 2009 Theobroma, and the 2010 Chateau Jiahu and Olde School Barleywine. The real star might be on Wednesday, when a 2006 World Wide Stout will see the light of day, alongside 2008 Red and White and 2012 Urkontinent. Thursday's features are 2008 Immort Ale and 2012 Hellhound on My Ale, and a keg of fresh 120 Minute IPA will be tapped at 7:45 p.m.
Scion will offer three different craft beer drafts for half-price every night through Sunday, and all large-format bottles will be 25 percent off. On Thursday, Scion hosts St. Louis's Perennial Brewery for a special tasting. Eight Perennial beers will be on tap, including the Savant Beersel wild ale and Hommel Bier dry-hopped Belgian pale ale, and all of them will be half-price from 5 p.m. to close.