The sixth annual DC Beer Week runs Aug. 17-24, bringing eight days of beer dinners, tap takeovers, happy hours and parties to the city's ale and lager fans. The majority of events are casual affairs where you can drop in, have a beer and move on, but others require advance planning. For example, DC Brau's annual all-you-can-eat crab feast always sells out. Here's a guide to some of the events you should make plans for now; we'll feature more of the no-tickets-required events closer to the beginning of Beer Week.
Tastings and tours
Many D.C. Beer Week events put the spotlight on beer from local breweries, but only one outing stars the breweries themselves. Reston Limousine, which organizes weekly party-bus tours of breweries in Loudoun County, Northern Virginia and D.C., is putting together a special guided jaunt to Bluejacket, Atlas Brew Works, DC Brau and 3 Stars on Saturday, Aug. 23. That sounds like a lot to cram in, but riders will spend about an hour touring and tasting at each stop. The $39 ticketincludes transportation between breweries; an optional $54 ticket adds lunch from Bluejacket. (Everyone is responsible for buying their own pints and growlers throughout the day.) The tour leaves from Reston Town Center at 10:15 a.m. and East Falls Church Metro at 10:45, and returns to East Falls Church at 5:30 p.m. and Reston at 6. Those based in D.C. can just show up at Bluejacket at 11:30 and take the bus to the other three breweries, but don't get a discount on the overall cost. (Buy tickets)
Four D.C. production breweries – 3 Stars, Atlas Brew Works, Chocolate City and D.C. Brau – will join Virginia's Port City, Mad Fox and Lost Rhino at the final "official" event of D.C. Beer Week, Brewers on the Block, on Sunday, Aug. 24. Held at Suburbia, the cool Airstream bar outside Union Market, the afternoon includes unlimited beers, unlimited slushy cocktails from Suburbia and a panel discussion on the future of the local beer scene with brewers and industry types. Food from Red Apron Butchers and other Union Market vendors will be available for an additional cost. Tickets are $50 and cover all drinks from 2 to 8 p.m. (Buy tickets)
The stars have aligned for the Heurich House Museum, as the museum's monthly History and Hops happy hour falls on Aug. 21, during D.C. Beer Week. Tour the historic Victorian home of Christian Heurich, who was the most powerful brewer in Washington in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and taste three different beers from the award-winning Mad Fox Brewing Company, including a dry-hopped cask of the Funk saison. Unlimited beer and finger foods are covered by the $30 ticket. (Buy tickets)
Hank's on the Hill is pulling out all the stops for a Sam Adams Beer-B-Q on Sunday the 17th. There are two four-hour sessions, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 4 to 8 p.m., A $65 ticket is good for unlimited fried chicken, St. Louis ribs, short rib sliders, and fried, barbecued and fresh-shucked oysters. To drink, the bar is eschewing the usual Boston Lager or Summer Ale for rarities from the Reserve collection, such as Porch Rocker, Word to the Weiss and Harvest Saison. And for dessert? Bartenders are also creating an adults-only Sam Adams Flav-or-ice popsicle and margarita-infused watermelons. (Buy tickets)
Flying Dog has always had a focus on local food as well as beer: Pearl Necklace was brewed with local oysters; the current hit Dead Rise Summer Ale uses Old Bay and raises money to help restore the Chesapeake Bay's crab population. Wednesday's The "Beer and Bites" event at Clyde's of Gallery Place pairs four of the Frederick brewery's beers with regional snacks, including Maryland crab salad and Dead Rise (naturally) and Easy IPA and grilled half-smokes. All-inclusive tickets are $25, and the party runs from 6 to 8 p.m. (Buy tickets)
The biggest event of D.C. Beer Week takes place Friday night, Aug. 22. BrewHaHa comes across as a mini-SAVOR festival in the atrium of the Old Ebbitt Grill: Nine local brewers are each paired with a restaurant, including the culinary teams from the Source, the Pig and Jack Rose. The chef and the brewery than work together to come up with small plates that match two of the brewery's offerings. It's an interesting night of sampling, with extra zip coming from the Motown-esque horns of Richmond's Hi Steps band. All inclusive tickets are $65. (Buy tickets)
All-you-can-eat crab feasts are a staple of D.C. Beer Week. The big one is D.C. Brau's third-annual D.C. Beer Week Crab Festival Monumental Extravaganza at the Quarterdeck on Monday, Aug. 18th. The $50 fee covers crabs from 5 to 10 p.m., but not beer: You'll pay an unbelievable $1 per pint or $5 per pitcher for DC Brau products. (Buy tickets)
Boulevard and Devils Backbone also host feasts. Boulevard's is at Capitol Lounge on Sunday, Aug. 17, from 4 to 7 p.m., and costs $50, which includes your first two Boulevard drafts. Tickets are available from Capitol Lounge. (Buy tickets)
The Devils Backbone feast – actually billed as a "low country boil" – takes place Monday the 18th at Union Pub. Unlimited crabs, shrimp and Andouille cost $40, including two Devils Backbone beers. (Buy tickets)
Games and fun stuff
Colorado and Delmarva breweries face off on the taps and in a cornhole tournament on City Tap House's patio on Saturday the 23rd. Left Hand, New Belgium and Breckenridge will represent the Rocky Mountain State, while Dogfish Head, Evolution and 3 Stars are the home team. The menu features chili dogs with Colorado green chili and chili-topped half smokes with a variety of sides for $15. Beers from all participants are $5 from noon to 5 p.m. Playing in the cornhole tournament is free, but all athletes must email firstname.lastname@example.org by August 20 to register. They will be randomly assigned to one of the six brewery teams, and the winners will receive prizes ranging from brewery swag to gift certificates and brewery tours.
If you've been to a tailgate recently, you might have played Kan Jam, in which teams attempt to throw Frisbees through a slit in a black plastic cylinder that looks like a cross between an oil drum and a Crusader helmet. Devils Backbone is teaming up with Penn Social to host an indoor Kan Jam tournament on Wednesday, Aug. 20, from 6 to 9 p.m. Teams of two must register in advance – it costs $8 per twosome – and players and spectators alike get discounted beer during the tournament. (Buy tickets)
The traditional kickoff to D.C. Beer Week is a beer-centric dinner cruise aboard the Odyssey. This year's event, which runs from 6 to 9 on Sunday, Aug. 17, features beers from Ommegang and Boulevard, a dinner with short ribs and peppercorn beef sirloin, DJs and other entertainment. Tickets are $95, or $120 for VIP admission, which allows for boarding at 5 p.m. with access to rare and exclusive beers. (Buy tickets.)