DC Beer Week is underway. Through Sunday, local bars and restaurants will be hopping with beer tastings, happy hours and special events. Every morning, we'll provide a rundown of the night's best events. If you need to plan ahead, check out this list of each day's best events that require reservations.
A word before we start: This is legitimately the best and busiest night of D.C. Beer Week, and I could easily write two columns covering tonight's events. The following happenings are the ones I think will provide the most bang for your buck, but I also encourage you to look at the much longer list of happy hours, tastings and tap takeovers on www.dcbeer.com.
The big one: Find your new favorite IPA
My favorite event of DC Beer Week 2013 was Blind and Bitter, a blind tasting of two dozen IPAs from a dozen breweries organized by DCBeer.com. Participants at Scion and Crios Modern Mexican ordered small pours of beer using only brief tasting notes, such as “citrus, piney, fresh cut grass,” and then voted for their favorite. (The winner was Evolution’s Lot #6 Double IPA.) The event returns this year with an expanded lineup of twenty-four breweries, all of which are bringing just one beer. Big names are involved, including Stone, Dogfish Head, Founders and Bell’s, which adds to the intrigue. Be warned: It gets very crowded, especially in Scion's bar, and taps will run out. Doors open at 4 p.m., and admission is free, though you'll pay for each beer.
The stars have aligned for the Heurich House Museum, as its monthly History and Hops happy hour falls during DC 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 beers from Mad Fox, including a dry-hopped cask of the Abbaye des Chutes Abbey Ale. Unlimited beer and finger foods are covered by the $30 ticket. (UPDATE: This event has sold out.)
We're counting the days until Snallygaster, D.C.'s best beer festival, which takes place in Yards Park on Sept. 13. Bluejacket is one of the sponsors, and the Navy Yard brewery is preparing exclusive beers for the event. Tonight, you can get an exclusive taste of Snallygaster Ale, which Bluejacket describes as "a 7% golden Farmhouse-style ale, brewed with 30% wheat (a portion of which is malted and a portion unmalted), hopped with New Zealand-grown Southern Cross and Oregon-grown Horizontal hops, then fermented with a blended culture of Brettanomyces (Bruxellensis & Lambicus strains), Lactobacillus and Saccharomyces (Saison Ale yeast)." To sweeten the event, Bluejacket will tap some vintage collaboration ales, including Burns Night, a scotch ale made with San Diego's Pizza Port, and Washington O.C., a fruity Belgian quadrupel brewed with California's the Bruery. In addition, the legendary Snallygaster monster will be roaming the brewery between 5 and 7 p.m.; Snap a selfie with him, tag it "#snalfie" and you might win free tickets to the festival, cases of Bluejacket beer and other prizes.
The hottest beer trend this summer was radler, a German blend of lager and fruity soda, such as lemonade or grapefruit. Smoke and Barrel loved radlers before they were cool, so the Adams Morgan bar is hosting its first Radlerpalooza tonight. Try radlers from 3 Stars, Devils Backbone, Boulevard and Harpoon, as well as old world examples from Stiegl and Schofferhofer. Feeling creative? Smoke and Barrel bartenders will also be making custom radlers with a selection of base beers and house-made sodas. The fun starts at 5 p.m.
Long before D.C. Beer Week actually begins, brewers from area breweries come together to jointly brew a beer, which they refer to as Solidarity Session Ale. This year's version, a dry, mildly hoppy 4.5 percent IPA, was brewed at DC Brau with 13 collaborators. It's been popping up at events throughout the week -- I tasted it Tuesday during the DC Brau/3 Stars party at Boundary Stone -- but Solidarity Session IPA receives its official debut tonight at Gordon Biersch on F Street, where guests can taste it alongside IPAs from 10 of the breweries involved in making the beer. Tickets are $20 in advance or $25 at the door, and include beer and passed appetizers from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Think you know about beer? Prove it tonight at Port City Brewing Company. The Alexandria brewery's monthly quiz night has been rebranded Super Beer Geek Trivia. Four people are allowed on a team, and prizes include beer and gift certificates from Alexandria beer bars. It's going to be challenging. (I just hope it's not, like, "Name all seven Pacific Northwest hops used in Cigar City's Gwar Beer." I wouldn't do well at that.) Trivia begins at 7, and it's free to play. Arrive early to get seats and grab a pint – or take a 6:30 p.m. brewery tour.