I considered this the other day while exploring the happy hour menu at Scion Restaurant in Silver Spring. Like its sister location in Dupont Circle, the bar slashes all draft beer prices in half every weekday between 5 and 7 p.m., so I was faced with a serious dilemma. A 12-ounce snifter of Port City's big, bold Colossal Four quadruple cost $3.50, the cheapest I've ever seen it, while a similarly sized pour of Kujo, Flying Dog's rich imperial coffee stout was $3.25.
Naturally, I had both, and joked on Twitter afterwards that $6.75 is apparently the going rate for happiness in Silver Spring.
While half-price happy hours aren't as common as happy hours where all beers are discounted by a buck or two, they're still out there, and the discerning drinker can use them as a way to explore new breweries or craft beers without breaking the bank. Here's a guide to six of my favorite spots for half-price draft beers.
Where: 3282 M St. NW.; 2003 P St. NW; 124 King St., Alexandria. www.eatyourpizza.com.
When: Monday-Thursday, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. (Old Town and Georgetown); Tuesday-Wednesday, 5 to 7 p.m. (Dupont Circle)
Sample Deals: Dogfish Head 120 IPA for $5; Deschutes Fresh Squeezed IPA for $2.50.
Pizzeria Paradiso is near the top of any list of the area's top craft beer bars, and it's the only one of the contenders for that title that offers half-price beers. The caveat: The happy hour is different depending on location. Beers are half-price Monday through Thursday in Alexandria and Georgetown, but only Tuesday and Wednesday in Dupont Circle. Discounts are limited to the immediate bar area in Alexandria and Dupont Circle, but offered throughout the entire basement in Georgetown – except on Mondays, when the happy hour moves to the street-level bar. While you sip, there are $5 appetizer specials, and all small pizzas are $12.
Where: 2100 P St. NW; 1200 East-West Hwy., Silver Spring. www.scionrestaurant.com.
When: Monday-Friday, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Sample deals: DC Brau/Oskar Blues Smells Like Freedom IPA for $4.25; Victory 19th Anniversary IPA for $3.50.
Happy hours are great at both Scion locations, but there's a better atmosphere at the newer location on East-West Highway. If you're familiar with the cramped, narrow bar at the original Scion in Dupont, the Silver Spring outpost is a completely different animal: a spacious room with a wide bar counter and a comfortable lounge area. The menu is much the same at both Scions, with a focus on local and regional breweries, though Montgomery County's strange liquor laws mean that bar manager Tim Liu can't get the same rare beers for Silver Spring that you'd find in Dupont Circle. Still, it's one of the most interesting beer bars – and best happy hours – in Montgomery County.
Smoke and Barrel
Where: 2471 18th St. NW. www.smokeandbarreldc.com.
When: Wednesday from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Sample Deals: Boulevard Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale (the 2015 Beer Madness winner) for $4; Mad Fox Orange Whip for $4.
Smoke and Barrel has a pretty decent happy hour Monday through Friday, with four drafts for $4 each and a $5 whiskey of the day. But the day to go is Wednesday, when the Adams Morgan bar gets you over the hump with half-price drafts. Expect a mix of imported favorites from Duvel or Kloster Andechs, interesting craft breweries like Boulevard and Evil Twin, and selections from local brewpubs, such as Mad Fox and Franklins.
Where: 3628 Georgia Ave. NW. www.dcreynoldsbar.com.
When: Monday-Saturday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Sample Deals: Monocacy Riot Rye Pale Ale, Port City Optimal Wit or Lost Rhino Face Plant IPA: two beers for $6.50
Let's be blunt: This is one of the best happy hours in the city, period: Four hours of buy-one, get-one-free drinks six days a week. It doesn't matter whether you're ordering a glass of the bar's hand-selected Old Forester Bourbon, a gin and tonic or a pint of DC Brau: The bartender will hand you a chit that you can cash in for a second round of the same. It's not exactly half-price per se, but with two beers for the price of one, the cost is the same. The focus is on local breweries, such as Atlas and Port City. In spring, the preferred spot for sipping is the back patio, which has its own bar and draft system.
Where: 1433 H St. NE. www.argonautdc.com.
When: Monday-Friday from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Sample Deals: Allagash White for $3; Dale's Pale Ale for $3.
We appreciate the Argonaut for its offbeat offerings, such as Science Night, and its family-friendly atmosphere, including Wednesday's Family Night, where kids eat free. But the bar also has one of the best-value happy hours on H Street, with half-price beers and $3 rail drinks and glasses of wine every weeknight. Their draft list may not have as many rarities as some of the other places on this list, and some of the bigger beers are exempt from the deals, but when you've got a half-price pint of Atlas or Victory in your hand, you won't think twice about it.
Lou's City Bar
Where: 1400 Irving St. NW. www.louscitybar.com.
When: Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m.
Sample Deals: Sierra Nevada Pale Ale for $3.50; Bell's Two Hearted for $4.
Lou's is a sports bar, not a beer bar: only seven of the 16 draft beers on its menu would meet the usual definition of "craft beer." But on Wednesdays, all of the drafts at Lou's are half-price from open to close. Fans of microbrews can choose discounted pints of Dogfish Head, Bell's or New Belgium, while those who prefer Miller Lite, Blue Moon or Guinness receive the same deal.