February — or, as some brewers would have you spell it, FeBREWary — is here, and there are many events on the horizon, including the celebration of Maryland Craft Beer Lover's Month.
Ocelot/Meridian Pint Talking Backwards Release at Meridian Pint, Feb. 1
Ocelot's Talking Backwards, a triple IPA brewed in collaboration with the staff of Meridian Pint, was one of my favorite local beers of 2016, bringing a huge amount of tropical fruit upfront and packing a wallop of Citra and Mosaic hops with a dry, lingering bitterness. Thankfully, Meridian Pint and Ocelot have decided to make this an annual tradition, though this year's version features “almost 5 pounds [of hops] per barrel,” Meridian Pint's Jace Gonnerman says in an email. “A much bigger whirlpool and a slightly bigger dry-hop.” The first tasting is at Meridian Pint on Wednesday, where it will be on tap next to the barrel-aged imperial stout Barrel-Aged Painless. A limited bottle release begins at Ocelot's Dulles brewery on Thursday, and other kegs will eventually make their way into the wild. 5 p.m.
Cupid's Curse Beer Release at breweries across Maryland, Feb. 3
As part of Maryland Craft Beer Lovers Month, Maryland breweries have been asked to make a beer called Cupid's Curse, which will be tapped across the state at 5 p.m. Feb. 3. Participants near the Washington area include 7 Locks (Rockville), Denizens (Silver Spring), Waredaca (Laytonsville), Calvert (Upper Marlboro), Flying Dog (Frederick) and Black Flag (Columbia). Each beer will be unique, and you'll have a month to try them all.
Port City Brewing Company's Sixth Anniversary, Feb. 3-4
Port City helped kick off the Washington area's brewing revival in 2011, opening two months before DC Brau. It's had much to celebrate since then, including being named Small Brewing Company of the Year at the 2015 Great American Beer Festival, and picking up a silver medal for its Colossal Five in the Strong Ale category at the same competition last fall. Therefore, its sixth birthday calls for a massive two-day party at the Alexandria brewery, complete with the debut of Colossal Six, a potent imperial stout, and a strong selection of award-winning beers. Taproom doors open at 2 p.m. on Friday, with additional seating in a heated tent in the parking lot. Live music runs from 4 to 9 p.m. on Friday and 1 to 9 p.m. on Saturday, with a mix of funk, country and folky rock. Multiple food trucks will be on hand both days. Heads up: Brewery tours are available, but spaces must be reserved in advance.
Melvin 2x4 Day at ChurchKey, Feb. 4
For years, Washington beer lovers have been hearing about Melvin's 2x4 Double IPA, a big, citrusy IPA that won gold medals at the World Beer Cup and the Great American Beer Festival. Problem is, the small Wyoming brewery doesn't send beer to the East Coast. We finally got two chances to try it last year, at the SAVOR Festival and the smaller Go West Beer Fest, and all the praise was deserved. If you haven't tried 2x4, you'll get a chance on Feb. 4 (2/4 — geddit?), when Melvin sends a variety of its best beers to 40 bars across the U.S., Canada and Belgium. Only two bars this side of the Mississippi have been invited to participate: Boston's Lord Hobo and Washington's ChurchKey. ChurchKey will follow the 2x4 Day template, showing kung fu flicks on the TVs and blasting Wu-Tang Clan while pouring a selection of Melvin rarities. There are four IPAs (2x4, Drunken Master, Asterisk and Citradamus), the Lambda triple IPA, and, when you need a break, the new Pilsgnar German pilsner. (The full draft list is here.) Noon to 8 p.m.
Calvert Brewing Company's First Anniversary, Feb. 4
In February 2016, Calvert Brewing Company opened its brewery and taproom in an Upper Marlboro industrial park, becoming the first and only production brewery in Prince George's County. Celebrate at a day-long party featuring vintage beers, a sampling of the current line and brewer Nick Finney demonstrating the ABCs of brewing while making an Apple Saison. There's live music in the taproom, and Giggy's BBQ & Catering provides the food. Noon to 9 p.m.
Firestone Walker Rarities at Meridian Pint, Feb. 7
The beer world frequently operates on the basis of back-scratching. If a bar sells a lot of Bell's on tap throughout the year, it becomes more likely to receive the highly allocated Hopslam kegs in January. So don't spend too much time wondering how Meridian Pint has managed to assemble a stunning collection of rare kegs from California brewery Firestone Walker for this special event: Beer director Jace Gonnerman boasts that the Columbia Heights bar is “the #1 Pivo Pils account in the world.” Stop by to try a slew of beers you might not have tried before, including Agrestic, a funky barrel-aged version of the brewery's DBA; Lil Opal, a sour barrel-aged saison; potent Helldorado blonde barleywine; Velvet Merkin, an oatmeal stout aged in bourbon barrels; and the centerpiece: Parabajava, Firestone Walker's highly-rated Parabola imperial stout infused with Intelligensia coffee. 5 p.m.
DC Brau/Darkest Hour Savor the Swill Release at DC Brau, Feb. 11
The team at DC Brau loves craft beer and heavy metal. Last April, to mark the brewery's fifth birthday, they threw a festival in the brewery parking lot headlined by doom metal band the Sword. For year six, they're planning a special show at the 9:30 Club with Grammy-nominated metal act Baroness. And in the meantime, DC Brau has teamed with local metal heroes Darkest Hour to unleash a special beer that celebrates both the band's 20th anniversary and its upcoming album, “Godless Prophets and the Migrant Flora.” Savor the Swill, a 5 percent ABV helles lager, will be released at the brewery on Feb. 11, and members of Darkest Hour will host a special meet-and-greet session during growler hours, which begin at noon. (If you've got tickets to Darkest Hour's album release party at the Black Cat on Feb. 17, Savor the Swill will also be available on tap at the club.) Noon to 4 p.m. A
Love Thy Beer at Silver Spring Civic Center, Feb. 17
The “signature event” of Maryland Craft Beer Lover's Month is a new festival focused on seasonal ales. Twenty-four Free State breweries, from Heavy Seas and Evolution to Peabody Heights and Brookeville Beer Farm, are bringing a selection of stouts, porters and other cold-weather beers to the Silver Spring Civic Center. Blues bands provide entertainment throughout the evening. The $50 general admission includes unlimited sampling and food from Mission BBQ; a $65 VIP ticket allows for early entry and the chance to try additional beers. 7-10 p.m. $50-$65.
Presidential Barleywine Festival at Pizzeria Paradiso, Feb. 20-23
If you've got Monday off, you might as well spend the holiday drinking strong ales. For the fourth year in a row, Pizzeria Paradiso is hosting a barleywine festival over the long weekend. Each of its three locations will have a different selection; the five at Georgetown's Birreria Paradiso, for example, will include the 2015 JW Lee's Harvest Ale, 2015 Uinta Anniversary Barleywine and the 2013 Bell's Wheat Love. Beers are priced individually; a sampler of all five is $22. Hours vary by location.
LoCo Ale Trail FeBREWary Finale at Vanish Farm Brewery, Feb. 25
Maryland breweries aren't the only ones getting crazy with puns: The breweries on Loudoun County's LoCo Ale Trail are also celebrating “FeBREWary” with a month of events and a collaboration beer, LoCollaboration Milk Stout, available at multiple breweries. The main event takes place at Vanish in Leesburg on Feb. 25, as 16 breweries come together to demonstrate why Loudoun has become a destination for beer-lovers. Taste beers from Ocelot, Adroit Theory, Crooked Run and Old Ox; buy food from local food trucks; and listen to music provided by DC 101. Tasting sessions run from noon to 3 p.m. or 4 to 7 p.m. $40 in advance, $45 at the door.