You like beer. Bars and breweries like your money. These mischievous institutions are constantly devising creative ways to convince you to give them your money in exchange for beer. Many people call these things “events.” There are a lot of them. Possibly too many. Which ones are worth your time, hangover, and hard-earned, disposable income? That’s a great question.
Welcome to Draft Picks, the column where BYT picks the month’s ten best beer events.
Why ten? Because it sounds cool. What’s the criteria? Enough with the questions.
When: Saturday, August 4
Where: Craft Beer Cellar
The DC chapter of Craft Beer Cellar is turning two, and the bottle shop is celebrating the only way it knows how to: hard drugs, tribal techno, and ritual animal sacrifice.
Correction: It will celebrate by selling some cool beers. That makes more sense.
For starters, the Northeast store will be bringing in a #rare and #exclusive shipment of Boston’s Night Shift and Iowa’s Toppling Goliath (who are having a bad week but still make Pseudo Sue, so… shrug emoji?). It’ll have tastings with Right Proper head brewer Nathan Zeender, Commonwealth, and RAR. And, lastly, it’ll unleash “special limited releases” from Cantillon, Drie Fonteinen, Amager, Allagash, Fantome, Jester King, Frederiksdal and Cherry Wine. Heard of ’em.
There’s a whole release schedule, which you can check out here.
When: Friday, August 10
It’s summertime, and the Mosaic single-hop IPAs are falling like big, fat rain drops. Last month, Ocelot dropped a fresh batch of its unfuckwithable Break My Balls. This week, Bluejacket is debuting I Need to Space. In a few weeks, 3 Stars is bringing back Technicolor Life. So, the fruity varietal is in full bloom.
But let’s not forget the OG of the local Mosaic IPA game: DC Brau’s Space Reaper, aka the artist formerly known as Solar Abyss. First brewed in 2014, the 9.2% double IPA was way ahead of its time. And it remains, for my money, the most intense distillation of the Pacific Northwest varietal I’ve ever tasted. It’s basically Mosaic extract. It’s crazy.
Normally, Space Reaper releases on the summer solstice, so when June 21 came and went this year without the double IPA, I cried and cried and cried. God had forsaken me. What had I done? Where was my Space Reaper? Was this punishment for stealing baseball cards in fourth grade? Topps didn’t need my allowance money.
Alas, Space Reaper was just running late. He got tied up or something. Now, Space Reaper is back and it is officially summer.
ChurchKey helps celebrate on August 10, when it hosts the third annual Space Reaper Fresh & Fruity Cask Night. As you might guess from the name, this event involves five fruit-conditioned casks of Space Reaper. More specifically: starfruit, tangerine, green plum, dragonfruit, and ataulfo mango.
When: Saturday, August 11
Where: Old Bust Head Brewing
Earlier this week, BYT published my Freshly Tapped profile of Old Bust Head’s new fruited witbier Table Talk. I’ll let you in on a little secret, though: The story is only, like, 32% about the beer. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I love witbier – and Table Talk is a good one – but I don’t 5,000-words love witbier. No, it’s about the history of the brewery, the space it inhabits, and the family who founded it. Julie Broaddus and I covered a lot of ground. You should give it a read.
And in honor of the article’s release, the Vint Hill brewery is throwing a party on August 11th! Correction: The brewery is throwing a party on August 11th to celebrate its fourth anniversary. But you can totally go and pretend it’s about the article.
What can you expect at this party? HOW ABOUT BABY GOATS. I am not even lying. I know sometimes I lie and it’s hard to trust me. There will for real be baby goats at this party. But only from 1:00 to 4:00. Then, presumably, it is goat naptime.
Other than that, the nine-hour bash will feature live music… but only from 4:00 to 8:00, because no one will go watch a band when baby goats are around. Baby goats > live music.
Oh, and Old Bust Head will be releasing two beers: an anniversary Belgian-style quadruple (available in 22oz bombers) and its Oktoberfest. Fun fact: Oktoberfest is Brewmaster Charles Kling’s favorite beer he makes. Just a little tidbit from the Freshly Tapped cutting room floor. Don’t mention it.
The event is free to attend, and will also feature select happy hour deals, raffle prizes, and food trucks.
When: Sunday, August 12
Where: 3 Stars Brewing
For the past five years, August has reliably brought DC residents two presents: suffocating humidity and a 3 Stars’ anniversary party. The agony and the ecstasy. And while I can’t say for sure whether this August will be just as sticky (LOLZ, of course it will), I can say another 3 Stars anniversary party is all-systems-go.
This year’s birthday fete – the brewery’s sixth! – will go down on Sunday, August 12. You should know what to expect at this point: new beers, commemorative glassware, DJs, live music, local vendors slinging their #ultrafresh wares, and a mild Monday hangover. On the drinkable front, the two main attractions (thus far) will be the reappearance of Technicolor Life and the debut of Wheelz of Steel.
“What are these beers?” you may be wondering. Good question. Technicolor Life is a light-bodied, all-Mosaic double IPA that the brewery made for its fifth anniversary. (I dove into the recipe and the name’s meaning in last year’s The Technicolor Life of 3 Stars Brewing.) Wheelz of Steel, meanwhile, is the latest in 3 Stars’ ongoing hip-hop culture series. (Oh hey, I wrote about that, too.)
You can also probably expect to sip on a few other new beers the brewery has churned out lately, like Brothers Gotta Hug (an NE IPA collab with Manor Hill), Biscuits & Marmalade (a marmalade-and-citrus-spiked kolsch that I hear is delightful), and new-to-cans fruited Berliner weisse Raspberry Dissonance (a longtime favorite of mine).
Tickets run $10 for normies and $50 for the VIP Experience. The latter option gets you early access to the brewery, four-packs of Technicolor Life and Wheelz of Steel, a custom glass, a handful of drink tickets, and no less than two thumb war matches with Dave Coleman. There will also be “can garden,” because fuck cups.
When: Saturday, August 18
Where: Pizzeria Paradiso Dupont
Back in May, Pizzeria Paradiso held the first of its Four Seasons Beer Festivals out in Hyattesville. It sounded pretty chill. A bunch of top-notch Maryland breweries, drink tickets, 6oz pours, lawn games. You know the drill. Beer fest shit.
But now Executive Beverage Director Drew McCormick has gone and laid down the gauntlet with Summer Fest. I’ll put it this way: Do you remember when “Fast Five” came out and your boy was like, “Dude, you gotta see the new ‘The Fast & the Furious,’” and you were like, “I don’t know, man, I missed the last few,” and he was like, “No, it doesn’t even matter. The Rock is in it now, and they rob a train, and there ‘s an insane favela chase scene”? OK, this is jut like that. But with beer.
On August 18th, the Dupont Pizzeria Paradiso location will turn its patio into [checks notes] heaven. Yes, heaven. For four hours. Four hours of unlimited pizza and unlimited beer. And with all due respect to Maryland, the list of breweries on the tap list is absolutely bonkers: Finback, Fonta Flora, Night Shift, Grimm, The Bruery, Lost Abbey, Bond Brothers, and, um, fucking Cantillon. You heard me correct. DWAYNE “THE CANTILLON” JOHNSON.
Tickets cost $80, so it is certainly a treat-yo-self occasion, but I would advise you to reread that last paragraph again. Pretty much none of those breweries in market, and if you can find them, it’s $10 to $15 for a 10oz pour. Also: unlimited pizza.
R.I.P. the beer fest game.
When: Saturday, August 18
On August 18, ChurchKey is hosting The Official Other Half & The Bruery Pop-Up After Party (not to be confused with That Dude Roger from Untappd’s Unofficial Other Half & The Bruery Pop Up After Party), which leads me to believe… The Bruery’s Union Market store is hosting an Other Half pop-up on August 18? There does not appear to be anything about it online yet. But an Other Half DC can drop would be a big deal, so it gets a speculative Draft Picks spot. [Update: DRY LAND IS NOT A MYTH.]
For those unfamiliar with the Brooklyn (and someday Rochester) brewery, Other Half is among the hottest of the hot shit East Coast breweries. They do the excessively fragrant, pillowy soft, hoppy AF juice bomb thing about as well as anyone else, in addition to imperial stouts and fruited sours (obviously). If they are indeed dropping cans at Union Market, there will be lines. Oh, there will be lines.
If you do not feel like waiting in a line, ChurchKey has the aforementioned OFFICIAL after party, which will feature 20 (!) Other Half brews. Highlights include Other Half’s Kölsch is My Cologne, the pilsner Possibly of Interest, and literally 13 IPAs. There will also be 10 drafts from The Bruery, who are a mighty fine brewery themselves.
When: Sunday, August 19
Yes, another ChurchKey event. Don’t blame me. Blame Beer Director Greg Engert, aka Pusha Tipo, aka Young Gandalf, aka Murder Was the Cask, aka Lupulin Fiasco. Also, probably blame Tim Liu. I don’t have any nicknames for him. But these dudes have no chill with the events.
Anyway, on August 19, the Logan Circle beer bar and tater tot den will be welcoming Great Raft Brewing, the highly regarded Shreveport brewery co-founded by DCBeer.com alumnus (and frequent Bluejacket collaborator) Andrew Nations. He’ll be bringing seven beers with him, including the latest batch of rotating-hop Brett IPA Oceans Between Us (this one is El Dorado), a bourbon barrel-aged Baltic porter, and two pilsners (one American, one German). Orders of the new American pilsner (The Company I Keep) will be served with “a complimentary side of authentic Cajun cracklins, flown-in directly from Louisiana, while supplies last.”
As with most ChurchKey events, this is all you can drink for all you can pay.
When: August 19-26
Where: The District of Columbia
DC Beer Week is back! For the tenth year! A decade of DC Beer Week! I’m saving my blurbs for a separate preview! But do the exclamation points express my excitement and the significance of the anniversary!? Also, check out that throwback to DC Beer Week 2012 at the bottom of Draft Picks! Brandon, that outfit, my dude!
OK, fine, some quick-hitting recommendations. You don’t want to miss the first annual Lager Fest on August 19. And speaking of lagers, this year’s solidarity brew is a pilsner brewed – and canned! – at Atlas Brew Works. (High probability of a Freshly Tapped profile coming on that.) The August 21 Battle of the Barrel-Aged is an annual highlight (and perfect following a cough conversation on beer design), as is Roofers Union’s keg kill / DC Beer Royale on August 23. Brewers on the Block is one of the area’s best beer festivals.
Yada yada, full preview coming soon.
When: Tuesday, August 21
Where: The Heurich House
I know I said I’m saving DC Beer Week for a separate preview, but this gets special Draft Picks love because… it me.
On August 21, I will be moderating a panel on beer art, labels, posters, logos, and design with a ridiculously loaded collection of individuals: David Kammerdeiner (exclusive artist for Ocelot and former creative director of Dogfish Head), Mike Van Hall (Stillwater Artisanal creative director and exclusive label designer for Aslin Beer Co.), Kendra Kuliga (exclusive designer for 3 Stars), Andy Sides (design for DC Beer Week and Right Proper), and Graham Jackson (design for DC Brau).
We’ll be digging deep into their inspiration, the challenges and limitations they face, and what’s it like working with the Francis Ford Coppola on the set of “Apocalypse Now” (i.e., brewery owners). Since beer talks go better with beer, you’ll be able to enjoy brews from some of the distinguished breweries listed above during the event.
If you can’t make the event: 1. I will take it very personally. 2. These artists’ works will be exhibited in the Heurich House Museum’s Carriage House Gallery from August 3 to September 29.
When: Friday, August 31
Where: Union Stage
If you are a Draft Picks regular (a Draftee?) (can we please make that a thing?), you know that I spend my life perpetually in pursuit of Ocelot. I go to bars if I know they have Ocelot. I have an Ocelot plug (i.e., a friend who is kind enough to pick me up can releases). Ocelot is life, etc.
As you also may know, my little Draftee (is it sticking?), Ocelot is named after a Phish song called… um… “Is There an Ocelot in the Corner or Am I Just Super Baked? (Cat Vibes).” Wait, no, it’s just called “Ocelot”. I’ll be honest: I don’t know a lot about Phish. The only Phish album I really bumped was Farmhouse, and I’m sure real Phish fans probably hate that one. But it doesn’t matter what I think about Phish. Ocelot loves Phish.
And on August 31, they’re spreading their Phish love at Union Stage with a tap takeover and a free concert featuring The Last Rewind, D.C.’s premiere Phish cover act and the unofficial house band of Ocelot. They’ll be performing renditions of classic Phish tunes like “Doesn’t Matter (There’s Ocelot Beer)”, “Infinity Mr. Kite Pints”, “Did You Try The Triple Crossing Collab? (So Good)”, and “The Long One”.
If you’re in DC for Labor Day Weekend, this is the place to be. If it was a Seven Mary Three cover band playing, it would still be the place to be.