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.
But why is it twelve this month? Because there were too many events.
What’s the criteria? Enough with the questions.
When: Saturday, August 3
Where: Old Town Waterfront
August is Virginia Craft Beer Month, which is a wonderful opportunity to spotlight the fledgling, oft-forgotten Virginia breweries that are, um, dominating the DC-area beer scene.
Port City. Aslin. Vasen, Fair Winds. Solace. Crooked Run. Commonwealth. Perhaps you’ve heard of these underdogs? Well, on August 3, they (and two dozen other Virginia breweries) will be sending beer to Old Town’s Waterfront Park for the inaugural Paradiso in the Park Beer Festival.
As you might guess from the name, this is a Pizzeria Paradiso production. And as you might guess from this association, there will be pizza. Notably, this pizza will cost at $5. That’s right: $5 pizza. Beers meanwhile will be priced at a cool $6. What a time to be alive.
When you are not filling your face with delicious beer and pizza (or perhaps while you are doing these things), you can enjoy cornhole, splash golf, and live music. Fun for the whole family.
When: Saturday, August 3
Where: DC Brau
It has been four whole years since DC Brau and the Pietasters united for a good ol’ Braustomp, but this weekend the brewery and ska band get back on track with the third iteration of the fabled music festival. The nine-hour outdoor party will feature live performances from the hometown heroes in addition to eight other bands and three DJs. You can attend for the super reasonable cost of $30.
The beer is on you, but oh what choices you’ll have. On Friday, DC Brau will be releasing Stand & Deliver, its latest collaboration with Jameson Irish Whiskey, an 11% “barleywine-inspired” imperial IPA aged in whiskey barrels. (Pretty sure a “barleywine-inspired” imperial IPA is just hoppy barelywine, but I will keep an open mind.) On the more sessionable side, the brewery dropped a Cherry Lime Rickey gose last month. And, of course, there’s the relatively new flagship IPA Joint Resolution, which I wrote about (tangentially) a month ago.
When: Thursday, August 8
Brew Gentlemen are located in Braddock, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Pittsburgh along the Monongahela River. Of course, I don’t need to tell you this. I say Brew Gentlemen, you say Monongahela River, aka “The Mon,” which joins the Allegheny River to form the Ohio River. None of us are going to Wikipedia for this potamological information. We drink IPA and we know things about bodies of water (and the LA indie rock band Bodies of Water).
Anyway, Brew Gentlemen. They are the Pittsburgh area’s resident hype lord. (Or maybe a co-resident hype lord with Dancing Gnome?) They produce the haze that makes the flocc boyz go crazy. Taking a look at Untappd, there’s not much in the way of IPA that’s falling below 4 stars. Quite notably, the brewery also operates a highly regarded mixed-fermentation and barrel program. I once had shared a bottle of their foeder-aged Table Beer (shouts to the plug CVDW), and it was truly magnifique.
But that’s my only Brew Gentleman experience because, you know, the brewery doesn’t distribute down here.
The brewery will make an exception, however, on August 8, when it sends ten beers to ChurchKey to celebrate its fifth anniversary. Moreover, co-founder Matt Katase will be in attendance. Huzzah!
Those ten beers will include Akamai (the first double IPA Brew Gentlemen ever made), V (its fifth anniversary bourbon barrel-aged porter), and Mise en Rose (a cuvée of oak-aged farmhouse ales).
It will also send a cask of English Mild called Blanks & Postage. Did you hear that? Greg Engert just squealed with excitement.
When: Saturday, August 10
Where: Old Bust Head
The only kids anyone is excited to see at a brewery. (Zing!)
Need I say more? There will be baby goats. They’re goats… but smaller and cuter. You want to dunk on your Instagram feed? Post a picture with baby goats.
OK, fine, I’ll say more.
On August 10, Old Bust Head celebrates five years of brews on Vint Hill with a full day and night (noon to 10:00pm!) of live music, dunk tanking, raffle prizing, food trucking, and (duh) beer.
On that last point (ie, this column’s alleged raison d’etre), Old Bust Head will be rolling out five new beers: Berliner Weisse, Peach Berliner Weisse, Double Berry Berliner Weisse, Red Wine Barrel-Aged Berliner Weisse… and Light Lager (which is not a Berliner Weisse.)
Two of Old Bust Head’s most popular beers are a margarita gose and a pink lemonade gose, so it makes sense they’d want to explore the refreshing world of Berliner variants. As for that outlier beer, I recently explored the subject of craft beer’s embrace of American light lagers in Freshly Tapped: Denizens’ PGC Premium.
And while we’re linking content (ie, this column’s actual raison d’etre), if you’re unfamiliar with Old Bust Head, I went deep on the brewery a year ago in Freshly Tapped: Old Bust Head’s Table Talk, which is one of my favorite entries in the series. (Much to my chagrin, co-founder Julie Broadus and I did not discuss baby goats.)
When: Saturday, August 10
Where: The Bruery Store + Dock 5
Richmond, Virginia is about 100 miles from DC. On a good day, you can get there in less than two hours.
So, if you really wanted cans from The Veil, you could drive down pretty much any day of the week to get them. You probably won’t even have to wait in line. After all, the region’s premier hype monster produces a lot of beer.
But, look, you’re lazy. You want The Veil to come to you. And I can respect that. Luckily, it appears The Veil is willing to send a boatload of beer to DC every once in a while (in addition to the kegs it sends to Neighborhood Restaurant Group on the reg).
In March, the brewery hosted a pop-up bar at Dock 5 (that relatively bare space atop Union Market) and it sent four-packs to The Bruery Store essentially across the parking lot. According to print god Fritz Hahn, there was copious beer and not much in the way of lines at the pop-up bar.
On August 10, they’ll look to rekindle that magic by doing the same thing at each space. That morning, head to The Bruery to score some 16oz haze and sorta literally juice bombs. The Veil promises “even more cans than last time,” but it’s too early to enumerate what exactly those will be. (There will definitely be a line for that part.)
Or swing by Dock 5 for a few full pours.
When: Saturday, August 10
Where: Rocket Frog Brewing
In December, Rocket Frog Brewing released Woobie, a porter with chocolate, coffee, and vanilla. Based on my scientific research into the matter, people seemed to really love the beer, because who doesn’t love porter, chocolate, coffee, and vanilla?
But the bigger story was that Woobie was a collaboration with The Black Ale Project, an initiative to raise money and awareness on behalf of U.S. war veterans. In the case of Woobie, proceeds would go to Hope for the Warriors. (You can watch a video on the collaboration here.)
On August 10, Rocket Frog will be presenting a check for $2,500 to the nonprofit. And they’re throwing a party at the same time. A pig roast, to be specific. For $25, you get a plate of pulled pork and fixings, two beers, and a Rocket Frog frisbee. (Side note: Free hot dogs for kids.)
Eat pork. Drink beer. Feel good about it.
When: Sunday, August 11
Where: 3 Stars Brewing
For the past six 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 (just kidding, it will probably be worse), I can report another 3 Stars anniversary party is all-systems-go.
This year’s birthday fete will go down on Sunday, August 11. 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.
The imbibable headliners are two new collabs with Burnish Beer Co., the forthcoming project of RAR and Evolution vet Randy Mills. One is a 8.5% double IPA called …And Hazy For All; the other is an as-yet-untitled sweet stout. (Mills and 3 Stars are old friends with a history of joint projects, like RAR’s DoCo District and 3 Stars’ Funky Boss. The new DIPA’s name is a callback to one of Mills’ favorite 3 Stars’ beers, Harvester of Sorrow, another Metallica reference.)
In addition to those brews, 3 Stars will once again be releasing cans of its anniversary double IPA, the Mosaic showcase Technicolor Life. (I wrote about the beer in 2017.) Oh, and there will be 23 other taps pouring the brewery’s beer, plus bottle pours of barrel-aged rarities.
Tickets run $15 for normies and $50 for the VIP Jackpot Experience. The latter option gets you early access to the brewery, a four-pack of …And Hazy for All, a handful of drink tickets, exclusive bottle pours, and one competitive slapping duel with co-founder Dave Coleman. Everyone gets to enjoy a performance from School of Rock and several DJs.
“People have essentially two weeks to decide whether or not they want to miss the best party of the year,” Coleman told me last Friday. “Probably 98% of the market will never see these beers.”
When: Thursday, August 15
Where: Heurich House
Whether we like it or not, ratings sites (like Untappd) and social media (mainly Instagram, but also Facebook and Twitter) have a big impact on the success of breweries, the beers they choose to produce, and what consumers order when they go to bar. You know this. They know this. But we rarely talk about it.
So, this is a subject I want to explore in the latest iteration of First Runnings, my interview series at the Heurich House.
The date: Thursday, August 15.
Some questions I’ll maybe pose… How did good ratings accelerate and even shape the success of these breweries? How can these same sites frustrate them? Have they made social media mistakes? How do you harness positive energy and excitement online? How do you respond to criticism, whether it be on a ratings site or within a pitchfork-wielding Facebook group? How is social media built into the operations of your brewery or restaurant? Should breweries be allowed to use photo filters?!?
I can’t imagine a more savvy panel from whom to hear answers.
For homework, please read Tonsmeire’s How to Win Untappd (or any Online Beer Rating).
When: Friday, August 16
Schilling Beer Co. hails from New Hampshire, aka the forgotten state in the axis of upper New England beer. (Hey, it’s tough being sandwiched between Vermont and Maine.)
On August 16, Schilling will make its case for the Granite State at ChurchKey.
What’s the brewery’s story? According to fine event descriptor writers at Neighborhood Restaurant Group, Schilling was founded by four brothers and their father in 2013. “Located in a converted 18th-century grist mill on the Ammonoosuc River, this close-knit family is known for producing continental European-inspired beers,” we are told.
They’ll be sending nine brew to the Logan Circle beer bar, including Havel & Spree (a Berliner Weisse brewed with blueberry, vanilla, and lemon), Poppy’s Moonship (a gose with guava and passionfruit)… and, wait, WTF, I thought these dudes were making continental European-inspired beers? Just kidding, the brewery will also be sending a Pilsner, a Tripel, Kellerbier, a Tmavy, and an oak barrel-aged mixed-fermentation saison called Asymmetry of Time (a Free Will colllab).
Schilling will also be gracing us with an IPA from its second label, Resilience Brewing. (That beer, Combover IPA, is hopped with Galaxy and its little brother Vic Secret.)
As with all ChurchKey events, it’s all-you-can-drink for all-you-can-pay.
Brookland Pint 5th Anniversary
When: Saturday, August 17
Where: Brookland Pint
Brookland Pint is turning 5.
Beer Director Jace Gonnerman is picking the drafts.
All of the aforementioned drafts will be $5.
This is all you need know.
When: Wednesday, August 21
Where: Ocelot Brewing
For two-and-a-half years, Ocelot Brewing more or less didn’t reproduce IPAs. In that time, founder Adrien Widman and original head brewer Mike McCarthy churned out over 100 unique IPAs. By my calculations, that’s… a lot of IPA.
But when Ocelot started canning beers at the start of 2018, it began pulling from its back catalogue of greatest hits: Home*, Mr. Kite, Mi Corazon, Two Lost Souls, Gorgeous & Alone, Break My Balls. Just world-beating IPAs, to state the obvious.
Now, Ocelot didn’t stop coming up with entirely new IPAs (see: Kingdom Half Mine, Castle in Brooklyn, Side Effects), but something else interesting has been happening since Jack Snyder assumed the reins of head brewer a little over a year ago: He and Widman have been picking long-dormant recipes from Ocelot’s beerography, and then Snyder has given them updates – or, in some cases, radical facelifts.
Typically, the hops stay the same (though sometimes they get tweaked, too). The grist is almost sure to get a thorough revision, often with an eye towards upping its complexity (and the IPA program’s overall diversity). And, of course, while Ocelot once rode for Chico, most of its beers are now fermented with London Ale III or a Conan derivate.
On August 21, Ocelot will once again make two old IPA reappear from its magic hat. One is Jacks & Jokers, a showcase for the pairing of Amarillo’s orange blossom character and piney Simcoe. The beer has been boosted from 6.6% to 7.2% ABV, and now features flaked oats, but Snyder opted to retain Chico.
The other beer – and surely the more anticipated – is Planets. Formerly known as Planets Align, this once-clear, 6.7% IPA originally featured two New Zealand varietals: Nelson Sauvin and Waimea. Now fermented with Ocelot’s House Ale 3 (and brewed with malted wheat), it’s sure to look a little different. As for the hops, Nelson Sauvin is still in the mix (not a surprise – no one in the DC area utilizes the pricey, white winey hop more) but it’s been paired with Comet. Think of it as an attempt to recapture the magic (from an aromatic perspective, at least) of January’s double IPA Moonlight Drive.
In other Ocelot release news, Profits of Pride (alongside a new batch of Thought Control) returns after a 77-week hiatus on August 7.
When: Saturday, August 31
Where: Hysteria Brewing
It feels like just yesterday that I headed to Columbia, Maryland, to write a feature on Hysteria Brewing Company, a months-old brewery that was causing some noise with an IPA called Trash Panda.
Well, it was years ago! In fact, Hysteria is turning two this month. And they’re celebrate the occasion on August 31.
From the looks of the Facebook page linked above, they’re going to have oodles of beer. Most notably, they’ve produced Ich Bin Ein Berliner – a 2% ABV second-anniversary Berliner Weiss. Real talk: That’s kind of one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen a brewery do. (They’ll have different syrups to flavor that Berliner if you prefer your sour ales on the confectionary side.)
You can sip that brew outside (where there will be games, seating, and a tent). There will also be food trucks and a “street magician” (ie, a magician in a V-neck and skinny jeans).