“It was all a dream / I used to have to drive to Philly for everything” – The Notorious B.I.G, “Juicy IPAs” (1994)
For the eleventh year, DC Beer Week is here to take over your life for eight crazy days and nights.
Here’s the deal: All of our local breweries (and some from further away) are descending upon the area’s bars, restaurants, and less conventional spaces for dozens of events this week. These events include keg kills, beer dinners, friendly competitions, regionally themed or style-centric tastings, tap takeovers, a “Jungle Party,” and much more.
Technically, DC Beer Week officially started. dealwithit.gif, OK? Here’s what you missed: Bluejacket threw a kickoff party and released 16oz cans of the 2019 Solidarity Brew. Fortunately, you can still go to Bluejacket, buy those cans, and support the DC Brewers’ Guild.
Inspired by “a shared love of German-style lagers,” this year’s Solidarity Beer is a “traditional Kellerbier gently hopped with Hallertau Mittelfrüh.” That sounds lovely. You’ll also find it on draft around town.
With that out of the way, I humbly present you with this guide to everything else DC Beer Week. Read it. Learn it. Memorize it.
When: 5:00pm – 10:00pm
You want to see some crab bodies?
For the eighth year running, DC Brau is teaming with the crab experts at Rosslyn’s Quarterdeck for an evening of crustacean indulgence.
Tickets costs $50, which gets you bottomless crab, plus access to $1 DC Brau drafts and $5 pitchers of Brau Pils – a beer literally designed to quench the thirst of marathon crab eating. (Fact check: 12 Pinocchios.)
Where: 3 Stars Brewing
When: 6:00pm – 9:00pm
Can the infrastructure of DC handle two extravaganzas in one night? Will the electrical grid explode? Will boiling wort flow through the streets like lava in Pompei?
Only one way to find out!
Monday’s second extravaganza is going down at 3 Stars. As in years past, local homebrewers have been invited to clone this year’s Solidarity Brew based solely on the recipe. Whoever gets closest to Bluejacket’s kellerber wins $50 and the incalculable envy of their fellow homebrewers.
And you, humble consumer, get to vote. (I got to judge last year at Right Proper, and I had a blast. Total positive beer community vibes.)
As an added bonus, the brewery has also invited entries in two other categories: Double IPA and American Wild Sour Ale. These beers will compete for their own prize. In the end, we all win.
Where: Church Hall
When: 4:00pm – 7:00pm
The beer does sound wildly intriguing, though. (Yeast jokez!) Dubbed Biospere, it’s a 9.2% Double IPA feremented with both a traditional farmhouse strain and Brett, and then double dry-hopped with Citra and Sabro. Flavortown. The Baltimore brewery’s 7% Astrodon IPA will also be on special for your (comparatively) more sessionable enjoyment.
Fair warning: Trivia starts at 7:00, in case you wander in at 7:30 and wonder WTF is going on.
Where: Right Proper (Shaw)
When: 6:30pm – 8:30pm
No false advertising here: On Monday, Right Proper is roasting a whole pig, and then serving it up family style with roasted summer vegetables, garlic mashed potatoes, and grilled peach sage sauce.
But, wait, there’s more: The culinary adventure begins with grilled oysters and ends with Dolce Limone Cheesecake.
And along the way, the Shaw brewpub will be serving up four beers – all fermented in oak foeders, naturally.
All of this can be yours for a fair $50.
When: 4:00pm – 11:30pm
55 tap and casks lines. 100% DC beer.
For the fifth year running, ChurchKey will do what was once unthinkable and dedicate everything it has to DC Beer.
All nine DC Brewers Guild members will be supplying multiple beers: 3 Stars, Atlas Brew Works, Bluejacket, DC Brau, District Chophouse, Hellbender, Right Proper, and – making their DC Total Takeover debuts – Red Bear and Valor Brewpub.
I’d recommend some beers, but we don’t have all day here. Check the list at the link above.
Where: Boundary Stone
When: 5:30pm – 9:00pm
DC Beer Week isn’t about solidarity. It’s about cutthroat competition.
OK, it’s about solidarity, too, but the competitions are more fun.
The biggest annual showdown – and one of the scene’s biggest “industry nights” – is Boundary Stone’s Battle of Barrel-Aged. The event is back for the sixth year, and as usual DC Brau, Atlas Brew Works, Port City, Right Proper, 3 Stars, and Hellbender are each bringing a keg of something that’s been barrelled for at least one month.
Here’s the fun twist: Everyone has to use the same type of barrel, and it changes each year. You win, you get to choose the next year’s barrel. For 2019, the barrel type is… local barrels! Double twist!
So, this year, all entries will have been aged in barrels from local distilleries, specifically Cotton and Reed, District Distilling, Magnus, New Columbia, OneEight, or Republic Restoratives.
As of Monday morning, general admission is sold out, but 15 VIP tickets remain. Don’t miss you opportunity to see brewery owners and staff 100% lit. Trust me, it’s gets very weird late.
DC Beer Royale
Where: Roofers Union
When: 5:30 pm – 10:30pm
Ah, keg kills. I get older, they stay the same in concept and execution.
My favorite adult keg kill? That would be Roofers Union’s annual DC Beer Royale.
The friendly competition pits all seven DC production breweries (roll call: 3 Stars, DC Brau, Hellbender, Right Proper, Bluejacket, Red Bearm and Atlas Brew Works) against each other. And since breweries like to win things, they bring the good stuff.
The winner gets $400 from Roofers Union and door donations… all of which it will then give to a charity of their choice.
Blah, blah, blah. KEG KILL.
Where: Red Bear Brewing
When: 4:00pm – 8:00pm
OK, who put cider in my beer week?
Oh, Distillery Lane Ciderworks? In collaboration with Red Bear Brewing? I’ll allow it.
On Wednesday, take a break from your regularly scheduled barley when Frederick, Maryland’s finest cidery pays a visit to Northeast DC.
They’ll be bringing seven different ciders, including some adventurous sounding stuff like Cherry Currant Southpaw, Aronia + Fennel Seed, and (of course) Hopped Cider.
If you’re not ready to go full cider, there will be five unique Snakebits (half beer, half cider) on the menu.
Where: Brookland Pint
When: 11:00am – 11:00pm
Didn’t you hear? Brookland Pint is the new Meridian Pint. Please ignore that impostor Meridian Pint in Virginia. All of the DC Beer Week action that used to go down in Columbia Heights has now migrated to Brookland.
Of course, all of these bars have the same beer director: Jace Gonnerman.
One brewery that Gonnerman has been an especially vocal proponent of (for a while now) is Obenton, Maryland’s Crooked Crab. So, it’s only logical that he’d use DC Beer Week as an excuse to showcase Crooked Crab at the new Meridian Pint (which is not the actual new Meridian Pint).
On Wednesday, he’ll tap a slew of offerings from the brewery, including Mexican Joltage (a variant of the High Joltage Coffee Stout infused with peppers, chocolate, and cinnamon), Eternal Deathslayer (an imperial stout brewed with a lengthy five-hour boil), and Space Popsicle (a variant of the Oater Space Galaxy IPA with vanilla beans).
Of course, if you like plain ol’ Crooked Crab IPAs, the bar will have some of those, too.
Where: Huerich House
When: 6:00pm – 9:00pm
Jamaal Lemon and Myron (Shep) Jenkins, aka the minds behind The Wayfarer Study, aka the voices behind Help the Pour, will be giving a Brew Talk at the Heurich House. They’ll be discussing “their experiences drinking beer around the globe and what that taught them about beer, life, and drinking in the DMV.” Prepare to be very jealous.
Where: Cotton & Reed
When: 6:00pm – 9:00pm
For the third year running, DC’s very own rum distillery Cotton & Reed and Alexandria’s Port City are teaming up for a Super Fun Party Time.
On tap: rum cocktails made with Port City beers. Also: probably just regular Port City beers.
Per the brewery, there will be “games setup throughout the distillery with a special guest referee,” which sounds both fun and dangerous.
The theme is Jungle Party, so dress accordingly.
Where: Red Bear Brewing
When: 6:00pm – 10:00pm
On Thursday, Red Bear is partnering with the DMV chapter of Pink Boots for a panel discussion (and meet-and-greet) with some of the area’s leading women in beer.
The panel will feature Mari Rodela (Chief Community & Culture Officer, DC Brau Brewing Company), Melissa Romano (Owner, Lake Anne Brew House), Katie Marisic (Federal Affairs Manager, Brewers Association), Drew McCormick (Beer Director, Pizzeria Paradiso), and Tierney Plumb (Senior Editor, Eater DC). Asking the questions: Red Bear’s own Liz Cox.
The event doubles as a release party for Blonde Boots, a Belgian-style Blonde brewed with a host of DMV-area female brewers, including Allison Lange from Old Ox Brewery, Odessa Winters from 3 Stars Brewing Company, Melissa Hoffman from Lost Rhino Brewing Co., Jeanne Burns from Lake Anne Brew House, and Lily Schulz from Denizens Brewing Co.
Where: Pizzeria Paradiso (Dupont)
When: 11:30am – 11:00pm
When it comes to IPAs, it’s all about keeping it #ultrafresh. As Nas once rapped: “Oxidation is the cousin of death.”
Pizzeria Paradiso executive beverage director Drew McCormick knows this. She would never serve you stale IPA. Nope. Not on her watch. Just the idea of faded aromatics keeps her up at night.
To prove this point, she’s brought us another entry in her Fresh to Death series. The concept is pretty simple: 12 beers, all kegged out less than a week ago. “What about eight days, Phil?” you may be wondering. POUR IT DOWN THE DRAIN, ALEX.
Of course, fresh beer is only as good as the brewery it comes from, and on Wednesday the Dupont Pizzeria Paradiso will be spotlighting some A+ Virginia and Maryland operation, including: Right Proper, Union, Atlas, Astro Lab, Denizen’s, Diamondback, DC Brau, Ocelot, 3 Stars, Port City, Silver Branch, and Fine Creek.
Where: Brookland Pint
When: 11:00am – 11:00pm
This is a late entry to the DC Beer Week calendar, but when a late entry involves a dozen Allagash draft lines, no one is complaining.
That’s right, on Thursday Brookland Pint will tap a cool 12 beers from the iconic Portland, Maine brewery.
Presumably, you will be able to cleanse your palate with some refreshing Allagash White.
Aslin Anniversary Pre-Parties
When: 4:00pm – 11:00pm
As you’ll see below (and as you likely already know), this year’s DC Beer Week aligns with Aslin’s anniversary party.
That means a ton of out-of-market breweries and hype monsters are sending a rare (or first-time) shipment of beer to DC. And if they’re already sending beer to DC, well, why not send a little more and do an event with Greg Engert and Neighborhood Restaurant Group?
This is the case with four events on the DC Beer Week calendar. The two biggest fall on Thursday and are each explicitly called an Aslin Anniversary Pre-Party.
The first, at ChurchKey, features the blockbuster line-up of Finback (Glendale, New York), Kings County Brewers Collective (Brooklyn, New York), Magnify Brewing (Fairfield, New Jersey), Narrow Gauge (Florissant, Missouri), Outer Range (Frisco, Colorado), Southern Grist (Nashville, Tennessee), Temescal Brewing (Oakland, California), The Good Beer Company (Santa Ana, California), Thin Man (Buffalo, New York), Urban South (New Orleans, Louisanna), and Vitamin Sea (Weymouth, Massachusetts).
You can probably expect a lot of IPAs and stouts from this line-up. Also, I’m not hyperlinking all of those breweries. Use your Google machine.
The second event, starting an hour later, is at The Sovereign, and it logically features breweries that specialize in sour and wild production. Here’s that roll call (ahem): Barrel Culture (Durham, North Carolina), Carton Brewing (Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey), Cellador Ales (North Hills, California), Cerebral Brewing (Denver, Colorado), Commonwealth (Virginia Beach, Virginia), Plan Bee Farm Brewery (Poughkeepsie, New York), The Rare Barrel (Berkely, California), Resident Culture (Charlotte, North Carolina), and Yeast of Eden (Carmel-By-The-Sea, California).
The one brewery appearing at both events: Bluejacket.
Just kidding! It’s Aslin, dummy.
Where: Potomac Riverboat Company (The Wharf)
When: 5:00pm – 11:00pm
As DC Beer editor emeritus Bill DeBaun remembers, the DC Beer Week cruise (which ran from 2011 through 2013) is somewhat a legendary event.
Now, it’s back under the watch of DC’s oldest yet hardest-partying brewery: DC Brau. (Brewery co-founders Jeff Hancock and Brandon Skall are pictured above on one of the OG cruises.)
$75 gets you a beer, food, and the ride of your life. No one likes to take a big swing at DC Beer Week like DC Brau.
Where: The Berliner
When: 4:00pm – 9:00pm
Drink the change you want to see in the world. That’s how the phrase goes, right?
On Friday night, The Berliner and Hellbender Brewing are partnering with Patagonia and Sapidus Farms to raise money for the Potomac Riverkeeper Network.
On tap: Hellbender beer. (Duh.)
On ice: oysters, waiting to be shucked for you by Sapidus Farms.
On my upper torso: a Patagonia fleece vest. You can wear whatever you want, though. There’s no Patagonia dress code.
Your $15 ticket nets you one Hellbender Beer, two raffle tickets (for the Georgetown Patagonia store), and three oysters.
Also, a portion of all Hellbender beer sales will be donated to Potomac Riverkeeper Network, so drink up.
Where: Union Market
When: 2:00pm – 6:00pm
There’s no novel way to spin this: Brewers on the Block is just a well-organized, local-focus beer festival. I always have a blast, and I hate 97% of things in the world.
It starts with the DMV breweries (and meaderies) (and cideries). The number of participants currently sits at 40+, and there’s not a scrub amongst them. Alewerks, Väsen, Pale Fire, RAR, Peabody Heights, UNION Craft, Right Proper – the list goes on. And if past years are any indication, they tend to bring one-offs and seasonals, so you’re not signing up for more of the same flagships.
Tickets are a very reasonable $55. That’s unlimited pours for three hours from the caliber of breweries above… for $55. I’m no expert, but that sounds like a steal.
Where: Aslin Beer Co.
When: 1:00pm – 5:00pm
Aslin Beer Co. recently opened a chic, expansive tasting room and production facility in Alexandria, Virginia. Perhaps you heard? Perhaps you’ve visited?
If not, don’t worry, I went deep with co-founder Andrew Kelley in July’s Johann Needs a Bigger Brewery: Aslin’s Alexandria Expansion and Imperial Ambitions. Think of it as Everything You Wanted to Know About Aslin But Didn’t Know You Were Supposed to Ask.
One thing we did not discuss, though, was Aslin’s anniversary party.
Now, every brewery has an anniversary party. Draft Picks might as well be called This Month’s Brewery Anniversary Parties and Other Things. But as far as local breweries go, Aslin’s anniversary party is on another level. It’s one of the region’s most elite beer festivals. In fact, if Snallygaster wasn’t around, Aslin’s party would probably vie for the crown with The Veil’s Forever Summer and RAR’s Dank Day.
It’s not just that Aslin brings in over 120 breweries. It’s that those breweries represent roughly half of the hype breweries on the planet. Civil Society! Alvarado Street! Bearded Iris! Birds Fly South! Dancing Gnome! Finback! Tombstone! Southern Grist! I could do this all day!
Tickets are priced at a very reasonable $65, which comes with unlimited pours, a commemorative glass, and… did I mention unlimited pours? There will also be live music and whatnot.
And in better news for District dwellers, the festival has moved from Herndon to Alexandria this year, so your Lyft ride just went down $30.
When: Saturday, September 14
The Other Half invasion continues. All hail our Brooklyn overlords.
After hovering its spaceship over Gaithersburg’s Downtown Crown for a handful of can drops, the New York brewery will be driving into DC for a pop-up sale at Craft Beer Cellar and then a massive 27-draft event at ChurchKey.
For sale at CBC: DDH Space Diamonds, DDH Broccoli, Triple Citra Daydream, and Double Mmm… Fruit Dream Orange / Passionfruit / Mango. Yes, these are real names. My unsolicited recommendation? All the Space Diamonds. 100% Galaxy. 0% lactose. 100% delicious.
The ChurchKey event, meanwhile, is a little more… exhaustive.
Highlights include Double Street Green (a 10% double IPA collaboration with Trillium), the Omnipollo collab VIP Cookie Kooks (a 15.4% imperial stout with peanuts, maple, vanilla, caramel, cereal, and lactose), Triple Cream (a Triple IPA hopped with Wai-iti, Kohatu, Ekuanot, and Citra), and a new 9.5% Hudson Valley collab IPA called High Brightness.
So, you know, a lot of beers turned all the way up to 11.
If you’re tied up on the 14th, a press release informs me that “Other Half will be popping up more informally at Boundary Stone on September 11.”
Is this all building towards something? Is Other Half DC happening? Will it really specialize in lagers? Or are these guys just dropping the occasional beer on DC? Only time will tell..
Where: Right Proper (Brookland)
When: 12:00pm – 5:00pm
And on the eighth day of DC Beer Week, the Lord said, “Nothing but mellow events involving vinyl today. I gotta chill.” And so it was written.
Peruse their wares, tie dye a Right Proper T-shirt, have a beer, wake up on Monday with no regrets.
Want to dig deeper into Right Proper’s relationship with music? Give Freshly Tapped: Right Proper’s Soused a read.