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, December 1
DC is relatively spoiled when it comes to our Portland, Maine hook-up: We get all the Allagash we can handle (which should not be taken for granted), a steady influx of Oxbow’s exquisite “farmhouse” oddities (which are almost always worth the steep price point), and the full arsenal of fair-and-balanced Maine Beer Company staples (except Dinner). Our shelves and draft lists are a better place with their presence.
Of course, this still only represents approximately 15% of the city’s scene, because there are an absurd amount of well-regarded breweries in Portland. Mast Landing. Austin Street. Foundation. Bunker. And on and on and on.
Of all these operations, Bissell Brothers is the resident hype monster. They do all the hype monster things. They specialize in extravagantly hopped IPAs and double IPAs and even low-ABV “blonde ales.” They give these beers names that sound like late-period Bush song titles: The Substance, Reciprocal, LUX, Nothing Gold. The tasting room has a Globo Gym decor. They even recently threw out their guitars and bought a foedre because they want to make something real.
It is worth noting that they do these things very well. The beer is awesome. They are on the hype monster circuit with breweries like Other Half and Monkish and Tired Hands for a reason.
But you know what? You don’t have to take my word for it, because on December 1, Greg Engert (aka Slim Necktie) (aka Scruff Daddy) (aka the GueuZA) is bringing Bissell Brothers to ChurchKey for an #ultraspecial evening. On tap: seven hoppy brews and a token oatmeal stout. Highlights include Swish (a double IPA hopped with Citra, Mosaic, Simcoe and Apollo), Preserve & Protect (a Denali-hopped IPA), and Splat (jk, I made that one up).
Go see what the fuss is about. As always with ChurchKey events, it’s all you can drink for all you can pay.
If this does not satisfy your thirst for ChurchKey events, the Logan Circle bar will be showcasing a slew of Hardywood Ginger Bread Stouts on December 2 and (for the third running) bringing in a ton of rarities from Tulsa’s beloved Prairie Artisan Ales on December 12.
When: Saturday, December 1
Where: Rocket Frog Brewing
Founded by David and Richard Hartogs (a pair of identical twins and longtime craft beer scenesters), Rocket Frog Brewing has quickly made a name for itself since opening in May. The Sterling brewery has a hit on its hands with the popular double IPA Angry Alice, and in October it snagged a medal at the Great American Beer Festival for the brown ale Wallops Island. Not too shabby!
On Saturday, it invites you to come drink its wintery offerings, as well as those of some guests. Rocket Frog’s headliners include a Mexican hot chocolate twist on Wallops Island, an oak-spiral aged version of the barleywine Shame & Torment, and the debut of the imperial stout Roscomos (on firkin with whole bean La Coop Coffee added, natch). Guest taps include The Breuery, Ocelot, RAR, and Väsen.
Your $35 tickets earns you 12 drink tickets and a 5-oz tasting glass so special that you will demand to be buried with it. Doors open at noon, so clear your schedule.
If you prefer to keep it within the District, Rocket Frog will be taking over (some of) the taps at Meridian Pint on Thursday, December 6 to celebrate the release of Snark Infested Waters, a 5.1% schwarzbier brewed with my good friends at DC Beer.
Side note: Who tryna collaborate with Draft Picks? Get at me. I have ideas. Try this one on for size: Typopils.
When: Wednesday, December 5
Where: Mad Fox Brewing
There is nothing more quintessentially #dcbrews than Bob Tupper’s holiday beer tasting.
Every December, the OG holds court with some of the area’s best brewers to celebrate their seasonal offerings. (Yes, breweries send the actual brewers to the event.) It has the feel of an old radio show – Tupper interviewing each brewery individually, pipping in with his own stories from decades of craft beer consumption.
The event was once held at RFD, but since Chinatown bar shut down, it is now exclusively at Mad Fox Brewing. This year, the Falls Church operation welcomes Tupper and his guests on the month’s first Wednesday. Participating breweries include UNION Craft, Lickinghole Creek, Bluejacket, Port City, Right Proper, Old Ox, and 2 Silos.
$55 score you (generous) pours and bottomless insight.
When: December 6 – 9
Where: Herndon, Virginia
But did you know that the Herndon (and soon-to-be-Alexandria) brewery is hosting a winter beer garden? Well, now you know.
From December 6 to 9, Aslin invites you to come drink a few beers and snag some merch at its 771 Elden St. lot in NOVA. They’ll also have limited edition mugs, which I know will get some of you glassware nerds very excited. The event is free and open to the public.
For those of you that would to prefer to consumer Aslin rarities indoors and within DC, the brewery is hosting another pop-up at Brookland’s District Space the following weekend.
When: Sunday, December 9
Where: Right Proper Shaw
It feels like both yesterday and 47 years ago that the Right Proper brewpub in Shaw opened. Does that make sense? It doesn’t matter. It’s an intangible feeling. Roll with it.
In reality, the brewery opened five years ago. And on December 9, it will celebrate a half-decade of radically changing thousands upon thousands of visitors’ palates.
The afternoon party will feature “throwback and vintage beers,” as well as live music. For $40, you get to enjoy that live music, consume “UNLIMITED BITES OF YOUR FAVORITE RIGHT PROPER MENU ITEMS” [emphasis added], drink five 4oz tasters, and leave with special anniversary bottle of Le Flaneur (a 10% Flanders Red aged in sherry casks and blended using the solera method).
Look, if there’s anything you should know about the Right Proper brewpub, it’s that $40 will get you a very long way and leave your stomach very happy. Here’s to five more years.
When: Sunday, December 9
Where: 3 Stars Brewing
I have many fond memories from the 3 Stars Holiday Party of December past. It’s a tradition unlike any other, like The Masters, but with hashtags and hip-hop references.
It’s a great opportunity to catch up with friends whilst drinking a few of the boutique brewery’s offerings (or perhaps some #rarer offerings from the Funkerdome). There is one notable change this year, though: The holiday market component appears to have been 86’ed. Instead. attendees will be dazzled with DJs, live music, face painting, a photo booth, games, some ultra-fresh (but not necessarily #ultrafresh) can releases, and a few guests taps. It’s veritable bonanza. Dave Coleman knows how to throw a party.
The $10 price of admission gets you your first beer and a slick-AF commemorative glass that will forever let house guests know you were doing something cooler than they were on December 9, 2018.
Additionally, there is a $50 VIP option that come with early admission, extra beer tickets, a special four-pack of sorts, and that commemorative glass. To further sweeten the pot, Coleman will freestyle any track from Mobb Deep’s 1993 debut Juvenile Hell upon request.
Earlier this year, I chatted with the co-founder about the brewery’s hip-hop car culture series, which has been trucking along since then. Give it a read!
When: Wednesday, December 12
Where: Ocelot Brewing
Who’s got two thumb and will be buying at least 3 four-packs of the new Ocelot IPA? This guy. You can’t see me but I’m doing the thumb point thing right now.
Peace Train is a 7% IPA hopped with Citra and the Australian varietal Vic Secret (which some call “Galaxy Lite”). It was brewed with Pearl malt (a premium English barley), plus malted and flaked oats, then fermented with the brewery’s mysterious House Ale 3. (I wrote about that yeast and the interplay of Citra and Vic Secret this spring. HOW CONVENIENT.)
But wait, I have more Ocelot scoop.
The first week of the month, it will release Sorrow, a new barleywine, on draft. (A barrelled version will be packaged next year.)
And the third week of December, Ocelot will release its collaboration with cider mini-empire ANXO: a lager brewed with flaked maize and dry-hopped with Motueka. Keep your eyes peeled for a release party at the brewery that week with food supplied by ANXO.
ANXO, meanwhile, will host its own event around the beer on Tuesday, January 7 at the Florida Avenue location. “The beer is designed to pair with our Talos, which are basically Basque tacos, and we only serve them on Tuesdays,” the restaurant told me via Facebook Messenger. Of course, they will have other Ocelot beers on tap, as well.
When: Saturday, December 15
Where: Old Ox Brewery
Wrestling. At a brewery. Holy shit.
When: Friday, December 21
Where: Port City Brewing
Long Black Veil has long been a dark horse favorite amongst the Port City hive. Those who like it love it; those who don’t like it lack developed taste buds. I’ll leave you to guess which camp I fall in.
The fall seasonal doesn’t fall neatly into one bucket. It’s called a black IPA, but its fermented with the same Belgian yeast strain that Port City uses for its Optimal Wit, adding a subdued fruitiness and spice. So, maybe it’s a… Belgian black IPA?
As far black IPAs go, LBV – as the kids call it – is on the lighter, drier end of the spectrum. In other words, it is not a hoppy stout. Dehusked dark roast barley is added at the very end of the mash, leaching dark color into the beer without adding too much roasted character. Later, it’s dry-hopped with Centennial and Citra, which, respectively, give off floral and citrusy aromatics that play nicely with the roast.
tl;dr – the beer is dope.
And on December 21, it’s back! In bottles! For the first time! LBV! In my fridge!
The release is part of the brewery’s Longest Night of the Year (aka winter solstice) party. In addition to unleashing LBV, the brewery will be tapping bourbon barrel-aged porter and fresh kegs of Rauch Märzen.
Consume these varied, delectable beers to the dulcet tones of the Laura Hammond Band, the Walkaways, and the Reserves.
When: Monday, December 31
Where: The Sovereign
You can ring in 2019 with an open bar at any of the Neighborhood Restaurant Group’s three brightest gems: Bluejacket, ChurchKey, and The Sovereign.
I have never been to one of these parties, but all I’ve ever heard is that NRG keeps the capacity tightly capped (so you can always get a beer) and serves very good offerings (so you can actually enjoy that beer). Please note: I am available for any and all New Year’s Parties should my #INFLUENCER services be needed. #AD #PROMO #BLOGDOLLAS
All three of these parties are all inclusive, so the $100 entry gets you all the food and the all beer between 9:00pm and 2:00am. (That’s a long time.)
I don’t think you can go wrong with any of these parties, but if I had to choose, I’d probably go The Sovereign, mostly because: 1) It’s swanky AF; 2) I can drink saison all night; 3) Fancy fries and mayo.
So, again, $100 for five hours of 50 Sovereign drafts, heavy hors d’oeuvres throughout the evening, and a DJ spinning funk and soul records.
In other Sovereign news, the Georgetown hot spot will be hosting Allagash on Thursday, December 6 to celebrate the release of the brewery’s gueuze Coolship Resurgam.