By Philip Runco.
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 best beer events. Normally, we pick ten events, but the Craft Brewers Conference is in DC this year, and that’s messing up our otherwise flawless and innovative format.
Let’s take a step back. Once a year, pretty much every craft brewery in U.S. (and beyond) descends upon one city for the Craft Brewer’s Conference. During the day, there are seminars and trade shows, and these things have nothing to do with you (though they may ultimately affect the quality, recipes, and packaging of the beer you drink months from now). At night, the city is overrun by brewers and industry folks, so every beer bar throws events to woo them (and regular beer drinkers like you and me).
The line-up of events is dizzying, and they’re filled with breweries you won’t otherwise find in D.C.: Trillium, Other Half, Surly, Fremont, and on and on. Needless to say, the best beer directors have been planning these events since last fall (if not earlier). Also, local breweries like 3 Stars, DC Brau, and Ocelot have brewed special collaborations with out-of-town operations just for CBC. For the full list of events, check out the ever-useful DC Beer calendar.
When: Tuesday, April 4
Where: Black Squirrel
I recently sat down with co-founders of Denizens to discuss the return of Backyard Boogie, a farmhouse-inspired sour ale aged in Sauvignon Blanc barrels. We also dove into the origins of the brewery, their business model, and a notable piece of plywood. Give it a read here.
One thing you may notice while perusing this fine piece of blogging is that two of the three co-founders are women. Another thing about the brewery, which we did not discuss, is that it’s not afraid to be outspoken on political issues. So, it’s no surprise that Denizens would pair with the Black Squirrel (which is owned and operated by Amy Bowman) for an Equal Pay Day happy hour.
From 5:00 to 8:00, enjoy 20% off Denizens beer at the Adam’s Morgan beer bar. But don’t enjoy it too much, because it’s symbolic of the pay gap between men and women. Then think about raising your voice on this important issue.
When: Thursday, April 6
Where: The Midlands
Approximately 3,209 collaborations will be released next week for CBC, but Hellbender was smart enough to release its special beer this week, so the Riggs Park brewery gets its own Draft Picks slot.
But it’s an extra special beer, too! It’s called For Days Gone By, and it’s a collaboration with 144-year-old Belgian brewery St. Feuillien. That cray.
After trading a flurry of e-mails across the Atlantic, the breweries produced “a traditional Belgian tripel brewed with a distinctly American hopping.” On the traditional Belgian side, this 8.8% beauty is brewed with 100% pilsen malt, plus Indian coriander and a touch of the requisite sugar. On the distinctly American side, Hellbender head brewer Ben Evans hopped the beer with Citra, Amarillo, Idaho 7, and Azacca hops.
Go taste it for yourself at the Midlands on Thursday, because: 1) the beer is good; and 2) it’s outdoor-drinking season. Also, keep your eyes peeled for an upcoming Freshly Tapped feature on the beer.
When: Saturday, April 8
Where: Right Proper (Brookland)
This Saturday is the fourth annual Allagash Saison Day. I did not know this was a thing, but I love Allagash, saisons, and Allagash saisons, so I’m taking the news pretty well. Also, my girlfriend just saw me typing this and said, “Allagash Saison Day? I want to go to that.” So, it sounds like they’ve stumbled upon a winning concept.
Anyway, the Portland, Maine craft beer juggernaut will be sending some special saisons (possibly including the Oxbow collab Rivulet?) to a few select locations around the country for the holiday that it made up. In DC, that location is Right Proper’s Brookland production facility. Since that brewery also knows a thing or two about farmhouse ales, you can expect the Right Proper to be flowing, too. The event officially runs from 1:00 to 5:00, though good luck cutting me off when I’m saison wasted.
If you wanted to be the smartest kid in the brewery, revisit our profile of Right Proper from the fall. Also, come back Friday for a Freshly Tapped profile of Soused, Right Proper’s CBC collaboration with Stone, Penn Druid, and psychedelic metal band Sunn O))). No, that is not a typo.
When: Sunday, April 9
REI made a beer.
Well, that’s not true. Atlas Brew Works made the beer, but REI helped. Oh, and so did DC Brau.
REI, Atlas Brew Works, and DC Brau made a beer. Together. They collaborated. This beer is called Rally Cry, and it’s a session IPA hopped with Falconer’s Flight and Cascade. It’s for a good cause, too! Profits for the beer will go to the Washington Area Bicyclist Association in support of the Capital Trails Coalition, whose mission is to connect all the disparate biking and walking trails in the region. Cheers to that.
Atlas has canned the beer, so it will be in stores eventually, but to properly celebrate the release, head to REI on Sunday night. Attendees will receive two complimentary beers. I repeat: free beer. There will also be old sprint bike races, food from CAVA, bike clinics, music, and giveaways.
Jose Lopez-Sanchez will have an article on the beer coming later this week on BYT, and I’ve got something on all of DC Brau’s collabs next week, so don’t worry, we are all over this beer.
When: April 9
We have arrived at CBC portion of our scheduled programming.
Here’s how we’re going to do this. Each day, we’re going to pick the best event that features primarily out-of-town beer (aka the Out-of-Town Crown) and another with a more DC-area focus (aka the Local Banger).
Also, if you’re being nitpicky, CBC technically runs Monday through Thursday, but there are plenty of events Sunday and Friday, so be cool.
OK, let’s go.
Out-of-Town Crown: CBC Welcome Wagon! at Brasserie Beck
Belgian beer haven Brasserie Beck kicks off CBC with an evening of… domestic beer? Wut. Yes, it’s true. Of course, it will be Belgian-leaning domestic beer. The big draw will be Colorado’s Funkwerks, a fantastic brewery you won’t find around here on any other random Sunday.
Local Banger: Virginia Brewers Collaboration Release at RFD
Devils Backbone loves a good collaboration mixed pack. For the past few springs, the brewery has released one, and the line-up of breweries (nor the beer) hasn’t disappointed. This year, they’ve turned their focus local, working with five breweries within the Commonwealth. Here’s the line-up: Parkway Brewing (a sour IPA), Ocelot (an IPA with “exotic hops), Mad Fox (a classic Irish dry stout), O’Connor (a bier de mars), and Three Notch’d (a Brett beer with crystal hops). Get all of these things in your belly for the first time at Chinatown’s RFD on Sunday.
Pizzeria Paradiso’s Dupont location will feature a dozen beers all kegged a week or less ago (including Manor Hill’s Bizarre Universe and Madfox Brewery’s Yeastie Boyz New England Style IPA) at an event called Fresh to Death.
When: April 10
Out-of-Town Crown: East Coast’s Finest at ChurchKey
[clears throat] [orchestra begins playing] [sings in operatic voice:] “Bissell Brothers, Other Half, Suarez Family, The Veil, and Tri-i-i-i-i-llllium.” [curtain closes]
Local Banger: Don’t Hassle Me. I’m Local(ish) at ANXO
ANXO’s beer program is under-the-radar stellar, and the quality of their CBC programming speaks to that. It’s Monday event is a fairly straightforward spotlight on three excellent breweries that are decidedly more “DC-area” than “DC proper:” Dulles’ Ocelot, Berlin’s Burley Oak, and Harrisonburg’s Pale Fire. Ocelot will be sending two beers that were timed for a CBC release: a rebrew of unfuckwithable double IPA Buddhist Prodigy and Gorgeous & Alone, a 7% version of triple IPA Talking Backwards.
Intentionally Hazy: Haze for Days at Brooklan Pint
What’s your haziest beer event? Bro, Brookland Pint’s got you. Hell, it’s got haze for days. Beer director Jace Gonnerman has pulled together a rock solid list of the country’s best New England-style IPA producers: Aslin, Civil Society, SingleCut, LIC Beer Project, Heist, and Lawson’s Finest. If you’re looking for clear beer, you should probably head elsewhere. If you want the smell hop aroma of your beer when the bartender is still three feet away, this is your jam. The event will also serve as the official release of Aslin and Meridian Pint’s new collaboration Joose Pun, a 8% double IPA hopped with Simcoe, Citra, and Mosaic lupulin powder.
California Love: West Coast Best Coast at Smoke & Barrel
Not here for the haze? Well, if you read our recent profile of Ocelot, you know that founder Adrien Widman fell in love with craft beer largely through the IPAs of San Diego. On Monday, he’ll get the chance to pour Ocelot’s beer alongside Southern California’s finest: Societe, Pizza Port, and his brother Sebastian’s brewery, Amplified Ale Works. For good measure, Wyoming hop wizards Melvin are on the bill, too. The connecting thread? IPAs that are big, aromatic, juicy, and… clear.
If you’re trying to ease into the week (or you’re already drunk), Jack Rose is pouring twenty low-ABV beers from 4 Hands, Off Color, Oxbow, Perennial, and Stillwater.
Speaking of Stillwater, Iron Gate will be pairing Brian Strumke’s brews with chef Anthony Chittum’s food all week.
Denizens will use its multi-level tasting room and outdoor beer garden to host a handful of Maryland breweries, including The Brewer’s Art, Jailbreak, and Manor Hill.
Speaking of Denizens, it will be releasing its 2SP collab – a California common called Steamin Willie Beamen – at Roofers Union. The Philadelphia brewery will also be sending its Nelson Rye IPA, Bellcracker double IPA, and St Seditious” barleywine.
Bluejacket will host Athens, Georgia’s Creature Comforts, allowing you to go drink all of the Tropicalia, plus its Arizona Wilderness collab Transmission (a citrus saison brewed with Georgia honey, Arizona lemons, and oranges).
And the Georgetown Pizzeria Paradiso will host Maine farmhouse ale masters Allagash and Oxbow, whilst pouring those breweries’ new collab: a foudre-aged grisette called Rivulet.
When: April 11
Out-of-Town Crown: Craft Beer All-Stars Vol. 2 at the Sovereign
Monday through Wednesday, The Sovereign is hosting a series of “All-Star” breweries in Georgetown. You can’t go wrong with Monday (Blackberry Farm, Crooked Stave, and The Bruery) or Wednesday (Jester King, Jolly Pumpkin, The Veil, and Tired Hands), but Tuesday is my pick because, well, Monkish is in the house. The Los Angeles brewery pretty much never sends beer to DC. On this particular night, the Sovereign will be pouring their Nomelhead (an oak barrel-aged wild ale with lemons), Monkey & Toad (an oak barrel-aged saison with peaches and nectarines), Ghetto Bird (an oak barrel-aged grisette), and three more TBD beers. Three more! TBD! What could they be?!? In addition to Monkish, Colorado’s Casey, Missouri’s Side Project, and my beloved Oxbow of Portland Maine.
Local Banger: DC Brau’s Collaboratron: Uniters of the Brewniverse at Jack Rose
I think we’re at the point where DC Brau does nothing on a not massive scale. For its fifth anniversary, it brewed (and canned!) five collaboration beers. For its sixth anniversary – which coincidentally falls during CBC – they’ve now produced six. (Only three were brewed at Brau, so it wasn’t quite the massive undertaking of last year, but six collabs is still a ton of work.) On Tuesday, it will pour all of these beers at Jack Rose, plus offerings from their five collaborators: 2SP, Atlas Brew Works, Firestone Walker, Melvin, Stone, and UNION Craft. We’ll have a big story on these beers next week. Also, while I have your attention, a PSA: If CBC is anything like Savor, Jack Rose is maybe the most affordable place to drink beer fancy beer during a big beer week like this.
Two Craft Beer Legends Walk Into a Bar: Avery and The Breuery Tap Takeover at Roofers Union
Talk to Roofers Union beverage director Dave Delaplaine for a while and inevitably Avery Brewing will come up. The man just loves him some Avery. (Don’t we all?) So, unsurprisingly, his Adams Morgan bar is pushing all of its chips to the middle of the table for an Avery CBC event. That means nine Avery lines (including the Colorado brewery’s barrel-aged raspberry and apricot sour ales, a brett dark saison, and a bourbon barrel-aged imperial stout that clocks in at 17.47%) and, more importantly, the company of founder Adam Avery. Oh, and The Bruery founder Patrick Rue will be there, too, with nine of his beers, including the Hoarder’s Society exclusive Befuddlement (a 9.9% blended wild ale). To summarize: legendary breweries, the chance to geek out with their founders, and exclusive beers.
SABMiller has arranged for unfiltered and unpasteurized Pilsner Urquell to be transported from Central Europe to Chinatown’s Fado. If you don’t know why that’s big deal, ask a beer nerd over 32. The rarely seen (outside of the Czech Republic) lager will be tapped at 4:00.
Stillwater has organized a tiki party (possibly involving Stillwater-infused cocktails) at Archipelago, because #modernconfusion.
Florida comes to Lost & Found when Funky Buddha (Boca Raton) and Cigar City (Tampa) take over its taps.
ChurchKey goes country with another bonkers event featuring Burial, Creature Comforts, Fonta Flora, The Answer, and Westbrook.
ANXO hosts the pride of Asheville, North Carolina and their funkiest offerings: Wicked Weed, Burial, and Hi-Wire.
Bluejacket and Hardywood release a collab DIPA called Exiles at Red Apron Burger Bar, while Surly is about to fuel some drunken shopping at Union Market’s Red Apron.
Alpine Beer and Green Flash are at the Black Squirrel.
Arizona Wilderness is at Bluejacket.
At City Tap House, the craft beer graduate school otherwise known as Flying Dog celebrates the release of Family Tree, a Belgian-style pale ale produced with breweries led by Flying Dog alumni: Manor Hill, DC Brau, Vanish, and Waredaca. (Note: This is only place you’ll be able to try the beer outside of the conference.)
And at DC9, Right Proper, Pen Druid and Stone Brewing present Pontiak, plus the debut of the collaboration beer Soused.
When: April 12
Other Half. Ocelot. Trillium. The Veil. The Answer. 3 Stars. J Wakefield. Monkish. Cellarmaker. 18th Street. What a gross collection of breweries. Seriously, does anyone like their beer? It’s so easy to find, too. If I were you, I would avoid Sixth Engine on Wednesday, when all of those breweries take over the taps starting at 4:00. OK, look, I’ll go first and shoot you a text if it’s cool, but let’s be honest, it’s probably going to suck and you shouldn’t go. This is definitely not one of the marquee CBC events. Nope. Nothing to see here. Keep moving…
Out-of-Town Crown: Spirits Rejoice at Right Proper (Brookland)
When it comes to craft beer, Right Proper co-founder Thor Cheston and head brewer Nathan Zeender have a refined taste and depth of knowledge that the rest of us mere humans will never approach. So, it’s not shocking that Right Proper would put together one of the more impressive line-ups I’ve ever seen for a brewery event: Jester King, Fonta Flora, Scratch, Off Color, and Pen Druid. On the whole, these are farmhouse-specializing breweries that produce rustic, wild, and even spontaneously fermented beers, so you can see why Right Proper would be attracted to them. Don’t miss this.
Local Banger: Taste of the DMV at Lost & Found
On Wednesday, Lost & Found draws together six great DMV breweries, and from the looks of it, everyone is bringing something noteworthy. 3 Stars Brewing has its Aslin and Ocelot collabs; Right Proper will showcase two new beers brewed with a Norwegian yeast strain; Burley Oak is doing its sour and hoppy thing; Old Ox dips into the treasure chest with entries from its Funky Face and Coopers Cloak series; and Hardywood is sending its Nelson-heavy Quadrahop. That’s just, like, one-third of the beers, too.
Walk on the Wild Side: Orchard Funk at ANXO
Everyone’s favorite Truxton Circle cider joint is packing heat again on Wednesday event. For Orchard Funk, they’ve rounded up thirteen fruited wild ales from Oxbow, Jester King, and Fonta Flora. I am an Oxbow stan, and I have never even heard of its beers, which, of course, means I desperately want them. They include First Fruits (7% barrel-aged farmhouse ale with estate cherries, raspberries, and strawberries), Cavern (a 6.5% barrel-aged farmhouse ale aged on Cara Cara orange juice and zest), and Supa Momo (a 9.0% bourbon barrel-aged farmhouse ale with freshly pressed peaches). Yowza. Check out the full list at the link above. Also, shout out to a good event concept.
DC Brau officially celebrates its birthday at 9:30 Club a performance from riff monsters Baroness.
If you prefer music you can dance to, Union Craft is organizing The Baltimore Invasion at Rock & Roll Hotel.
The beers of NYC’s Finback Brewery make an #ultrarare appearance at Red Apron Burger Bar.
I’m trying not to list every Meridian Pint event, but Seattle’s Fremont Brewing is in town, and they’re hanging out with Crooked Stave at the Columbia Heights bar, and the beer list is LOLZ.
Similarly, ChurchKey is hosting four outstanding breweries located west of the Mississippi: Arizona Wilderness, Jackie O’s, Monkish, and Perennial.
Over at Bar Deco, Bear Republic teams up with Port City, who are tapping a limited edition of Metro Red aged in Don Ciccio & Figli amaro barrels.
Brookland Pint will celebrate sour ales with four of the sour games finest: Wicked Weed, Almanac, Cascade, and Bullfrog.
Victory is throwing itself a 21st birthday party at City Tap House.
And at the Dupont location of Pizzeria Paradiso, fancy pants importers the Shelton Brothers will showcase its jealousy inducing portfolio, including offerings from Mikkeller, Siren, Del ducato, De La Senne, Jolly Pumpkin, Prairie, Grimm, and Redchurch. Pinkies up!
When: April 13
Out-of-Town Crown: IPA Fest at Meridian Pint
This event needs a Bonnaroo-esque or Coachella-style poster for its line-up. 30 breweries. 60 IPAs. All killer. No filler. Where does one even start? Just click the link.
Local Banger: The Gang’s All Here at 3 Stars
3 Stars is not messing around this CBC. For starters, it has four collabs on deck, and those collabs are: Flip the Script, a dry-hopped sour with Aslin; Knives Out, a DIPA with Ocelot; Go-Go Weisse, a cherry Berliner with Other Half; and Lupulicious, a triple dry-hopped DIPA with J. Wakefield. So, yeah, 3 Stars is still chilling at the cool kids’ table. Don’t look at them in the hallway or they’ll give you a wedgie and stuff you in a locker. Keep this mind come Thursday, when it’ll have all of those breweries – plus friends-of-the-blog Charm City Meadworks – out to the brewery for a good old festival. $15 gets you in, plus your first beer and the commemorative glass it comes in. (And if you’re interested in cans of those aforementioned collabs, they go on sale at the brewery Tuesday at 1:00.)
Brookland Pint hosts RAR and Florida Weiss gurus J. Wakefield.
After going east, south, and west, ChurchKey logically heads to the mountains with an event featuring Lawson’s Finest Liquids, Melvin Brewing, Foam Brewers and Black Tooth Brewing Co.
When: April 14
Out-of-Town Crown: CBC Finale with Modern Times at Meridian Pint
Meridian Pint and Modern Times are partnering for a CBC send-off. I know we’ve recently started getting some Modern Times flagships in DC, so you might be thinking, “Ho hum. I know their stuff.” Correction, young Simba, you probably do not know this stuff. Meridian Pint will be pouring a whopping 21 Modern Times beers, including Creature Times (a smoked sour ale with pineapple, chili peppers, and salt), bourbon barrel-aged Devil’s Teeth with bourbon barrel-aged coffee, and Effective Dreams (a hazy IPA brewed with Great Nation).
Local Banger: Hops and Cake at Brookland Pint
Here’s a pairing that screams, “Sure. Why not?” In fact, according to the press release, Brookland Pint’s beer director hadn’t planned on a Friday event until he was offered four variants and vintages of Westbrook Mexican Cake (a 10.5% imperial stout aged on cocoa nibs, vanilla beans, cinnamon sticks, and fresh habanero peppers) and “a slew of new and limited hoppy offerings from Manor Hill.” So, he combined them to make Cake and Hops. The list will feature bourbon barrel-Aged Mexican Cake 2016, tequila barrel-aged Mexican Cake 2015, a triple dry-hopped version of Manor Hill Citra Splendor double IPA, and Manor Hill’s Dust Up (a 4.6% pale ale brewed and double dry-hopped with Citra, Mosaic, Simcoe, and Ekuanot Lupulin powders).
Smoke & Barrel showcases the portfolio of 12% Importers, including Evil Twin, Stillwater, Hof Ten Dormaal, Blackberry Farm, Tilquin, Against the Grain, and Omnipollo.