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 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? OK, enough with the questions.
When: Wednesday, August 3
Miss out on Saturday’s sold-out anniversary party for UNION Craft up in Baltimore? Fret not, mon frére, the next best thing comes to DC this week.
On Wednesday, ChurchKey hosts its own birthday party for the Maryland brewery, and oh lord, is UNION bringing the goods. On tap: Pink Flamingo, a sour blond ale finished with grapefruit and ginger; a brand new Double IPA called The Chubbler (read its heady press release here); the Belgian strong blond ale Heavy Metal Parking Lot; a bourbon barrel-aged version of the hop-forward barelywine Chessie; and UNION’s summer Imperial IPA, Royal Farmhouse. I want all of these things in my stomach, like, fifteen minutes ago.
And as if that wasn’t enough, UNION has prepared five casks especially for the evening.
If you’re judging events based on the quality and range of beers on tap, this is August’s premiere event by a long shot. UNION is arguably the area’s best brewery, and very few of these brews make their way inside the Beltway with much regularity, if at all.
When: Thursday, August 4
Did IPA, the undisputed champ of American craft brewing, need its own day? Probably not, but as someone who loves running up the score in any and all scenarios, I respect the move. And sometimes craft beer bars need a good excuse to tap the rare stuff.
That’s exactly what ChurchKey is doing on this year’s #IPAday, August 4. The biggest draw will probably be the five hop-forward beers from two of Virginia’s most promising breweries, The Veil and Commonwealth. On tap from The Veil: Its vaunted Master Shredder IPA, and a newer IPA called Toof Ache, which is heavily hopped (duh) with Simcoe, Mosaic, and Columbus, and then finished with oranges. #whalezbro #citrusdawg
ChurchKey will also be pouring the Mid-Atlantic’s only cask of Founders J & J; the imperial version of Bell’s beloved Two Hearted; and Raised on Promises, a one-off collaboration from Ocelot and Bluejacket.
I talked with both breweries about Raised on Promises for the inaugural entry in BYT’s Freshly Tapped profile series. Check it out here. (And, also, go find the beer while you can, because it’s delicious.)
When: Friday, August 5
Where: Port City Brewing
It may be the first week of August, but here come the Märzen lagers and pumpkin ales. And that’s OK! There’s never a bad time for a good beer. Or at least that’s how I learned to stop worrying and love the seasonal creep.
Port City’s award-winning Oktoberfest sees its release this Friday at the brewery. Brewed with all German malts and hops, it’s a fantastic rendering of the traditional style – medium bodied with just enough malty richness. Unsurprisingly, it’s also the brewery’s most popular seasonal.
For the release party, the brewery will be busting out the .5L and 1 L steins, food truck fare, and live music. I’d also expect some silly hats and outfits.
If you can’t wait until Friday for your first hit of Märzen, head over to Lost Rhino for the release of its RhinO’ Fest on August 3. That’s another regional award winner.
When: Monday, August 8
The name kind of says it all, doesn’t it?
For the fifth 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 and $1 DC Brau drafts (or $5 pitchers, if you prefer).
Revisit our Tap Takeover profile from April for the (now slightly dated) latest on the brewery.
When: Tuesday, August 9
Where: Jack Rose Dining Saloon
Look, I know that I said this was going to be a Top 10 list, but sometimes 3 Stars Brewing announces its four-year anniversary party after you go to press. So, August gets an extra Draft Pick. Deal with it.
Anyway, here’s the deal: On August 9, 3 Stars will take over the deck of Adams Morgan’s Jack Rose Dining Saloon. The brewery’s beers will be priced at a wildly reasonable $5, and each brew purchased comes with a raffle ticket for prizes like t-shirts, hats, and a slick beach cruiser. I repeat: $5 beers all night and free shit.
Hopefully they’ll be bringing some #ultrafresh, because the new, effortlessly crushable Double IPA is tasting incredible right now.
To see how far 3 Stars has come, take a trip down memory lane with co-founders Dave Coleman and Mike McGarvey in our 2015 Tap Takeover and this year’s Tap Takeover Update. This is not a brewery that makes for dull copy.
When: Thursday, August 18
Where: Brookland Pint
Brookland Pint enters its terrible twos on August 18.
Honestly, I have no idea what the restaurant has planned, but if I know beer director Jace Gonnerman, he’s probably been ordering and hoarding some rarities for the occasion. Generally speaking, you don’t want to miss the nights when Gonnerman dips into his war chest.
UPDATE: I WAS RIGHT.
Gonnerman has passed along a list of beers he plans to have on tap for the event. It includes: Alewerks’ Secret Admirer; UNION’s grapefruit ginger sour ale Pink Flamingo and its heady new Double IPA, The Chubbler; Hardywood’s bourbon barrel-aged Gingerbread Stout; Ocelot’s newest IPA (and Galaxy + Amarillo hop showcase) Buddhist Prodigy; Handsome Beer’s as-yet-unreleased Kind Regards, a saison brewed with hibiscus and single-hopped with Mosaic; Goose Island’s Belgian-style wild ale Juliet; Victory’s Sour Monkey, a tart twist on its best-selling Golden Monkey (duh); Atlas Brew Work’s much-buzzed-about hoppy wheat ale Dance of Days; and last but not least, RAR’s frighteningly good, juicy Double IPA Reaper.
*Insert infinity flame emojis*
The event kicks off at 4:00 and will feature a beer garden, outdoor grill, and prizes. Consistent with Brookland Pint’s neighborhood and family friendly approach, it will also feature a moon bounce, cotton candy, and snow cones for the kiddos. Double extra bonus: Children eat for free!
Serious question: If I possess a childlike maturity, does that mean I get to drink Reaper for free?
When: Friday, August 19
Where: Glen’s Garden Market (and more)
Coffee is making its way into beer more and more these days. And it’s not just porters and stouts, either. Short’s Brewing is putting it in an IPA. Fullsteam brewed a Helles-style lager with coffee this spring. And within DC, Atlas Brew Works has been spiking a few existing recipes with the upper recently. The people want coffee beer!
Riding that buzz (sorry!), Maryland’s Calvert Brewing is partnering with Vigilante Coffee for a series of “experimental coffee-beer collaborations.” On August 19, it’ll tap the first iteration at four locations: Vigilante Coffee, Calvert Brewing, Hyattesville Summer Jam, and Glen’s Garden Market in Shaw.
When: Friday, August 19
Where: Right Proper (Brookland)
Oh, hey, here’s something different.
On August 19, Right Proper will turn its Brookland Production House into a floating installation from the mind of artist Nima Veiesh. According to the brewery, “The Hanging [Beer] Garden” will give patrons “the chance to see how every canvas has two sides.” Mind = blown.
The event is free to public, but you’ll have to pony up for the beers, which are very much worth it, of course. No one in DC is making tart and funky ales quite like Right Proper.
When: Saturday, August 20
When it comes to IPAs, the name of the game is freshness. When was it kegged? Was it bottled less than six weeks ago? Inquiring palates want to know. And the clock is ticking.
For its 20th anniversary, DuClaw has devised a plan to serve up an IPA literally as fresh as possible. The Baltimore brewery will be bottling a new Double IPA called Hopalujah for the first time on August 20, and lo and behold, that’s also the day of its 20th anniversary party. So, attendees will have the opportunity to watch the brew get packaged and then buy a six-pack right off the bottling line.
Let’s talk about the beer, because it sounds pretty tasty. Hopalujah was brewed with a borderline reckless amount of late-addition hops. (Hops added later in the boil result in more flavor than bitterness.) The particular varietals: Centennial, Galaxy, and Simcoe. Those are some valuable hops. And DuClaw is refreshingly upfront about what goes into making a beer like this: “In truth, the amount and variety of hops required (4.5 pounds per barrel!) restricts us from making this special double IPA again anytime soon, as it throws off our hop reserves for other brews.”
In addition to Hopalujah, DuClaw will be pouring over 20 over of its other beers. They also promise “food, games, and fun,” all of which seem fairly noncontroversial.
If you’ve got an itch for DuClaw before then, though, head over to Glover Park’s Mad Fox Taproom on Thursday, August 11 for a DuClaw tap takeover. And be sure to give a hearty “Fins Up!” to DuClaw sales rep – and Miami Dolphins fanatic – Chris VanDeWeert.
When: Sunday, August 24
Where: Heavy Seas
Founded in 1995, Heavy Seas (formerly Clipper City) are O.G’s of Baltimore craft brewing scene. Earlier this year, they announced a collaboration series called Partner Ships, which befitting their O.G. status, features some big names: Maine Brewing, Troegs, Terrapin, and Stone.
And they’ve been getting a little weird with it, too! So far, the Maryland operation has released its collaborations with Maine Brewing (a modestly bittered red IPA) and Troegs (a hoppy strong amber lager they called a Hopplebock).
On August 25, Heavy Seas will debut its joint effort with Athens, Georgia’s Terrapin, which recently sold a majority stake to MillerCoors (Womp womp womp.) The two have brewed a rye witbier that’s been brewed in barrels of some sort. I’m into it. Look for the beer in 22-oz bombers later this fall if you can’t make the release party.
Looking to sate your appetite for witbier before then? Check out my Freshly Tapped profile of Handsome Beer’s White Ale here.
When: Saturday, August 27
Where: Eastern Market
Who can’t get behind a well-organized beer and food fest to raise money for the homeless? The answer is nobody.
On August 27, Sip & Savor will take over the historic Eastern Market’s North Hall. The breweries: Fair Winds, Right Proper, DC Brau, Port City, Atlas Brew Works, Caboose, and Bluejacket. The food purveyors: Belga Cafe, Barrel, EatBar, Smith Commons, Hank’s Oyster Bar, Mason Dixon, The Liberty Tree, Boundary Road, and (again) Bluejacket.
I hereby bestow this line-up the “No Scrubs” seal of approval.
A ticket will run you $50 and get unlimited food and beer. All proceeds will go to support Capitol Hill Group Ministry’s services to DC’s homeless and at-risk neighbors. Sounds like a classic win-win to me.