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 ten best beer events. Why ten? Because it sounds cool. What’s the criteria? Enough with the questions.
When: Friday, August 4
Where: Port City Brewing
It may be the first week of August, but here come the Märzen lagers. 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 tonight 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.
But, wait, did you think that’s the only Port City German lager release this month? BECAUSE IT IS NOT. On Wednesday, August 9, the Alexandria brewery drops the latest in its rotating lager series: a Franconian Kellerbier.
What’s a Franconian Kellerbier? I’m just going to copy and paste from the Facebook invite here: “One of the specialties of this Southern German region is Kellerbier, an unfiltered, hop-forward lager. For our rendition, we used European malt varieties to create a medium-bodied, amber base upon which to layer noble hop character. Spalt and Tettnang hops impart spicy, herbal aromas that lead to nutty, toasty malt flavor.”
I’m all about this. If you haven’t been paying attention, Port City’s one-and-done, draft-only lager series has been one of the highlights of the year. Jonathan Reeves is Aaron Judge at the Home Run Derby right now. (Also, keep your eyes peeled for Meridian Pint’s DC release party for this one.)
When: Wednesday, August 9
Where: Roofers Union
Remember on Monday when I was fawning over UNION Craft and its fifth anniversary party in BYT’s Your Best August guide? Well, I hope you got tickets because this Saturday’s jam is officially sold out.
If you didn’t, though, here’s the next best thing: On Wednesday, August 9, Roofers Union will be hosting its own shindig for the Baltimore brewery.
What’s on tap? Oh, just a fuckton of UNION. Among the 10+ drafts, you can expect the brewery’s two anniversary ales: “5” (a pale ale single-hopped with Chinook and single-malted with Marris Otter) and Fraggle Rock (a waiting-to-be-ceased-and-desisted strawberry rhubarb sour ale). Beer Director Dave Delaplaine also informs me that he will be getting kegs of Old Pro Tee Time with peaches, barrel-aged Older Pro with mango, 2014 bourbon barrel-aged Chessie barleywine, and Midnight Maurader (a dark sour ale) aged in Cabernet Sauvignon barrels.
So, yeah, you know where to find me on the 9th.
Speaking of Mr. Delaplaine, make sure to read his SAVOR Drink Diary if you haven’t already.
When: Saturday, August 12
Where: 3 Stars Brewing
Oh snap, another baller fifth anniversary party? This is like seventh grade when I straight crushed the McLean Middle School bar mitzvah circuit.
Anyway, our beloved 3 Stars is now a half-decade old! And if the last five years have proven anything, it’s that the DC brewery knows how to throw a party.
Let’s start with the beer, of course. Co-founders Dave Coleman and Mike McGarvey have a slew of special releases lined up for the occasion, including (but not limited to) hoppy collaborations with two hotshot NYC breweries (LIC Beer Project and Interboro), a new birthday double IPA called Technicolor Life, and its official anniversary ale: a barleywine brewed with maple syrup. That’s a lot of beer! I’ll be writing a Freshly Tapped profile on all these beers, so come back to BYT late next week for the full scoop.
On the food front, the main attraction is the full pig that Chiko will be roasting, but Rappahannock River Oysters, Ice Cream Jubilee, and Jerkface Jerky will be in the house, as well. Live jams will be kicked out by School of Rock, and other music will be spun by DJs Keenan Orr and Smudge. Also, let it be noted that these vendors will be set up in 3 Stars’ newish auxiliary space, which is air-conditioned AF.
Oh, and did I mention that Other Half, J. Wakefield, 18th Street, LIC Beer Project, and Interboro will be slinging their beer, too? #casual. There will also be Graft Cider and Charm City Meadworks on site, both of which I fully endorse. Tickets cost $20 and include a sweet commemorative glass and your first beer. Solid deal!
When: Thursday, August 17
Where: Roofers Union
Can’t wait for DC Beer Week? Like, literally can’t wait? Head to Roofers Union on Thursday, August 17 for their annual pre-DCBW “kick the keg” battle royale.
The friendly competition pits all six DC production breweries (roll call: 3 Stars, DC Brau, Hellbender, Right Proper, Bluejacket, and defending champ Atlas Brew Works) against each other. And since breweries like to win things, they bring the good stuff. (Seriously.)
In the past, this charitable event was a “winner take all” set-up with door donations going to the champion’s charity of choice, but this year a portion of proceeds from the ($7) drafts will be spread amongst a few charities chosen by the breweries.
Blah, blah, blah. KEG KILL.
When: Sunday, August 20
Where: Union Market
There’s no novel way to spin this: Brewers on the Block is just a great, well-organized, local-focus beer festival. I went last year, and I had a blast, and I hate 97% of things in the world.
It starts with the DMV breweries. The number of participants currently sits at 19, and there’s not a scrub amongst them. Alewerks, Oliver, Hellbender, RAR, Manor Hill, UNION Craft, Right Proper – the list goes on. And if last year was any indication, they tend to bring one-offs and seasonals, so you’re not signing up for more of the same.
Here’s the kicker: “Early bird” VIP tickets are going for just $35. That’s unlimited pours for three hours from the caliber of breweries above… for $35. I’m no expert, but that sounds like a steal.
If you feel like going H.A.M., there’s also Beer Junkie VIP option that gets you an extra special glass, an extra hour to use it, exclusive beer (like Stillwater!) to fill it, and the, um, honor of calling yourself a “beer junkie.” Or, on the other side of the spectrum, there’s a $15 option that includes five pours. We won’t judge you if you feel like taking it easy! (We’ll judge.)
When: Tuesday, August 22
Where: Boundary Stone
DC Beer Week isn’t about solidarity. It’s about cutthroat competition. OK, it’s about solidarity, too, but the competitions are more fun.
One of the biggest annual square-offs is Boundary Stone’s Battle of Barrel-Aged. DC Brau, Atlas Brew Works, Port City, Right Proper, and 3 Stars are each bringing a keg of something that’s been barrelled for at least one month. Because 3 Stars won last year, it got to choose the type of barrel everyone had to use, and it has chosen… make some noise… I can’t hear you… wine barrels!!! (Good choice, 3 Stars.)
Admission is $27.50, which gets you a four-ounce tasting from each brewery, plus a pint of the 2017 Solidarity brew. (It’s a Brett IPA brewed at Right Proper.) (There’s a Freshly Tapped article coming on that in a few weeks, too.) (MAKE SOME MORE NOISE.)
The winner gets a dedicated line at Boundary Stone’s back bar for a year. That winner will be determined by popular vote, plus a judge’s panel, because you can’t completely trust the people with matters of such importance.
When: Wednesday, August 23
Where: Meridian Pint
About a year ago, he organized an #instantclassic out-of-town / hard-to-find Virginia brewery showcase at Meridian Pint featuring Aslin, Triple Crossing, Redbeard, Ocelot, and The Answer. Now, he’s turning his attention to Maryland for something similar.
It’s going down on August 23. That’s when Meridian Pint will host the DC debut of five new Maryland breweries: Hysteria (Columbia), Steinhardt (Braddock Heights), Goonda Beersmiths (Baltimore), Brookeville Beer Farm (Montgomery County), and Cushwa (Williamsport). And for good measure, there will be a few more (relatively) established operations on deck: farm brewery Waredaca, hazy IPA’ers Diamondback, and Charm City Meadworks.
I’d tell you more about these breweries, but I haven’t tried most of them. You know who has? Jace Gonnerman. Do you know whose palate you should trust? Jace Gonnerman’s.
Also, if you’re feeling nostalgic for that Virginia event, Meridian Pint will host a reunion of sorts the night before with Virginia Beer Company, Redbeard, Ocelot, and Aslin. Oh, and speaking of Aslin…
When: Thursday, August 24
Where: Mad Fox Taproom
When Aslin Beer Company sends its beer to a DC bar, you go to that bar. It’s that simple. The stuff just doesn’t leave Herndon very often, and when it does, it’s usually for a festival. Fuck that. I want whole pints of those soft, fragrant, wildly hoppy IPAs. To paraphrase Sir Mix-a-Lot: put ’em in a glass.
On August 24, Mad Fox’s Glover Park taproom will do the lord’s work with an Aslin tap takeover. What’s on tap? Four or five Aslin beers. What particular Aslin beers? It’s too early to know! Check back later! But it doesn’t even matter! ASLIN, ASLIN, ASLIN, ASLIN, ASLIN.
Outside of the tap takeover, it’s a big month at the Glover Park oasis. From August 17 to 20, it’ll be celebrating its second birthday with a series of giveaways and rare releases. Check out the full list of programming here.
When: Saturday, August 26
Where: Old Ebbitt Grill
Last year, DC Beer Week kicked off with BrewHaha. This year, it brings up the rear of DC Beer Week. Times change, man! (Just kidding, I read no significance into this.)
Whenever they host it, the Old Ebbitt event is just a good, old-fashioned craft beer and tasty food festival. $75 gets you all you can drink (from over ten different breweries) and eat (from an impressive line-up of restaurants that includes Red Apron, Red Hen, Sixth Engine, Smoke and Barrel, and Right Proper). In other words, you will be uncomfortably full in the best possible way within one hour (if you’re anything like me).
If you need proof that this is a winning combination, check out Logan Holler’s coverage of last year’s throw down.
When: Sunday, August 27
Where: DC Brau
Sometimes you’re in the mood for heavy metal. Sometimes you’re in the mood for something else.
“This year, we’re doing a reggae fest for DC Beer Week,” DC Brau co-founder and head brewer Jeff Hancock told me recently. “It’s a nice little break from all the heavy metal we do. I love metal, but I love a whole lotta other shit, too.”
That’s right, the metalheads have gone reggae – for the afternoon of August 27, at least. From 1:00 to 8:00, mellow vibes will be in the air at the brewery as Nappy Riddem, See-I, Bumpin’ Uglies, and Loving Paupers burn one down.
Tickets cost $25. The beer is on you.