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.
We’ll also use this space to remind you of recent beer articles. This week, I profiled Ocelot and its triple IPA collaboration with Meridian Pint, Talking Backwards. Come back Monday for another Freshly Tapped on Port City’s Colossal 6.
When: February 3 & 4
Where: Port City Brewing
It’s that time of year. Things are getting colossal.
Today and tomorrow, Port City will throw a party to celebrate its sixth anniversary and the release of Colossal 6, its sixth anniversary beer (duh).
This year, head brewer Jonathan Reeves and his team have whipped up a Russian Imperial Stout. That’s right, after producing (fantastic renditions) of a quad and an old ale the previous two years, they’re giving the people (and brew team) what they want: a 10.2% subtly roasty, subtly cocoay, impressively dry dark beer that’s complex yet approachable. In my humble opinion, it is the best Colossal yet.
If you head to the brewery tonight (or Saturday!), you’ll be able to buy a four-pack (or three), and drink pints of the beer for wildly reasonable $7. Trust me, this is a beer you will want now, later, and forever. (If you live in DC, there will be a release event at Meridian Pint on February 9, too.)
I have a long, serious feature on the beer coming here on BYT on Monday morning, so come back to learn more. Until then, check out this DCBeer.com post on the beer.
When: Saturday, February 4
Calling all hopheads. Once a year, Wyoming all-star brewery sends its best, freshest, hoppiest offerings to 40 bars around the world. This is the kind of cool stuff you get to do when you’re a hot-shit regional brewery.
In D.C., they’ll be sending their beer to, duh, ChurchKey. The star of the line-up is the award-winning double IPA 2×4, which I consumed in mass quantities last year’s SAVOR week (and also a trip to Seattle).
Other offerings will include Lambda (a triple IPA brewed and double dry-hopped with Simcoe and Mosaic), Citradamus (an imperial IPA brewed exclusively with Citra hops), and PilsGnar (a Pilsner, because Jesus Christ, sometimes you need a delicious break from hops). (It’s probably a hoppy pilsner.) (Whatevs.)
Firestone Walker Rarities
When: Tuesday, February 7
Where: Meridian Pint
Ever noticed how Meridian Pint always has Firestone Walker’s Pivo Pils on draft? Well, it’s not because no one is ordering it. A lot of people are ordering it. More people are ordering it at Meridian Pint than anywhere else in the country.
True story: Meridian Pint is the #1 Pivo Pils account in the United States of America. Columbia Heights just can’t get enough of that hoppy pils.
As you might expect, Firestone Walker loves beer director Jace Gonnerman for this, so he gets sent that #rare beer, which he then hoards for a special occasion.
Special occasion alert: On February 7, Gonnerman will tap a trove of #rare Firestone Walker. The headliner is a keg of Parabajava, the coffee twist on the California brewery’s bourbon barrel-aged Russian imperial oatmeal stout. Regular Parabola is hard to find. It’s like seeing a bald eagle in the wild. Finding Parabajava is akin to seeing a bald eagle with a mohawk and then that bald eagle moves in with you and looks out for mice and folds your laundry.
Anyway, they’ll also have Velvet Merkin, XX, Helldorado, Bretta Weisse, Krieky Bones, Agrestic, and Lil’ Opal. (Most of these are wonderfully nuanced beers from Firestone Walker’s barrel-aged sour program.)
When: February 8
Where: Owen’s Ordinary
Montgomery County is not the easiest place to open a brewery or beer bar. The regulations are notoriously tough. It’s getting better, sure, but have to tip your cap to the pioneer breweries that are blazing a trail, and fording the river, and avoiding dysentery, and, oh sweet Jesus, Timmy just died of cholera. HE WAS SO YOUNG AND INNOCENT. WHY, GOD, WHY? HAVE YOU NO MERCY?
Sorry. “Oregon Trail” flashback.
Anyway, you should support Montgomery County breweries. It’s not hard to do when they’re making great beer. Taste for yourself on Wednesday, February 8, when Owen’s Ordinary pours “no fewer than 20 drafts” from Montgomery County’s very own 7 Locks, Brookeville Beer Farm, Denizens, and Waredaca.
If you’re unfamiliar with Owen’s Ordinary, it’s the latest baby of craft beer superstar and necktie savant Greg Engert. The North Bethesda tavern, barroom, and beer garden has a focus on Maryland beer, which is cool, because Maryland is so hot right now.
When: Thursday, February 9
Where: Atlas Brew Works
Beer education: It’s important. Also, it’s fun. Because it usually involves beer drinking.
Seriously, though, the more you get in the weeds, the more you’ll enjoy beer. So, kudos to Atlas for kicking off a new beer school program.
“Education has always been a part of what we want to do at Atlas,” Atlas founder Justin Cox says via the electronic mail. “Our idea is to have a series of classes focusing on everything from beer styles, to focused ingredients, to the business side of craft beer, and the media side.”
The first class on February 9 will be on the styles, history, and tasting profiles of eight Atlas beers. It’ll be hosted in Atlas’ très chic tasting room. Check it out, then regale your coworkers with knowledge of yeast and malt and hops.
In other Atlas programming new, DC101 will be broadcasting from the taproom on February 16 (from 3:00 to 7:00) for their DC101 FeBREWary Thirstyday Live Broadcast. And the 26th, it will host the American Lung Association as part of their Charity Guest Bar Tenders series.
When: Saturday, February 11
Where: DC Brau
Jeff Hancock came here to do two things: Brew German beer styles and kick ass. And he’s all out of-
Wait, he just found another German beer style. Phew. That was close.
On February 11, DC Brau will release a Helles style lager called Savor the Swill. That is not an appetizing name, but please read on.
“Savor the Swill is a light, golden German lager with lively, natural carbonation that touts aromas of lightly-kilned malt, grain and cracker with a subtle herbal hop presence,” the press release reads. “A clean fermentation profile, low alcohol content (5% ABV), and a perfect ratio between the Czech Republic 2 Row Pilsner malt and Hallertau Mittelfrüh hops contribute to this well-balanced, meticulously crafted, domestic interpretation of one of Germany’s most delicate and sought after lagers.”
OK, I can definitely get down with this. The beer is a collaboration with DC-based heavy metal band act The Darkest Hours. On February 11, band members will be at DC Brau for a special meet and greet during growler hours, as well.
When: Thursday, February 16
Everyone knows ANXO for its (now commercially distributed!) cider, but the restaurant was founded by veterans of Meridian Pint and ChurchKey, so the beer is obviously stellar, too.
If you need proof, look no further than it’s first beer event. On February 16, the Truxton Circle hotspot welcomes Oxbow, the Maine farmhouse brewery responsible for some of the best Belgo-American beers in the country. (Former Pizzeria Paradiso beer director Greg Jasgur works for Oxbow, which partly explains why DC gets Oxbow’s beer, and events like this.) (Also, if you’re ever in Portland, the Blending & Bottling tasting room is stunning.)
ANXO will have seven Oxbow on draft for the event, including two barrel-aged farmhouse ales, a style they’re particularly known for. One is the awesome Barrel-Aged Farmhouse Pale Ale, which may have seen at the bottle shops around town. The other is a newer beer called Phosphorescence, which was brewed with oats, rye, and wheat. Other offerings include Infinite Darkness (a 10% Belgian imperial stout), the latest in their one-off Freestyle series (a Flanders red aged on cedar), and an Italian-style Pilsner called Luppulo.
Oh, and there will be Pintxo pairings for each beer. Don’t miss this one.
When: Friday, February 17
Where: Silver Spring Civic Center
Noticing a lot of Maryland beer in this month’s Draft Picks?
Well, that’s because Governor Larry Hogan has proclaimed February “Maryland Craft Beer Lovers Month,” which means that all state and federal employees will receive one month’s paid leave to go get smashed on dry-hopped Berliner Weiss and mango IPA for 28 straight days.
Sorry, now I’m being told I was given bad information.
OK, it actually just means that they’re calling it FeBREWary, and they’re having some beer events across the state. That’s still cool!
The month’s marquee event is Love Thy Beer. They’re calling it a “winter warmer” showcase, but they do not mean this literally. (A festival of entirely winter warmers is my personal nightmare.) Instead, you can expect “winter ales, cask ales, sours, and small batch anything” from a pretty sweet line-up of participating breweries, include Union Craft, Denizens, Manor Hill, Monocacy, and Oliver. (Mmm, small batch anything.) Tickets cost $50 or you can splurge for the $65 VIP.
I’ll be there. Come say hi.
When: February 20-23
Where: Pizzeria Paradiso
Have you hugged a barleywine lately?
The strong ale doesn’t get nearly the amount of love that Russian Imperial Stouts do these days, but there was a time when barleywines ruled the English country side, wrecking havoc with no regard for human life.
Revisit those simpler times at any of the three Pizzeria Paradiso locations (Old Town, Georgetown, or Dupony) from February 20 to 23. Each have a different selection of five choice barleywines. Try a Presidential Flight of all five for $22.
When: February 23
Where: Owen’s Ordinary
Look, Cambridge, Maryland is kind of far. We’re talking triple digit minutes here. Is RAR’s beer worth it? Well, yeah, it kind of is, but here’s an alternate way to submerge yourself in their wonderful hop-forward ales and decadent stouts.
On Thursday, February 23, Owen’s Ordinary will host RAR head brewer Randy Mills and co-founder Chris Brohawn for a four-course tasting menu paired with five beers. Cross your fingers that the dinner includes one or two of its February 11 drop: Lectar Nectar IPA, the fantastic hoppy blonde ale Marylan (double dry-hopped with Galaxy and Mosaic!), and the desert stout Chocolate Covered Strawberry 10 Layers. Either way tickets are a reasonable $50. Reservations are available by calling Owen’s Ordinary at 301-245-1226.
In other RAR news, they’ll be releasing a new Double IPA called Hop Bae on February 25. Cans will be on sale exclusively at Gaithersberg’s Downtown Crown Wine and Beer, but you can order a glass at Meridian Pint that night. [Update: The beer is not actually called Hop Bae. The beer has a secret name that I cannot tell you. Stay tuned.]