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, January 5
Where: Port City Brewing
Guess who’s bock. Bock again. Doppelbock. Tell a friend.
The new year brings a new Port City Lager Series release, and if there was one takeaway from our 2017: The Beer in Review, it’s that the Port City Lager Series is the 1964 Beatles right now. (For brewers and beer directors, at least.) So, get ready for the Alexandria brewery’s take on a Doppelbock.
What’s a Doppelbock? Great question! Press release solo! “Doppelbock is a stronger or ‘double’ version of the bock style,” it reads. “Doppelbocks are strong, malty lagers with deep russet hues and crimson highlights. Munich malts rich in melanoidins lend the beer rich, toasted bread flavors.”
That’s right, melanoidin-heads: This beer is for you.
Seriously, though, we need this Doppelbock and its malty goodness in our lives, now more than ever. It’ll be released this Friday at the brewery. If this information alone is not good enough for you, Bourinquen Lunch Box will be slinging Peurto Rican food starting at 5:30, and Taylor Carson will be kicking out the acoustic jams from 7:00 on.
It’s draft only, but you can harness the power of that sexy crowler machine above to spread the Doppelbock joy beyond the tasting room.
Separately, if you are interested in bottled beers, Port City will be releasing the latest batch of Maniacal, its imperial IPA, on January 12.
When: Saturday, January 6
Where: DC Brau
DC Brau is beginning 2018 on a boozy note with Sleeping Standing Up, a 10% English-style barleywine aged in One Eight rye whiskey barrels for three months.
This is a significant for a few reasons. For starters, it marks the first release in DC Brau’s “Dock Sale” series, which is what the brewery is calling its taproom-exclusive can drops. So, in other words, Brau is finally getting in on that sweet “limited release” can action. (It took a little longer than expected, but the brewery’s 30-barrel brewhouse is now cranking out its flagships, leaving its old 15-barrel brewhouse available for these kinds of smaller projects.)
Sleeping Standing Up also marks DC Brau’s first packaged barrel-aged release. “We’ve been dabbling with barrel-aging for the last couple of years with one-offs and special events, but we’re stepping up the program big time in 2018,” Brewmaster Jeff Hancock said in a statement. “Let’s fucking gooooooo,” I said in a subsequent statement.
Of course, this would matter a lot less if the beer wasn’t good. Thankfully, I have been #blessed enough to try Sleeping Standing Up, and I am happy to report that it is delightful: rich and complex like you’d hope, but still wildly approachable for a 10% whiskey barrel-aged barleywine. I’m not going to call it “crushable,” but you won’t have trouble drinking 16oz of this, which says something.
Speaking of which: All 60 cases of Sleeping Standing Up will be released at the brewery this Saturday. When it’s gone, it’s gone. It’ll be sold in tallboy four-packs. Get after it.
When: Saturday, January 6
Where: Bier Baron
For its seventh anniversary, Bier Baron – aka, the House of Fallen Brickskeller – is throwing a cask festival. (Side note: Holy shit, Bier Baron is seven years old!?!) This isn’t your grandpappy’s cask festival, however. Oh no, this is a cask competition.
OK, buckle up, here’s how it works: For $25, you get to drink 5 oz. pours of over 20 casks, then you vote for a winner, and then… yeah, well, then the winner wins. Also, you are drunk at this point. Maybe it’s not so crazy.
The participating brewery list is stellar, though. You can expect your local crushes (UNION Craft, 3 Stars, DC Brau), out-of-town all-stars (SingleCut, Toppling Goliath, Interboro), Leesburg brewery Crooked Run (who everyone is in lurv with), and many more. There’s also a pricier VIP option that includes food and a reserved table from whence you can stunt on all the standing losers.
When: Thursday, January 11
If you were like me, turning 21 entailed inhaling an excessive amount of shots, and was immediately followed by vomiting all over your significant other’s apartment. Thankfully, Firestone Walker is a little classier than that. These are originally wine people, after all.
On January 11, the venerable California brewery will celebrate its 21st birthday with a party at Logan Circle beer mecca Churchkey. As you might expect, the beer list is epic. Since Firestone Walker does pretty much everything is exceedingly well, that means a pretty diverse range of cellared-away offerings, from barrel-aged imperial stouts (Velvet Merkin 2013; Parabola 2013) to exquisite sours (Agrestic; Krieky Bones) to that thick, figgy brown stuff (Double DBA 2013; Stickee Monkee 2014; Sucaba 2013). They’ll also have this year’s anniversary ale (a blend of Merkin, Parabola, Stickee Monkee, Bravo, and Helldora), and the 2012 edition because why not? And, last but not least, local beer deity Greg Engert is hooking up the STiVO, Firestone Walker’s collab pilsner with Russian River. Awwww yeah. To paraphrase Destiny’s Child: Pils, pils, pils.
Like most ChurchKey events, it’s an all-you-can-drink-for all-you-can-pay event. Tasters will be available for you tickers.
Where: Pizzeria Paradiso (Georgetown)
The basement of Pizzeria Paradiso’s Georgetown location is a craft beer landmark of sorts. It was one of the city’s first modern beer bars, and it served as the entry point into the Wonderful World of Craft for many current DC beer mainstays. This is a subject I explored a bit in Freshly Tapped: Maslow just over a year ago.
But times change, and now so will the old Birreria Paradiso. The space is being reimagined as the Paradiso Game Room, featuring arcade games (like Skee-Ball, pinball, shuffleboard, darts, and video games) and a “more streamlined” beer menu with limited drafts and canned beers. “We’ve kind of had a dual personality at Georgetown over the past 10 years since we opened the Birreria in this two-level space,” owner Ruth Gresser told Washington City Paper recently. “Rather than continue to be schizophrenic, we’re sort of embracing the dual identity fully.”
You can check out the space for yourself in mid-January, when it’s unveiled to the thirsty masses.
But this opening is just one component of a busy January for Pizzeria Paradiso’s beer program. On January 9, its Old Town location will host a tap takeover with buzz conjurers Aslin Beer Company. Come for the *air horn* *air horn* *air horn* FREE COMMEMORATIVE CUSTOM GLASSWARE, stay for the eight Aslin drafts.
The next night, Pizza P’s newish Hyattesville spot will be spotlighting Allagash’s barrel program with an event (brilliantly) titled What About Barrels?
When: Saturday, January 13
Where: Oliver Brewing
Rejoice, Oliver Brewing is about to be 25 whole years old.
Originally founded as Oliver Ales, the former Baltimore brewpub has served as the training grounds for some of the area’s most accomplished brewers over the last few decades. It’s also produced some outstanding traditional, English-leaning ales.
However, over the past two-and-a-half years – since it opened a production facility in Clifton Park and rebranded as Oliver Brewing – the brewery has branched off into a wider array of styles and collaborations. It’s put most of these beers into cans and on shelves, to boot. So, as a consumer, there’s never been a better or more exciting time to enjoy the beers of head brewer Steve Jones and company.
To wit, Oliver will be celebrating its birthday with an ambitious mixed six-pack of new beers. Let’s work through them real quick.
There’s Auslander, a Sticke Alt-style ale brewed in collaboration with former Wharf Rat brewer (and current District ChopHouse head brewer) Barrett Laurer. There’s White Witch, a white IPA dry-hopped with Citra and Centennial. On a similarly hoppy note, there’s Eye of the Beholder, a hoppy red wheat ale dry-hopped with Mosaic, Citra, and Centennial. On the maltier side, there’s The Gates of Dawn, a lightly smoked Wee Heavy Ale brewed in collaboration with The Brewer’s Art. There’s Roots of the Mountain, an 8.4% Sahti-style ale brewed by assistant brewer Chris Cowell. And, lastly, there’s Beyond the Doors of Darkness, a dark kettle Sour fermented with plum puree that was brewed in collaboration with 3 Stars Brewing and Manor Hill Brewing.
Projects like these take a bonkers amount of coordination when it comes to brew days and tank space, so hats off to Oliver for making it happen. Also, that is a very diverse six-pack.
These beers will go on sale on January 13, when the brewery throws its birthday party. You can expect food and live music, too.
When: Sunday, January 14
Where: Right Proper Brewing
Nathan Zeender was once this city’s hot shot homebrewer. Now, he makes his beers on a much larger scale as the head brewer at one of the region’s best breweries, Right Proper. Still, Zeender hasn’t forgotten the mean streets of carboys and overstuffed garages that birthed him, and on January 14, Right Proper’s Brookland Production House will host the tenth birthday party for the DC Homebrewers Club.
The big ticket item: The event will serve as the debut for Harmonium, a collaboration between Right Proper and the DC Homebrewers Club. Clocking in at a whopping 4%, this Berliner Weisse was dry-hopped with Galaxy, Motueka, and Mosaic. If you’ve had Diamonds, Fur Coats, Champagne or any of its seasonal siblings, you are already familiar with Zeender’s prowess with dry-hopped Berliners, so it will be interesting to see how he and the homebrewers tweak that formula.
According to the press release, “DC Homebrewers will also have a homebrewed anniversary beer blend, plus previous anniversary beers available, and our usual assortment of delicious homebrews that everyone brings.” Cool, cool, cool.
If you can’t make the shindig, look for Harmonium around town in the weeks to follow.
When: Thursday, January 18
Where: The Sovereign
If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you already know that revered Southern California brewery The Bruery recently opened its first East Coast location, The Bruery Store at Union Market. You also know that’s a BFD.
A bottle shop and member fulfillment center, the location is selling The Bruery’s barrel-aged ales and its takes on Belgian-style beers, as well as Bruery Terreux‘s farmhouse-style wild and sour ales and Offshoot Beer Co.‘s #ultrafresh IPAs. In related new, the bank accounts of this city’s beer nerds are about to take a serious beating.
Later this month, The Bruery founder Patrick Rue will be paying a visit to his brick-and-mortar shop, and while he’s here, The Sovereign will be hosting a lil’ event with him. Titled An Evening with Patrick Rue & The Bruery, the throwdown will featuring a dozen extra-special beers from The Bruery, including Ngongo (an oak barrel-aged saison with honey and chamomile) and The Wanderer (a wine barrel-aged sour red ale with blackberry and cherry). Check the full list at the link above Everything is à la carte, so go crazy.
When: January 18-21
Where: Denizens Brewing
Depending on your political views, last January 20 was either a glorious day or the start of our nation’s darkest possible hour.
You probably don’t need to guess what side of the spectrum Denizens Brewing falls on.
The proudly liberal Silver Springs brewery will be marking the one-year anniversary of President Trump’s inauguration day with an extended-weekend-long event called “We’re Still Here.” Each day from January 18 through the 21st, Denizens will be “celebrating the great work of an organization that’s fighting the antiquated and discriminatory policies of the Trump administration.” Along those lines, the brewery will be donating a portions of sales to a different organization each day, and will be promoting their work in the taproom. There are “special beer releases” promised, too.
When: Thursday, January 25
Where: Mad Fox Brewing
Here’s a fun tradition: Each year, Mad Fox celebrates the birthday of Scotland’s national poet Robbie Burns with food and beer he would have enjoyed. Naturally, the food options will be Scottish inspired, and they will be paired with appropriately malty Mad Fox beer, including its 80 Schilling Scottish Ale and a Wee Heavy Strong Scottish Ale. Premium Scotch tastings are available, too.
Oh, I buried the lede: THERE WILL BE A LIVE BAGPIPER. Also, poetry readings for you sensitive types.
When: Saturday, January 27
Where: Cushwa Brewing
Don’t be confused: Cushwa sounds like a weed shop, but it actually makes beer. Very good beer, in fact. To wit: Meridian Pint Beer Director Jace Gonnerman listed Cushwa’s Fog at Daybreak Pale Ale as one of his favorite beers of 2017, which is *fake Nic Cage voice* high praise!
The Baltimore brewery celebrates one year of business at the end of the month. There’s not much out there about what the party actually entails, but you can probably expect to fill your belly with New England-style IPAs and be happy. (The brewery makes a very nice saison and English bitter, too.) (But, really, it’s about the haze here.)