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: June 2 and 3
Where: National Building Museum
Organized by the Brewers Association for ten years now, SAVOR remains one of the country’s premier beer gatherings. Why? Well, we recapped SAVOR last year (and the week leading up to it), but the TL;DR version boils down to the quality and scale of the beer. This is your chance to try adored but small and out-of-market operations like Kentucky’s Country Boy Brewing and New Mexico’s La Cumbre. And even the breweries you might already be familiar with – say, Chicago’s Half Acre, Colorado’s Odell, or New Jersey’s Flying Fish – bring new or rarer beers that they’re most excited about. It’s just an abundance of riches. Honestly, you could just post up at the Perennial Artisan Ales station, drink Funky Wit all night, and be happy.
And because it’s a big (and competitive) deal to appear at SAVOR, most of the people pouring your beer will be brewers and owners, so this is a prime chance to geek out. Also, each station has a food pairing if you’re trying to live to see the next day. This year, participating chefs include Mike Friedman of Red Hen and All-Purpose, Philadelphia restaurateur Marc Vetri, Arcana’s Kyle Mendenhall, Nathan Anda of Red Apron Butcher, and Choptank Oyster Company. Tickets cost $135 and are worth every penny.
In addition to SAVOR proper, there are events all around town this weekend. Because we love you, here’s a SAVOR Week guide to make sense of it all.
Double Dance of Days Release
When: Thursday, June 8
Where: Meridian Pint
Last year, Atlas Brew Works hit one out of the park with Dance of Days, a pale wheat ale generously hopped with Citra and Mosaic. Everyone liked it so much that it’s part of the permanent rotation now (and it’s coming to cans soon, too). We told the story of that beer and the people behind it in a Freshly Tapped profile.
If you are a human with functional taste buds, you probably couldn’t get enough Dance of Days. Maybe you were even like, “I would enjoy approximately twice the amount of this refreshing beer.” If that’s the case, then I have good news: Atlas Brew Works has teamed up with Meridian Pint to brew an imperial version of Dance of Days. It’s called… wait for it… Double Dance of Days. It’s everything you liked about Dance of Days, just more of it – more booze, more Gucci hops, more of that sweet unmalted wheat.
Meridian Pint will release the beer on June 8. Interested in learning more about the beer before then? Come back to the Brightest of Youngest Things next week for a new Freshly Tapped profile of the collaboration. I’ll have written it by then! I promise!
When: Friday, June 9
Last month, three very awesome breweries came together for a very unlikely collaboration. The first you’re probably familiar with: RAR, the Eastern Shore brewery that makes one of the area’s very best shelf IPAs (Nanticoke Nectar), in addition to more limited-run hoppy offerings and stouts that are only available out in Cambridge and at the finest DC beer bars. The next brewery you’re probably very familiar with: Delaware industry stalwart Dogfish Head. And the last you may have only just heard of because they don’t really distribute here (but rest assured, the beer is incredible): North Carolina’s Burial Beer Co., who are the presumptive king of Asheville craft beer in the post-AB-InBev-Wicked Weed world we live in.
Anyway, the beer they made is called Anaerobic Soak. It’s a 8.8% double IPA that was entirely “hop bursted” – so, no hops were used in the boil, which means a DIPA with next-to-no bitterness. As for the particular hops, Anaerobic Soak features Bru-1 (a hop proprietary to Dogfish), Motueka, and Mosaic lupulin powder. That sounds pretty good. That’s why cans sold out at the brewery in, like, three seconds. But ChurchKey will be pouring it on June 9. In addition to that beer, expect rarities from all three breweries, including Burial’s The Remnants of the Fallen (a mixed-culture saison with marionberries, blackberries, and raspberries), Dogfish Head’s Alternate Takes 5 (an 8% sour ale brewed with blueberries and raspberries), and a double dry-hopped take on RAR’s Country Ride with local strawberries.
If you can’t wait until June 9, Brookland Pint is doing basically this same event on June 2.
When: Saturday, June 10
Where: Milkhouse Brewery at Stillpoint Farm
As Handsome Beer head brewer Matt Humbard once told me, Milkhouse Brewery is the brewery that other brewers go to when they want to hang out.
Located in the countryside of Mount Airy, Maryland, the farm brewery provides beautiful, family friendly scenery and unfussed renditions of classic styles made with locally sourced inputs. (Founder Tom Barse – a former law professor who drove the legislative effort that made the state very friendly to farm breweries – is also something of a revered and influential figure in the Maryland beer scene.)
On the 10th, the farm will host its 7th annual Brewfest on the Farm. The event will draw together some 20 breweries including Brewers Art, Monocacy, Heavy Seas, and a bunch of farm breweries you might not be familiar with. There will also be live music from Main Line Gravy Soppers, Lost Keys, and The Woodshedders – all of whom have remarkably #onbrand names.
Tickets cost $25 and includes four beer tokens. If you’re looking for a not-your-average beer festival, this is well worth the trip.
When: Saturday, June 10
Where: B Side
Prefer your beer with a LIVE BUTCHERING DEMO? Normally, that makes you a weirdo, but this month you’re in luck.
On the June 10, Neighborhood Restaurant Group’s B Side (located in Virginia’s Mosaic District) (no relation to the hop varietal) will celebrate its partnership with the North Carolina Hog Grower’s Association by cutting up and serving one of their Berkshire Hogs. That means watching Chef Nathan Anda go to work on a pig (whilst you enjoy Red Apron charcuterie and a Honey Paloma Ale from Flying Dog), and then eating a four-course meal showcasing different cuts of that oinker.
The event is being presented in partnership with the aforementioned Frederick brewery’s educational program Flying Dog University, so their team will be on hand to discuss “the parallels of brewing, local farming and whole animal butchery.”
This feast will run you a cool $60. Check the full menu and pairings here.
When: Monday, June 12
Where: Rustico (Alexandria)
Rustico has been hosting a series of five-course beer dinners this year called Near & Far. So far, they’ve taken patrons to Lickinghole Creek (that’s a near) and Belgium (that’s a far). Next up: Triple Crossing. It’s the first of three Richmond breweries to appear in Near & Far. (The Veil and The Answer are coming this fall.) (On the real, this series should been called Richmond & Far.)
Like its Richmond brethren, Triple Crossing is most well known for light-bodied, excessively fragrant, juicy IPAs. And they’ll be bringing three of such beers to Alexandria on the 12th: Falcon Smash (an IPA hopped with Falconer’s Flight and Motueka), Double Dry-Hopped Clever Girl (another IPA DDH’d with Centennial, Citra, and Mosaic), and Galaxy So Mosaic (an imperial IPA hopped with, you guessed it, Galaxy and Mosaic). The meal will be bookended with a fruited Berliner (to start) and a robust porter (to finish). Also, there will be food and stuff. Check the full menu in the link above.
Also, co-founders Jeremy Wirtes, Adam Worcester, and Scott Jones will be in the attendance to regale you with beer stories and fun facts.
When: Thursday, June 15
Where: The Heurich House
Once a month, the Heurich House hosts History & Hops, a great beer event series that pairs tours of the historic Dupont mansion (built with beer money!) with a high-profile speaker from our craft community and, of course, beer. June brings us an especially intriguing installment: artist Mike Van Hall.
Van Hall is the de facto creative director for Stillwater Artisanal, a brand that’s distributed in 40 states and over a dozen countries. He also designs the labels for Herndon’s Aslin Beer Co. (and they release a lot of different beers), in addition to the occasional project for DC Brau, like its recent Conflict of Interest collab with Melvin Brewing. For someone who formally entered the beer world just a few years ago, he’s accomplished a hell of a lot, and more remarkably, he’s done it with an uncompromising, nonconventional, sometimes instigative style. So, it might be interesting to hear him talk a little about it.
The event will also serve as the opening party for an exhibition of Van Hall’s work in the basement of the museum. (It runs through July 19.) If you feel like enjoying an adult beverage whilst admiring art, the $30 ticket includes pours of three Aslin beers: Master of Karate, The Passion of Johann, and A Small Town in Ontario. Given that Aslin has sent beer into DC maybe four times, that’s not an insignificant detail.
When: Saturday, June 17
Where: Old Ox Brewing
If you take one thing away from last year’s Freshly Tapped profile of Old Ox’s Funky Face (aside from the nuances of kettle-souring, obviously), it’s this: The Ashburn, Virginia brewery is a classic example of good people making good beer. In the 10 months since I wrote that article, I have always been happy to see a member of the Burns family and to order their always approachable beer, which keeps getting better and better under the watch of new-ish head brewer Allison Lange.
If you need an excuse to visit the brewery, allow me to provide one: On June 17, they’ll celebrate three years of good vibes and beer with another Year of the Ox throw down. Like last year, that means Old Ox rarities and a slew of well-chosen guest taps. Also, it means a new Year of the Ox anniversary ale. This year, it’s a blackberry-infused farmhouse ale, which sounds delicious for a mid-June afternoon. (There are murmurs of a special “father-son” witbier too.)
Tickets cost $25 and include the live music (duh), a commemorative glass, and five pours of beer. Additionally, there’s an additional VIP option if you feel like big balling.
When: Saturday, June 17
Where: The Fillmore Silver Spring
Oh, is one 3rd anniversary party on June 17 not enough for you? Would you prefer to stay inside the Beltway? And perhaps participate in some light skanking? Well, OK, then maybe The Fillmore Silver Spring is the spot for you. That’s where Jailbreak Brewing will celebrate its graduation from the terrible twos with a big ol’ concert.
The big catch (ugh) is Reel Big Fish, the ska survivors of “Sell Out” fame. Rounding out the bill: The Expendables, The Queers, and Tunnel Vision. That’s a proper line-up. General admission tickets cost $27 but the $45 VIP option gets you “limited beer releases, meet & greets with the Jailbreak brew crew, commemorative Jailbreak merch, and early entry.” That’s probably worth the splurge.
In other Jailbreak news, the Maryland brewery will release two new canned offerings today: Righteous Guava (a 6.6% IPA with guava puree) and Czech the Technique (a 5% Czech-style Pils).
Space Reaper Release
When: Saturday, June 17
Where: Roofers Union
For the unfamiliar, DC Brau’s annual summer double IPA is a 9.2% monster hopped exclusively with Mosaic. This beer is all about berry and citrus aromatics, coupled with unrelenting dankness. If you can’t tell, I am very excited for its return.
On the 17th, DC Brau will celebrate the release at Roofers Union – one of the city’s low-key best beer bars, and one with a roof deck that will enable you to praise Ra. (Side note: This is Draft Pick’s third beer event on June 17, so if you’re not drunk on June 17, I am going to take it very personally.)
As usual, there are a lot of other DC Brau things happening this month. On Tuesday, June 7, they’ll mark the release of limited edition Pride Pils cans at Town. And they’ve just released a German-style pale weizenbock called Total Victory in honor of Jimmy Valentine’s 10th anniversary, so keep an eye out for that beer around the city.
When: Friday, June 23
Where: Port City
Earlier this year, the folks at Port City told us that they were thinking of launching a lager series with the help of an extra fermentation tank they had otherwise outgrown. The idea: every six weeks or so, the Alexandria brewery would use that tank to produce a new, seasonally appropriate lager. And they did it! So far, they’ve released two such one-off lagers: a Helles and a Mexican dark lager called Oscura.
Now, it should comes as no surprise that both of these beers were fantastic. Port City is already responsible for one of the area’s best year-round lagers (that would be Downright Pilsner), not to mention an award-winning märzen (its Oktoberfest) and a stellar “steam beer” (the recently released summer seasonal Derecho Common). And everyone inside the brewing community reveres the lager prowess of head brewer Jonathan Reeves, too. A year ago, I remember asking DC Brau head brewer Jeff Hancock why he wanted to brew a collaboration dunkel with Port City. “Port City brews amazing lagers, and… I figured I could lean on Jonathan and get some insight into how he approaches lager production and his brewing techniques,” he explained.
All of this is a long way of saying that if you’re not getting hyped for these new Port City lagers, you need to revaluate your life. Also, it’s to set the scene for the next Port City lager: a German pilsner! OK, who had German pilsner in their Port City Lager Series office pool?
On Friday, June 23, Port City will unleash this refined beauty into the world with a release party at the brewery. If you’re wondering what the difference between a German pilsner and a Czech (or Bohemian) pilsner is, German pilsners are lighter, crisper, and drier. They’re also hopped with German noble hops (like Hersbrucker and Tettnanger, in this case) rather than the Czech Saaz. But you know what? Order a pint of Downright Pilsner and another of this one-off, and taste the difference side-by-side.