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, March 3
Where: Port City Brewing
It’s March. It’s time to tap those spring seasonals.
First up: Port City’s Tartan, a sessionable 80 Shilling Scotch Ale.
“Coming off the cold weather and the darker beers, people want something that’s less dark,” founder Bill Butcher told me a few years back. “Tartan is a nice, malty beer for spring and St. Patrick’s Day.”
According to the folks at the brewery, Tartan has a “deep, copper color with fruity accents and a delectable roast caramel malt flavor.” Honestly, are you going to turn down something that’s delectable? Head to the brewery this Friday for a few pints. That’s when they’ll be debuting this year’s iteration of the beer. There will also be live music and food.
Be sure to cap off your night with a glass of the brewery’s incredible Colossal 6. Read all about the celebratory Russian Imperial Stout (and what’s new at the brewery) here.
When: Saturday, March 4
Where: National Building Museum
Entering its thirteenth year, The Brewer’s Ball attracts 40 breweries and 30 local restaurants under one roof to raise money for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. That’s it. No stark here. Good beer. Good food. Good cause.
Participating breweries include local favorites like Port City, Manor Hill, Old Ox, Denizens, Union, and Fair Winds, along with some pedigreed regional heavies like Allagash, Boulevard, Victory, and Brewery Ommegang. Woodbridge’s recently opened (and comic book-themed!) Heroic Aleworks will also be in the house, which is rad.
On the food front, restaurants like Hank’s Oyster Bar, Sixth Engine, Republic, and Ted’s Bulletin will be serving up bites. These bites will be paired with beer stations, of course. Tickets cost $150 – $80 of which is tax deductible, if that’s your thing. I’ll be there stuffing my face. Come back next week for BYT’s coverage.
When: Saturday, March 11
Where: DuClaw Brewing
When it comes to hop-forward beers, it’s (usually) all about keeping things #ultrafresh. DuClaw’s Off Line Series carries that idea to its logical conclusion: Its beers are available for purchase and consumption directly off the bottling line. (Get it? Off Line?)
The fourth entry is called Double Galactic Farmhouse SMaSH. “SMaSH,” if you’re not familiar, is short for “Single Malt and Single Hop” – a type of recipe intended to showcase the characteristics of each ingredient. In this case, the hop is Galaxy, and the malt is pilsner. The beer was then fermented with a saison yeast derived from Brasserie de Blaugies. At 8%, that makes it basically a farmhouse Double IPA, which is right up my alley. (On a similar note, I’m also a big fan of the Baltimore brewery’s new, slightly maltier Farmhouse Gypsy.)
Here’s what you can expect from Double Galactic Farmhouse SMaSH: “a blend of passion fruit, apricot, and citrus flavors and aromas that last through to a crisp, refreshing finish.” Or so DuClaw claims. They may be lying. Taste for yourself at the brewery on March 11. They’ll have games and food trucks and everything else you’ve come to expect from breweries.
When: Sunday, March 12
Where: Boundary Stone
If you’ve ever visited a brewery, you know that the people who work in them love two things: beer and hair. Tattoos, too, I guess. But, really, beer and hair.
So, when brewers part ways with their flowing locks, it’s no trivial matter. But that’s exactly what a handful of folks from DC Brau, Port City, and Atlas Brew Works will be doing at Boundary Stone on March 12. Why? To raise money for St. Baldrick’s Foundation, which funds childhood cancer research.
So, head to Bloomingdale to support the cause, enjoy some drink specials, and take in the sight of former BYT beer profile subjects Adam Reza II, Sam Puffenbarger, and Christopher Graham getting a fresh buzz cut.
When: Thursday, March 16
Where: The Heurich House
The Heurich House’s History & Hops was already a great beer event series, pairing tours of the Dupont mansion with one local brewery’s offerings. But now they’ve stepped up their game: For 2017, each History & Hops (held the third Thursday of each month) will feature a high-profile speaker from the local craft community.
To kick things off on March 16, it’ll be Mad Fox founder and executive brewer Bill Madden. The award-winning O.G. will discuss the Mad Fox beers he’s brought for the occasion, as well as answer your most intimate questions about hops and cellaring temperatures. Tickets run $30 and include beer, self-guided tours, and unlimited brewing knowledge.
When: Saturday, March 18
Le Trou du Diable is located halfway between Quebec City and Montreal, which means most of us will probably never going to step foot inside Le Trou du Diable. That’s OK, though, because ChurchKey beer director Greg Engert brings Le Trou du Diable to DC on March 18.
For a dozen years, the Canadian brewery has built its reputation on farmhouse ales, imperial stouts, and IPAs. What else? Don’t ask me. Ask co-founder Isaac Tremblay – he’ll be at ChurchKey, too.
The beers he’ll be bringing with him include La Buteuse Brassin Spécial (a strong tripel aged in Michel Jodoin apple brandy barrels with Brett), Dulcis Succubus (a saison aged 6 months in French oak barrels that previously held botrytized California white wine), and Claymore aux Cerise (a Scotch Ale brewed with cherries) (wut).
Like most ChurchKey events, there is no admission fee, but you’re likely to drop a stack on your bar tab.
When: March 18 – 20
Where: Pizzera Paradiso (Georgetown)
As you may have read, there’s a new beer director at Pizzeria Paradiso. Drew McCormick is taking over for Josh Fernands, who is moving to Maine, the land of retired Pizzeria Paradiso beer directors.
It’ll be fun to see how McCormick puts her stamp on the storied program. One big project on the horizon is a three-part, “Mean Girls”-inspired gruit series with Denizens Brewing. On a much smaller scale, though, there’s this RAR spotlight.
The weekend of March 18, Birreria Paradiso Georgetown will celebrate the Spring Equinox with the Maryland brewery by tapping some of their flagship beers and a few RARer ones (ugh, sorry), like the Galaxy hop variant of their Hyde IPA. There will also be a cask of something hopped with Equinox, natch.
When: Wednesday, March 22
Where: The Sovereign
Brouwerij ‘t Verzet is a small, critically adored Belgian brewery. So, of course, The Sovereign has the hook-up.
Per the Georgetown hot sport: “Founded in 2011, Verzet, which translates to ‘the resistance,’ set out to experiment and push boundaries within the slower-moving, traditional Belgian beer scene.” Sovereign bartenders will be pouring eight of such boundary-pushing beers, including Oakey Moakey (a blend of dry stout aged 4 months in BenRiach & Laphroig Scotch barrels and oud bruin), Oud Bruin Vine Yard (an unfiltered, unpasteurized sour brown ale finished with grapes), and Super NoAH (a Belgian blond ale).
These Verzet beers will be available in 4-oz. taster and ballers-only full pours.
When: Friday, March 24
Where: Flying Dog
It’s unseasonably warm. What Would Tom Selleck Do?
Tom Selleck would head to Flying Dog, where on March 24 the Frederick Brewery will be hosting a celebration of the mustached renaissance man.
For $5, you get a reserved spot, a commemorative glass, and your first beer. (So, this event is basically free.) Attendees are encouraged to dress up, so bust out those flip-flops and unbutton the top three buttons of your favorite Hawaiian shirt.
If you feel like being fashionable and a smarty pants, revisit our epic Flying Dog profile from 2015.
When: Saturday, March 25
Listen up, hopheads: The city’s premiere (mostly) IPA festival is back for its third year. And with 25 participating breweries and counting, this year’s Hopfest slated to be bigger than ever. Also, it’s at night! Huzzah! Night beer fests are better than day beer fests! Don’t @ me!
Like last year, Hellbender will host the DC Brewers Guild fundraiser, but you can expect everyone to bring hard-to-find stuff and one-offs. Also, it won’t be all about IPAs – just hops. So, if you’re more of an IPL gal or dry-hopped farmhouse guy, you’ll find plenty to be happy about at this all-you-can-drink (within-moderation-be-cool) bacchanalia. This year’s participating brewers include: Ocelot, Manor Hill, Union Craft, Hellbender, Atlas, DC Brau, 3 Stars, Right Proper, Bluejacket, Gordon Biersch, Denizens, Adroit Theory, Fair Winds, Caboose, Port City, Denizens, Beltway, 7 Locks, Bad Wolf, Mad Fox, and Devils Backbone.
Tickets are $50 and well worth it. Revisit our 2016 recap to get jazzed about the 2017 edition.
When: Sunday, March 26
Where: Union Craft
When you were a kid, you dreamed about building cars and going fast and pinewood derbies. Now, you dream about Citra hops and low-flocculating yeast. What the hell happened to you? Well, for one day, you can reconnect with that younger, cooler version of yourself at Union Craft.
On March 26, the Baltimore beer operation will again host an old fashioned pinewood derby on the brewery’s own 40-foot track. Prizes include one can or bottle of every special release Union beer in 2017. That’s a steal, folks! For lazy people like me, though, you can also pay $5 to watch more motivated people race and “try.”
Revisit our Freshly Tapped profile of Lucifer’s Tress, one of Union’s 2016 special releases.