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: January 31 + February 1
Back in my grandpappy’s day (ie, like, five years ago), Triple IPAs were released in the late January and early February, a time when we naturally reach for bigger, boozier beers. Now, hop-forward hype monsters like RAR and Aslin and The Veil seem to drop a new Triple IPA every month. Of course, this is because the combination of higher alcohol and hops moves like hot cakes in cans, and can sales are a huge part of such breweries’ business models. It makes sense. I’m not gonna knock the hustle.
But if there is one Triple IPA that seeks to honor the tradition of olden Triple IPAs like Pliny the Younger and Hopslam, it’s Ocelot’s Talking Backwards. A showcase for Citra, Mosaic, and Simcoe hops, the Meridian Pint collab is annually released this time of year. (I went deep on the beer and the Ocelot-Meridian Pint connection two years ago in Freshly Tapped: Talking Backwards.) (Also, to keep it real, Ocelot did make a separate anniversary triple IPA last spring and is set to break Untappd in early March with Bigger Cat, a Triple IPA sequel to its 2018 Veil collab Big Cat.)
Ocelot has tweaked Talking Backwards each year since its initial 2016 release, but this year it received its most significant cosmetic surgery. The hops are the same and so is the grist (Maris Otter and a dash of Pilsen malt), but like most of Ocelot’s IPAs, Talking Backwards has received the London Ale yeast remix from relatively new Head Brewer Jack Snyder.
“The beer has moved towards current trends without abandoning its roots,” says Meridian Pint beer director Jace Gonnerman. “It’s still quite dry for a Triple IPA, but it’s bursting with flavors and aromas of melon and citrus, all with and a creamy, lush mouthfeel.”
It’s one of the year’s most anticipated releases of the year for a reason.
Speaking of releases, the beer will debut on draft at Meridian Pint tonight. The Columbia Heights beer mecca will be pouring the hop Goliath alongside other Ocelot offerings like Cosmic Jive (a Citra and Comet IPA that’s a home run) and Purple Black Eye (a 12% imperial stout with Counter Coffee and the fruit cascara).
If you’re trying to score cans of Talking Backwards, they release at the brewery Friday at 1:00. And, no, Ocelot Director of Operations David Hetzel will not bring them to Meridian Pint for you, even if you ask very nicely and are a wildly influential beer blogger, because he has #ethics.
When: Friday, February 1
Here’s something you may not have known existed: International Clash Day. That’s right, a day dedicated to the British punk rock icons. To be specific, February 7.
This non-federal holiday was founded by Seattle rock station KEXP. And as fate would have it, Bluejacket Director of Operations Erik Bergman and his wife are members of KEXP. So, you can probably see where this is going…
International Clash Day beer!!!
Or, you know, a beer brewed in honor of International Clash Day. Not an official beer. But you can pretend it is.
This beer is called London’s Drowning, and it was brewed in collaboration with KEXP. The 7% IPA showcases the South African hop African Queen. (2019 will be the year South African hops really hit the American craft, mark my words.) According to Bluejacket, that hops lends “intense citrus, black currant, passionfruit, and lemongrass aromas.”
Cans go on sale at the brewery this Friday at noon. It will obviously be on tap within Bluejacket, too. And in the spirit of the socially progressive band, all proceeds from London’s Drowning will go to the DC Immigration Legal Services Fund.
Nice work, Bluejacket. I will drink your delicious charity beer. To read more about the holiday, check out this event page.
When: February 1-2
Where: Port City Brewing
Did you know that I just dropped a Freshly Tapped profile of Port City’s latest anniversary beer, Colossal 8?
WHERE WE’RE GOING, WE DON’T NEED BLURBS.
OK, fine, here is a super short blurb…
Port City will celebrate its eighth anniversary this Friday and Saturday with extended hours (noon to 11:00 PM both days), live music, food trucks, and heated tents outside for more space. The highlight of the event is the release of Colossal 8, a German-style Doppelbock inspired by Head Brewer Jonathan Reeves travels through Bavaria.
It is a Port City lager, so you know it’s that sweet, sweet (but not too literally sweet) fire.
Now go read the article. It’s less than 3,000 words, which makes it a session feature for me.
When: Tuesday, February 5
If there are two things beer nerds love, it’s rare beer and barrels. So, even if they’ve never tried The Rare Barrel, you know they’re already all-in on a The Rare Barrel showcase.
Well, I actually have drank The Rare Barrel. It’s no big deal, I go to San Francisco most Julys to run the city’s marathon – no big deal, I run marathons, no big deal – and I always make an effort to track down some of their bottles. Simply put, few American breweries make sour ales on the level of the Berkley operation.
So, you could imagine my surprise last year when I walked into The Bruery Store at Union Market and saw some The Rare Barrel bottles on the shelves. Bringing Rare Barrel back from San Francisco was my thing! Why will my friends hang out with me if I can’t entice them with delicious, barrel-aged fruited sour ales?!?
Thankfully, I have gotten over this hang-up, which is good, because The Bruery Store at Union Market is bringing a new shipment of The Rare Barrel on February 9. The shop will be selling bottles of Guava Happens, Home Sour Home, In Good Time, Mister Tea, Shadows of Their Eyes, There Are Rules, and Tiki Party. You can Google those names because I am not typing up descriptions of each.
To chum the waters, ChurchKey will be hosting a The Rare Barrel and Bruery Terreux showcase on Tuesday, February 5. According the Logan Circle beer bar, highlights “include Bruery Terreux Meringue My Bell, a oak-aged sour ale brewed with lime zest, graham crackers, vanilla and lactose; and The Rare Barrel Entanglement, an sour golden ale aged in oak barrels with orange zest and vanilla beans.”
Like most all ChurchKey events, this is all-you-can-drink for all-you-can-pay.
When: Thursday, February 7
Where: Meridian Pint
For the third year, Meridian Pint will be pouring three different versions of Redbeard Brewing’s lauded barrel-aged imperial stout Moriarty, along with the Staunton brewery’s barrel-aged barleywine Watson.
When: Sunday, February 10
Where: Roofers Union
Roofers Union is one of my favorite places to drink beer. On atmosphere alone, the middle floor can’t be beat: spacious but lived-in, with personality to spare. Of course, it helps that the beer list is among the best in the city, showcasing local craft and the OG’s in equal turn. Also, it bears mentioning: Tuesday Geek Night, where the entire bottle list is half off, is the best deal in the city.
So, yeah, go Roofers Union. And go to Roofers Union.
On February 10, the three-tiered Adams Morgan bar will celebrate its fifth birthday. All draft beers will be $6 and the website says “join us for snacks,” so… free snacks? I don’t know. There will be snacks in some capacity.
Like a true diva, Roofers Union will be celebrating its birthday all week, tapping different vintage kegs and popping vintage bottles each day leading up to the actual party.
When: Tuesday, February 12
Where: Ornery Brewing Company
The DC-area beer community lost a very good man last month when Casey Jones, owner of Fair Winds Brewing Company, passed away.
I feel silly talking about something so sad and so tragic in the context of all this other nonsense, but my sincere condolences go out to those affected by it.
18 local breweries have pulled together to help raise money for Jones’ two children. Please consider heading to Ornery Brewing on February 12 and drinking fine offerings from Beltway, Brew Republic, Caboose , Crooked Run, Fair Winds, Forge Brew Works, House 6, Lake Anne Brew House, Lost Rhino, Mad Fox, Mustang Sally, Ocelot, Old Ox, Port City, Quattro Goombas, Rocket Frog, Solace, Tin Cannon, and Twinpanzee.
Ornery will be donating all the profits from the beer sales of the evening.
When: Friday, February 15
Where: Silver Spring Civic Center
Meet me at the Silver Spring Civic Center, it’s going doooown.
Near the outdoor mall, it’s going doooown.
Governor Hogan says it’s FeBREWary, that name is laaaaame.
But Maryland has good beer, it taste real gooood.
I actually love this event, I get real druuunk.
25 breweries, unlimited pours, so can yoooou.
Astro Lab, Mully’s, Hysteria, and many moooore.
To see them all, just click the liiiiiink.
I might have killed this construct, it’s get straaaained.
Every February, Love Thy Beer is guaranteed to go down.
When: Thursday, February 21
Where: Heurich House
In brewing nomenclature, “first runnings” refers to the heavy, concentrated wort extracted from the mash, prior to rinsing the grain with more water (or “sparging”) to wash out the residual sugars. So, the first runnings is the super-rich sugar water. It’s the good stuff.
First Runnings also refers to my Heurich House interview series. Because it’s the good stuff. It’s that concentrated knowledge, which I am lautering into your brains. I think I might be killing this metaphor.
Here’s the big news: First Runnings is back, baby! On Thursday, February 21, I’ll be returning to the Heurich House to sit down with Adam Benesch and Jon Zerivitz, co-founders of Baltimore’s UNION Craft.
Normally, my conversations with Adam and Jon are limited to me awkwardly gushing about how much I love UNION Craft – its beer, its marketing, its community-focused approach. Now, they actually have to answer my questions. And I’m playing for blood, Johnny Ringo.
Tickets cost $20 and include your first pint of UNION Craft beer and a tour of the brewmaster’s castle.
Come hang, listen, ask your own questions, and imbibe.
When: Saturday, February 23
First came Spring Fest. Then Summer Fest. Then Autumn Fest.
But, still, the world didn’t see it coming…
Winter Fest is upon us.
Or it will be on February 23, when the Pizzeria Paradiso in Georgetown hosts the final chapter of the seasonal saga.
On tap: seasonal drafts, exceptional drafts, exceptional seasonal drafts, beer slushies, snow cones, popcorn, and all the games you can handle, including skeeball, pinball, and darts. Tinder date opportunities don’t come any easier. (Do the kids still use Tinder?)
Your $15 ticket includes a custom Winter Fest glass and four 6oz pours of your choice of draft beer, beer slushie, or snow cone. Also, did you hear pizza is good in the winter?
When: Sunday. February 24
Where: The Sovereign
Contrary to popular opinion, “Van de Keizer Day” is not a song on Sujan Stevens’ 2015 opus Illinois.
It is actually the day that Belgian brewery Het Anker celebrates the birthday of Charles V (aka the Holy Roman Emperor) by serving up two Belgian strong ales: Cuvee Van De Keizer Imperial Blond and Cuvee Van De Keizer Imperial Dark. Logically, the brewery releases these beers each year at events around the world on my man Charlie’s birthday, February 24. (Fun fact: Did you know he died of malaria after living alone at a monastery in Spain for years?)
Since many people have argued that Greg Engert is the Holy Roman Emperor of the DC beer scene, it is also logical that Het Anker would choose to celebrate Van de Keizer Day at The Sovereign.
In addition to the Gouden Carolus birthday brews, the Georgetown bar will be pouring drafts of Ambrio (a Belgian Strong Pale Ale) and Classic (a Belgian Strong Dark Ale). Look, Het Anker likes it strong, OK? They didn’t hit the gym all January for nothing.