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 – err, nine best beer events.
Why nine? Because I couldn’t find a tenth. What’s the criteria? Enough with the questions.
When: July 1 – 14
Where: All Pizzeria Paradiso Locations
If there is one rule of craft beer, it is this: Do not turn down the opportunity to make a good pun. The holy trinity of this industry is hops, malt, and puns. As Christian Heurich, the founding father of DC beer, remarked at the Liège World’s Fair in 1905: “If you make an oat pale ale and there’s not an oat pun, did it even happen?”
Pizzeria Paradiso Executive Beverage Director Drew McCormick knows this. That is why she is continuing the restaurant group’s tradition of JulyPA. The concept is pretty simple: For two weeks, all four locations – Dupont, Georgetown, Old Town, and Hyattesville – will dedicate all of their draft lines to IPA.
Of course, there is nothing simple about our definition of an IPA these days, which is what makes this such a neat event. From milkshake IPAs to sour IPAs, New England-style IPAs to West Coast IPAs, Lemonade IPAs to Brett IPAs, the various permutations of IPA has never been more diverse. Park yourself at a Pizzeria Paradiso bar, order a few flights, and taste the rainbow.
When: Saturday, July 7
Where: Old Town
BeerYoga, themed trivia nights, Joggers & Loggers, Pedals ‘n’ Pints, release parties: There is always something going on at Port City Brewing. No brewery inside the Beltway embraces programming – and the idea of the brewery as a community hub – like the Virginia operation. But its biggest annual event occurs outside of the brewery, across the bars and restaurants and brick sidewalks of its neighborhood waterfront. Yes, it early July, so it is time for the Old Town Pub Crawl.
Here’s the deal: Participants have from 1:30 to 6:00 to visit eight respected Alexandria establishments (click the link above for the full list), collect a stamp from each, and then head to the Port City tent (at the corner of King and Union) to receive a commemorative glass. (While supplies last!) (But seriously, they ran out two years ago.)
Now in its fifth year, this day-drinking odyssey is an institutional DC-area event. And for the first year, there’s an after-party (at Murphy’s), so the fun doesn’t have to stop. If you want my humbly offered advice, order glasses of the German Pilsner (a Lager Series standouts), the recently unveiled Ideaal Tripel (dangerously #crushable at 8.5%), and Derecho Common (one of the area’s best summer seasonals).
When: Wednesday, July 11
Where: Dacha Beer Garden
I’ll be very honest with you: When I saw back in April that Allagash was brewing a lager with champagne yeast and sauvignon blanc grape must, I peed myself. Not a lot. Just a little. But that was the level of my excitement. And now this mythical hybrid creature is set to be unleashed in D.C. like a party Minotaur.
Let’s take a step back and dive into the nitty gritty of the beer, straight from the source: “Two Lights is an ode to two of the more refreshing drinks of summer: cold beer and sparkling wine. While brewing this beer, we add sauvignon blanc must – the freshly pressed juice of the grapes. Then we ferment it with both lager and champagne yeast to create a tart, crisp, and dry profile. The finished beer’s aromas of pear, grape, and light hops pair with a flavor profile that’s a mix of tropical fruit and the snappy spritz of a freshly picked grape. We suggest sipping Two Lights by a water source too large to see across.”
OK, COOL, ALLAGASH, NOT ALL OF US LIVE IN BEAUTIFUL OCEANFRONT MAINE.
But even if D.C. lacks seaside views, we make up for it with urban beer gardens. And on July 11, Allagash will be setting up shop at Dacha Beer Garden to celebrate the release of Two Lights. In addition to the actual champagne of beers, they’ll also be pouring Astrid (a Brett saison aged in Aquavit barrels), the unfuckwithable White, Tripel, and my personal favorite Little Brett.
Speaking of Little Brett, the Freshly Tapped profile I’ve been promising for months is finally coming next week. Come back then and soak up the funk.
When: July 13 – 17
Where: Bluejacket, ChurchKey, etc.
As you may have heard, the delightful but meaningless exhibition athletic contest known as the MLB All-Star Game is coming to National Park on Tuesday, July 17. And as a brewery within skipping distance of the stadium. Bluejacket is ready to pounce on this opportunity.
On Friday, July 13, Bluejacket will release “DC-themed cans” in honor of the occasion. (Do not ask what will be in these cans, I do not have the security clearance for such information.) They are also offering “special merch,” including a “limited edition All-Star Bluejacket tee and an exclusive logo glass,” both of which will be “available for sale while they last.” (This is a concept known as “commerce.”) If you have tickets to the All-Star game, you get $1 off pints of Lost Weekend IPA, which is kind of messed up because if you have All-Star tickets you are probably already rich.
The fun does not stop there, though. Hell naw. The Neighborhood Restaurant Group has your social calendar set for every evening leading up to the game.
On July 14, ChurchKey will host an NL East All-Stars event with 25 beers from each city with an NL East baseball team: Philly (Tired Hands), Miami (J. Wakefield), New York (Other Half), Atlanta (Creature Comforts) and DC (Bluejacket). Um, holy shit, that line-up is buzzier than a million drunken bees. (Sorry.) (But that line-up tho.)
On July 15, The Sovereign celebrates… Belgian All-Stars? Hmm, OK, just gonna roll with it. Expect “special selections” from Cantillon, Drie Fonteinen, De la Senne, De Ranke, and De Dolle.
Then, on July 16, Eatbar celebrates DMV All-Stars with a dozen brews from Bluejacket, Burley Oak, RAR, The Veil, and The Answer.
And, finally, on July 17, The Partisan has an “All-Star sours” line-up… which is sort of the whole point of The Partisan on any given night? Whatever, keep rollin, rollin, rollin, rollin, c’mon! Expect “no fewer than 10 tart and funky brews from the likes of Grimm, Aslin, Crooked Stave, and Oxbow.”
When: Saturday, July 14
Where: Mad Fox Brewing
Bill Madden’s beloved Mad Fox brewpub – whose importance to this area’s brewing community can not be overstated – is turning eight. It’s crazy how time flies. A child that was two when Mad Fox opened has already graduated from Princeton and is now heading to med school. Also, please imagine that the child is Doogie Howser for purposes of this illustration.
On July 14, the Falls Church operation will throw itself a nice little birthday party. And as is usually the case at Mad Fox birthday parties, it will tap a new #rare and probably #barrelaged beer every hour from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. The first beer will be the brewery’s anniversary beer, a Brut IPA. (If you are wondering what a Brut IPA is, it’s an IPA brewed with an enzyme that dries out the body and punches up the effervescence. These beers are all the rage right now. Here’s an article on them.)
There will also be live music, and the first 200 people through the door will get a commemorative glass so special that you will some day request to be buried with it.
When: Saturday, July 14
Where: Crooked Run
As we pointed out earlier this year, one of the big takeaways from BYT’s 2017 Beer in Review was that beer directors and brewers alike love Crooked Run Brewing. This isn’t a big surprise: The Virginia brewery does a number of styles very well, including hazy (and adventurously adjunct’d) IPAs, kettle and barrel-aged sours, and wild ales. It also makes a mighty fine pilsner in the form of the Southern Hemisphere-hopped Cruise Control.
On July 14, Crooked Run will celebrate its five-year anniversary. (That’s five years since the Leesburg nanobrewery opened; founders Jake Endres and Lee Rogan opened a larger production facility in Sterling just a year ago.) It will celebrate this occasion at both of its locations. At the Sterling spot (which shares a space with a doooooope taqueria), they’ll have live music and a cask tent. In Leesburg, they’ll be offering a “special sour tap list.” They’ll also be dropping some cans of Starfire (a sour DIPA with passion fruit) and Noriega (a triple IPA with pineapple), plus bottles of Glory (a “big stout” aged in Woodford rye barrels).
Speaking of sour IPAs, we chatted with Endres about his stellar Raspberry Empress for our round-up of the area’s best spring beers.
When: Saturday, July 21
Where: The Sovereign
As we all know, every year on July 21, Belgium celebrates their independence from… um… hold on, let me check Wikipedia.
The Netherlands! Belgium celebrates their independence from the Netherlands. Yes. I totally wasn’t going to say France. As a history major, I know these things. In 1830, the southern provinces of the United Netherlands rebelled against Dutch rule after a period of growing economic, religious, and political alienation, and after some fighting, the Dutch were forced out of much of the region and Belgium gained de facto independence. I didn’t copy that from Wikipedia. Nope. Straight from the dome. Or as they say in the Belgian…
Oh goddammit, there’s no Belgian language? The official languages of Belgium are French, Dutch, and German?
OK, fine, I give up. If you want to learn about Belgium, head to the Greg Engert’s shrine to Belgian beer The Sovereign on July 21. On the menu: 21 different bottles, all at half price, all day long.
Some highlights: Perennial’s Savant Beersel (a red wine barrel-aged saison with wine grapes for $25), Jester King’s Wytchmaker (a Brett IPA for $12.5), The Veil’s No More Sleep (a bourbon barrel-aged dark saison for $20), and Cantillon Classic Gueuze 2016 for a mere $15. These are solid deals, folks!
When: Saturday, July 28
Where: UNION Craft
UNION Craft Beer came here to do two things: crush beer and celebrate momentous occasions. And they’re all out of-
Wait, no, they still have plenty of beer. But they also have plenty to celebrate. The Baltimore operation – a top 3 area brewery for my money – is turning six! And, holy shit, they just opened their new brewery location at the Union Collective (a project they spearheaded!). It’s been a big year! I’m gonna keep making it rain exclamation points!!!
If you’ve never been to a UNION event, these guys know how to do them right. New beers, vintage beers, live music, local food – they’ve got all the angles covered. Unsurprisingly, this party sold out, like, six weeks in advance, but maybe you can find someone looking to offload a ticket or two. And if you can’t, go check out the new space another day. From traditional German styles to hop-forward ales to zippy kettle sours, there is nothing that head brewer Kevin Blodger hasn’t perfected.
When: Saturday, July 28
Where: Black Flag Brewing
Oh, one Maryland brewery celebrating its birthday on July 28 wasn’t enough? Well, first of all, you are a selfish and greedy individual. But I will be accommodating regardless: On the last Saturday in July, Black Flag will throw itself an anniversary jam. (Shouts to “jam.” It’s an underused beer event descriptor.)
The brewery will be showcasing four beers for the occasion: Rainbow Road (a hazy pale ale hopped with Galaxy and Simcoe); a second anniversary DIPA called… 2nd Anniversary DIPA; Phoenix Down (a double fruited gose); and Black Mage (an imperial breakfast stout aged in both maple bourbon barrel and then regular bourbon barrels).
The event will run from 12:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m. (Whoa!) It will also feature live music from Burlwood, which sounds like a good name for a barrel-aged imperial stout.