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: July 1-14
Where: Pizzeria Paradiso
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 for the tenth year. The concept is pretty simple: For two weeks, all five locations – Dupont, Georgetown, Old Town, Hyattesville, and Spring Valley – will dedicate all of their draft lines to IPA. Well, almost all of their lines. Each location will also have a token lager line. Gotta cleanse that palate.
While the IPAs at each location will vary (Ocelot! Maine Beer Company! Stillwater!), there will be one common presence: Hotel Amarillo.
As you might remember from April’s Draft Picks, Pizzeria Paradiso held a homebrew competition a few months back, with the winner getting the opportunity to brew their recipe at DC Brau with DC Brau. Well, homebrewer (and author) Tim Ryan brought home the gold medal that afternoon with a hazy IPA called Hotel Amarillo. Now, DC Brau Brewmaster Jeff Hancock has fast-tracked Hotel Amarillo’s production to have it ready for JulyPA. How considerate!
Hotel Amarillo was brewed with wheat and oat, then hopped primarily Amarillo (duh), along with Mosaic and Falconer’s Flight in the dry-hop. That’s all I’m going to say because I have a full Freshly Tapped profile of the beer arriving on Monday. Come back then, OK?
In the meantime, plan on drinking Hotel Amarillo at any Pizzeria Paradiso starting July 1… except Old Town, which may take a few days longer, because #distriubtion.
When: Sunday, July 7
Berliner Weisse – generally defined as a low-ABV German-style sour ale brewed with a healthy percentage of wheat – has made a resurgence in American craft brewing over the past decade. Locally, you don’t need to look very hard for proof of this. One of 3 Stars best beers has long been Dissonance, a Berliner with a rye twist. Bluejacket has produced a handful of them, including the strawberry-infused summer favorite The Jam (which is now further infused with vanilla and lactose). Along those lines, Crooked Run has run wild with the “dessert Berliner.” And perhaps most prominently, Berliners are a core part of Right Proper’s everyday line-up with the popular, botanically inclined Diamonds, Fur Coat, Champagne, among other seasonal takes on the style.
But while many around the country have turned to the Berliner as a variant of kettle sour, few are making it in the most traditional sense. As amateur beer historian and German homebrewer Benedikt Koch explained on the Milk the Funk podcast almost a year ago, Berliner Weiss was historically a mixed-fermentation beer produced with both Brettanomyces and Lactobacillus.
Over in Berlin, however, there’s a brewery dedicated to authentic mixed-ferm Berliners. It’s called Schneeeule Brauerei. And according to ChurchKey, it’s “the only brewery in the world currently specializing in the production of traditional Berliner Weisse.” Also of note: “Their signature mixed yeast culture is a blend of Lactobacillus and Brettanomyces strains from historical bottles found in friends basements, flea markets, and eBay.” I can not verify any of this, but in Engert we trust.
Why is ChurchKey wading into this discussion? Because the Logan Circle bar will host Schneeeule Brauerei co-founders Ulrike Genz and Andreas Martin on July 7. They’ll be bringing four “old world and modern takes” on the Berliner with them, in addition to a sour Bock called August. (The only keg of the last beer to hit the US market.)
Drink like a German with Germans.
When: Tuesday, July 9
Where: B Side
The name “Beast Feast” conjures imagery of pig roasts, beef slabs, and fatty fowl. And typically that’s exactly what Neighborhood Restaurant Group butcher/chef/meat guru Nathan Anda’s Beast Feasts have provided. A live hog butchering demo. A duckravaganza. You get the idea.
For the latest Beast Feast, though, Anda has set out to showcase… the chicken.
Chicken hearts. Chicken liver mousse. Nashville hot chicken wings. Chicken-truffle-foie gras boudin. Chicken thighs. All chicken everything.
Are cats welcome? Asking for a friend. His name is Rufus. He is my cat friend. Chicken is his favorite thing in the world. He says he’ll be totally chill and won’t jump on the table. Also, he is a little liar.
Anyway, all of this chicken will be sourced from Whiffletree Farm in Warrenton, Virginia. (Every Beast Feast showcases one local farm.) And all of this chicken will be paired with beers from the singular mixed-ferm masters at Austin’s farm brewery Jester King.
Drinkable highlights include 2018 SPON (the brewery’s gueuze), a Vie En Rose (a mixed-ferm saison with raspberries), and No Whalez Here (a mixed-ferm witbier with tangerines).
“Ruby Sunrise” Release
When: Wednesday, July 10
Where: Ocelot Brewing
Four summers ago, Ocelot and Crooked Run united to brew a grapefruit saison called Together We Stand. At the time, these were two fledgling operations; Ocelot had only been open a few months and Crooked Run, then just a Leesburg nanobrewery, a little over two years.
Well, things have changed a bit since then. Under the watch of founder Adrien Widman, Ocelot has solidified itself as the region’s premier producer of IPA. This position has only strengthened since head brewer Jack Snyder took the production reins in mid-2018, injecting some modernity (non-Chico yeasts, water chemistry, newer hopping techniques, etc.) and grist diversity into the Ocelot formula of quaffable hop bangers.
Crooked Run, meanwhile, added a Sterling production facility (with a quite popular tasting-room-cum-taqueria) in 2017, where it’s been at the front of zeitgeist-riding DC-area pack with breweries like Aslin, RAR, and Bluejacket, specializing in hazy IPAs, dessert and/or fruited sour ales, and pastry stouts. On top of that, Crooked Run ambitiously opened two concepts – Daybreak Biscuit Co. and Daybreak Cocktail Bar – in the roomy warehouse space adjacent the Sterling brewery. (I took a “first look” in late May.)
Also, Crooked Run co-founder Jake Endres got swole.
But as much as things change, some things stay the same. When these two breweries come together, we’re still left with a grapefruit beer.
Case in point: Ruby Sunrise, a grapefruit IPA arriving on July 10. Brewed at Ocelot, the collaboration was hopped entirely with Citra, fermented with grapefruit juice, and then dry-hopped with Citra again. Naturally, the grapefruit juice was provided by Nectar Cocktail Bar, who own a state-of-the-art fruit presser, which I assume looks like an ED-209 and extracts juice with bullets.
Like all Ocelot cans, Ruby Sunrise will be available strictly at the brewery. (Unless you live in Richmond, in which case you can score four-packs at select stores.)
When: Saturday, July 13
Wait, the Denizens Silver Spring Barrel House + Beer Garden?
Yes, if you’ve been living under a rock for the past six weeks, what was once just plain ol’ Denizens Brewing is now Denizens Silver Spring Barrel House + Beer Garden. Why? Because Denizens built (built!) a slick new production space (30-barrel brewhouse! 60-barrel fermenters!) and taproom (with a full kitchen!) in Riverdale Park. I’m excited!
Also, I’ll be taking you behind the scenes and talking about the first beer brewed on that new brewhouse, PGC Premium, in a forthcoming Freshly Tapped. #chum
But let’s get back to the Denizens Silver Spring Barrel House + Beer Garden. On July 13, it’ll be hosting an anniversary party to mark a half-decade of Southside Rye IPA, Born Bohemian, and an inclusive, politically conscious atmosphere unlike any other in the area.
Denizens loves a good party theme, and this time around they’re going with New Orleans vibez. According to the brewery, guests are “encouraged (but not required) to dress in their best Mardi Gras outfit.” You can expect live music, dancing performances, various contests, po’boys, blue hurricanes, and, of course… a drag show.
No ticket required. Let the good times roll.
When: Saturday, July 13
Where: Old Town Alexandria
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 is 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!) (Seriously, they ran out three years ago.) (But they haven’t run out since.)
Now in its sixth year, this day-drinking odyssey is an institutional DC-area event. And for the second time, there’s an after-party (at Murphy’s), so the fun doesn’t have to stop. I would strongly recommend the recently released Port City Helles, will be featured in my upcoming feature on the area’s best summer beers.
When: Saturday, July 13
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 nine. It’s crazy how time flies. A child that was one 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 13, 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 or so. You can also expect live music, commemorative glassware, and CAKE. (The food product, not the band.)
When: Saturday, July 20
Where: Crooked Run Brewing (Sterling)
Shit, I burned through all my Crooked Run background in the Ruby Sunrise blurb.
OK, let’s just get to the event: Crooked Run is turning six! And it’s throwing a luau-themed party in Sterling. And you’re invited. Yes, you.
To fill your belly, the brewery is serving up a whole roasted pig from Spring House Farm and Farm Store, along with “six very special beers.” No word yet on what these beers are (GET AT ME, JAKE), but I’d imagine some hazy IPA, pastry stout, and sour ales are in the cards. Additionally, Super Doppler will be taking the stage at 8:00.
Unbiased endorsement: I went to the party last year and had a blast. A lot of thought and planning was evident. They made great use of their space – and that was before they had the combo of Daybreak and Nectar.
If you are busy on the 20th, too lazy to travel to Sterling, or simply can’t get enough Crooked Run, ChurchKey will be hosting another anniversary party for the brewery on Tuesday July 23.
Perhaps the draft list for that event offers some insight into what wild stuff you can expect at Crooked Run’s own party: Chicha Morada (a sour brewed with purple corn, pineapple, apple, lime, cinnamon), Party Boi (an IPA infused with pineapple, coconut, and rum-soaked oak chips), Group Therapy (an IPA spiked with lemons, limes, and oranges), Rageahol (a triple IPA hopped with Vic Secret and Mosaic), Ambrosia (a definitely-not-traditional Berliner Weisse with tropical fruit, pecan, coconut, marshmallow, and lactose), and Vainglory (a bourbon barrel-aged stout conditioned on cacao nibs, coffee, and coconut).
Also on tap at ChurchKey that night: Paper Jet Pilsner, a forthcoming collab with Bluejacket (brewed at Bluejacket). Gimme some of that.
When: Saturday, July 27
Where: UNION Craft Brewing
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 seven! And they are coming off a year of straight crushing it in their spacious Union Collective location.
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.
I’ve been trolling UNION Craft social media for clues about what those new beers may be, but it’s safe to assume one of them will be their annual (and always different) (and always excellent) anniversary kettle sour.
When: Saturday, July 27
Where: Black Flag Brewing
Oh, one Maryland brewery celebrating its birthday on July 27 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 party.
The Columbia brewery will be showcasing four beers for the occasion: Rainbow Road (a hazy pale ale hopped with Galaxy and Simcoe); a third anniversary DIPA called… 3rd Anniversary DIPA; Materia Thief (a TBD mystery sour); 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, multiple anniversary glasses (one of which is pictured above), and food trucks.