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 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, a new column where BYT picks the month’s ten best beer events.
Why ten? Because it sounds cool.
What’s the criteria? OK, enough with the questions.
Here’s what you need to know: We’re starting Draft Picks with a great month. July is loaded. There’s plenty more going on over the next four weeks, but you can’t go wrong with any of the events below.
When: Friday, July 1 Where: Meridian Pint
Meridian Pint is turning six-years old! Time flies when you’re at the top of the beer bar game.
On Friday – today! – the Columbia Heights watering hole marks the occasion with an impressive (to say the least) line-up of rarities, one-offs, and new releases, including: UNION’s Old Pro gose barrel aged with peaches; Manor Hill’s Barrel-Aged Quad with blackberries; Port City’s Amaro Barrel-Aged Double Wit; RAR’s Puck Face dry-hopped Berliner Weisse; DC Brau’s Space Reaper DIPA; and many more. Chef Francisco Ferrufino has also designed a “retro food menu” for the evening, complete with favorite dishes past and present.
It’s the perfect way to ease into the long weekend. There aren’t a lot of people doing it better than beer director Jace Gonnerman right now.
When: Monday, July 4 Where: Republic
On the Fourth of July, why not get patriotic at Republic? The Takoma Park restaurant is hosting its third annual Freedom Fest, which “commemorates the repeal of government restriction on beer sales while celebrating the unification of our local brewing community.” I can get behind all of these things.
I can also get behind the list of participating breweries: Denizens, Jailbreak, The Brewer’s Art, RAR, Manor Hill, Right Proper, Hellbender, and 7 Locks. What a collection of young guns! And The Brewer’s Art! Respect your elders!
Freedom isn’t free. Nor is this event. But a $40 ticket gets you one BBQ meal, access to all of that draft and cask beer, and live music. You can attend the afternoon session (from 11:00 to 3:00), the evening session (from 3:00 to 7:00), or you can go buckwild and attend both for $60.
When: Saturday, July 9 Where: Alexandria
For the third year running, Port City has organized a pub crawl of Old Town Alexandria.
Here’s the deal: Participants have from 2:00 to 5:30 to visit eight respected establishments, collect a stamp from each, and then head to Union Street Public House to receive a commemorative glass as your reward. Along the way, there will be beer and food specials to fuel your day-drinking odyssey. Designated drivers get a pint glass, too, so try to convince Carl from accounting that this is worth his while.
A word of advice: Make sure to get full pours of VaStLy Mild and this year’s Derecho Common. Both are tasting phenomenal right now.
Extra Credit: Tap Takeover: Port City
When: Tuesday, July 12 Where: Rustico (Alexandria)
You know your collaboration is hot stuff when you have a reservations-only tasting to mark its release. I mean, that’s sort of crazy when you think about it. But Ocelot and Bluejacket coming together to brew a Double IPA with Citra, Simcoe, and Centennial is a local beer nerd’s fantasy come true.
This hoppy brew is called Raised on Promises, and on July 12, Ocelot founder Adrien Widman and head brewer Mike McCarthy will join Neighborhood Restaurant Group beer director Greg Engert to pour and discuss it at Alexandria’s Rustico. Tickets are $35 and include: tastings over four other Ocelot beers; small bites from Chef Zachary Ridenhour; and the chance to check-in the DIPA on Untappd before your friends.
When: Saturday, July 16 Where: Denizens Brewing
Breweries grow up so fast these days. It feels like just yesterday that Denizens was the new kid on the block. Now, the Silver Spring brewery is canning its beer, making sour red saisons, and turning two. It’s toasting to that last achievement on July 16 with a (free) on-premise party. Mother’s Oven will perform. Beer will be served. Sun will be soaked. Fun will be had.
Denizens currently has a slew of offerings perfect for the warm weather. First and foremost is its flagship Czech-style Pilsner, Born Bohemian, which is light in body with toasty malt and floral hop flavors. Its summer seasonals, meanwhile, fall on the hoppier end of the spectrum.
The first is Dub Plate, a West Coast style Double IPA brewed with a rotating hop profile. The first batch (of a planned three) showcases Galaxy, Simcoe, and Chinook. “The name comes from the original copy of a vinyl that is carved then cast to create a template for additional copies to be made,” Denizens Jack Basso shares. (Cheers to music-related beer names that actually make sense! I’m looking at you, Starr Hill.)
The other summer seasonal is Rumble and Roar, a Double India Red Ale brewed with Motueka, Centennial, and Sorachi Ace hops. Per Basso, the combo “makes for summary notes of mixed berry and lime.”
When: Tuesday, July 19 Where: ChurchKey
If you’re remotely plugged into DC’s beer scene, you know that the five letters above stand for On the Wings of Armageddon. But here’s a slice of trivia that you might not remember: DC Brau’s supremely tasty Imperial IPA premiered at ChurchKey back in day. (Back in the day meaning “December 2012.”)
On July 19 – a Tuesday, Lord give me the strength – the brewery celebrates the release of a fresh batch of OTWOA back where it all started. And as if fresh OTWOA wasn’t enough to get you out of the house, DC Brau has prepared five special casks of OTWOA exclusively for the event. Within each of those casks: a tropical fruit.
Mango. Guava. Lychee. Pineapple. Tangerine. The whole gang is here.
When: Thursday, July 21 Where: The National Zoo
Yes, anniversary parties. Plural. Mad Fox is throwing not one but two parties on Saturday, July 23. #YOLO.
One toasts the six-year anniversary of Mad Fox Brewing in Falls Church. The other celebrates a whole year of service at the Mad Fox Taproom in Glover Park. Bill Madden must really be frisky in October, huh?
At each location, Mad Fox will mark the occasion with five rare beer releases, food specials, live music, and giveaways. A new beer will be released each hour from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., except for 1:00, because 1:00 is over. Here’s the schedule: Kirsche Weiss at 11:00; Oaked Crazy Ivan Imperial Stout at 12:00; Batch 100 at 1:00; Batch 300 at 3:00; and Batch 500 at 4:00.
If you’re in DC and you haven’t been to the Taproom, this is a perfect excuse. It’s a great space, the prices are exceptionally reasonable, and the beer – well, of course, it’s quite good. Mad Fox Taproom is pretty much the only thing that can get me over to Glover Park, and I do so somewhat regularly because of it.
When: Sunday, July 24 Where: 3 Stars Brewing
3 Stars hosts the summer edition of its bi-annual Artists & Artisans gathering on the afternoon of Sunday, July 24th. The Summer Jam draws together merchants (like Stitch & Rivet and graphic belt maestro Jon Wye;), distilleries (like Green Hat and One Eight); and all kinds of food purveyors. The unifying theme? Everything being served or sold is made in DC.
Your $20 tickets gets you a commemorative goblet, your first beer, and some live tunes courtesy of Spirit Animal. All in all, there are probably less enjoyable ways to support local.
Here’s a pointer: Make sure to fill that goblet up with the new Two to the Dome at least once. It’s as light and refreshing as an 8.9% Double IPA could possibly be.
Extra Credit: Tap Takeover: 3 Stars (Update)
When: Saturday, July 30 Where: UNION Craft Brewing
There’s a strong case to be made that UNION is the area’s best brewery. Its traditional styles are flawless, its new school brews are innovative, and it just produces some truly incredible beers, from Double Duckpin to Old Pro. On the last Saturday in July, the Baltimore brewery celebrates four years of such excellence with a fête at the brewery.
And since UNION is also blessed with a great location (and understanding neighbors), it’s a night party. The main musical attraction is the 23-piece Baltimore Afrobeat Society, performing the music of the legendary Fela Kuti. (Coolest brewery band booking ever?)
As usual, the party will mark the release of UNION’s anniversary beer, Chessie the Barleywine. Additionally, you can expect a number of specialty casks, rare releases, and cellared vintages to be pouring that evening. General admission tickets are still available but don’t drag your feet.