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 best beer events.
Normally, it’s ten events. This month, it’s a dozen. Why a dozen? Because these events are all my children and I couldn’t bring myself to cut two.
When: Saturday, June 1
Where: DC Brau
What do you get when you combine four breweries, three distilleries, two coffee roasters, and over twenty food producers under one roof? Drunk and full!
Also, if all of these producers are based in Northeast DC, and the aforementioned event is held in Northeast DC, then you get Northeast Eats, an annual celebration of the quadrant’s finest food and drink.
This year, DC Brau will play host to Northeast Eats. (Based on this year’s HopFest, the space is quite well suited for such big events.) For $50, you can play “Supermarket Sweep” with your mouth from 4:00 to 8:00. (Shout out to an all-you-can-consume event starting later than 1:00.)
The breweries: Right Proper, Hellbender, Red Bear, and (duh) DC Brau. The DC Brewer’s Guild will also be in the house, because why not?
The dranks: One Eight Distilling, New Columbia Distillers, and Wardman Wines.
The food: Too many places to name. But it includes Toki Underground, Brookland’s Finest, Ruby Ruby Scoops, Masala Story, Wunder Garten, and Brookland Pint.
When: Sunday, June 2
Where: The Salt Line
With over 20 taps and a formidable selection of cans, The Salt Line has long been a sneaky top 10 DC beer program.
And by “long,” I mean “for two years,” because The Salt Line celebrates its two-year anniversary on June 2.
On this blessed the day, the riverfront seafood haven will unveil Sea You at the Bottom, a new collaboration with DC Brau. Quite appropriately, Sea You at the Bottom is a farmhouse ale brewed with Skipjack oysters from the Chesapeake.
According to a press release, “the effervescent new ale will have drinkers ‘sea-ing’ the bottom of their mugs in minutes…”
Oh bad puns, how I love thee.
The press release goes on to note that “a portion of each drink sold will benefit the Oyster Recovery Program starting June 4 in anticipation of World Oceans Day.”
For the Sunday Funday, The Salt Line will be offering $4 specials on other DC Brau brews, in addition to $1 oysters.
In other DC Brau news, the brewery will celebrate the release of its 2019 Pride Pils cans at Dacha on Thursday, June 6. On this night and any other time you buy a Pride Pils can, 100% of profits will benefit The Blade Foundation and SMYAL
When: Thursday, June 6
Where: Owen’s Ordinary
Sapwood Cellars was the most anticipated brewery to open in the area last year.
Its founders, Scott Janish and Mike Tonsmeire, are two very influential and highly regarded beer writers, homebrewers, and consultants. (Tonsmeire wrote one of the definitive books on American sours and helped build Modern Times’ sour program. Janish recently published his own book on IPAs.)
Unsurprisingly, Sapwood Cellars has produced fantastic IPAs, sours, stouts, and mixed-ferm oddities.
Equally unsurprisingly, it hasn’t had to distribute those beers because people are willing to visit their Columbia, Maryland taproom in droves.
On June 6, they’ll make a small exemption and send six beers to Owen’s Ordinary in North Bethesda.
Those beers include the seventh installment of Cheater Hops IPA (hopped with Simcoe, Citra, Mosaic this time), Cedar Hops (a Spanish cedar-aged IPA also hopped with the holy trinity of Simcoe, Citra, and Mosaic), Meltdown Mango (a sour IPA with mango), and Salzig (a mixed-ferm Gose fermented with Brettanomyces found in a 25-year-old bottle of Wilhelm Berliner Weisse).
Side note: Historically, Gose and Berliner Weiss were fermented with Brett. I’d strongly recommend Milk the Funk’s interview on this subject with amateur beer historian and German homebrewer Benedikt Koch.
Anyway, if you’ve been curious about Sapwood Cellars but will only go as far north as North Bethesda, then this event is for you.
When: Saturday, June 8
I know you’re sitting there in your white-linen romper and straw hat, reading this article in a coffee shop, randomly yelling “summer vibes, bro!” at passing strangers, but here’s the thing: We still have three weeks of spring. It won’t be summer until it’s June 21 and I have a Spawn of Space Reaper can (DC Brau’s forthcoming 6%, all-Mosaic little brother to Space Reaper) in my hand.
Pizzeria Paradiso knows this, of course. It’ll celebrate the waning days of spring on June 8 with its second annual Spring Fest at the pizza empire’s Hyattesville location. As with all of the Pizza P seasonal bashes, you can expect dope pizza, seasonally appropriate beer, art, games, and music.
Ticket options vary. $50 gets you a Spring Fest glass and unlimited pours to fill it. If you’d prefer to just score the glass, one pour, and buy drinks from there, that’s a mere $15. Or you can just pay $5 to enter and look sad with no special glass.
When: Saturday, June 8
Where: Solace Brewing
Dulles, Virginia’s Solace Brewing has quickly established itself as a force to be reckoned with in the DC-area beer scene. Unquestionably, the brewery’s IPAs are in the upper tier of local hoppy offerings. I would even argue that it makes the best regularly available, flagship IPA in Partly Cloudy, a Citra-and-El-Dorado-hopped NE-style hazy inspired by the 2009 Pixar short film of the same name.
Next weekend, the operation will mark two years of hoppy excellence (not to mention very nice stouts, solid kettles sours, and a relatively new knock-out pilsner) with an anniversary party. You can expect live music, food trucks, and “giveaways.”
One thing Solace will not being giving away: Seeing Stars, its second-anniversary DIPA, which is hopped with Galaxy, Comet, and Falconer’s Flight. (Get it? Celestial hops? Seeing Stars?)
When: Wednesday, June 12
Where: The Sovereign
The Abbey of Our Lady of the Holy Heart of Westmalle (for real, that’s the whole name) has been in the beer game since 1836. It is one of only fourteen members of the International Trappist Association, a group many consider to be the original Avengers. In 1931, it produced the world’s first tripel. You heard me, it invented the goddamn tripel.
In short, Westmalle is one of the O’est of the OGs.
So, on June 12, respect your elders, head to the Sovereign, and consume some Westmalle.
The Georgetown shrine to all things Belgian will have three beers from the monks, most notably “some of the first kegs ever sent to the US” of Westmalle Dubbell. According to the folks over in Belgium, it’s a “dark red-brown beer with a rich, complex taste thanks to re-fermentation in the bottle. You pick up touches of caramel, malt and fruity esters reminiscent of ripe banana. The beer pearls beneath a covering of dense, cream-coloured froth. A lovely lace pattern forms on the inside of the glass once emptied. The long, dry finish of this balanced, mild Trappist beer will stay with you.”
Or to quote the header directly above that description on the Westmalle website: “WESTMALLE DUBBEL, FRUITY AND FULL IN THE MOUTH.” Say no more, fam.
Rounding out the list on this evening: Westmalle Tripel and Westmalle Extra, a “Patersbier brewed specifically for the monk’s consumption and only available at the monastery.” Drink like a monk!
When: Friday, June 14
Where: Heurich House
For almost a year, the Heurich House has been working on an ambitious, extraordinarily cool project: reviving Senate Beer, a brand brewed by the Chr. Heurich Brewing Co., popularized in the 1890s, and produced until 1956.
Not content to just brew a lager “inspired” by Senate Beer, the museum has sought to produce “one of the most historically and scientifically accurate beer revivals” ever. Talk about going for extra credit on your homework assignment, nerds!
To help them in this task, Heurich House commissioned the services of Oregon State’s Fermentation Science Department. On the west coast, Pilot Brewer Jeff Clawson has worked with Professor of Fermentation Science Tom Shellhammer to produce a beer true to a 20-page-laboratory-report on Senate Beer from 1939. (Notably, the report was discovered and initially reviewed by Lost Lagers gurus Pete Jones and Mike Stein, who also developed the Heurich’s Lager recipe in 2015 with the museum and DC Brau.)
Clawson has produced not one but two pilot batches of this beer. And in a classic “Highlander” scenario, there can be only one.
So, on June 14, the Dupont museum invites you to come try these beers and give your feedback. This is an incredible opportunity. Get up off your ass and shape history!
There are two ticket options: General Admission and VIP. One of them involves UNLIMITED SENATE BEER. Hint: it is not General Admission.
And further down the road, be on the lookout for the final version of the beer, which the Heurich House will look to produce locally.
“Capitalsaurus Wit” Release
When: June 14 + June 15
Find someone who looks at you the way Hellbender head brewer Ben Evans looks at kveik.
Kveik, as you may be familiar, is a type of yeast used in the Norwegian farmhouse ale brewing tradition. There are numerous strains of kveik, but they all generally ferment at warm temperatures, ferment quickly, and throw off a distinctly orangey character. Kveik has been around for generations, but it’s only in the past two years that it’s made a resurgence in American craft beer. If a brewery is slightly experimental and produces a revolving assortment of beers, chances are it has made a kveik IPA. Kveik IPAs are a totally thing. (I touched on the Scandinavian yeast in the context of Right Proper’s Soused, but Zach Fowle wrote an excellent primer more specifically on the subject for Draft Mag.)
In addition to Right Proper, we’ve seen kveik IPAs locally from Old Ox, DC Brau, Mustang Sally, and others. But no one has embraced kveik like Hellbender. It uses the yeast for its IPA Panda Strike Force. It’s used kveik to power the farmhouse ales Preposterous Hypothesis and Sweet Victory. It even went as far as to change the yeast on its flagship saison Southern Torrent from a classic Belgian strain to kveik, which is wild. (Not in wild yeast sense, but in the Nick Cannon “Wild’n Out” sense.)
And now we get the latest entry in Hellbender’s kveik oeuvre: Capitalsaurus Wit.
Nameed after DC’s native dinosaur, Capitalsaurus was brewed with a whopping 75% wheat (thanks, Meura Mash Filter), spiced with orange zest and Indian coriander, and (obviously) fermented with Kviek. According to Hellbender sales manager Luke Porter, it “lacks some of the traditional Belgian phenols, but makes up for it with a pleasant fruity and citrusy character.” I’m intrigued!
Hellbender will launch the beer with two events. The first, on June 14, will be at the Midlands, with BOGO happy hour from 5:00 to 7:00 and then live bluegrass from Two Ton Twig 7:00 to 9:00. The next day, Hellbender will set up shop at The Brig from 3:00 to 7:00. I have heard rumors there may be a dinosaur sighting, in addition to a new one-off IPA dry-hopped with Mosaic and Azacca.
When: Saturday, June 15
Where: Old Ox Brewery
These are exciting times at Old Ox Brewery. For starters, the Ashburn brewery is turning five this month. Moreover, it’s fixing to become a Ashburn-and-Middleburg brewery in the very near future.
That’s right, this summer the Burns family will be opening its second location, in what was once the Nation’s Horse and Hunt Capital. Want to get a sneak peak? As part of its birthday festivities, Old Ox is offering a Middleburg Experience, which includes: a bus ride from Old Ox Ashburn to Old Ox Middleburg (and back again), a guided tour of the Middleburg location, unlimited beer tastings, and lunch. Not a bad deal for $50!
For those preferring to stay in Ashburn, Old Ox will mark its half-decade of award-winning rye porter and hoppier places with “new beer releases, old beer revivals, two awesome bands, and delicious food all day long.” These are all good things.
The new beers? Cooper’s Cloak Barleywine (barrel-aged barleywine) and Hoppier Place SPIN (the latest iteration of their evolving IPA series, this time featuring Galaxy, Cascade, Centennial and Chinook).
No tickets required for the event. Come and go as you please. But the first 100 guests get a free 16oz koozie, valued at priceless dollars.
When: Saturday, June 15
Where: Rustico Ballston
According to Southern Living (my homepage), it is officially crawfish SZN.
It has actually been crawfish SZN all year. But if you haven’t celebrated, now is the time to act because crawfish SZN comes to a close in July.
Sorry, I didn’t mean to send you into a panic. You still have ample opportunity to celebrate crawfish SZN. Hell, here comes maybe the marquee event of crawfish SZN locally: Rustico Ballston’s Bluegrass & Crawfish Boil.
On June 15, Rustico (pronounced ˈrə-sted-root) will host its third low-country boil featuring Executive Chef Stephen McRae’s fresh Louisiana crawfish and classic Southern sides. The event stretches from 12:00 to 9:30, and based on conversations I’ve had with the Rustico team, they go through a truly gargantuan amount of crawfish during that time.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a Neighborhood Restaurant Group event without a mildly epic draft list. On tap this year: The Answer, The Veil, and Final Gravity, three of Richmond’s finest breweries (and three breweries you rarely find in the DC-area outside of NRG properties).
Also on tap this year: Ocelot and Bluejacket. No big deal.
LoCo Ale Trail Tap Takeover
When: Wednesday, June 26
Where: Roofers Union
As you may have noticed, Loudoun County is where a lot of the DC-area beer magic is happening these days.
The number of quality breweries in this part of Virginia (where the property is relatively cheap and the government incentives favorable) is, frankly, a little silly. Ocelot! Rocket Frog! Old Ox! Dynasty! Solace! Adroit Theory! Not one but two Crooked Runs! And also approximately 392 other breweries.
The week will feature events at King Street Oyster Bar, Hops N Shine, Blackfinn Ameripub, Kettles & Grains, and Chefscape.
And in the middle of the week, LoCo breweries will converge on Roofers Union, and since I am a big fan of that establishment, it gets the Draft Picks love. No word yet on the participating breweries, but I’m sure they’ll turn out en force for beer director Dave Deleplaine’s delightful menu descriptions.
When: Friday, June 28
Where: The Partisan
Typically, the Bruery’s Reserve Society beers are available only to Reserve Society members.
But on June 28, The Partisan will serve six of these special beers.
This can only mean one thing: Neighborhood Restaurant Group Beer Director Greg Engert has gone rogue and is now [extreme Ian McShane voice] excommunicado.
Let it be said, he’s going out in a blaze of glory. The draft list for the event includes Grey Monday (a hazelnut-infused variant of Black Tuesday Imperial Stout); Train to Beersel (a Lambic-inspired sour blond ale aged in a variety of wine barrels), and Mr. Sanders (an oak barrel-aged sour saison with honey).