By Philip Runco.
DC Beer Week has gotten bigger and better every year, and glancing at the schedule of events below, there’s no reason to think 2017 will be any different.
If you’re unfamiliar, here’s the deal: For eight crazy days and nights, local breweries (and some from further away) descend upon the area’s bars, restaurants, and less conventional spaces for dozens and dozens of events. These events include keg kills, beer dinners, friendly competitions, policy discussions, regionally themed or style-centric tastings, tap takeovers, and much more.
I humbly present you with this guide to everything DC Beer Week. Read it. Learn it. Memorize it.
Where: Union Market
When: 2:00pm – 5:00pm
There’s no novel way to spin this: Brewers on the Block is just a well-organized, local-focus beer festival. I went last year, and I had a blast, and I hate 97% of things in the world.
It starts with the DMV breweries. The number of participants currently sits at 19, and there’s not a scrub amongst them. Alewerks, Oliver, Hellbender, RAR, Manor Hill, UNION Craft, Right Proper – the list goes on. And if last year was any indication, they tend to bring one-offs and seasonals, so you’re not signing up for more of the same.
Here’s the kicker: Tickets are a very reasonable $40. That’s unlimited pours for three hours from the caliber of breweries above… for $40. I’m no expert, but that sounds like a steal.
If you feel like going H.A.M., there’s also Beer Junkie VIP option that gets you an extra special glass, an extra hour to use it, exclusive beer (like Stillwater!) with which to fill it, and, um, the honor of calling yourself a “beer junkie.” Or, on the other side of the spectrum, there’s a $15 option that includes five pours. We won’t judge you if you feel like taking it easy! (We’ll judge.)
Where: The Black Squirrel
When: 6:00pm – 11:00pm
For another year, the Black Squirrel will celebrate the women of the DC area’s craft beer scene during DC Beer Week. Here’s your chance to rub elbows with some pillars of our community (who also happen to be women): Denizens co-founder Julie Verratti, Right Proper co-founder Leah Cheston, DC Brau business development manager Kayleigh Tanthorey, Atlas Brew Works tap room general manager Rachel Murray, Graft co-owner Sara Sherrer, and presumably Black Squirrel owner Amy Bowman.
If you find yourself thirsty whilst in conversation with your distinguished company, draft lines will flow with offerings from all of these breweries. (There will be three cans of Graft’s funky and floral cider available, too). Highlights include Denizens’ Brett Party Brett Tripel, Atlas Brew Works’ super refreshing Blood Orange Gose, Right Proper’s Baron Corvo, and DC Brau’s #crushable Savor The Swill
I know we all love to reduce craft beer to a collection of various “bros,” but maybe let’s not for, like, one night? Actually, make it two nights, because Black Squirrel in Dunn Loring hosts the Virginia edition of this event on Monday with an equally stellar panel.
Where: Gordon Biersch (Navy Yard)
When: 6:30pm – 8:30pm
Michael Stein and Peter Jones aren’t your typical historians. They’re beer historians, which makes them cool historians, like Nicolas Cage in “National Treasure”. But instead of trying to steal the Declaration of Independence, they’re recreating historical beer recipes. (Editor’s note: Nailed it.) (Just kidding, no one edits this stuff.)
Seriously, though, the Lost Lagers guys possess a wealth of knowledge, and they’re very nice humans who answer dumb questions (like mine!) with grace, and they occasionally team with local breweries to revive forgotten beer styles on a commercial scale.
On Sunday night, head to Gordon Biersch in the Navy Yard to taste (and hear them talk about) two such beers: DC Brau’s Heurich’s Lager (a beer first brewed in the 1870s and produced into the 1950s) and Gordon Biersch Rockville’s Potomac Porter (a porter brewed with lager yeast – something that was historically manufactured by German immigrants in English breweries). You’ll walk away from this evening both smarter and a little drunk. Win-win.
Brookland Pint hosts a homebrew how-to with the DC Homebrewers club.
Devils Backbone will be shucking oysters and slamming Vienna Lagers at Petworth’s Homestead… and so can you!!!
Or you can do something productive with your life (or at least the morning), and go help Dogfish Head and Glen’s Market clean up the Kingman Marsh in the Anacostia. There’s beer involved eventually.
Where: Right Proper (Brookland)
When: 4:00pm – 9:00pm
Each year, essentially all the breweries inside the Beltway gather at one local brewery to produce a Solidarity beer. Last year, that beer was dry-hopped grisette brewed at 3 Stars. The year before that, it was a citrusy saison at Hellbender. This year, it’s… drumroll please… a Brett IPA at Right Proper!
Honestly, I have a whole Freshly Tapped article on this beer dropping Monday at noon, so I’m going to stick to the essentials here. The Brett IPA – or very hoppy farmhouse ale, if you prefer – is light and fruity, brewed with a lean base (mostly pilsner malt) and hopped with a boatload of Citra, Mosaic, and a New Zealand varietal called Rakau. It was fermented with Right Proper’s distinctive house mixed culture (of saisons yeasts, Brett strains, and Lacto) in stainless steel. It is a wonderful beer.
The Solidarity beer will be available around town during DC Beer Week, and for the first time it has been bottle for limited commercial distribution. However, if you want to taste it first (and hang out with the people who made it), then head to Right Proper on Monday night for its release party. They’ll have the beer on draft and bottles to go. Also, two winners of the Solidarity Homebrew Competition will be sampling their versions of the Solidarity recipe alongside the original.
That’s all for now. Come back for more on Monday!
When: 7:00pm – 10:00pm
Beer vs. wine, eh? The answer is beer. Moving onto the next event…
I kid, I kid. If you’re looking for double-decanted classiness on Monday night, head to Proof, where Port City has organized a twist on the classic beer dinner. For $74, you get a three-course meal from Chef Austin Fausett, accompanied by both beer and wine.
Here’s another twist: The Proof team has chosen the beer, and Port City founder Bill Butcher has chosen the wine. You may be thinking, “What if Butcher chooses a bunch of Franzia to make his beer seem extra tasty?” That’s a fair question. What you’re forgetting is that Butcher spent two decades in the wine industry before founding Port City, so the dude knows his grapes. (I wrote about how Butcher’s wine experience informs his approach at Port City in our 2015 Tap Takeover profile.)
Snag your tickets in advance here.
When: 4:00pm – 11:00pm
Oh, Cigar City, you tease. You send your beer to Virginia, which is so close… but so far… because I am so lazy. Then, for DC beer weeks, you participate in a big event or two, only to then disappear for five months. Why do I always think you’ll stay?
Anyway, the latest event to showcase the Tampa Bay operation is at ChurchKey on Monday. They’ll have ten drafts from Cigar City on tap, including a few of the turbo imperial stouts that the brewery is best known for (Marshal Zhukov’s, Argumentum Ad Populum), its Margarita Gose, the eek-tastically named Florida Cracker witbier, and a good ol’ pilsner.
Down below that night, Birch & Barley will be hosting something called The Order of the Red Banner Dinner, which pairs five courses with five “incredibly rare variants” of Marshal Zhukov’s Imperial Stout. Tickets for that dinner cost $75 and come with a free crushing hangover.
3 Stars is serving up pints of unfiltered knowledge at its Off Flavor Tasting Class. Learn to detect what’s not quite right about a beer, then stick around to taste the good stuff. Speaking of the good stuff, peep my latest profile of the brewery: The Technicolor Life of 3 Stars Brewing.
All Purpose pairs its unfuckwithable pizza with an array of DC Brau beers, includng Heurich’s Lager, On the Wings of Armageddon, and an “unnamed barrel-aged beer” (ooh-la-la).
Feeling a little spicier? Atlas Brew Works pairs its beers with H Street tacos at .
Songbyrd invites you over for a DC Beer Week edition of music trivia with special guest Devils Backbone.
The other Black Squirrel – the elusive Virginia species – hosts its Women in Beer event with an equally stacked panel featuring the good Doctor Allison Lange (Head Brewer, Old Ox Brewing) Bridgette Turner (Lead Brewer, Solace Brewing) Lashelle Davis (of Quattro Goomba’s Brewery), Caitlin Rossi (General Manager, Adroit Theory Brewing), Chrystalle Ball (the chapter head and founder of DMV Girls Pint Out), and, of course, Black Squirrel owner Amy Bowman.
Where: Boundary Stone
When: 5:00pm – 9:00pm
DC Beer Week isn’t about solidarity. It’s about cutthroat competition. OK, it’s about solidarity, too, but the competitions are more fun. One of the biggest annual showdowns – and one of the scene’s biggest “industry nights” – is Boundary Stone’s Battle of Barrel-Aged.
DC Brau, Atlas Brew Works, Port City, Right Proper, and 3 Stars are each bringing a keg of something that’s been barrelled for at least one month. Because 3 Stars won last year, it got to choose the type of barrel everyone had to use, and it has chosen… make some noise… I can’t hear you… wine barrels!!! (Good choice.)
Admission is $27.50, which gets you a four-ounce tasting from each brewery, plus a pint of the 2017 Solidarity brew. The winner gets a dedicated line at Boundary Stone’s back bar for a year. This winner will be determined by popular vote, plus a judge’s panel, because you can’t completely trust the people with matters of such importance.
Where: Meridian Pint
When: 5:00pm – 11:45pm
Someday, I will tell my children about Meridian Pint’s Out-of-Market Virginia Breweries and Brewpubs event during 2016’s SAVOR Week.
“Come over here, young Philip and Phyllis, daddy has a story,” I will say, as my offspring groan about another beer story. “Let me tell you about the time that beer director Jace Gonnerman climbed Mount Rogers and brought fire back to DC.”
Yes, the event was an instant classic. Herndon’s Aslin, Dulles’ Ocelot, Staunton’s Redbeard, and the one-two Richmond punch of Triple Crossing and The Answer, – all under one roof for the first time. (Don’t fact check that.) If you missed it, well, I don’t know how you can sleep at night. But I do have a consolation prize: Gonnerman has organized a sequel featuring all those players. And much like The Rock joining the cast of “The Fast & The Furious” franchise, he’s added another all-star: the Virginia Beer Company
Check out the full draft list here, which includes Ocelot’s basically perfect Sunnyside Dweller pilsner, Aslin’s ridiculous Master of Oranges Double IPA, and The Answer Triple Dry-Hopped Mind Games Double IPA, among many other #whalez.
Where: The Heurich House
When: 12:00pm – 2:00pm
Calling all nerds. On Tuesday afternoon, the Heurich House Museum partners with Wikimedia DC to host a Wikipedia Edit-a-thon focusing on pages related to DC’s beer history.
During this edit-a-thon event, attendees will learn the basics of how to edit Wikipedia by updating articles related to the history of beer in DC. Representatives from Wikimedia DC and the Heurich House Museum will be on site to assist with the editing process as well as provide #dank information and resources.
Apparently “edit-a-thon” events are a well-established thing, so I’m already learning! Also, as someone who leans on Wikipedia to write beer articles, I thank you in advance for your service.
DBGB Kitchen & Bar hosts another Booze Brews, its annual “beer-forward cocktail” competition featuring bartenders from Iron Gate, Salt Line, Le Diplomate, The Inn at Little Washington, and DBGB.
City Tap House pairs with a dozen breweries for Flights & Dogs, which (as you might have guessed) pairs creatively decorated mini-hotdogs with beer.
Smoke & Barrel showcases Prairie Artisan Ales’ Prairie Bomb – an imperial stout with oaded with vanilla beans, cocoa nibs, espresso, and ancho chilies – and four “deconstructed” kegs isolating each of those ingredients. They’ll also be pouring Vape Trails, a new sour aged on cherries, which frankly I’m more jazzed about.
Where: Meridian Pint
When: 5:00pm – 11:45pm
Arguably no one in the DC-area beer scene is more attuned with what’s up-and-coming than Meridian Pint beer director Jace Gonnerman. I’ve written about this twice before. And remember that blurb above about his 2016 event with up-and-coming Virginia breweries? Well, now he’s turning his attention to Maryland.
It’s going down on August 23. That’s when Meridian Pint will host the DC debut of five new Maryland breweries: Hysteria (Columbia), Steinhardt (Braddock Heights), Goonda Beersmiths (Baltimore), Brookeville Beer Farm (Montgomery County), and Cushwa (Williamsport). And for good measure, there will be a few more (relatively) established operations on deck: farm brewery Waredaca, hazy IPA’ers Diamondback, and Charm City Meadworks.
I’d tell you more about these breweries, but I haven’t tried most of them. You know who has? Jace Gonnerman. Do you know whose palate you should trust? Jace Gonnerman’s.
When: 5:00pm – 10:00pm
The name kind of says it all, doesn’t it?
For the sixth year running, DC Brau is teaming with the crab experts at Rosslyn’s Quarterdeck for an evening of crustacean indulgence. Tickets costs $50, which gets you bottomless crab and access to $1 DC Brau drafts and $5 pitchers.
When: 4:00pm – 11:00pm
Oh, one Wednesday extravaganza wasn’t enough? You want two Wednesday extravaganzas? That’s flat-out greedy, and you should be ashamed of yourself. But lucky for you, ChurchKey is willing to enable these indulgent impulses.
On this particular hump day, the Logan Circle bar dedicates all 55 of its lines to Maryland and Virginia beer. And because this is a DC Beer Week event, beer director Greg Engert is flexing extra hard.
Of course, the draft list includes The Veil, because only Greg Engert can get The Veil. It also includes (deep breath): The Answer, Ocelot, Aslin, Manor Hill, RAR, Union, Diamondback, Black Flag, Port City, Pen Druid, Hardywood, Hysteria, and Evolution.
Goddamn. Engert has been hitting the gym in anticipation for this one. Check out the full ludicrous list here.
At Atlas Brew Works, a panel of industry professionals will pick apart one question: Does independence matter? That’s a timely question, my friends! This panel will include brewery, retailer, distribution, and legal perspectives, so expect that uncut realness.
Brookland’s Finest unveils a collaborative menu with Denizens Brewing and Republic Restoratives Distillery. For $35, you get a three-course tasting menu paired with beer cocktails. That’s such a good deal that I suspect a Nigerian prince (who needs my help) might be behind it.
Smoke & Barrel hosts the DC debut of Charlottesville’s new Reason Beer, which was founded by veterans of the prestigious Maine Beer Co. They’ll be pouring three straightforwardly named offerings: Blonde, Pale, and Saison.
Port City is tapping an #ultrarare keg of bourbon barrel-aged Colossal 5. For those keeping score at home, Colossal 5 is an English-style old ale. I talked with head brewer Jonathan Reeves about this beer and its successor in my Freshly Tapped: Colossal 6 profile. It’s really interesting! I swear!
When: 4:00pm – 11:00pm
55 tap and casks lines. 100% DC beer.
For the third year running, ChurchKey will do what was once unthinkable and dedicate everything it has to DC Beer.
All seven DC Brewers Guild members will be supplying multiple beers: 3 Stars, Atlas Brew Works, Bluejacket, DC Brau, District Chophouse, Hellbender and Right Proper.
I’d recommend some beers, but we don’t have all day here. Check the list at the link above.
Where: Mad Fox Taproom
When: 7:00pm – 11:00pm
When Aslin Beer Company sends its beer to a DC bar, you go to that bar. It’s that simple. The stuff just doesn’t leave Herndon very often, and when it does, it’s usually for a festival. Fuck that. I want whole pints of those soft, fragrant, wildly hoppy IPAs. To paraphrase Sir Mix-a-Lot: put ’em in a glass.
On August 24, Mad Fox’s Glover Park taproom will do the lord’s work with an Aslin tap takeover. What’s on tap? Four or five Aslin beers. What particular Aslin beers? It’s too early to know! Check back later! But it doesn’t even matter! ASLIN, ASLIN, ASLIN, ASLIN, ASLIN.
Outside of the tap takeover, it’s a big month at the Glover Park oasis. From August 17 to 20, it’ll be celebrating its second birthday with a series of giveaways and rare releases. Check out the full list of programming here.
Where: Smoke & Barrel
When: 5:00pm – 11:45pm
Burley Oak Brewing reminds me of Giannis Antetokounmpo: We knew they were good out of the gate, but now they’re dunking on everyone.
The Berlin, Maryland brewery has turned into one of the hottest players in the game right now, churning out the kind of juice bomb IPAs and inventive sour ales that inspire people to wait in line for hours upon hours for some 16oz cans. (Their wild ales are also fantastic, for what it’s worth.)
On Thursday, Smoke & Barrel lets you cut the line with a showcase of Burley Oak rarities, including Citralaxy (a New England-style IPA with Citra and Galaxy hops), Scooby Snacks (a New England-style double IPA triple dry-hopped with Mosaic and Amarillo), and Bay Breeze JREAM (a sour ale brewed with lactose milk sugar, pineapple, and cranberry).
Go see what the fuss is all about.
The Hamilton serves up a wonderful-looking beer dinner with Right Proper.
Virginia Beach’s stellar Commonwealth Brewing takes over the taps at Brookland Pint.
The Sovereign’s Summer of Sours continues with a Logsdon Farmhouse Ales showcase.
Everyone knows that DC Brau loves their Hawaiian shirts, and they’ll bust them out for a tropical-themed event at Cantina Marina.
At four years old, Sauf Haus Bier Hall and Garten will tap its first local beer ever – Flying Dog’s traditional Dogtoberfest – and then proceed to kill it.
Port City floods Arlington’s Rocklands with its witbier, lagers, and hop-forward ales. (And, um, apparently “every Port City beer you purchase comes with a free eggroll,” which, whoa.)
Let your dog get in on this sweet DC Beer Week Action at Wunder Garten, where Devils Backbone and O’Connor Brewing team up for Pups & Pints. According to the website, “fur-babies” are welcome.
Where: District ChopHouse & Brewery
When: 6:00pm – 11:00pm
District ChopHouse’s Cask Night is a popular event with local brewers. This makes sense: Brewers love casks. They’re little, self-contained experiments.
As in past years, the seventh iteration is an all-you-can drink affair with over 20 local casks. Unmitigated access to these casks will only cost you a cool $50. And it comes with a complimentary “professional tasting glass.” This begs the question: HAVE I BEEN DRINKING OUT OF AMATEUR TASTING GLASSES THIS WHOLE TIME? WHY DID NO ONE TELL ME?
Seriously, this is a great OG Beer Week event. Don’t let it pass by.
Where: Meridian Pint
When: 5:00pm – 11:45pm
When it comes to next-generation NYC breweries, Finback Brewery is at the front of the pack with names like Other Half, LIC Beer Project, SingleCut, Interboro, and Transmission. We don’t really see their beer much in DC because, well, they don’t have much trouble selling it up in NYC. So, it’s very nice of Meridian Pint to save us all of that gas and toll money with this Finback event.
The big-ticket item is Lollipop Woods, the third installment in the Queens brewery’s collab series with Maryland’s RAR Brewing: the Candyland Series. This beer was brewed with lime zest, and dry-hopped with Citra and Wakatu, before being conditioned on cherries and lime.
In addition to that beauty, Meridian Pint will be pouring a selection of brews from Finback and the equally hot-stuff RAR. Hop heads, unite!
Where: City Tap House
When: 5:00pm – 11:00pm
Last week, I went deep on Stillwater Artisanal’s Modern Confusion, trying to understand what the tagline means and how Stillwater as a company got here. It’s a heady read, but Stillwater founder Brian Strumke and his disruptive collaborator Mike Van Hall are heady dudes, and the article contains some great insights (from them) into their newest concepts, the state of the beer industry, and what it means to be a “gypsy brewery.”
A gypsy brewery doesn’t own its own facilities; it contract brews on other people’s systems. (That’s the short explanation.) One place that Stillwater brews is Two Roads Brewing’s baller state-of-the-art facility in Connecticut. Two Roads also contract brews for other gypsy brewers, like Evil Twin, in addition to making its own very solid Two Roads beer.
On Friday, City Tap House will pour beer from all three of these brands as part of their Gypsy Brewer Night. I have no idea what particular beers they will be, but you can’t go wrong with this trio.
Boundary Stone throws down with a “90s wrestling-themed food-and-beer pairing [that] will pit local DC craft beer superstars DC Brau Brewing and 3 Stars in a head-to-head pairing standoff.” That’s an A+ concept.
Port City invites you to Nats Ballpark for an all-inclusive tailgate and ballgame experience.
ChurchKey hosts a Franconian Gravity Cask Night, which I think involves righteous bong rips? Wait.. no… I’m being told it involves five unfiltered lagers poured traditionally through gravity-fed casks. I was close!
welcomes Burley Oak and a whopping thirteen of its beers.Downtown Crown Wine & Beer, arguably the area’s premier bottle shop,
Where: Old Ebbitt Grill
When: 8:00pm – 11:00pm
Last year, DC Beer Week kicked off with BrewHaha. This year, it brings up the rear of DC Beer Week. Times change, man! (Just kidding, I read no significance into this.)
Whenever they host it, the Old Ebbitt event is just a good, old-fashioned craft beer and tasty food festival. $75 gets you all you can drink (from over ten different breweries) and eat (from an impressive line-up of restaurants that includes Red Apron, Red Hen, Sixth Engine, Smoke and Barrel, and Right Proper). In other words, you will be uncomfortably full in the best possible way within one hour (if you’re anything like me).
If you need proof that this is a winning combination, check out Logan Holler’s coverage of 2015’s throw down.
When: 4:00pm – 11:00pm
Spend Saturday in Alexandria with the women of the DMV beer scene. This event brings together female brewers, reps, and owners from a slew of fantastic breweries: Brew Republic Bierwerks, Forge Brew Works, Portner Brewhouse, Old Ox Brewery, Lake Anne Brewhouse, Solace Brewing Company, Lickinghole Creek Craft Brewery, Union Craft Brewing, and Three Notch’d Brewing Company. Tickets cost a measly $10, which covers your first beer, live tunes, and the privilege of soaking up an art exhibit by Sarah Dione Design.
Where: Brookland Pint
When: 12:00pm – 7:00pm
It’s a crab feast. You know the deal: $55 for unlimited crab. Oh, and a complimentary pint of 3 Stars beer.
To assure #ultrafreshness, Brookland Pint will be steaming its Maryland blue crab throughout each three-hour session. (There’s an early option and a late one.) Per the website, all crab will be prepared with Old Bay and served with roasted potatoes, corn on the cob, and chips. Chips and roasted potatoes? Into it.
As for the beer, study up on what’s new from the DC brewery with The Technicolor Life of 3 Stars Brewing.
I’m assuming it’ll be a hot Saturday. Cool down at Dupont’s Pizzeria Paradiso, where they’ll be serving up ice cream beer floats with Ice Cream Jubilee.
The District ChopHouse hosts the daytime edition of its cask extravaganza.
DC Reynolds welcomes Atlas Brew Works for a boozy brunch.
Where: DC Brau
When: 1:00pm – 8:00pm
Sometimes you’re in the mood for heavy metal. Sometimes you’re in the mood for something else.
“This year, we’re doing a reggae fest for DC Beer Week,” DC Brau co-founder and head brewer Jeff Hancock told me recently. “It’s a nice little break from all the heavy metal we do. I love metal, but I love a whole lotta other shit, too.”
That’s right, the metalheads have gone reggae – for the afternoon of August 27, at least. From 1:00 to 8:00, mellow vibes will be in the air at the brewery as Nappy Riddem, See-I, Bumpin’ Uglies, and Loving Paupers burn one down.
Tickets cost $25. The beer is on you.
Where: Drafthouse Comedy
When: 4:30pm – 8:30pm
You’ve been drinking for a week straight at this point. It’s time to get some culture into your life! Make your parents proud! They paid for that liberal arts education!
On early Sunday evening, Port City transforms downtown DC’s Drafthouse Comedy into an art gallery as part of its ongoing Arts & Ales series. Here’s your chance to close out DC Beer Week properly: checking out local art with a cold Port City brew in your hands. That’s called living your best possible life. Also, admission is free, so bring a Tinder date.
Did I mention that renowned DJ Laura Lopez will be spinning 45″ records of garage rock and other classics from yesteryear? Talk about burying the lede. Oh, and there will be raffle prizes, too. That’s not as cool as Laura Lopez, but there is nothing wrong with raffle prizes.