Adams Morgan, amber ale, Arrogant Bastard Ale, Beer Week, Bishop's Breakfast, brown ale, California, Cerveza Nacional de la Capital, Chocolate City Beer, District ChopHouse, Dupont Circle, Epic Brewing Company, Fat Tire, Firehook Bakery, Firestone Walker Brewing Co., Founders, Grand Rapids, IPA, Kramerbooks & Afterwords Cafe, lager, Michigan, nachos, New Belgium, oatmeal stout, Oliver Breweries, pale ale, Pale Ale 31, PBR, Penn Quarter, Pfeifferhorn Lager, Pizzeria Paradiso, Red's Rye PA, roasty, Salt Lake City, Smoke and Barrel, Stone Brewing Co., The Reef, Tryst, Utah, Vienna Lager, Zorba's Cafe
If last weekend serves as any sort of forecast, this is going to be a booze-drenched month. In anticipation of the impending DC Beer Week in August, the folks who organize it set up a pretty ingenious promotion for April: You buy a DC Beer Week button for 10 bucks,
visit each of the 15 craft brew bars that are participating, flash your button, receive various deals on drinks, get a stamp on your “passport,”
and (hopefully) win some gift certificates. It’s an awesome marketing technique, and, naturally, I decided to hit up as many of the 15 boozeries as I could in a three-day span. It helps that a lot of the bars are in the same areas—pub crawling made easy.
I started the weekend with a couple $2.50 beers at District ChopHouse in Penn Quarter on Friday night. If not for this month-long deal, I would have never thought to go there for a drink. It’s an expensive steakhouse (two attributes which don’t appeal to my poor, vegetarian sensibilities) that brews its own beer. That’s right—they make it all, right there, on site. And it was good. I had their IPA and a nut brown ale that were both delicious. I also had some socially-lubricated conversations with tourists. It was fun. (I, regretfully, forgot to snap any pictures of the beers I drank, but there are plenty more beer-in-pint-glasses shots to come.)
Laying low on Saturday, my dutiful accomplice and I made for the bars again on Easter Sunday afternoon. It was the perfect day for outdoor drinking. After fueling up on falafel and hummus at Zorba’s Cafe in Dupont Circle, we headed to Pizzeria Paradiso for our first drink of the day. Knowing we’d have several more before the day was done, I browsed their extensive bottle list for a lower alcohol content brew. Almost immediately, I settled on the Founders Red’s Rye PA.
Okay, so it boasts a 6.6% ABV, but it was worth it! That rye grain sank into my bones then punched me in the face with its rich hoppiness. I loved every sip and drank it slowly to savor its complex goodness. Michigan knows how to do beer right.
We moved on from there to Kramerbooks & Afterwords Cafe, pausing first to eat a cookie the size of my head from Firehook Bakery. (I take my sweet treats seriously.) Just about every time I’m in Dupont Circle, I mill about the shelves in the small bookstore portion of Kramerbooks—accumulating piles of paperbacks in my arms that I just can’t live without, and then slowly whittling down the stack to one or two—but Sunday was the first time I sat at the bar and actually consumed something. After I was told they were out of my top two choices on their draft list, I went with the Pfeifferhorn Lager from Epic Brewing Company.
Brewed out of Salt Lake City, this light, American lager tasted shockingly similar to my cheap beer standby, PBR. It was an easy, refreshing drink, but it reminded me why my eyes automatically skip over lagers when I’m in the mood for a beer.
Leaving Dupont a bit underwhelmed, we trekked out to Adams Morgan, which looks dramatically different under the bright light of a beautiful Sunday afternoon than its usual nighttime ambiance. We sat on the roof deck at The Reef, enjoying the day. Under the pressure of a quick decision, I order a Fat Tire; Sara, better with quick decisions, had an Arrogant Bastard. Then we people-watched.
Across the street, we hit up Smoke and Barrel. Because we were the only non-employees in the place, we camped out longer there, watching baseball and fortifying our beer diets with barbecue nachos. It was there that I had one of the best pale ales I’ve ever tasted.
Firestone Walker’s Pale Ale 31 was a flavor powerhouse. At only 4.8% ABV, it had such a light, clean finish I could drink them all day. This California brewery is serious about its pale ales and it shows. My second beer at Smoke and Barrel was another departure from my typical arsenal of brews—an oatmeal stout.
Bishop’s Breakfast from Oliver Breweries was smooth, rich, and a bit sweet. I rarely even consider drinking a stout, but I didn’t regret this one. I would absolutely order it again.
Our last stop for the night was Tryst (just a couple doors down), which I’ve wanted to check out every time I’m in Adams Morgan. In the hours we were stationed at the end of the bar, happily carrying on, I had my only local beer that day.
Chocolate City Beer’s Cerveza Nacional de la Capital is a dark, roasty Vienna Lager. It finished much lighter than its color had me believe. The roasty notes were a bit too strong by the end, but the flavors work well together. After a couple of these, I was done for the night.
Since the beginning of the month, I’ve crossed seven bars off my list. I can’t wait to hit up the remaining eight, though my liver probably can. I’m excited to see what some of these other craft beer hotspots in the city have to offer and expand my Rolodex of Places to Have a Beer. Who wants to join me?