This is somewhere around the 15th big beer week I've had the pleasure to helm or co-helm for DCBeer, and I can honestly say I've never seen the calendar more full. We have approximately 150 events spread out over less than a calendar week. Impressive.
Some DC venues have really pulled out all the stops for #CBC17. Neighborhood Restaurant Group (helmed by Greg Engert and assisted by Tim Liu) has, per usual, tried to raise the bar and/or kill all of their staff by putting on 24 events across 9 or so venues and featuring over 325 line changes across the week. Jace Gonnerman, the beer director at Meridian and Brookland Pints and Smoke and Barrel, has his own knockout lineup that also features out of town breweries and the largest collection of IPAs on draft ever assembled in DC. This isn't to say there aren't also great events at other venues (there are!) but credit where credit is due and I have but one liver to give for the CBC cause.
So how do you navigate a week like this? It can be tough, time consuming, and costly, and that's before we start talking about the hangovers (HYDRATE and drink responsibly. Know when to say enough is enough. It's just beer, folks.) I'm here with my suggestions and those of the rest of the DCBeer team.
There's a lot on my radar for the week, but realistically I won't get to all of it. That's especially true because work takes me out of town on Tuesday and Wednesday. The schedule below assumes I'm in town all week, am willing to take no more than one car share per night, and am not spending like the world ends tomorrow at each place. It's the roadmap to what I would and could conceivably attend under reasonable circumstances. Keep in mind I live in Columbia Heights, so my geographic preferences definitely revolve around that.
Disagree with my picks? That's cool. You can see the rest of the DCBeer staff’s below or make your own using our calendar. Away we go!
Sunday, April 9
It's good to ease into the week, so my entries below are light (and so is the calendar). Three good options include Fresh to Death! at Pizzeria Paradiso Dupont Circle which kicks things off with fresh, local offerings that showcase how far the DC metro beer scene has come since CBC was last here.
Alternatively, you could get out to the REI Co-Op for the Atlas Brew Works/DC Brau collab Rally Cry IPA. Your first two beers are free, while supplies last, but there will also be food and live music. For out-of-towners this might be a little too far off the beaten path to make, but prove me wrong, I guess, if you feel like it.
Finally, BURP is hosting a book signing with New Belgium’s Peter Bouckaert at Meridian Pint. There’s a $5 entry, but if you want to go and pick the brain of one of the premier brewers in the country, this is a good opportunity to do so.
Monday, April 10
Here's where things really kick off. The line for ChurchKey is likely going to be nuts considering the lineup includes Other Half, Bissell Brothers, Trillium, Suarez Family, and The Veil. Assuming I can get in there, I'm trying for: Suarez Family’s Call to Mind (Oak BA Saison w/ Chamomile, Lemon Thyme & Lemon Balm) because I like being contrarian and there's already plenty of hops in my future. If I can't, I'm headed to Lost and Found for the Dogfish event and to try to say hi to Sam Calagione without my heart jumping into my throat and/or yelling, “WHY DONT YOU DO MORE WITH INDIAN BROWN?” From there it's a Metro ride and short walk to Adams Morgan where I'd hit Smoke and Barrel for west coast IPAs (Societe and Ocelot in one place? What a world!) and then stroll south a few blocks to Jack Rose where Nahem Simon has (wisely) curated a lineup of beers low in ABV but high in flavor. From there a 15 minute walk to Hazel gets me there in time for a later-night Firestone Walker tap takeover, a nightcap of tequila-barrel-aged oatmeal stout and Pivo Pils, and a short trip back home.
Tuesday, April 11
Time to rise and shine. There’s no beer involved with this one (blessedly), but props to the DC Brau folks for getting folks up and moving with a morning run on the National Mall. All that oxygen will be good for your system.
Tuesday takes me through Chinatown on a more southern swing. (No pun intended, I know ChurchKey has “the New South” tonight). Normally I would scoff at attending a beer event featuring just one beer, but in this case it’s Pilsner Urquell that was flown immediately to DC just in time for CBC at Fado. It’s unfiltered and unpasteurized and I’m bummed to be missing it. Be sure to say hi to @Zimmerino for me while you’re there. Up the block (but not until 7), Flying Dog is hosting an event at Jackpot with the BA’s Paul Gatza. Paul is quite a character, so see if you can get him riled up and talking all kinds of mess about hop varietals or something.
From Chinatown, it’s a short car or Metro ride to either Barracks Row or the Navy Yard. At the former, you can chat with the Schlafly team (some of my favorites) at The Brig for a tap takeover. Is it the most impressive beer list? Nope. Is it likely to be crowded? Nope. From there, I want to hear what all the fuss is about with Arizona Wilderness. I could get some at CK on Wednesday, but Bluejacket will have eight from them on tap, and I’m unlikely to get through all eight anyway. As tempting as it would be to swing by EatBar to ask Greg Koch what he thinks about the prospect of craft lagers during their “Stump Stone” event, I think I’ll have to pass, unfortunately.
For fans of funk among you, be sure to make note of the Captain Lawrence “From the Vault” event at Smoke and Barrel and the Avery/The Bruery tap takeover at Roofer’s Union. Beer director Dave Delaplaine loves, scratch that, LOVES Avery, so you know there will be some bottles popped here.
Wednesday, April 12
There are at least two potential paths for Wednesday night. I like what Drew McCormick is doing here with the three Pizza P locations, allowing distributors to showcase breweries from across their portfolio. The Shelton Brothers listing not only includes some great breweries, but it’s also not in Georgetown or Old Town, which makes it easier to get elsewhere afterward (plus it opens at 11, so I could have a beer at lunch if I was so inclined). From Pizza P, I’m heading east for a 15 minute walk to ChurchKey’s nightly regional showcase, “All Points West,” which features a bunch of breweries I know only by reputation (and Perennial). From there, hit the Circulator or 52, 53, or 54 buses north to Columbia Heights and Meridian Pint, which has Crooked Stave and Fremont. Sorry, Crooked Stave, but I only have eyes for Fremont here. I’m not a big imperial stout guy, generally speaking, but Fremont’s efforts in this area make me both weak in the knees and drunk. I’m down for at least Coffee Cinnamon B-Bomb (14% Barrel-Aged Winter Warmer with Cold-Brew Coffee and Cinnamon Bark) and Fremont BA Dark Star: Spice Wars (14.5% Barrel-Aged Imperial Oatmeal Stout with vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ginger, clove).
The other path here starts at EatBar and heads mostly north. They’ve got a showcase of 4 Hands and Off Color and a solid menu to get a base down. From there it’s a 25 minute walk (or a 5 minute cab) to Bluejacket where Great Raft Brewing co-founder and DCBeer editor emeritus Andrew Nations will be to show off his Louisiana brews. From there, hop on the green line at Navy Yard to go north to Chinatown. If the New England-style IPAs have been eluding you or the venues have been too crowded, Sixth Engine has their own “Haze for Days” event there that might go under the radar. Be sure to try one of Chef Kyle Bailey’s sandwiches while you’re there (I’m partial to the shrimp po’ boy with extra gribiche and cherry peppers). My night rounds out by walking over to Lost and Found to check in with any locals remaining during a “Taste of the DMV” to get their thoughts about how CBC Week is going.
Thursday, April 13
Thursday, blessedly, means there’s almost a light at the end of the tunnel. My pick here is the IPA Festival at Meridian Pint (at which, full disclosure, I’m volunteering for). I like IPAs, there are a lot of IPAs, I live close by, and it’ll draw a lot of folks I’ll probably want to say hello (or goodbye) to.
Not feeling IPAs? That’s fine, go to ChurchKey for “Up in the Mountains,” where Lawson’s and Melvin definitely, definitely won’t have any hoppy beers available or to ANXO for a Modern Times tap takeover and some gildas (I’m not sure how well olives, anchovies, and peppers go with Modern Times’ portfolio, but in this alternate universe I’m through half a Costco bottle of TUMS this week anyway, so what’s a few more?)
Friday, April 14
Since, as I mentioned above, I’ll be at the Pint for Thursday, I will be missing out on ANXO’s event with Modern Times. Fortunately, Jace has lined up a solid tap takeover at Meridian Pint that I can look at with disgust, have one or two of, and go home vowing never to drink beer again.
Have a safe CBC Week everyone! Here’s what the rest of the DCBeer team chimed in with!
On Monday, I'm going to stay clear of the East Coast Finest event at Churchkey. I have no doubt it'll be great with the likes of The Veil and Trillium, but there's no way I'm going to deal with crowds that'll bring. I'm into checking out Creature Comfort Beers at the Bluejacket tasting room as well as getting down with Firestone Walker, Brau, Surly, Maui, and Flying Dog at Meridian Pint's Charlie Bravo event. City Tap house is also bringing the Bell's Eccentric Cafe to DC with 30 different drafts including BBA 30th Anniversary Stout, different varieties of Expedition Stout, etc. this event should be fantastic - I heard their one in Philly for beer week was great.
Tuesday, is THE day for CBC events for me. Lost & Found has their Cigar City/Funky Buddha event - though the CC folks never seem to say they'll bring super rare and awesome beers, they do. I think the Sovereign Craft Beer All Stars Vol. 2 event sounds great, but getting to Georgetown and back may be limiting to me. I'm also really looking forward to the Best of the Midwest at Meridian Pint featuring Columbus Brewing, Sun King, Rhinegeist (!), and Half Acre. I absolutely love Rhinegeist beers. It's also hard to pass up the DC Brau Uniters of the Brewniverse event at Jack Rose featuring 6 different collabs that all sounds great.
Wednesday may be the day I venture to ChurchKey to taste some beers from Arizona Wilderness. I'd also like to make it to Bluejacket and get down with some beers from Great Raft. It seems like every time there's a Great Raft event in DC, I'm out of town, so I'm looking forward to that for sure.
Do I venture to Meridian Pint for IPA festival on Thursday? Ooof. That list is something else, but I'll have to see where my wallet and my head are. It's hard to pass up Lawsons, Surly, Ocelot, and Melvin all in the same place. Failing that, I'll likely to go Iron Horse for the California Tap takeover with Alpine, Marin, and others.
Dang, I already feel hungover.
So for my guide, a mini-whale hunt. I will also be doing the Bluejacket and Friends event on Monday. The Charlie Bravo event is a good one and people should also go, however, I'm not that enterprising personally.
Tuesday, I'm going to first stop at Fado to have some unfiltered Pilsner Urquell to set the palate for the evening before heading also wandering to Lost and Found for the CC/Funky Buddha event. I'll check the crowd out, though, as this drew a ton of people to ChurchKey last year. If the crowd is dense, I may opt to head to Brookland Pint for the Ballast Point Sours event since its on my way home and the atmosphere will be pretty relaxed.
Wednesday, I'll post up at Meridian Pint for the Fremont/Crooked Stave event with some tums and drink the menu.
Thursday, I want to head to ChurchKey and see about getting in on that Lawson's action along with some Melvin. Though if one were enterprising enough and were into meeting people and listening to good music, buying a $15 ticket to 3 Stars big bash would be in the cards. I am not that enterprising.
Friday, I would suggest a long nap.
Monday the 10th:
Hit Bluejacket for their first "friends" even with Creature Comforts out of Athens, GA. I've been hearing good things about these folks for a bit now. Then hit the joooooooce fest at Brookland Pint on the later side. Take advantage of the tasting-sized pours and realize that Two Hearted is still the better beer. Also, did you know you can get a burger and beer* for $10 after 10pm there? (Only select beers, but still.)
Tuesday the 11th:
I don't care what else you do today, and I feel like I'm giving up state secrets here, but Fado of all places will have unfiltered Pilsner Urquell on tap. This is not trendy nor is it the next big thing, but this is what I'm most excited about.
Avoid the crowds with these three options:
- Red Apron in Union Market has a bunch of Surly on tap until 11. It won't be mobbed, and you can drink and walk around Union Market making some bad decisions. Impulse purchase a bunch of cheese, miso, and dinnerware? Go for it.
- ANXO's beverage director Tim Prendergast has pretty good taste in music, and in addition to funk in your ears, he's brought in a bunch of funky beers from Asheville, NC. Got friends who aren't into beer? ANXO has plenty of cider for them, and with the restaurant's small plates you could treat this like a mini-SAVOR; these sour/wild/funky beers go well with food. Plus it's just a bus ride or short cab ride away from Union Market.
- Further afield, The Sovereign in Georgetown has a sneaky good lineup from breweries that are hyped, but not overhyped, including Side Project and Monkish. Side Project's beers retail for $30ish per bottle, so take the opportunity to see what they're about.
Wednesday the 12th:
DC Brau is throwing an epic party at Jack Rose with a host of collaborators bringing their beers, including Melvin's excellent IPAs, which stole the show at savor last year. A 15-minute walk south (or a 15-minute bus ride on the 42), NYC's Finback is pouring at Red Apron's Burger Bar. You should go to both.
End the night at Meridian Pint, which has two of the best barrel-aged beers in the business from Fremont, out of Washington State. Cut through that richness with hops and acid from Crooked Stave.
If you'd rather take it easy, hit Bluejacket and have a proper session with their cask ales and lagers from friends-of-the-site Great Raft Brewing.
Thursday the 13th:
If you're whale-chasing, duck out of work for some Lawson's out of Vermont at Churchkey, which opens at 2pm. Then keep it in the NRG family by heading to The Partisan, which has some of the UK's new wave of craft breweries that are worth checking out.
If you'd like to go to bed with hop-induced acid reflux, Meridian Pint will have sixty (that's SIXTY, 6-0) IPAs on tap throughout the bars and patio.