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Which Top 10 Restaurant Has the Best Beer Program?

If you missed it, Washington Post Food Critic Tom Sietsema recently released his list of top 10 best restaurants in the DC area.

Taking a note from Sietsema we further analyzed his list to re-order these restaurants with regard to their beer programs. Which of these fine dining spots has a similarly fine beer list...or not.

Sietsema's original list:

  1. Inn at Little Washington
  2. Pineapple and Pearls
  3. Himitsu
  4. Minibar
  5. Metier
  6. Bad Saint
  7. Tiger Fork
  8. ChiKo
  9. The Salt Line
  10. Sfoglina

DCBeer's re-ordered list based on the 10 restaurants’ beer programs:

  1. The Salt Line
  2. Metier
  3. Pineapple & Pearls
  4. Bad Saint
  5. Tiger Fork
  6. Himitsu
  7. ChiKo
  8. Sfoglina
  9. Minibar
  10. The Inn at Little Washington

Without further ado, our rationale:

The Salt Line

The Salt Line won for best beer program out of Sietsema's top 10 because they specialize in New England fare, and they have beer from New England classics ('Gansett, Geary's, and Cisco, among others). They also have SOOOOPER JOOOOOCE like Other Half's Raining Threes (collab with The Answer) and have featured highly coveted ales from The Veil, Triple Crossing and The Answer. The draft and cans/bottles list features standout locals from DC, Maryland, and Virginia (think Right Proper, Stillwater, Fairwinds, DC Brau, Oliver Ales, Union, 3 Stars, and Ocelot).

Metier

Metier is our runner-up on the beer list front. Right off the bat, their dessert beer, Brasserie Dieu du Ciel's Peche Mortel puts many of the dessert wines in the restaurants on Sietsema's list to shame. Their list is small but stout (no pun intended) and offers classic utility pairings like Belgium's De Ranke Saison de Dottignies and Germany's estimable Kulmbacher Edelherb Pils. They've also got the super tasty newer-to-DC offering, North Carolina's D9 Hakuna Matata IPA on draft. Also they did this beer pairing dinner recently with Brouwerij 3 Fonteinen, Schlenkerla, Ayinger, The Veil, Toppling Goliath, and Superstition Meadery. More of this, please.

Pineapple & Pearls

Pineapple and Pearls supplies quality beer offerings and have a paired option. Tasty American-made beers from The Brewer's Art and Evil Twin were available earlier this year. Other beers on the list demonstrate classical sensibilities accompanying the heat the kitchen brings and include a gruit, Kuyt, from Dutch brewers Jopen, an occasional Belgian (like the beer that launched a thousand saisons, Brasserie Dupont), and German classics like Uerige Obergärige and Andechser.

Bad Saint

Bad Saint gets our coveted fourth spot for having a beer menu with both breadth and depth. It's fitting that a Filipino restaurant have Filipino beer (San Miguel Pale Pilsen and Red Horse Extra Strong). While not offering any DC beers at last check, they did have offerings from Maryland breweries RAR and Burley Oak. Despite having no drafts, the beer stands up to the cuisine, which says more than many restaurants on Sietsema's list. We'll take the pristine bottle selections over the challenges of keeping a draft system clean.

Tiger Fork

Tiger Fork also has an interestingly diverse list of bottled beer. It was a toss up-between them and Bad Saint for the four and five spots because Tiger Fork also has Japanese and Japanese-themed beers like Stillwater's Extra Dry. You can also get Stillwater's Extra Dry at Bad Saint so if you find yourself at Tiger Fork try a Japanese spiced/herb ale (Iwate Kura Japanese Ale Sansho) or Stout (Echigo Stout) that takes 45-90 days to make. Good beer, like good food, takes time.

Himitsu

With only three beers on their menu, we like the approach Himitsu takes in that you get to chose between Czech Pils, fruited Gose, and IPA. Well-done, as simplistic as it is savvy, these three beers from Champion, Anderson Valley, and Crux, respectively, pair particularly well with the fare from Executive Chef Kevin Tien and the booze on Beverage Director Carlie Steiner's menu.

ChiKo

ChiKo has some solid beers, and this was also a toss up between spots 6 and 7. It's important to point out that ChiKo has both 3 Stars Peppercorn Saison and Atlas' Rowdy Rye, whereas Himitsu has a Charlottesville beer as its most local option. From ChiKo you can expect beer from large and smaller breweries alike, with Modelo, PBR, Kloud Korean lager, Flying Dog's Snake Dog IPA, and New Belgium's Fat Tire.

Sfoglina

If you're headed to Sfoglina, you're obviously not going there for beer (or...are you?). That being said, Himitsu also has only three beers, and they're generally more pairing-friendly/better takes on their respective styles. Still, Sfoglina is due a pat on the back for carrying three distinct beer styles: Franziskaner Hefeweizen, Victory's Hop Devil IPA, and Peroni.

Minibar

We fucking love Jose Andres. Who doesn't? He's out helping people in war-torn, disaster-struck areas when he could be doing secret illuminati rituals with franchise owners. He brewed a saison with Deschutes. minibar offers some classics in some key archetypes: Estrella Inedit, Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier, Bell's Amber, Bear Republic Racer 5, and New Holland Dragon's Milk. They also offer four beer cocktails next door at their sister property, barmini. Waiting for the double dry-hop foam, chef. WHERE’S IT AT?

The Inn at Little Washington

The Inn, helmed by culinary legend Patrick O’Connell, was Tom Sietsema’s top pick. This is somewhat inexplicable given that Washington, VA is over 70 miles from Washington, DC. Anyway, we don’t know what the beer menu at the Inn is like, and we probably never will because getting out there would be somewhat akin to traveling to Mordor to drop off the One Ring. If you’ve got an inside line on their list, let us know and maybe we’ll reconsider.

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Next up: we’ll release our own list of the top fine dining and beer experiences in D.C. Be on the lookout for that, and start saving your dollars now and bon appetit.

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