In light of the upcoming DC Beer Week, we thought it would be best to have one of DC’s favorite beer aficionados weigh in. Below Bill DeBaun, a co-editor at DCBeer.com, outlines some events to hit up and several tips for planning the best possible route to hops and happiness. Enjoy.
DC Beer Week returns next week (August 12-18), and despite my liver’s protests, I’m looking forward to celebrating the people and places that make the DC metro area’s beer scene one of the best in America. Tastings, dinners, meeting the brewers, rare beers, local beers, hell, even a craft beer cruise on the Potomac will fill next week’s social calendar with malty, hoppy, sudsy goodness.
Not all DCBW events are made equally, and it can be hard to separate the wheat from the chaff, especially given the volume of events (over 100 at last count) crammed into the week. There are a couple of things that I’ll be on the lookout for next week. Your mileage may vary.
Pairing beers with foods can really be transformative, cheese especially. Wine and cheese is the combo you hear about most often, but beer and cheese works much better. On Monday, check out cheese pairings with Brooklyn Brewery at Kramerbooks in Dupont or with Oxbow Beer at Columbia Heights’ Meridian Pint. Into meat, too? The recently launched 3 Stars Brewing Company will pair its beers with charcuterie at H Street’s Boundary Road, which will also take place on Monday. If you want to go beyond food, Jack Rose Dining Saloon in AdMo is teaming up with W. Curtis Draper Tobacconist and Widmer Brothers beer for “Cigarmageddon,” a cigar and beer pairing event (yeah yeah, insert surgeon general’s warning here).
Beer dinners can be awesome experiences, but for my dollar I’d rather hit a few events in a single night and check out different crowds, venues, and beers. Some of these tastings (especially those with rarities being offered) get packed, but before 5 and after 8 they tend to simmer down a bit, so keep that in mind. Be on the lookout for events that feature more than one brewery (Scion’s “3 Is the Magic Number” event on Thursday is a good example); variety is the spice of life, so if you can find a bunch of breweries’ best offerings, that’s better than finding one brewery’s best offerings and just their regular line-up.
Trust the spots that you get your craft beer from during the other 51 weeks of the year. The venerable ChurchKey has a great line-up for the week, much like other #dcbrews mainstays. This is not at all to say the spots you don’t normally think of as sources for craft are bad, but places who pour the fine pints all the time are more likely to have the experience, capacity, and connections to put on great events.
Finally, attend the DMV Brewers BBQ at Smith Commons on H Street on Saturday. Last year’s was a phenomenal celebration, and the move to have this event at the end of DCBW sets the stage for a huge party with DC, Maryland, and Virginia breweries that will wrap things up right and leave you wishing DCBW was year-round. Cheers!