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Where in Town: The Public Option, 1601 Rhode Island Ave. NE
Price: $7/16 oz.
Automatic for the People
When The Public Option opened just over a year ago in the Langdon neighborhood, married owners Bill Perry and Cathy Huben garnered attention for banning tips. But there’s more to the cozy brewpub that feels like a neighborhood watering hole. It serves kolaches and stromboli, complimentary Cheez-Its, and occasionally hosts pop-ups. Even though there are house brews, patrons seem just as content sipping everything from wine, whiskey, and draft cocktails to cans of beer-snob-offending selections like Bud Lite and Heineken. What’s really available here is an inviting setting to kill time with friends, proprietors included.
The Public Option can’t yet offer growlers to-go because they only produce a handful of kegs at a time, but that should change soon with the hiring of a second brewer, Tony Wood. You’ll want to immediately bring home the Winter Special—a complex, dark ale made with seven malts and three hops. The malts, primarily English Maris Otter, Pilsner, and Munich, are balanced with doses of Simcoe, Amarillo, and Citra hops. Caramel and candied orange peel aromas give way to biscuit, toffee, and brown sugar flavors. A bit of chocolate malt adds hints of unsweetened cocoa and roasted barley. As it warms, bitter citrus characteristics become more pronounced. At about 7 percent alcohol, Winter Special is rich yet drinkable—a heaven-sent elixir for the colder months.