Where Spotted: Virginia Market, 1776 U St. NW
Graphic Design: In all my years in D.C., I’ve never bought a beer from Maryland’s DuClaw. I don’t know if it’s because the brand’s distribution has been scarce or because the labels look like they were custom designed by Orange County Choppers. But what it lacks in aesthetics, it makes up for in brute force, packing potent hop bitterness and a whiff of pine. The copper beer is surprisingly dark for American pale ale, and that color comes with a biscuity heft that’s less than refreshing, but it does make for a nice respite.
Pop Bottles: For a mom-and-pop bodega stranded at the pedestrian hazard of the junction of 18th and U streets NW, Virginia Market turns out to be a surprising oasis in terms of suds selection. With its low-budget awning and neon beer signs in the window, I was expecting to find more varieties of Black & Mild cigars than craft beer, but upon entering I found three full aisles of good brew and nearly as much dedicated to fine liquor. Saison and sour mash in one store? That’s true convenience.