Where Spotted: Rustico, 825 Slaters Lane, Alexandria
Price: $4/4 oz. snifter
Full English: There are few things I’d rather find in the bottom of a snifter than an English barleywine, and this buttery beauty from J.W. Lees is a classic—arguably the classic, since the demise of Thomas Hardy’s Ale in 2008. It swells with waves of fruit and honey, lifted by the silkiness it picks up in the cask. The Brits created this style of beer in the 18th century, when their war with France dried up their wine supply, and like its vinous cousin, it only improves with age.
Multi-Casking: It’s the tragic nature of newspapers that by the time this print reaches you, the cask in question will be kicked. But it’s a testament to D.C.’s thriving cask culture that it will be replaced with another beer of note. By letting the beer naturally carbonate (rather than pumping it full of CO2), cask-conditioned beer unlocks new flavors in different styles of beer: a citrusy IPA might turn sweet and honeyish, while a stout might reveal its chocolate richness. Fleeting as cask beer is, it’s shame to even discuss it; if you skipped this column you could be halfway to a bar by now.