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Where in Town: Calvert Woodley Wines & Spirits, 4339 Connecticut Ave. NW

Price: $9.99/six-pack

Which Craft? I’m often asked where to go to buy good beer. With an ever-growing amount of decent brews more widely available, my response has become, “Your neighborhood liquor store.” To test this, I recently stopped into Calvert Woodley Wines & Spirits in Van Ness, which was my local spot nearly 15 years ago. Back then, beer selection highlights were limited to a few Belgian and British imports. Large bottles of Chimay and Lindeman’s lambics are still there, but the decades-old wine and cheese shop now has a wall packed with American and Canadian craft beer—from Vancouver’s Parallel 49 to Maine’s Allagash and Louisiana’s Abita breweries. I nabbed up a few brews to try, including Tröegs’ latest spring seasonal.

Less Helles, More Bock! Part of the Pennsylvania brewery’s Hop Cycle series, Cultivator Helles Bock is meant to celebrate the beginning of hop-growing season. Like Tröegs’ popular Tröegenator Double Bock, it borrows the traditional “–ator” suffix typical of classic German strong dark lagers like Paulaner’s Salvator or Spaten’s Optimator, first produced as “liquid bread” to sustain monks during lent. Not a bad way to worship! The 6.9 percent alcohol pale lager is brewed with Bohemian Pilsner malt and Hersbrucker and Magnum hops. Hay, wild flower, and toasted-bread aromas give way to a sweet malt backbone and a dry, hoppy finish. The medium-bodied Cultivator acts more like a pilsner than a bock, so those expecting the rich, caramel character of Tröegenator could be disappointed. I found this “between seasons” brew to be a nice match for the unpredictable weather of early spring. 

Photo by Tammy Tuck