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Tickets to this weekend’s Savor beer festival, one of the brewing community’s most anticipated events of the year, may be long gone. But if you’re not going, that doesn’t mean your buzz needs to suffer. For the fifth year in a row, bars and restaurants throughout D.C. are taking advantage of having so many talented American brewers and their beers in town. Out of over 70 events across the week, below are my top picks for where to spend your time and sobriety.
Minco de Mayo at Jack Rose, 6 to 9 p.m.
This Cinco de Mayo-themed fiesta on the terrace bar features 10 beers from each of two local breweries, DC Brau and Flying Dog. Mexican-inspired fare will be available at happy hour prices and all drafts, including a special edition of Flying Dog‘s Double Barrel-Aged Horn Dog barley wine, will be $5 each.
Flavor Savor Comedy & Craft at the Big Hunt, 6 to 10 p.m.
DCBeer.com presents an evening of comedy and beers from Boulevard, Ommegang, Oskar Blues, and Lagunitas brewing companies in the Big Hunt’s basement bar. Boulevard’s “ambassador brewer” Jeremy Danner will guest emcee stand-up provided by Underground Comedy host Sean Joyce.
Best of Midwest at Smoke & Barrel, 5 p.m. to close
Enjoy grains from American’s heartland in their liquid form at a showcase of breweries from Indiana, Missouri, Michigan, Kentucky, and Illinois. The draft list includes gems from out-of-market outfits Sun King, Peckerhead, Countryboy, and Off Color and rarities from breweries familiar to the District like Bell’s, Perennial, Founders, and Schlafly.
Beeremix Competition: Thunderdome Edition at Jack Rose, 6 to 9 p.m.
In this Iron Chef-style challenge, resident mixologists Trevor Frye and Nick Lowe will work with representatives from Boulevard and 3 Stars breweries to create cocktails using each brewery’s beer and a secret ingredient. Taste and vote for your favorite concoction while enjoying five beers from each brewery on draft for $5 each. The $15 entry fee includes two beer cocktails, and the winning cocktail will be available for $5 all night.
Beer & Cheese: An Evening with Funkwerks, Odell, and Right Proper at Scion, 6 p.m. to close
Tickets for the private guided tasting are sold out, but the main event features 10 draft beers, five from each of Colorado’s Funkwerks and Odell breweries. Standouts include Funkwerks’ tart Raspberry Provincial, a Berliner Weisse-style ale, and Odell’s hoppy Myrcenary Double IPA. Try them with cheeses from Right Proper‘s new cheese counter.
North vs. South at ChurchKey, 4 p.m. to close
This Mason-Dixie beer battle pits Maine’s Allagash and New York’s Ithaca breweries against North Carolina’s Foothills and Georgia’s Terrapin brewing companies. All 50 draft lines will be devoted to the event, as well as ChurchKey’s five cask engines. With big guns like Allagash’s Avance, a strong sour ale aged in bourbon barrels with strawberries, and Terrapin’s bourbon barrel-aged Wake-n-Bake Coffee Oatmeal Imperial Stout, it may need to be called a draw.
Oysters and Beer: Daughters of Poseidon Release at Meridian Pint, 5 p.m. to close
Dollar oysters on the patio should be reason enough to attend this release party for Daughters of Poseidon, a black IPA brewed with Rappahannock Olde Salt oysters by DC Brau and Maine’s Baxter brewing companies. Shellfish not your thing? Seven DC Brau brews and five Baxter beers will be on draft, as well as some leftovers from Meridian Pints’s Founders brunch held earlier that day.
Sierra Nevada Tap Takeover at City Tap House, 8 p.m. to close
Sample from an impressive array of 40 beers from California’s Sierra Nevada brewing company, including Beer Camp #112, a hoppy German dunkel (dark) lager brewed at the Sierra Nevada Brewery last September by the bar’s beverage director Andy Farrell. Dishes like Sierra Nevada tap room’s famous Torpedo Beer Cheese will be re-created by City Tap House culinary director Brian Cooke.
Kunnhenn & Maine Beer at ChurchKey, 4 p.m. to close
Try five brews from Maine Beer Company and eleven beers from Michigan’s Kuhnhenn Brewing Company at this double event. Chat up Maine Beer Company co-founder Dan Kleban while enjoying his Lunch IPA on draft (a rarity). Or marvel at Kuhnhenn’s 2012 vintage Blueberry Eisbock, a lager boosted to 15.5 percent alcohol by freezing and then removing the ice to increase the alcohol content.
SAVOR After Party with Duvel Family of Beers at RFD, 9 p.m. to close
The Duvel-Moortgaat brand will showcase its brands, including over 20 beers from Duvel, Liefmans, Achouffe, Ommegang, and Boulevard. One not to miss on draft: Boulevard’s ESB, a new spring release. Boulevard brewmaster Steven Pauwels and founder John McDonald will be on call, as well as surprise guests from the other breweries.
Clam Bake and Book Signings at Pizzeria Paradiso Dupont, 12:30 to 2:30 p.m.
Pizzeria Paradiso owner Ruth Gresser will sign copies of her cookbook, Kitchen Workshop – Pizza and welcome “Beer Cook” Lucy Saunders to share tips on pairing beer with fruit and vegetables from her new book, Dinner in the Beer Garden. The restaurant will also feature a pay-as-you-go brunch menu with nine brews from Maine Beer Company. Or you can buy tickets for a seated brunch with two courses, a blueberry salad and clam bake pizza, and four beers for $40.
Maibockfest at Congressional Cemetery with Author Garrett Peck, 3 to 6 p.m.
Sample strong winter lagers from three local breweries: Capitol City, Port City,and Mad Fox while taking a self-guided tour of the graves of historic D.C. brewers. Author and historian Garrett Peck will discuss D.C.’s brewing history and sign copies of his new book Capital Beer. The event is rain or shine and tickets are $25.
Sour at Meridian Pint, 10 a.m. to close
Taste from a collection of 20 tart, sour, and funky ales from breweries such as Goose Island, Jolly Pumpkin, Allagash, and The Bruery. Top picks include Boulevard Saison-Brett, The Bruery Tart of Darkness, and Perennial Aria. Antacids available on request!
“All ‘Ale the Ladies” Women of Beer Meet and Greet at The Black Squirrel, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
In its fourth year, this event is targeted toward women interested in craft beer. Special guests include New Belgium co-founder Kim Jordan, All About Beer magazine co-owner Julie Johnson, Brewers Association craft beer program director Julia Herz, and 15 other women in the beer industry. Each guest will speak and feature a special beer available on draft. Tickets are $15 and include six small bites. (Disclaimer: I organize this event but do not financially benefit from it.)
Photo copyright 2013 by Jensen Sutta courtesy of the Brewers Association