Where In Town: Smoke and Barrel, 2471 18th St. NW
Price: $7.50/16 ounces
Hop Cross Puns
Ah, the India pale ale: distillation of the pinecone-shaped hop flower, stronghold of silly beer names. To get you in the mood for the punniest of beer styles, let a few of these words roll off your tongue: Tricerahops. Hopsickle. Hoppy Ending. Then reach for a Molotov Hoptail, the local stalwart of the pun pantheon from Falls Church’s Mad Fox brewpub. Smoke and Barrel bartender Tim Prendergast points out that there’s actually a good reason for this beer’s name. It contains pure Cascade hop oil, an outrageously expensive (and rarely used) elixir that Mad Fox’s brewer emulsifies in a bottle of vodka before adding it to the brew, creating a true flavor bomb.
Molotov Hoptail is a rarity in the District. If you can’t hop to Smoke and Barrel immediately, you can still try the beer at Capitol Lounge on Aug. 13 or Meridian Pint on Aug. 14, where it will be making special DC Beer Week appearances. It smells like caramel, citrus, and freshly crushed pine needles, but what really stands out is the taste—outrageously smooth, slightly sweet, and drinkable for an imperial IPA, thanks in part to all that hop oil, which adds flavor but not bitterness. It’s absolutely—hopsolutely?—delicious.
Photo by Daniel Fromson