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Stock up on water and aspirin! Now in its fourth year, D.C. Beer Week kicks off this Sunday with more than 100 events throughout the District and northern Virginia. The highlights below, by type of event, are my suggestions for the best ways to wreck your liver next week. A complete daily list of beer dinners, small dish pairings, tap takeovers, and other craft beer events can be perused on our Beer Week calendar. DCBeer.com also has a list by day and a nifty map.
The week officially starts Sunday, Aug. 12, with a craft beer cruise on the Odyssey. Tickets are pricey ($125 and must be purchased in advance, but include unlimited samples from more 40 local, national, and international breweries, a buffet dinner, and three hours of drinking and dancing on the Potomac). The cruise is also where Solidarity Saison will be debuted. This special D.C. Beer Week brew is a blend of farmhouse-style beers from seven local breweries: DC Brau, Chocolate City, 3 Stars, District Chophouse, Capital City, Gordon Biersch, and Mad Fox.
LOCAL BREWERY FEATURES
On Tuesday, Meridian Pint is throwing a local brewery party, “Big Love: When One Isn’t Enough,” featuring more than two dozen drafts and casks from 3 Stars, DC Brau, Mad Fox, and Oliver Breweries. On Thursday, District Chophouse is throwing its second annual local cask night, with specialty casks of beer from more than 15 area breweries. This week marks a full year of business for Chocolate City and its big first anniversary bash will be at Penn Social on Friday.
LOCAL BEER RELEASES
In addition to Solidarity Saison, three local breweries will be releasing new beers during D.C. Beer Week. DC Brau will showcase its Fightclub Anti-Gravity Lager, a collaboration with Devils Backbone brewery in Roseland, Va., at Breadsoda on Saturday, and Middle-Name: Danger, a saison brewed with Baltimore’s Stillwater Artisanal Ales, at a lunch at Pizzeria Paradiso in Dupont Circle on Sunday, Aug. 19. Neighborhood Restaurant Group’s forthcoming D.C. brewery Bluejacket will preview two beers: Honeysuckle Rose, a biere de garde brewed with Baltimore’s The Brewers Art on Wednesday, and Embers of the Deceased Gratzer Bier, a collaboration with DC Brau on Friday. Both releases will be at ChurchKey and feature drafts from the partner brewery. Finally, Chocolate City is releasing El Segundo Farmhouse Saison at a tap takeover at the Union Pub on Thursday.
BREWERY FEATURES: INTERNATIONAL
On Sunday, Aug. 12, Maple in Columbia Heights will host a guided tasting of Italian craft beers. On Friday starting at 6 p.m., Rustico in Ballston will pour nine Belgian-inspired drafts from Brewery Ommegang, including the brand new Scythe & Sickle (a harvest ale brewed with barley, wheat, oats and rye), Belgian Independence Day Tripel, and some vintage kegs.
BREWERY FEATURES: EAST COAST
This event category makes up the bulk of D.C. Beer Week events so I’ve whittled the choices down. ChurchKey is hosting two impressive draft nights showcasing breweries along the Eastern seaboard. On Tuesday, Smuttynose master brewer Dave Yarrington will be on hand with almost 20 of his New Hampshire beers, including four casks and several rarities. On Thursday, ChurchKey will have a plethora of brews from three Maine breweries: Allagash, Oxbow, and Rising Tide. Not to be overlooked, Pizzeria Paradiso in Dupont Circle will have 12 drafts from Pennsylvania gem Victory Brewing Company on Thursday.
BREWERY FEATURES: MIDWEST
On Monday, Pizzeria Paradiso in Georgetown is hosting a rare beer tap takeover from Founders Brewing Company, including 2011 and 2012 versions of Kentucky Breakfast Stout, and Curmudgeon’s Better Half, and the Michigan brewery’s Old Curmudgeon Ale brewed with molasses and aged in maple syrup bourbon barrels. Smoke and Barrel is throwing two big bashes honoring breweries from the flyover states. On Tuesday, Great Lakes head brewer Luke Purcell will be showcasing some of his finest Cleveland brews. On Thursday, the theme is beer and whiskey with eight Goose Island beers on draft, including the infamous Bourbon County Stout, and specials on beer and whiskey pairings. Finally, ChurchKey will be pouring nine drafts from Bell’s Brewery of Kalamazoo, Michigan on Saturday afternoon.
BREWERY FEATURES: WEST / WEST COAST
On Tuesday starting at 6 p.m., Rustico is celebrating three southern California breweries: Ballast Point, Green Flash, and Mission Brewery. On Thursday, The Black Squirrel hosts “Let’s Get Stoopid” with half-price burgers and a host of hoppy beers from Lagunitas Brewing Company of northern California. On Friday, The Black Squirrel will also have beers from five Colorado breweries: New Belgium, Oskar Blues, Boulder, Breckenridge, and Avery. Colorado beer fans can also look forward to Wednesday’s rare Colorado brewery night at Boundary Road with promises of beer from Odell, Funkwerks, Renegade, and Ska. (You might also spot some Rocky Mountain oysters.)
Tuesday’s “Ommegash It’s Allagang” dinner featuring Ommegang and Allagash beers at Granville Moore’s and Evolution Brewing dinner at Hank’s Oyster Bar put food and beer in the hands of two of the city’s best beer pairing chefs, Teddy Folkman and Jamie Leeds. On Thursday, the beer dinner veterans at Pizzeria Paradiso will serve five courses with beers from Quebec’s small Hopfenstark brewery at the Georgetown location.
FOOD & BEER: CHEESE
On Monday, Meridian Pint will host a tasting featuring a variety of American artisanal cheeses and Oxbow farmhouse beers from Maine. On the same night, Afterwords Cafe/Kramerbooks is throwing their third annual “Brooklyn Brawl” beer & cheese tasting featuring seven different beers from Brooklyn Brewery.
FOOD & BEER: CRABS
On Wednesday DC Brau is partnering with Quarterdeck in Arlington for a crab and beer festival with all-you-can eat Maryland crabs and discount pitchers of DC Brau beer. Get more crabs on Wednesday at Capitol Lounge and wash them down with beers from Anchor Brewing Company. On Thursday, Smoke and Barrel is throwing their own crabs and beer bash with Evolution and 3 Stars beers.
FOOD & BEER: BBQ
Saturday is the big Mid-Atlantic brewers barbecue at Smith Commons starting at 2 p.m. Other chances to get some grilled meats across the week include a BBQ taco and Chouffe beer night on Tuesday and a meat, High West Distillery whiskey and Epic beer night on Wednesday, both at Smoke and Barrel. On Friday, The Black Squirrel will be barbecuing lamb from Colorado and serving beers from the aforementioned Colorado breweries.
FOOD & BEER: VEGETARIAN
On Thursday, Meridian Pint is showcasing its veg-friendly menu with six small special vegetarian dishes and over a dozen beers from Ommegang. On Wednesday, The Black Squirrel hosts “Terra, Terra, Terra,” a night of locally grown organic vegetarian dishes and a host of Sierra Nevada and Boulevard beers, including this year’s SAVOR collaboration beer, Terra Incognita.
FOOD & BEER: LATIN FLARE
On Friday, new Dupont Circle restaurant Crios Modern Mexican will have a cask of Breckenridge Agave Wheat conditioned with habanero peppers and mangos and serve several habanero and mango themed dishes. On Friday, Port City Brewing Company will have Puerto Rican fare from The Bourinquen Lunch Box food truck at the tasting room in Alexandria. All week, tapas bar Boqueria will offer a D.C. Beer Week menu of dishes cooked with beer, as well as an assortment of local craft beers and specialty beer cocktails.
GAMES, CONTESTS, & TRIVIA
Test your beer knowledge with trivia at Fado hosted by DC Brau’s Brandon Skall and Jeff Hancock on Monday. On Thursday, the Star and Shamrock is having a game night featuring children’s games with an adult twist and beers from New York’s Sixpoint Brewery. On Friday, head to H Street Country Club for “Brews, Bikes and Golf” to drink New Belgium drafts, compete in a putt-putt challenge and enter to win a New Belgium cruiser. On Saturday, Shmaltz Brewery founder Jeremy Cowan takes over the rooftop at Jack Rose for “Coney Island in D.C.,” an afternoon of games, prizes, live performers, more than a dozen Schmaltz brews, and boozey treats like adult snow cones.
Those who haven’t come around to sour beers yet have a chance at Smoke & Barrel on Saturday, when all 24 of their draft lines will be pouring sour ales, including six aged kegs from Jolly Pumpkin in Ann Arbor, Mich. Those into aged ales but not of the sour variety can head to The Bier Baron on Friday evening for their Midsummer Night’s Barleywine and Vintage Beer Festival. Looking for something completely different? The Queen Vic will be celebrating D.C. Beer Week with cider instead of beer on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, and hard ginger ale on Friday.
How will you be celebrating?
Correction: This post originally misstated the price of the craft beer cruise. It is $125, not $1,250.
Photo by Tammy Tuck