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Now far be it for us to find fault with DC’s beer scene. We have a lot to be grateful for. Just a few years ago, the Brickskeller was the only game in town. Today, the competition outdoes it on a regular basis—especially if you get sick of having to order three or four times before they have something in stock. RFD does considerably better in this regard, but we digress…
Our fair city’s beer renaissance, though, has focused almost exclusively on Belgian beers. Yes, Red Derby specializes in cans. And Commonwealth features an English list chock full of bitters. We’ve even got a few brew pubs, not least of which Dogfish Head’s latest extreme beer mecca near Seven Corners. But what’s lacking is the one of the most elemental of beer experiences: an old-fashioned German beer garden. New York’s got Zum Schneider and Zeppelin Hall, among others. And Pittsburgh’s got its own brand new, Munich-style Hofbrauhaus. Anybody looking to invest in a new place, we beg you, please give us outdoor seating, strings of white lights, oompa music, and steins full of delicious German malts.
This is not to say that there aren’t German beer establishments in the area. We’ve got Cafe Berlin in Capitol Hill with decent outdoor seating but more of a formal atmosphere. Then there is one of the most overlooked and underrated places in DC: Cafe Mozart. Tucked behind a German deli on the first floor of an office building near Metro Center, Cafe Mozart is a bit dingy but lots of fun. If you have never been, be sure your first trip is on a Tuesday or Sunday when their accordionist Sylvia is on hand to play German drinking songs. You’ll be shouting “Ein, zwei, g’suffa” like a tourist in Munich in no time. But for the things that Cafe Berlin and Cafe Mozart have going for them, they just don’t pack the excitement of a real German beer garden.
Clay Risen, the Atlantic’s beer writer, informs us that Blob’s Park, an authentic beer hall in Jessup, Maryland, is a dream, the sort of place where after a few drinks, you might reasonably forget what time zone you’re in. We have not been yet, but it ranks high on our list of priorities. Jessup, though, seems a long way to go to satisfy our thirst for German beer, pretzels, and polka. If you can recommend any closer places, please chime in. Prost!