Washington DC / Northern Virginia suburbs

Discuss beer travel and regional information, including the best bars and places to check out around in Canada and around the world.

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Cass
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Postby Cass » Mon Apr 01, 2013 11:39 am

Back from Washington DC at the Craft Brewers Conference. Got to hit most of the bars referenced in my preview - Churchkey and Paradiso still are the tops in my mind, those spots are killer.

Also made it to Smoke & Barrel, a well-designed BBQ, beer and bourbon spot in Adams Morgan amongst the nightlife strip. Fun spot, lots of food options, a ton of bourbons and a great draught list (CBC skewed but always good I would think).

Also made it to Black Squirrel, just a few doors down from Smoke. More of a straight-up pub/bar, but with a lot of craft beers on tap - upon visit they had a Florida night with Cigar City, St Somewhere and others available, along with lots of other micros.

Adams Morgan as a whole seemed like quite the nightlife zone, some other places up there (Bourbon, Jack Rose) but couldn't make it to.
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Postby rejtable » Tue Apr 23, 2013 7:51 am

So, looks like I'll be in DC for 4-5 days in early June. I'll try and hit up the pub locations mentioned here. Any recommendations on bottle shops? I'll be staying right at Reagan Airport, so something close to subway would be appreciated.

I see Connecticut Ave Wine and Deli seems ok on ratebeer up at Dupont. Any other recos?

Also, are either the Dogfish alehouses or the brewery worth the effort of renting a car (brewery especially) to get to? Kind of thinking of taking a day to drive to the brewery, then hitting an Orioles game that evening and then back to DC.
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Postby Cass » Tue Apr 23, 2013 8:42 am

The Whole Foods in Logan Circle was great, IMO for bottles. Picked up some Madame Rose & Maine Beer Co. Some of the private shops' prices can vary greatly.
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Postby rejtable » Thu Jun 13, 2013 7:59 am

Man, what a great city! From a site-seeing perspective, Washington can stand up to just about anywhere I've been in the world. The must-see sites are universally spectacular.

Beer visiting was great as well. Hit up Paradiso in Dupont Circle, Pi Pizzeria around Metro Centre, Big Hunt, Churchkey and a few others. The Red Porch at Nationals Stadium has a tap list that would fit on a "best of" list of almost any city in Canada. Churchkey was incredible. Great vibe, awesome choices. I found Paradiso very expensive on the beer side, with nary a full pint to be found. Food was good. Big Hunt was a lot of fun. Also made the long trek out to the Dogfish Alehouse in Falls Church. Odd spot in the middle of a parking lot, but great DFH selections and a great burger.

I'm sure there are states/cities that aren't that great, but man oh man overall Americans have the beer thing figured out. My suburban hotel had a better tap list than 80% of pubs in Ottawa.

I stopped into Whole Foods in Foggy Bottom and at Logan's Circle. Both pretty solid beer selections. Stopped into a ton of private places. The one just as you exit the Metro closest to Adams Morgan (Shelly's??) had a pretty good selection, and then further down the main road in Adams Morgan just before you get to Dupont there was a place with a really nice selection. Universally, though, I found the private places had huge freshness issues. Saw tons of Maui cans from summer 2012 on shelves.

Picked up a bunch of Oskar Blues Gubna cans, some Surly and a La Folie. Bags were already loaded so couldn't handle much more.

Anwyay, thanks for the tips, guys, it was a great visit!
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Postby rejtable » Thu Jun 13, 2013 8:43 am

One other DC note, I was really surprised by the nearly complete absence of DFH around town. I think the only place I saw a DFH tap other than at the Alehouse was at Nats Stadium. Flying Dog IPA was all over the place, and they had some taps at some of the places I mentioned, but absolutely nothing from DFH. Lots of bottles on shelves in stores, but no taps. Found that very odd.
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Postby Kekumba » Mon Sep 22, 2014 8:50 pm

Spent the weekend in Washington doing mostly beer related things. Will be down there lots in the next few years.

Churchkey for Zwanze ... crowded of course, but the service was still quite good and I never waited very long for a beer. I'll have to go back during a non-event some time, but I'm 99% sure you can count on an epic tap list plus tons of bottles from them at all times.

Black Squirrel ... upstairs and downstairs bars, very quiet around 7pm on Friday night. Different tap lists on both floors, both equally as good. Bartender gave me two DC Brau can glasses just for asking where I could get them "nowhere, so take these". Okay then!

Smoke & Barrel ... honestly nothing to report here other then I got a bottle of Parabola to end the night and it got real blurry after that. Not even sure what was on the tap list, but the food was very good.

Bluejacket ... wicked looking place, not so wicked beers. Outstanding range of styles however, so that's encouraging, and a fun place to grab a few anyway. Forbidden Planet was awesome!

RFD ... great location, more of a sports bar type, especially on a Saturday afternoon. Stopped in after Zwanze, tap list is pretty average but definitely worth checking out.

Bier Baron ... was only here for about 30 minutes max. Smaller tap list with 80% of the beers being north of 8%. I'll check it out another time.

Extreme Pizza ... literally a 30 second walk from where I was staying. Decent pizza and 10-15 rotating taps with bottles to go.

I didn't really go on much of a hunt for bottles, but I was happy to grab some some Tilquin and Hanssens at Arrowine, as well as some 32oz bottles of Laggy Sucks. Then just a few random cans at Total Wine like Ten Fidy and Anderson Valley Gose. I really liked Arrowine. Small, but impressive bottle variety.

Anyone been to Right Proper? Lots of locals suggested it to me.
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Postby Kekumba » Sat Feb 07, 2015 2:26 pm

Hit a couple more spots here this week...

DC Brau - so does OTWOA not attract a huge crowd anymore? Cases upon cases of it sitting beside the cash and I was the only one in the brewery for hours. Good enough tasting room to hang out in for a bit, but not much of an atmosphere.

Rustico Alexandria - some sort of affiliate to Churchkey. In fact it feels just like a slightly upscale Churchkey with 20 less taps. Both tap and bottle list was fantastic and the service was excellent despite being very busy. I can't think of a better spot in that area.

Got two 4pk's of BCBS that were just hanging around the bar at Whole Foods in Arlington. No effort at all, just the way I like it.
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Re: Washington DC / Northern Virginia suburbs

Postby ritzkiss » Mon Jun 08, 2015 8:50 am

Back from 5 days in DC, didn't get the chance to hit a ton of places but the few I did:

Matchbox Chinatown is a nice pizza joint, laid back exposed brick kind of place. Decent smallish tap list, good food.

Black Squirrel, just hit the downstairs bar, dive-ish basement feel. Solid tap list, a couple of sours on it as well as a wide variety of styles, drinks also available in 4oz pours for tasting.

Smoke & Barrel - really enjoyed this spot, spent one evening in the top bar, one in the basement bar. Really terrific food (get the smoked asparagus as a side…), and the best beer list of the three listed here. They'd had a Lagunitas event the night before, so lots of unique Lagunitas stuff (mango habanero IPA, etc), as well as a much wider variety of styles than elsewhere, including a gose, a gratzer, a mead, wild ales, etc… Also a 30-40 deep bourbon list.
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Re: Washington DC / Northern Virginia suburbs

Postby Kekumba » Mon Jun 08, 2015 9:32 pm

Was also back in Washington last week for Jays games and SAVOR events.

Meridian Pint may be my new favourite spot in the area. The tap lists were amazing with some cellar cleaning and Founders/Fremont takeover. The staff was perhaps my favourite of any bar ever. The burgers and hot wings were excellent. Prices were very reasonable for the usually overpriced DC area. I should mention, I went downstairs both times and it's a completely different atmosphere than upstairs. So, go downstairs, you will not be disappointed.

Some great beer at the Nats games. Everything I had was super fresh both nights which is a nice change of pace from all the old DC Brau cans hanging around on the shelves.

This was my fifth trip down to DC since last September, and now that I'm quite familiar with the beer scene, I gotta say I'm real impressed. The tap lists throughout the city are consistently great, foods always above average, most everyone I've met has been real cool. The number of events going on each week is remarkable. The subway is great and it's easy to get from bar to bar rather quickly. My only complaints would be the local breweries leave a bit to be desired, and DC being DC, a night out can get expensive real quick. I believe Pizza Paradiso and Right Proper are the only two places I've yet to visit that are atop my list.
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Re: Washington DC / Northern Virginia suburbs

Postby cratez » Fri Jun 12, 2015 7:26 pm

Kekumba wrote: ...now that I'm quite familiar with the beer scene, I gotta say I'm real impressed. The tap lists throughout the city are consistently great, foods always above average, most everyone I've met has been real cool...The subway is great and it's easy to get from bar to bar rather quickly. My only complaints would be...a night out can get expensive real quick. I believe Pizza Paradiso and Right Proper are the only two places I've yet to visit that are atop my list.

That pretty much sums up my impression of D.C., and I would only add that the Dupont Circle Paradiso is well worth a visit.
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Re: Washington DC / Northern Virginia suburbs

Postby Kekumba » Sat Jul 04, 2015 7:13 pm

Few more thoughts...

Pizza Paradiso Old Town - first visit. The pizza was good, not my favourite in the area which contains a lot of pizza/beer restaurants, but good. A little more "authentic" if you will. The draft prices were insane, however. A lot of imports and a mix of locals and other American options. Cheapest draft was $9 for 14oz and that was the local option in Port City. Everything else was $10 per 9-12oz. Nothing outstanding. Bottle list was significantly better with some deals to be had. Nice spot, but quite expensive. I will still check out the Dupont Circle location at some point.

Right Proper - this is my kind of brewery. In terms of styles, no brewery in the DC area even comes close to these guys. Lots of saisons, brett, sour, low alcohol beers. Nothing outstanding, but good efforts all around and a lot of very interesting beers. The space itself got crowded very quickly, though I was out an hour after opening. Food menu looked really good but I didn't get anything more than some kettle chips. Prices were very good for DC. I could see it getting a little crazy later on at night.

Smoke & Barrel - first time back here since my first trip to DC. The beer list is great and the bottle list very specialized in larger format Firestone Walker, FiftyFifty, Boulevard, and Bruery stuff. Come here hungry and enjoy the excellent bbq they have to offer. Prices are very good, service is very good, the whole place in general is just a great dinner spot. Lots of bourbon to choose from if that's your thing. Only complaint would be the long walk from the metro, but you can grab a bus or uber or whatever and cut that down a bit.
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Re: Washington DC / Northern Virginia suburbs

Postby rejtable » Tue Jul 07, 2015 2:06 pm

Kekumba wrote:Few more thoughts...

Pizza Paradiso Old Town - first visit. The pizza was good, not my favourite in the area which contains a lot of pizza/beer restaurants, but good. A little more "authentic" if you will. The draft prices were insane, however. A lot of imports and a mix of locals and other American options. Cheapest draft was $9 for 14oz and that was the local option in Port City. Everything else was $10 per 9-12oz. Nothing outstanding. Bottle list was significantly better with some deals to be had. Nice spot, but quite expensive. I will still check out the Dupont Circle location at some point.

FWIW, I had exactly the same impression about the prices at Dupont location a few years ago.
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Re: Washington DC / Northern Virginia suburbs

Postby cratez » Thu Jul 09, 2015 4:06 pm

rejtable wrote: FWIW, I had exactly the same impression about the prices at Dupont location a few years ago.

The beer lists for all three locations are online. Most of the drafts at the Dupont location are in the $5-7 range for 12oz pours, so fairly pricey considering many beers sell for $7-7.50 per 20oz pint in Toronto (before tax, obviously). We had a great meal and enjoyed the drinks and atmosphere, but there's no denying that Paradiso is expensive.
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Re: Washington DC / Northern Virginia suburbs

Postby Kekumba » Thu Jul 09, 2015 11:48 pm

The Old Town list now is the exact opposite of when I went there in terms of price/selection. $5-6 per 12oz is still a tad pricey for most of those beers, but a lot more on par with the rest of the area.
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Re: Washington DC / Northern Virginia suburbs

Postby rejtable » Tue Sep 29, 2015 2:31 pm

Spent a week there for work, my update, some of these places I had been to before on past visits:

Bars:
Right Proper: awesome spot with great beers that don't need to tear your liver apart in high alc or massive hop bombs. Great range of styles, great service, awesome vibe, loved it.
Union Pub: overall not too special a spot, but they had a GI Migration event the night I was there and I was pretty much alone in the place. Lots of BCBS Vanilla was had!!
City Tap House: Like a Yardhouse. Lots of beer on tap, not a ton of hard to find or interesting beer.
Bier Baron: loved that spot, great basement bar with a solid range of beers.
Capitol City Brewing: Meh.
Arsenal at Bluejacket: man oh man what a great spot. Like Right Proper, great range with big hoppy beers and light berliner weiss, all made superbly to me. Food was awesome. A destination spot even if there's no ballgame going on.
Churchkey: what else can one say, it is an awesome spot. I was there 3 times in one week, including their own GI Migration event with tons of awesome GI beer on tap.
Pi Pizzeria: near Verizon Centre, ok tap list, solid pizza.
Black Squirrel: awesome spot, although I was a bit confused by all the levels. Had some great beer, met some cool people.

One thing I really loved about this trip to DC is how pretty much every spot fully embraced small pours. Great way to try a range of beers and then go big for the ones you really love.

Bottle shops:
1 West Dupont Circle: Dark Lord! Hunapu! HF! Sip of Sunshine! Haha, but the Dark Lord is $129! One SOS can is $29. Even for DC's inflated prices, this place is nuts. It's worth going just to hold a bottle in your hand, but man oh man don't drop it! Aside from the crazy overpriced whales, I wasn't that impressed with the bottle selection overall.

That's one weakness for DC. There are lots of small places with small selections, but the city really needs a killer bottle shop.

Overall it is a great city to drink beer, no doubt about it.

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