Before I head to Philly Beer Week on Wednesday, I’m spending four days in DC visiting my sister and 4 month old niece. This time is about family, but I always find a way to sneak in beer stuff. Yesterday, I hit three places:
Chevy Chase Wine & Spirits – As far as I know, this is the only place in DC that lets you buy singles of 12 oz. beers. They have a good selection of American craft beer and imports, but it’s crammed into a tiny area, with wine and booze dominating the shelf space. Not sure if there are any knowledgeable beer guys on the staff. I saw beers that had bottled on dates from over a year ago, so I don’t know how vigilant they are about rotating stock. Overall, though, this is probably the best place to buy beer in DC. I grabbed singles from Bell’s, Weyerbacher, Arcadia, Blue Point, Clay Pipe, Clipper City and Baltimore-Washington Beer Works (beer porn portrait above). When I got back to my sister’s house, I cracked open the Baltimore-Washington beer, a lager called The Raven. The Edgar Allan Poe thing was cool, the beer wasn’t bad. I also had a Smuttynose Robust Porter that was hanging out in my sister’s fridge and it was tasty as hell.
Rustico – Found out about this Alexandria, Virginia restaurant the day before I flew East. They have 30 taps and an extensive bottle list, but they were out of a lot of things on the draft list. I ordered a New Holland The Poet Oatmeal Stout and the server brought me the Peak Organic Nut Brown instead (maybe the New Holland was gone and he decided to substitute). I said screw it and just drank the beer. It was alright, kinda on the watery side like a few other organic beers I’ve had. I also had a Stoudt’s Pilsner, which I’ve had before and is a solid pils. Food (pizza, burgers, etc) was okay, but nothing special. The atmosphere was annoyingly suburban. Even though they have good beer, if I lived in DC I’m not sure how often I’d drink there. Actually, DC fans of Rustico won’t need to go to the Commonwealth for long. The Rustico website says they’re targeting spring for the opening of a new place in DC called Birch and Barley. 50 taps and 500 bottles—should be worth checking out.
Paradiso – After dinner at Rustico, I met some friends who were having pizza here. Located in Georgetown, Paradiso is a crazy place to go on a weekend night. You end up waiting forever to sit down and it’s loud and insanely packed–not exactly a comfortable spot to enjoy a few beers. But they do have good pizza (better than Rustico) and one of the best beer selections in DC. I’d already had several beers earlier in the day, so I stayed with sessionable selections: the Wye Valley Dorothy Goody Winter Tipple (a strongly spiced brown ale on cask) and the Arcadia ESB (a decent and very drinkable mix of malt sweetness and hoppy bitterness). Both were good, but I couldn’t get over the East Coast prices. $7.25 for a pint? Hope those prices don’t make it out West anytime soon.
Three more days to explore DC before I head to Philly. Plenty more beer to be found here. I’m on it…