2009: Looking Back at a Growing Beer City Part 1
As one year ends and another begins, the Lagerheads are taking a moment to glance back at the year in beer and reflect. First up, a look at the local front, in two tomes. Below we give you five of the most influential local happenings in the beer scene in 2009 and what they mean for an up-and-coming beer city like DC. Take a look and tell us what you think.
- SAVOR (and SAVOR Week) - This May, DC enjoyed the second wildly successful SAVOR food and beer pairing event. It gets our Number 1 spot because of the sheer number of excellent American brewers and breweries it brings to our city. Sure, it's a fairly expensive and exclusive night of eating, drinking, and schmoozing, but SAVOR also results in an entire week of opportunities to meet and learn from American craft beer celebrities (and more important, DRINK THEIR BEER). Mark your calendars for SAVOR #3, which returns to the National Building Museum on June 5, 2010.
- First Official DC Beer Week – SAVOR's success undoubtedly paved the way for our Number 2 item, last August's inaugural DC Beer Week. Most events sold out, which speaks to the number of locals out there who are interested in learning about and enjoying great beer. Since August, there have been a few just as busy weeks of beer events (remember late October?!), and we expect our DC Beer Events calendar to continue to fill up. So take advantage because there are sure to be DC Beer Weeks, official or not, throughout 2010.
- Opening of Two Giants: Birch & Barley/ChurchKey & Pizzeria Paradiso Dupont - What can we say? We got two great beer bars/restaurants in 2009 that help put DC more visibly on the national beer map. Each spot not only has an amazing selection, but is also run by passionate people who have the right philosophy about respecting beer. A small mention goes out to Room 11, which opened in August and has a modest but solid beer selection. We are fans of their Monday night specialty keg series.
- Independent Brewpubs Announced: Black Squirrel & Mad Fox – DC has fresh local beer, but it's primarily in the form of national chains like District Chophouse (owned by RockBottom Restaurants, Inc.) and Gordon Biersch. We love them both dearly, but in order to be a great beer city a wealth of local independent brewpubs is a must. Last year Bill Madden and Amy Bowman each announced plans to open their own brewing operations, Mad Fox Brewpub and Black Squirrel Brewery, respectively. These brewpubs will join Capitol City Brewing Company as options for fresh, corporate-free, locally brewed beer. A big step for our fair city. *Okay, so Mad Fox will be in Falls Church, which is a bit out there, but NOVA is the "5th quadrant" (a real 4th quadrant if you look at the map), so stop fighting it and look forward to getting out there for great beer.
- DC's Belgian Beer Knights Tally Goes up to Four - Last year Brasserie Beck's Thor Cheston and Belga Café's Bart Vandaele joined the exclusive ranks of Belgian beer aficionados knighted by the Belgian Brewers' Guild. Our fair city having a total of four beer knights (including the Brickskeller's Dave Alexander and local beer ambassador Bill Catron) has to mean we're doing something right around here. The Lagerheads wonder how many other cities can boast so many Belgian beer knights per capita.
That's a lot of big beer news and five very good reasons why beer lovers like us are lucky to live in DC. Stay tuned for Part 2 with more beer happenings from 2009, and even more to be thankful for.