Beerspotter: Altbier at Capitol City Brewing, Gordon Biersch, and District ChopHouse
Where Spotted: District ChopHouse & Brewery, 509 7th St. NW; Capitol City Brewing Co., 1100 New York Ave. NW; Gordon Biersch, 900 F St. NW
Price: $5.00-$5.50, depending on location
Learning to Crawl: When the District’s trio of brewpubs collaborates on a recipe, they kind of force my hand. Offer three versions of a beer in a three square-block radius of downtown, and I’m going to have to taste them all. Thus my D.C. Beer Week turned into D.C. Brewpub Crawl. I can’t complain. While the breweries all use the same German-style base of ingredients, each offers tiny variations in yeast, hops, and brewing steps to tease out nuances, making every pub worth a visit in the next few weeks as the altbier flows.
Alt in Flavor: Altbier is an oddity in German brewing tradition, an ale brewed at uncharacteristically low temperatures, like a kölsch, which keeps the yeast’s fruity aromas at bay. To a toasty, brown base, each brewer adds flourishes: District ChopHouse’s version wafts green-hop freshness, while Capitol City’s take is quite fast and quenching. (Gordon Biersch calls its interpretation a “Dusseldorf,” after the beer’s home region.) All three dole out just enough hops for a refreshing finish. So refreshing, in fact, you really need to sample each one. Really, you do.
Here's the column as it ran in the paper — but have you tried any of the three altbiers? Let's hear about it in the comments!