Where to Drink During the Craft Brewers Conference This Week
The annual Craft Brewers Conference arrives in D.C. this week. More than 6,000 beer professionals from around the world are expected to attend, and many are bringing their beer with them. Gird your liver!
Washington's plethora of craft beer-minded bars and restaurants have put together a whopper of a week to celebrate the first time the Brewers Association holds the event in the nation's capital. We've sorted through the public events around town and put together some of our top picks for each day:
MONDAY, March 25
Tickets for the five-course pairing dinner at Birch & Barley are long gone, but drafts and casks from the five participating breweries will flow in the upstairs bar at ChurchKey. The lineup includes six Bluejacket collaborations and a slew of brews from DC Brau, Flying Dog, Cigar City, Surly, Firestone Walker, and Maui.
The Belgian bistro will feature Belgian-style brews from Brewery Ommegang of upstate New York, Maine’s Allagash Brewing, and Boulevard Brewing from Missouri. Representatives from each will be present to discuss their brews, and drafts will be $6 until 7 p.m. The beer to go for: Allagash FV 13, a sour brown ale aged in large wooden casks for four years.
Head down to the basement for an evening of raging punk and hardcore tracks and a chance to vote for the best India pale ales from two rival teams. The East Coast roster includes Smuttynose, Victory, and Sixpoint. Challengers from the west are Lagunitas, Ballast Point, Oskar Blues, and Sierra Nevada.
TUESDAY, March 26
The Great American Saison Draft Feature at ChurchKey (4 p.m. to close)
Sample from 40 of the best farmhouse ales and saisons brewed in the U.S. The all-star brewery line-up includes Jester King, Saint Somewhere, Hill Farmstead, Tired Hands, Crooked Stave, Cambridge, Prairie, Stillwater, Oxbow, Perennial, and Bluejacket. As an added bonus, the bar will feature 20 beers from Michigan's innovative Short's Brewing Company. It's a two-fer!
Smith Commons kicks off a week of Masters of the Craft Beer Universe events with a night devoted to America's favorite beer ingredient. Head to H Street NE for an evening of hoppy beers, food pairings, and lively discussion with featured guests like Brian Strumke of Stillwater Artisanal Ales, Matty Gilliland and John Gartner of New Belgium Brewing, J.T. Smith of the Brewers Association of Maryland, and Bill Jusino and Mike Tonsmeire of DC Homebrewers.
The ever popular Great Lakes Brewing Company from Cleveland will pour some rarities, like Tripel Dog Dare and Alberta Clipper Winter Porter, and tap a special keg of Barrel-Aged Blackout Stout at 9 p.m.
WEDNESDAY, March 27
Those lucky enough to get tickets will be the first to sample from three rare Bourbon County kegs starting at 3:30 p.m. and enjoy an intimate chat with Goose Island head cellarman Brian Taylor. Doors open to the public at 5 p.m., and the beer list includes a dozen treats from the Illinois brewery’s broad portfolio.
The Dupont Circle craft beer-focused restaurants will together pour 40 beers from nine breweries that are nearly impossible to find in D.C. The list includes drafts and bottles from Falling Sky, Funkwerks, Two Brothers, Oakshire, Haymarket, Gigantic, Foothills, Fullsteam, and Odell.
Flying Dog and Pizzeria Paradiso each infused a cask of Doggie Style Pale Ale with special ingredients. It’s up to you which turned out best in this cask-conditioning competition. Bonus: The brewers from Quebec’s Le Trou du Diable brewery will be on hand with six of their sensational ales. Double bonus: All beers are half price from 5 to 7 p.m.
Brewers from four Baltimore breweries will be on hand to showcase their talents. The list includes drafts, bottles, and cans from The Brewer’s Art, Stillwater, Oliver Ales, and Union Craft Brewing. Highlights include Brewer’s Art Tiny Tim, a buckwheat honey ale with hibiscus and rosemary, and Olivers Winter’s Wolves, a dark ale brewed with honey and Scottish Heather and aged on American oak.
THURSDAY, March 28
Meet brewmaster Mark Carpenter and other members of San Francisco’s Anchor Brewing crew while sampling from five of their standards as well as several rarities and new releases. The list includes Small Beer, California Lager, and OBA, a blend of Anchor beers aged in house whiskey barrels from Anchor Distilling Old Potrero Rye Whiskey.
Three Floyds of Indiana will share taps with Minnesota’s Surly Brewing Company at Paradiso’s Dupont location and Washington’s Elysian Brewing at the Georgetown location. Treats from 3 Floyds are as of yet TBD, but highlights from Surly include Furious, Pentagram, Coffee Bender, and Cynic. Elysian will have The Dread, Yuzu Belgian Golden and Avatar Jasmine IPA among others.
The downstairs tap room will feature canned beers from Golden Road, Oskar Blues, Maui, and Ska Brewing. Have a first look at Oskar Blues’ new 19.2 ounce tall cans of Dale’s Pale Ale and Mama’s Little Yella Pils. Should go down great with half-price burgers. Also enjoy rare hoppy brews from six Colorado breweries: Avery, Odell, New Belgium, Breckenridge, Funkwerks, and Oskar Blues.
FRIDAY, March 29
Drink Local at Meridian Pint (1 p.m. to close)
The Columbia Heights bar’s taps will be taken over by 20 local beers, all only $5 a pour all day long. Some of the featured D.C., Virginia, and Maryland breweries include DC Brau, 3 Stars, Chocolate City, Franklin’s, Lost Rhino, Mad Fox, Port City, Oliver Breweries, Stillwater, Union Craft Brewing, DuClaw, The Brewery’s Art, Devils Backbone, Blue Mountain, and Flying Dog. The event is sponsored in part by BeerAdvocate.
Boston Beer Company makes more than Sam Adams Boston Lager. Find out more about their small batch beers such as a recently recreated pale ale from the legendary “original” American craft brewery New Albion. They will also be pouring samples of Utopias, a 27 percent alcohol specialty blend of barrel aged beer.
The Colorado brewery and chain of restaurants is known for pairing beer and food. Try the beers and inspired recipes together.
Image courtesy of the Brewers Association