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Old 01-14-2011, 01:33 AM   #1
agroff383
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Default Visiting DC...send me to a good bar!

Me and the fiancee (also a budding beer enthusiast) are visiting DC for a week beginning Saturday...looking for a good spot for a great ale, I am not too familiar with the area and want to get sent in the right direction. Also any good places to get a good meal is welcome too. We are staying in Alexandria and would take the car, Metro, or taxi anywhere within reason.

Also I am a history buff so if anybody knows anything off the beaten path that would be sweet too.

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Old 01-14-2011, 01:45 AM   #2
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Brickskeller FTW! I went there again for the Jon Stewart rally....just noticed it's changed ownership and is now Bier Baron. Anyway, they have the widest selection of beer in DC. There isn't much in the way of microbreweries in DC...if you're looking for a fancy meal, there's Brasserie Beck....which is a Belgian place that has their own beer somelier. For a good brewpub, I like The District Chophouse the best. I got food poisoning at the other brewpub, Capitol City....and their beer isn't so good as to try them again.

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Old 01-14-2011, 03:20 AM   #3
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RFD is the sister company of Brickskeller that has around 300-400 beers to choose from. I've never been but Bilbo Baggins in Alexandria, VA has a good selection of microbrews on tap. Heard good things but never went. Not too familiar with any microbrewery's but I haven't seeked them out either.

Here is the beer menu for Bilbo Baggins.

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Old 01-14-2011, 03:41 AM   #4
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Brickskellar is nothing special now; it was the first great DC beer bar, but it's really gone downhill over the last 15 years.

The best option in DC is Churchkey--amazing beer bar, and DC will definitely have better choices than the Maryland/VA suburbs. Brasserie Beck has a really good selection of Belgians. The original DC location of Pizzaria Paradiso is also well worth a trip.

Those 3 are by far the most likely places to find rarities and have the best selection of local joints.

Outside of those, you're into second-tier stuff; in VA, Bilbo Baggins, Rustico, the Old Town location of Pizzeria Paradiso, and the Old Town Red Rocks are all pretty good--none of them will knock your socks off, though. Paradiso/Baggins/Chadwick's are all within a few blocks if you're stuck in Old Town Alexandria (best beer locale in the VA part of the local area) for a decent beer crawl. Avoid the MD suburbs, but if you get all the way up to the Baltimore area, Max's in Fell's Point is fantastic, too. Lost Dog Cafe in Arlington is okay, too.

But really, Churchkey and the DC Pizzeria Paradiso are the class of DC beer bars by a long shot. The rest (Lost Dog, Pizzeria Old Town, RFD,Bilbo Baggins, etc) are all about the same baseline of decent selection but nothing special, and Brickskellar is worthwile only for nostalgia's sake (RFD's the same ownership and tends to have much more interesting stuff nowadays). Rustico for instance has the same beer buyer as Churchkey, but the VA laws are so restricted compared to DC that the selection's nothing like what you get at Churchkey.

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On deck: Little Bo Pils, Bretta Off Dead (Brett pale)
Secondary: Oude Bruin, Red Sky at Morning (Sour brown ale)
On tap: Saison Duphunk (sour), Amarillo Slim (IPA), Earl White (ginger/bergamot wit)
Bottled: Number 8 (Belgian Strong Dark Ale), Eternale (Barleywine), Ancho Villa (Ancho/pasilla/chocolate/cinnamon RIS), Oak smoked porter (1/2 maple bourbon oaked, 1/2 apple brandy oaked)

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Old 01-14-2011, 03:47 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by dukedog View Post
RFD is the sister company of Brickskeller that has around 300-400 beers to choose from. I've never been but Bilbo Baggins in Alexandria, VA has a good selection of microbrews on tap. Heard good things but never went. Not too familiar with any microbrewery's but I haven't seeked them out either.

Here is the beer menu for Bilbo Baggins.
The food sucks at Bilbo's and the service is borderline. I live in the area, so I go there a lot because the beer selection is okay--but it's no better than several other Old Town locations (Rustico, Paradiso Old Town, Red Rocks, etc).

If you roll into DC Churchkey, Brasserie Beck, or the DC location of Paradiso you have a chance that something truly rare will be available--those are the only really great beer bars around. Brickskellar's got a wide variety of stuff you've had before, and anything really rare on their menu is almost always out of stock; RFD merits a peek but it's unlikely to have anything really difficult to find. What it does have is great, but those other 3 are the places to go to get anything rare--especially if you talk to the bartender for a while and make friends.
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On deck: Little Bo Pils, Bretta Off Dead (Brett pale)
Secondary: Oude Bruin, Red Sky at Morning (Sour brown ale)
On tap: Saison Duphunk (sour), Amarillo Slim (IPA), Earl White (ginger/bergamot wit)
Bottled: Number 8 (Belgian Strong Dark Ale), Eternale (Barleywine), Ancho Villa (Ancho/pasilla/chocolate/cinnamon RIS), Oak smoked porter (1/2 maple bourbon oaked, 1/2 apple brandy oaked)

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Old 01-14-2011, 04:02 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by davesrose View Post
Brickskeller FTW! I went there again for the Jon Stewart rally....just noticed it's changed ownership and is now Bier Baron. Anyway, they have the widest selection of beer in DC. There isn't much in the way of microbreweries in DC...if you're looking for a fancy meal, there's Brasserie Beck....which is a Belgian place that has their own beer somelier. For a good brewpub, I like The District Chophouse the best. I got food poisoning at the other brewpub, Capitol City....and their beer isn't so good as to try them again.
Brasserie Beck has connections with several Belgian breweries, and given the lax DC import laws it's often got some rare limited-run Cantillon or St Bernardus beer available--that's especially true right after they do dinners with pairings by Belgian brewmasters or American-Belgian brewers. Pizzeria Paradiso has an owner who stockpiles very rare beers; they're not always listed on the menu, but if you're inquisitive you can often pull something insane like a vintage Dark Lord or a Port Brewing 4th anniversary or something similarly hard to find. Churchkey always has those tough-to-find things in stock and usually 1 or 2 on draft. Those are the places where you might wander in and find a 2004 Cantillon Lou Pepe Kriek, Lost Abbey Cable Car, Portsmouth Kate the Great, Cigar City Hunahpu's, or the Bruery Black Tuesday or something in stock.

Brickskellar has 400 things that you can readily get on their menu (400 beers sounds impressive, but then you realize that the first 100 start off Bud, Bud Ice, Bud Light, Busch, Bush Light, Busch Ice, Natural Light, Natural Ice, Miller High Life, Miller Genuine Draft, Miller Lite, Coors Extra Gold, Michelob, Coors Light, Michelob Light, and then the next 100 "rare imports" start Heineken, Heineken Light, Beck's, Beck's Dark, Beck's Premier Light, Amstel Light, Corona, Corona Light, Dos Equis Gold, Dos Equis Amber, Pilsner Urquell, Guinness, Beamish, Murphy's, Chimay Blue, Duvel, Orval, ...) and the only 200 that you really want to try are 75% out of stock; nothing super-rare ever comes through there. Same deal with lots of other places; if you're looking for just a wide selection of stuff you can get any time, Brickskellar, RFD, Rustico, Lost Dog, Chophouse, Agraria, etc are fine places to pop into. But if you want a shot at finding a rarity, go with the big 3.
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On deck: Little Bo Pils, Bretta Off Dead (Brett pale)
Secondary: Oude Bruin, Red Sky at Morning (Sour brown ale)
On tap: Saison Duphunk (sour), Amarillo Slim (IPA), Earl White (ginger/bergamot wit)
Bottled: Number 8 (Belgian Strong Dark Ale), Eternale (Barleywine), Ancho Villa (Ancho/pasilla/chocolate/cinnamon RIS), Oak smoked porter (1/2 maple bourbon oaked, 1/2 apple brandy oaked)

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Old 01-14-2011, 04:19 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by agroff383 View Post
Me and the fiancee (also a budding beer enthusiast) are visiting DC for a week beginning Saturday...looking for a good spot for a great ale, I am not too familiar with the area and want to get sent in the right direction. Also any good places to get a good meal is welcome too. We are staying in Alexandria and would take the car, Metro, or taxi anywhere within reason.

Also I am a history buff so if anybody knows anything off the beaten path that would be sweet too.
All that said, if you're limited to Alexandria's Old town:

Night #1: Go to Pizzeria Paradiso Old Town, walk to Bilbo Baggins for the end of the night for a couple beers. Chadwick's nearby has some good stuff from Stone and others, too.

Night #2: Go to Red Rocks, get the burata appetizer, drink beers

If you have a car, go to Food Matters for really great cheap food; the beer selection's limited, but there's always a couple of Bell's Two-Hearted-level options.

If you don't but are willing to spend a little on a great dinner with reasonably good (though not super rare) beer selection, go to Brabo (part of Hotel Lorien) for fantastic food. They also make killer cocktails if you're so inclined.

And if you have another night to kill and either a car or the willingness to walk 10 blocks, hit Rustico.

All of those have more than decent selections. But for the great DC selection, Paradiso DC, Churchkey, and Brasserie Beck are the way to go (and the latter will serve a fantastic if not cheap meal as well).
__________________

On deck: Little Bo Pils, Bretta Off Dead (Brett pale)
Secondary: Oude Bruin, Red Sky at Morning (Sour brown ale)
On tap: Saison Duphunk (sour), Amarillo Slim (IPA), Earl White (ginger/bergamot wit)
Bottled: Number 8 (Belgian Strong Dark Ale), Eternale (Barleywine), Ancho Villa (Ancho/pasilla/chocolate/cinnamon RIS), Oak smoked porter (1/2 maple bourbon oaked, 1/2 apple brandy oaked)

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Old 01-14-2011, 04:27 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by SumnerH View Post
Brickskellar has 400 things that you can readily get on their menu (400 beers sounds impressive, but then you realize that the first 100 start off Bud, Bud Ice, Bud Light, Busch, Bush Light, Busch Ice, Natural Light, Natural Ice, Miller High Life, Miller Genuine Draft, Miller Lite, Coors Extra Gold, Michelob, Coors Light, Michelob Light, and then the next 100 "rare imports" start Heineken, Heineken Light, Beck's, Beck's Dark, Beck's Premier Light, Amstel Light, Corona, Corona Light, Dos Equis Gold, Dos Equis Amber, Pilsner Urquell, Guinness, Beamish, Murphy's, Chimay Blue, Duvel, Orval, ...) and the only 200 that you really want to try are 75% out of stock; nothing super-rare ever comes through there. Same deal with lots of other places; if you're looking for just a wide selection of stuff you can get any time, Brickskellar, RFD, Rustico, Lost Dog, Chophouse, Agraria, etc are fine places to pop into. But if you want a shot at finding a rarity, go with the big 3.


Well believe me...the main beer bar in Atlanta is Taco Mac: I went to their location that claimed the largest tap selection. It was mainly Bud/ Miller lite on several taps. Even though my closest Taco Mac in Decatur has less taps, it still manages to have a much better selection of microbrews. When I was at Brickskeller in October, it did have a few beers I'd never tried. The main ones I focused on were from Avery. Granted, the articles I've seen about the new Bier Baron is that it seems like they're scaling down the numbers of beers....hopefully the beers they are focusing on are worthwhile microbrews. I used to do a lot of traveling to DC for work....so I tried to travel far and wide to see if there were any native microbrews. The best brewpub native to DC seems to be Chophouse: they have good steaks and some good stouts. If you're an IPA person, I haven't found any brews in DC/Virginia worth while.
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On Tap: Barleywine, Coffee Oatmeal Imperial Stout (big big beer)
Conditioning:Baltic Porter
Fermenting: Double Simcoe IPA
On the Bench: Racer 5 IPA


"One of the first things early caveman did, when he crawled out of the mudd, was to make beer. And cavemen everywhere are still making beer...and drinking beer." - Jean Sheperd
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Old 01-14-2011, 05:04 AM   #9
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Well believe me...the main beer bar in Atlanta is Taco Mac: I went to their location that claimed the largest tap selection. It was mainly Bud/ Miller lite on several taps.
Georgia actually has some pretty good stuff going on; in Atlanta, the Porter on Euclid's better than any of the Taco Mac locations. Ormsby’s over on the west side is pretty good, too.

If you can get over to Athens, Trappeze is really awesome.
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On deck: Little Bo Pils, Bretta Off Dead (Brett pale)
Secondary: Oude Bruin, Red Sky at Morning (Sour brown ale)
On tap: Saison Duphunk (sour), Amarillo Slim (IPA), Earl White (ginger/bergamot wit)
Bottled: Number 8 (Belgian Strong Dark Ale), Eternale (Barleywine), Ancho Villa (Ancho/pasilla/chocolate/cinnamon RIS), Oak smoked porter (1/2 maple bourbon oaked, 1/2 apple brandy oaked)

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Old 01-14-2011, 05:15 AM   #10
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Meh...I'm from Asheville originally and can now appreciate how good it is for local microbreweries. I live by Little Five, so I do appreciate The Porter for having a large bottle selection. I guess the main thing about when you're traveling is wether you're looking for the local microbrews or a beer place that has a good microbrew selection. I tend to look more for local brews since they're going to be the only unique things to that area.

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On Tap: Barleywine, Coffee Oatmeal Imperial Stout (big big beer)
Conditioning:Baltic Porter
Fermenting: Double Simcoe IPA
On the Bench: Racer 5 IPA


"One of the first things early caveman did, when he crawled out of the mudd, was to make beer. And cavemen everywhere are still making beer...and drinking beer." - Jean Sheperd
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