Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Where to Celebrate American Craft Beer Week

Is it just me or does every food, drink, cause, and activity have its own "official" day of celebration now? It's getting really difficult to keep up with everything, and I won't even pretend to care about whether National Hot Dog Day is real or not (it's July 23, FYI). BUT American Craft Beer Week (ACBW) is something I can totally get behind, and it's happening RIGHT NOW!

I know what you're thinking: "how is this week different from any other for Thirsty Ivy?" I'll tell you ... this week is different because some of the best beer spots in D.C. are celebrating with me!!

I'll leave the calendar-keeping and specials-tracking up to the knowledgeable dudes over at DCBeer, but I thought I'd take this time to answer some questions I receive frequently that can help YOU decide where to celebrate ACBW.

Via Twitter and email, several of our loyal readers have asked me what my favorite beer bar is and where they should go if they don't know what kind of beer to try. D.C. has become quite the beer town, so you're likely to find at least one decent craft beer on tap at most bars and restaurants. That's not the kind of place I'm prone to recommend though, especially not for ACBW.

When I'm not convincing my local beer shop to order something they've never heard of and don't particularly want to (which they then fell in love with, because I have GREAT taste) or waiting anxiously for SAVOR (aka my birthday party!), you can find me sucking back the hops at many/most/all of D.C.'s best beer joints -- the kinds of places that put D.C. on the beer map; places where the beer directors and staff are incredibly knowledgeable, where the sheer volume of choices will make you go cross-eyed.

Just for fun, I've ranked them. Ask me tomorrow, and their positions might shift -- but, really, you can't go wrong with any of these.

1. Churchkey is an obvious choice ... and for good reason. Even if this place didn't have one of the best beer menus in the country, I'd probably still hang out here for the relaxed yet sophisticated vibe. It also doesn't hurt that the clientele is just as cool; I'm constantly meeting quality people at the big, shared tables by the window. Truth be told, I seriously considered moving to Logan Circle last year only to have this place as a neighbor. This made total sense to me at the time, but that could've been BAD NEWS.

2. Pizzeria Paradiso is also high on my list ... and not just because there's one in my neighborhood. Pizza and beer is the kind of natural marriage God intended! I've become a creature of habit, almost always ordering the Quattro Formaggi pie with mushrooms (it's one of my favorite pizzas in the entire city!). The beer pairing, however, is rarely the same. With their rolling list and location-specific choices (in bottles, on draught, and in casks), it's nearly impossible for me to fall into a rut.

3. RFD is a spot I really didn't want to like at all -- for the atmosphere, the crowds, its proximity to the Verizon Center, the tourist volume, unimpressive food, etc. But then I set my sights on that monster beer fridge and discovered the back courtyard and was sold. Ever since then, I've found myself here more often than I ever intended. Hell, I've even been on TWO first and a few second dates at RFD. None of the dudes turned out to be quality choices, but I've yet to regret by beer order.

4. Meridian Pint is lower on the list that you'd expect. Why? Because it's too difficult to get there from my 'hood ... and that makes me sad. I miss sitting by the roll-up windows watching the pups walk their humans, and I really miss hiding out at the basement bar with friends, where the lack of cell reception is eerily freeing.

The last time I was at the Pint, my friend's mother was in town and we convinced her that she'd fit right in. AND SHE DID. I love that about this place -- it's hip but it's still a neighborhood joint that welcomes and appeals to a wide variety of people. My friend and I were able to taste some new brews while his mom indulged her sweet tooth with a gourmet-looking piece of chocolaty dessert. Everybody wins.

5 -TIE: 
Breadsoda has all the appeal of a dive bar but isn't dirty. I'm not much into the games, but if pool, shuffleboard, darts, or even yahtzee are your thing you might want to check this place out! In addition to the pretty solid craft beer list, they have delicious sandwiches ... and that's really all this girl needs most nights. Plus, it's really close to my house; all I have to do is roll back down the hill to Georgetown.

Bourbon is conveniently located RIGHT ACROSS THE STREET from Breadsoda, which makes bar-hopping pretty painless. Appealing Kate has already explained to you how much we love this place and why. All I have to say is "ditto!" It's cozy, the food is delicious, the staff have grown to love/hate us, and the beer list is well-above average. They do have a bad habit of running out of what I want (seriously, people, stop hogging all the beer!), but I can always find something to quench my thirst.

Clearly, this isn't an exhaustive list. Heck, I haven't even mentioned The Pug, The Big Hunt, Scion, The Black Squirrel, Dodge City, or American Ice Company yet ... but life is about choices, and picking and ranking five (okay six) was hard enough!

So now, here's a question for y'all, our loyal readers: where are you celebrating American Craft Beer Week? 



  1. How did I not know RFD has a back courtyard?! That's going to make my summer so much better.

  2. Oh it's a hidden gem for sure!

  3. I celebrated my last week in the New Orleans bar and grill restaurant I enjoyed a lot there, delicious foods, drinks and pleasant environment.