This is the fourth of a series I’m writing about the trip my wife Sarajo (Sj) and I recently took to the D.C. area. I’m going to go day by day and go over our exploits so readers can learn what to do (and not do) in the area if they ever get out there. We were lucky enough to stay with our good friends Kathleen and Shea in Virginia, located right at the end of the Metro line into D.C. Please see the previous installation if you want to be horrified by terrible travel hijinx HERE, our second day in Virginia HERE, and our third very beer-centric day HERE.
On our fourth day we finally made it into D.C. proper. Enough of this Virginia stuff! With a good base of Shea’s hash made with leftover Monk’s BBQ, we took the Metro straight into the city with our native guides to get us to the right place. The weather was beautiful with a sunny morning and mellow temperatures. Our first stop of the day was the famous Churchkey pub (whose website may result in seizures), home of 500+ bottled beers, 50 taps, and 5 casks. This is my kind of place! Sj and Shea had been here on a previous trip and apparently had terrible service, but this time was not bad. We arrived pretty close to when they opened for lunch time so the place wasn’t overy busy yet. This was the day before the Craft Beer Conference (CBC) was starting up in D.C. so the beer places were already starting to fill up with pro brewers and staff who had shown up to the area early for the conference. By the time we left the pub it was pretty busy and would soon get really crazy!
We spent much time looking at the massive tome of a bottle list, eventually trying a few rare gems among the group. The taps were pretty outstanding as well resulting in us drinking some of the following: Hill Farmstead’s Harlan; three amazing beers from Ocelot Brewing; Belgian Saison from de Blaugies; and more! I would have loved to spend more time here, but we had some local breweries to check out!
From Churchkey we wandered the streets of D.C. looking for cool things to take pictures of. I discovered the TSNY Trapeze School in action and made my friends hang out for a while. Did I mention I’m afraid of heights?
We eventually made our way to Bluejacket Brewing, a large craft brewery located in an old Navy yard munitions building. They have a small restaurant as well, but that was closed for a private event. The space was huge and chaotic, with three levels of brew equipment and an enormous bar. We eventually found a spot at the bar to park ourselves and work through the extensive beer list. They had about 20 house beers on tap including several cask versions, and most were quite good. This place had not been on my radar, but I’m glad we stopped. Here are a few micro reviews of the beers we tried that day (I rate on a 0-5 scale with 0 being hot-dog water, 3 an average beer, and 5 being Moby Dick the white whale.)
- Forbidden Planet: Great name! This is a Galaxy dry hopped kolsch that tasted quite nice as a pale ale or session IPA but the kolsch character was covered up. 3.75
- The Low Hours: Very pleasant West Coast IPA with Amarillo and Citra hops. 4
- Open Window: NE IPA with tropical fruit craziness. A stellar example of the style. 4.5
- A Little Golden Gem: Kumquat Gose. Perfect balance of tart citrus and a salty surprise finish! 4.25
- The Palace at 4 AM: Coffee sweet stout. Coffee is very forward and bright. This would be a great breakfast beer. 4.25
- Transistor: RIS. Tons of coffee, vanilla, and cocoa. Not quite Hunahpu, but really nice. 4.5
- Harborcoat: Pilsner. Dry hopped like the kolsch. Drinkable, but not a good Pilsner. 3
Overall the beers were all very good. I like when places can excell at multiple styles like stouts and IPAs. However, just because you can add dry hops to a style doesn’t mean you should! This place is well worth a visit and has a cool building to boot.
Our next visit was to Right Proper Brewing Company‘s brewpub. They have a production facility as well, but still brew on the small brew system at the brewpub so they have plenty of options to serve. The restaurant side was full, so we found a spot to have some beers and snacks in the back bar area. I was mesmerized by the crazy chalk art mural on the wall involving mutated sea bass with lasers on their heads and flying foxes with laser eyes. Did they steal my notebooks from junior high?
Here’s a little run-through on the beers we tried:
- Bird of Passage: American wild ale. Lots of stone fruit flavors in this one. 4
- Really Rosie: Makes me think of the strange Maurice Sendak movie we used to watch in elementary school. A Berliner weisse style beer with rose hips, hibiscus, elderberries and pink peppercorns. Sounds like a lot, but was really refreshing and well balanced. 4.5
- A Single Ray of Light: Pale ale. Decent. 3.75
- Biere de Mars: Way too hoppy for style. Meh. 3
- Haxan: A robust porter with plenty of roasted grain character. 3.75
Overall the beers were good, with the Really Rosie being the stand-out hit for all of us. I would certainly go back to see what these guys are doing.
Phone Tapping In Style
With the sun starting to go down on the horizon, our friends directed us to the historic (and infamous) Watergate Hotel. We found ourway to the rooftop bar where we sipped cocktails and I took a ton of pictures. Why did I not bring my tripod again? This was a fun little stop and we got to see a beautiful sunset over the Potomac River.
As you might guess from all this drinking, we were pretty ready for some dinner by this time. Snacks at breweries were well and good, but one needs a real meal every once in a while. We ended up taking Lyft to Rustico Restaurant in the massively macho neighborhood of Ballston. This was a very pleasant upscale eatery focused on fresh house-made dishes like lamb ricotta ravioli (Sj didn’t want to share this one much!). Shea and I both got wonderful pizzas and over-ordered due to hunger. Did I mention a huge (400??!!) beer bottle list and a great selection of taps? Founder’s KBS was on tap so I had to order one… This place was a gem and I’m very glad that our local friends thought to take us there!
And what to do when we got home from our long day’s journey? Why raid Shea’s beer cellar of course! Ready for bed, we issued a challenge to push his epic hash making skills to the limit: pizza hash with the leftovers from our dinner! Can Shea do it? Stay tuned!