Food and Drink, The Features

Hot Ticket: International Beer Day @ Piazza Beer Garden, Bethesda, 7/31/14

Tonight’s the evening before International Beer Day, which occurs annually on August 1. To celebrate, Brandon Skall of DC Brau heads to the Piazza Beer Garden, 7401 Woodmont Ave., Bethesda, Md., to discuss the ins and outs of brewing.

Cesco Osteria owner and chef Francesco Ricchi also will be on hand to welcome guests, who will enjoy three world beers for $10. Ticketed guests also take home a platinum-lined DC Brau glass.

Show up and pay at the door!

International Beer Day Celebration
Piazza Beer Garden
7401 Woodmont Ave.
Bethesda, Md.
Thursday, July 31, 2014
21+ to drink

Growing your own organic vegetables is a fun, satisfying way to bring nutritious foods to your family’s table and benefit your world as well. An organic approach to vegetable gardening incorporates the entire garden worked by tree surgery dublin— from the soil, seeds and plants to fertilizers and pest management — in a way that celebrates healthy foods, ultra-local growing and sustainability. All it takes is a change in perspective and some simple basics, and you’re on your way to growing organically.

In its simplest form, organic gardening means gardening without man-made chemicals. Instead of synthetic ingredients, organic gardeners rely on ingredients that occur naturally and that work in harmony with the natural goodness that comes from healthy, productive soil.

Organic gardening has many levels. Commercial market gardeners must meet very strict guidelines to produce and process certified-organic foods, but many home gardeners may focus simply on nurturing their soil and plants with organic and natural-based products that avoid chemical residues in foods and the environment. You can enjoy the benefits of an organic approach to gardening, whatever level works for you and your family.

Food and Drink, The Features, We Love Drinks

Hot Ticket: American Beer Classic @ RFK Stadium, 7/12/14

On Saturday, July 12, join the American Beer Classic at RFK Stadium. Prices for this beer festival will go up after midnight Thursday.

The American Beer Classic will feature about 100 different breweries and roughly 500 different beers.

For $65, you can buy a general admission ticket for one four-hour beer tasting session from 6-10pm.

For $95, you can buy a VIP ticket for an extra hour of beer tasting 5-10pm. The VIP session includes priority access to education sessions (details of which are coming soon).

You also can purchase a “designated driver” ticket for $25, and check out the festival without the beer samples. Designated drivers get access to a Designated Driver Lounge with food and nonalcoholic beverages.

After midnight Thursday, prices go up although tickets will still be available.

Breweries include Dogfish Head, Abita, Atlas Brew Works, Elysian Brewing, Green Flash, Heavy Seas, Moylan’s, Sam Adams, Schlafly, Uinta, and many others!

American Beer Classic
RFK Stadium
Saturday, July 12
GA Doors @6pm
VIP Doors @5pm
21+ to drink

Food and Drink, The Features, We Love Drinks

We Love Drinks: SAVOR Craft Beer Experience @ National Building Museum — 5/9/14

Jim Koch of Boston Beer Co. elaborates during his salon.

Jim Koch of Boston Beer Co. elaborates during his salon.

Jim Koch, the founder and brewer of the Boston Beer Co., led a room full of beer aficionados through describing the flavor notes in a batch of Sam Adams Triple Bock from 1994.

“It’s a beer that’s almost old enough to drink itself,” Koch quipped as he likened the taste of the sugary, complex beer to a port.

Koch regaled the audience with tales of his rare beers, including how the Triple Bock (which evolved into Sam Adams Utopia) became the first beer to break 14 percent alcohol by volume (ABV) due to an epiphany he had in a Home Depot. Basically, he thought, if the companies responsible for bourbon barrels were releasing the used barrels to garden stores for use as planters, why could his brewery not purchase them and use them for aging beer?

Previously, many brewers thought combining techniques for beer and liquor would prove to be illegal in the United States. But a quick trip to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) in D.C. paved the way for that to happen, and a brewing revolution began. Have you heard of Booze Up that offers 24 Hour Cigarette delivery at your door within just 30 minutes.

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Special Events, The Features, We Love Arts

National Geographic Live – May/June 2013

NGS Picture ID:1034497

The first American team ascends Mount Everest in 1963. (Photo courtesy National Geographic)

National Geographic Live’s spring programming winds down in May with several great events. As usual, our friends at the National Geographic Museum are offering two pairs of tickets to our readers. To be considered for the random drawing, enter your name and which two events you’d most like to see in the comments area. On Tuesday, April 30 at noon we’ll draw two names and get you set up with one of your chosen events. (Note that there are two events listed below that are ineligible for the drawing; the evening with Buzz Aldrin and the Beer Tasting.)

For those unable to attend these great programs, you can now view them online a few days after the live event. All programs are at the Grosvenor Auditorium at the National Geographic Museum on 17 and M Street, NW; parking is free for program attendees after 6 pm.

Isabel Allende: A Portrait in Sepia ($22)
May 1, 7:30 pm
Spend an evening with one of the world’s greatest writers when Isabel Allende, author of The House of the Spirits and most recently Portrait in Sepia, comes to National Geographic. A Chilean author whose books established her as a feminist force in Latin America’s male-dominated literary world, Allende spins stories of family, politics, and human rights that transfix audiences. She’ll converse with National Geographic Traveler’s Don George, editor of the new travel anthology, Better Than Fiction: True Travel Tales from Great Fiction Writers, which features her work.

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Food and Drink, Homebrewing, The Features

Homebrew DC: White House Homebrew

White House Homebrew! Party on, Mr. President!

I have been avoiding this topic on purpose. First, it’s that ugly political season and this is not a political issue. Partisan politics is good at driving people apart and beer is good at bringing them together. Whatever ills arise between people can often be soothed by a draught of beer and a cup of merriment. In fact, beer is so intertwined into the fabric of our nation that it cannot be neatly undone and cast aside. Beer is part and parcel of the American dream, a beverage whose roots are democratic, thus serving as a microcosm through which to view our nation, preferably while staring through the bottom of an upturned glass.

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Food and Drink, Homebrewing, The Features

Homebrew DC: Classic American Pilsner

Photo courtesy of Tony DeFilippo
courtesy of Tony DeFilippo

My homebrewing club  at Kena Shriners was asked to make a batch of beer for another club, and was given little direction on what type of homebrew recipe I should use. We did a little reconnaissance work and learned that this other club loves light lagers such as Bud Light, so I decided to make something similar enough that they would be familiar with it, but also different enough that it would be a bit more interesting than their usual brews.

I got this recipe from Brew Your Own, which labeled it “Your Father’s Mustache.” I have adapted the recipe a bit to accommodate for my timeframe and equipment. Specifically, I am using an ale yeast because I need the beer to be done and in a keg in a little more than a month. Making a true pilsner takes a bit longer than an ale because it requires a lager yeast, which ferments slowly, and at a low temperature.

I will be serving this beer on Monday at a Memorial Day cookout. If you go to the Falls Church Memorial Day Parade and see those guys in the little cars, they are the ones who requested this special brew. They will have it after the parade, mind you, so go enjoy all your fine fezzed friends driving their precision patterns.

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Food and Drink, Homebrewing, The Features

Homebrew DC: Dry Stout Recipe

Photo courtesy of Bernt Rostad
Mikkeller Beer Geek Brunch Weasel
courtesy of Bernt Rostad

This is another in a series of articles about homebrewing in the DC area by Carl Weaver of Want to learn about making your own beer? Keep an eye out for Friday homebrew features.

If you are like me and are a big Guinness fan, you may have toyed with the idea of trying to craft your own black brew. If you have, then good news: stouts are easy! This homebrew recipe is exactly what you are looking for.

Stouts are mostly associated with England and Ireland and are offshoots of Porters. As Porter styles evolved, the thicker and more robust Porters began to be referred to as “Stout Porters.” Eventually, the Stout developed into its own style and gained a devoted following.

In general, Stouts are very dark to black in color and have a roasty flavor. The hop flavor and aroma are minimal, though there are a few style exceptions with a pronounced hop presence such as the Imperial or Russian Stout. Stout styles can range from dry to sweet, relatively low to high alcohol content, vary from light to heavy bodied, and may have a hint of fruity esters.

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Food and Drink, Homebrewing, The Features

Homebrew DC: Bacon Beer, a Stout Lover’s Breakfast

Photo courtesy of Samer Farha
Black Thai
courtesy of Samer Farha

This is another in a series of articles about homebrewing in the DC area by Carl Weaver of Want to learn about making your own beer? Keep an eye out for Friday homebrew features.

Not so long ago, @brew_thusiast tweeted his disappointment with a particular homebrew bacon beer, saying that it was a decent enough brown ale but lacked the bacon flavor that would make it the draw it should have been. This got me thinking about bacon beer. Is it really good or too good to be true? The promise is great – a smoky, meaty, maybe salty brew that could be a good accompaniment for your eggs, rashers, and black pudding, or whatever you like to have for breakfast. You do like black pudding, don’t you?

It would have to be a stout or porter, is my guess. Bacon is a heavy meat, and most pairing guides suggest putting rich drinks with rich foods. A heavy beer would be best, for sure. Continue reading


The Environmental Impact of Kegging vs. Bottling

Vessels by AdamLogan

This is the first in a series of articles about homebrewing in the DC area by Carl Weaver of Want to learn about making your own beer? Keep an eye out for Friday homebrew features.

I read on that a life cycle assessment study was done that showed that the environmental impact of kegged beer was 68% lower than that of bottled beer. Most of the impact is due to packaging differences and how people get their beer.

Kegging has much less environmental waste than bottling. Bottling beer requires heavy glass containers that only sometimes are returned for refill, bottle caps that are useless once removed, and lots of gas spent transporting everything both to the store and then to your home. Kegged beer has a lighter package per volume, which means less gas cost, and the keg is always returned for reuse. Really – when have you bought a keg of beer and decided to throw it away after it was empty? Bars and restaurants are the same way. They return those empty buggers to get their deposits back.

This study only looked at a commercially produced beer, and in part of Europe where people likely have more draft beer at bars than Americans tend to, with all of our bottled choices at the bars we frequent. While the disparity in environmental impact is likely still great here in the States, the differences in how we consume beer might have to be examined.

The environmental impact for kegged beer is probably pretty close to bottled beer for homebrewers, I would guess. We are almost fanatical about collecting and reusing bottles. It’s not that we are all tree huggers, but that bottles are expensive if you have to buy them. They are still heavier than kegs by volume, and require crown caps, which get discarded, but I suspect the difference in impact between the two methods is minimal for homebrewers.

On the other hand, if kegging is more environmentally friendly, maybe that is a good argument to invest in a kegging system. Do you like the beers you make? They will taste even better off the tap. Trust me – once you go keg, you never go back. First thing first, though — start brewing, then eventually work your way to a keg. Big Daddy will help you do it.

Originally published at

Beer Bottles by AdamLogan.

Arlington, The Features, We Love Drinks

We Love Drinks: The 1K Beer Walk

Photo courtesy of jcm_DC
courtesy of jcm_DC

If you’ve ever wanted to run a marathon but worry about whether your beer gut will slow you down, Washington Wine Academy‘s DC School of Beer has a perfect solution: the Beer Walk!

The beer walk took place last Saturday and Sunday – a week after the wine walk – in the underground maze of the Crystal City Shops. Both “Beer Walk” and “Wine Walk” are pretty self-explanatory.

After you sign in and show ID, you pick up your race number, t-shirt, glass, and drink tickets. With twenty tickets and generous pours, a $20-$35 ticket (depending on the day/time of the heat you sign up for) will get you feeling pretty good – especially if it’s only 2pm when you start, like it was for me.

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Food and Drink, The Daily Feed

Free Beer Tastings at Acqua al 2

Courtesy of ThreeLockharts Public Relations

So many things, all wonderful and joyous, come to mind when I think of beer. So what better way to ease back into your week after Thanksgiving with some complimentary beer tastings?

Acqua Al 2 in Eastern Market is kicking off their new beer program with a week of free Italian craft beer tastings at the bar from 5:30 PM til 7 PM on November 28th til December 1st. Acqua Al 2 has more than 13 Italian microbrews available by bottle or on draft, including Moretti, Torbatta, Strada San Felice and more.

If one week isn’t enough, you can make a reservation for their Italian Craft Beer Dinner on December 5th at 7 PM. To secure a spot at the dinner, call the restaurant at 202-525-4375 or email Ralph at

Cheers, everyone.

Food and Drink, The Daily Feed

Only Twenty Kegs in the World. DC Gets One.

Photo courtesy of
‘Brasserie Cantillon’
courtesy of ‘mersy’

The annual release of Cantillon’s Zwanze is quite an event amongst the cult of beer nerds. The very limited edition beer, different each year, is debuted – and usually sells out almost instantly. If you see beer heads lying on the ground outside of ChurchKey this Friday night, it is (probably) not because they drank too much – but rather because they are camped out to be first in line for Saturday’s tapping.

After years of bottles being scalped for huge sums, the Cantillon folks have decided to make the 2011 Zwanze a keg-only release. All the kegs in the world – and there are only twenty of them – are to be simultaneously tapped. Then, when it sells out, it sells out. No secondary market.

The moment of the simultaneous tapping works out favorably for us in the Eastern time zone – 3pm on Saturday the 17th. For the one keg going to Japan (Beer Brasserie Dolphins Temabashi in Osaka), however, a bit less so.

ChurchKey will be open for usual Saturday brunch service starting at noon with glasses of Zwanze becoming available at 3:00. Another beer from Cantillon, Iris, will also be available on draft.

Food and Drink

DC Beer Week 2011 Starts This Sunday

Photo courtesy of
courtesy of ‘furcafe’

If you notice a flurry of beer related activity in the coming week – perhaps roving bands of brewers walking the streets – the third annual DC Beer Week is likely the reason. From August 14 to 21, spots around the city will host events including tastings, meet-the-brewer nights, pairing dinners, and the breaking open of rare and special beers. The week will see the debut party for DC’s newest commercial brewery, Chocolate City, as well as the releasing of other new beers and those not often available in this area.

As Jeff Wells, the co-founder and co-organizer of the event states, “DC Beer Week is a celebration of craft beer culture in Washington, DC and the people who make it, the places that serve it and the people who drink it. [It] is a unique opportunity to discover the flavors of Craft Beer and to celebrate its role in DC’s diverse restaurant and nightlife scene.”
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Food and Drink, Special Events, The Features, We Love Drinks

Drinks Special: SAVOR

SAVOR 2011. Photo courtesy of the Brewers Association. Photo credit: Eddie Arrossi.

Greetings from the morning treadmill, where I get to recover from the decadence that was this weekend’s “SAVOR – American Craft Beer & Food Experience” event. With 144 different brews from 72 craft breweries, the extravaganza put smiles on 2,000 very happy visitors to the spaciously inviting National Building Museum in downtown Washington, DC on June 3 & 4, 2011.

Each of the star-spangled craft brews – from pilsner to stout, singles to quads – were paired with a delectable selection of culinary creations to complement each work of liquid art.  The food pairings on Friday night were succulent enough to almost steal the show (strangely, Saturday’s food wasn’t as well done and disappeared early), but undoubtedly the stars of the night shined brightly in their gently swirled tasting glasses.

Some guests performed some advance research, like Brian from Washington.  In addition to a checklist of his previous favorites, he came prepared with a list of must try selections, especially a host of India Pale Ales. “I checked a few local blogs and went to a few of the brewer sites,” he said.  Amanda from Ballston also visited some of the brewery web sites when she bought her ticket, “but it was a long time ago, and the actual beers weren’t known then, so it was like a surprise tonight.”  My bet is that most guests were like Shawn from Bethesda, who was “just here for a great time!”

Fortunately, for the first time, this year’s 4th annual event added a second night to create even more first impressions.  Unfortunately, the over 1,700 gallons of brews on display could only be sampled with an advance purchase ticket – offered months ago. No wonder the event sold out in less than a day!  Before heading out the door, I signed up for the mailing list to be notified of advance sales for next year’s event.  I’d suggest the same for you.

Some of my observations (with some actual quotes heard around the venue):
“This pilsner tastes nothing like Miller Lite, Toto.”
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Food and Drink, The Features, We Love Drinks

We Love Drinks: Nahem Simon

Nahem Simon

We Love Drinks continues our series where we look behind the bar, profiling the many people – from mixologists to bartenders, sommeliers to publicans – who make your drinks experience happen.

I swing open the hefty, wide birch door on a cool, clear Sunday evening in March, ascend the metal staircase, and enter into a narrow but deep room, filled with lively chatter and the aromas of sweet and sour beer and freshly-cleaned tap lines. I take a seat at the bar and am immediately approached by one of the bartenders. He reaches out to shake my hand.

“Good evening, Bill! Great to see you. How’s everything going, buddy?”

That’s Nahem Simon, and this is ChurchKey, the acclaimed beer bar brother to its downstairs sister Birch & Barley in Logan Circle. Much has been written on this relatively recent addition to the DC nightlife scene, and if you’re a beer geek you’ve surely heard of Greg Engert, the famed beer director of the two restaurants. But, you may not have heard of Nahem, who on almost any given day can be found pouring one of their 50 taps, hand-pumping a cask ale, or wiping down the bar in a move he calls “the Zamboni.”

Nahem plays Greg’s right-hand man; while Greg researches beers, hosts tastings, and appears in the media as the face of ChurchKey, Nahem’s running the show behind the bar. The two have been close friends for several years and their collective enthusiasm toward craft beer has helped permanently transform DC’s beer scene.

I settle in at the bar as Nahem pours me a glass. He introduces me to some fellow patrons: another ChurchKey bartender off-duty, relaxing with his girlfriend and enjoying a hockey game on the flat screens over the taps, and a general manager of a local restaurant who has stopped in after a busy weekend. Soon, Nahem finds a moment to step out from behind the bar, and we take a seat in the secluded lounge area near the back of the room to talk. Continue reading

Food and Drink, The Daily Feed, The District

DC Is a (Self-Imported) Beer Town

‘Den mörke härskaren’
courtesy of ‘awtyeah’

We’ve covered this ground before: DC makes it pretty easy to import alcoholic beverages legally. Tom (with my help) looked at how the law applies to individuals, and now the City Paper’s Young & Hungry blog has covered the commercial side of things. The short version of the rules as they apply to business: pay a reasonable fee, register the purchase, pay the taxes, and you’re good to go. The question is, with rules that lax, why would anybody break them?

How did this come to be? I’ve long suspected that the rules were first engineered by congressmen who wanted to be able to support the distillers, brewers, and vintners in their jurisdictions (although they’re not known for having much trouble breaking their own rules). I think since then the incentives have become all too clear. DC is a small enough market that distributors don’t have enough economy of scale to operate profitably, and the perpetually short-staffed DC government would rather make it easy to comply and pay taxes, instead of having to fund enforcement. Their budget constraints are our gain. Prosit!

Food and Drink, Special Events, The Features, We Love Drinks

Drinks Special: Birch & Barley’s Beer & Whiskey

Birch & Barley/ChurchKey beer and whisky tasting

Last week, Birch & Barley hosted their first-ever beer and whiskey tasting. At the helm was the inimitable Greg Engert to guide the evening’s attendees through three different beers and three different whiskies, one of each presented on its own, and then two of each paired together.

While I’ve had several meals at Birch & Barley and have spent too much time upstairs at ChurchKey, I had not yet attended one of Birch & Barley’s tastings or beer dinners so I wasn’t sure what to expect—in its format, presentation, guidance, sociability—but based on my past experiences with the brother-sister venues and the heavy promotion the tasting received, I figured it would be worthwhile. By the conclusion of the event, it had certainly met expectations—I left better educated, with a few new acquaintances, and with a pleasant buzz.

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Featured Photo

Featured Photo

Shirlington Oktoberfest by Amber Wilkie Photography

A photograph often evokes emotion in those that view it, however it isn’t necessarily the same emotion for everyone.  More than likely your soul is aglow with happiness as you look at this guy enjoying a beer on a sunny afternoon, wearing funny overalls and a smile that is no doubt a reflection of his lubricated contentment.  Yet I only feel deep sorrow, as I attended the real Oktoberfest celebration in Munich several weeks ago and am forced to draw comparisons.  To begin with the obvious, I’m sad that I’m now sitting behind a desk rather than visiting museums, strolling through the vast English Garden, and eating every imaginable type of pork product.  Not only do I feel sorry for myself, but I feel bad for the beer in this man’s hand.  It looks lonely and cheated as it should be surrounded by more beer in a much bigger mug.  I feel sorry for his arm as it should be getting tired from lifting a much heavier Maßkrug, and for his liver as it should be processing much more beer (likely of better quality).  I feel sorry for his ears which should be ringing from a nearby band and the loud singing of his drunken friends.  And his eyes?  His poor eyes.  They should be well distracted by beautiful girls packed into their dirndls.  Now if you’ll please excuse me, I’m going to go cry in my currywurst.