Food and Drink, Night Life, The Features, We Love Drinks

We Love Drinks: Biergarten Haus

Photo courtesy of
‘people watching soccer’
courtesy of ‘philliefan99′

Biergarten Haus is on the defensive.  They’re still sore from the reaming Tom Sietsema gave them in the Post (having your food described as “a lethal weapon” always hurts), and there’s a certain measure of bitterness amongst the staff against the Yelpers for their similarly worded reviews criticizing, amongst other things, the service. To me, Biergarten Haus isn’t about the food or the waiters, it’s about the beer. And how is the beer?  Well, it’s better than the food or the waiters. It’s not the best, but it’s good enough.

Biergarten Haus is the latest and greatest nightlife phenomena in DC.  It seems like one comes along every year or so, and Washingtonians pack the place out and make it impossible to find a seat on the weekends.  Last year it was Churchkey, this year it’s Biergarten. It’s a blessing and a curse.  The broader neighborhood benefits from the patronage that is turned away at the door for lack of space.  The patrons themselves face the frustration of massive crowds, slow service and lack of seating.

The beer garden was hyped and highly anticipated before it even opened its doors.  After a series of delays and extended soft openings, the DC citizenry was practically clamoring to get inside to experience the Biergarten for themselves.  When the establishment finally did open in June, it was rough, to say the least. If you came after 6, there were no seats.  If you happened to get a table, you where crammed in with literally hundreds of other people.  The staff was too small, the service was too slow and people generally left disenchanted. Continue reading

The Daily Feed

Beer + Baked Goods + Charity = Delicious Way to Spend a Saturday

Here’s an idea about how to spend the National Day of Service on Saturday: drink beer and eat cookies for a good cause. Adams Mill Bar & Grill will be hosting a Beer & Bake Sale from 1-4 PM on Saturday to benefit Share our Strength, which is a locally-based nonprofit that fights child hunger.  And not only will there be cookies, brownies, and cupcakes, but Adams Mill will also be offering drink specials throughout the afternoon.  So head out to Adams Mill on Saturday, watch some college football, eat some delicious baked goods, and know that you’re doing your part to end child hunger.

Food and Drink, Night Life, Special Events, The Daily Feed

Southampton Beer Dinner

Photo courtesy of
‘Southampton Cuvée des Fleurs’
courtesy of ‘Bernt Rostad’

I’m a sucker for beer dinners.  Call me a fan boy, but I’m a genuine believer that beer and food were made to be paired.  That’s why I pass on to you, dear reader, any scoop I get on one that’s happening in the near future.  I happen to have such a scoop, now. Commonwealth Gastropub in Columbia Heights is hosting a dinner highlighting the beers of New York based Southampton Publik House. Southampton is a fairly recent addition to the DC beer scene and makes a wide variety of regional styles.  Commonwealth is featuring their IPA, Double White, Altbier and Cuvee de Fleurs.  I’m particularly excited about the Double White, a Belgian Wit, that is supposed to be one of Southampton’s best offerings.  Along with the beer, Commonwealth is offering a four course meal to compliment each beer.  The menu includes a red grapefruit salad, mussels, grilled pork, and ricotta in honey.  The event is tomorrow at 6:30 and will run you $45.

Food and Drink, The Features, We Green DC, We Love Drinks

We Love Drinks: Beer that Loves DC – Part 1

Photo courtesy of
‘Jeff Hancock and Brandon Skall’
courtesy of ‘Samer Farha’

“We’re quitting our jobs, next week,” Brandon Skall tells me. I look over at his business partner, Jeff, who smiles wryly. “From here on out, it’s all DC Brau.” Maybe it’s a crazy thing to do. Starting a business in the best of times is tough, but in this economy it’s especially risky. Still, Brandon and Jeff don’t seem worried, which inspires a certain confidence.

“How do your wives feel about it?” I ask, noticing wedding rings on their fingers.

“They’re scared shitless, but they’re excited,” Jeff Hancock replies. “That’s how I knew this was a good idea.” Both men smile, lean back in their chairs and sip their beers. It’s one of the hotter days in late June and we’re sweating it out on the back porch of Little Miss Whiskey’s, talking about their start-up brewery, DC Brau.

Continue reading

The Daily Feed

Beer Lovers Rejoice!

Photo courtesy of
‘the cask’
courtesy of ‘volcanojw’

Great news for those who love a good beer: a second Rustico is opening in the area soon, and this one will be Metro-accessible!  DC Metrocentric reports that the restaurant is slated to open at the end of August in Ballston at 4075 Wilson Blvd near Ballston Common Mall.  ARLnow reports that this Rustico will feature 400 bottled beers, 40 beers on tap, and two cask-conditioned ales, along with the great pizzas and hearty food that Rustico is known for.  Now here’s hoping Rustico’s excellent Oktoberfest and Festivus celebrations will take advantage of this convenient new location.

The Features, The Great Outdoors, We Love Drinks

We Love Drinks: Memorial Day BBQ

Photo courtesy of
‘Beer and burger’
courtesy of ‘Magnus D’

I hope that you’ll grill this weekend. To me, that’s what Memorial Day is all about. I don’t dream of stepping on any family tradition or intruding in any masculine domain by suggesting what you should grill and how you should grill it. That’s counter productive, in my mind. Besides, I’m no grill master, myself. I’ll leave that to better and braver souls. I want to talk to you about what you should drink this weekend. It’s easy just to run out to the grocery and pick up a 12 pack of Bud Light and some cheap white wine for your Memorial Day bar-b-que. In fact, that’s probably what most of America will do on Monday, but most of America won’t enjoy their tasty beverage nearly as much as you will, oh informed reader that follows my advice. Continue reading

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

Drinks Smackdown! Beer vs. Wine 2

Photo courtesy of
‘Glorious Cheese’
courtesy of ‘Jenn Larsen’

When last we met for an epic drinks smackdown back in March, fellow WLDC author Kirk and I had our preconceived notions of which paired better with food – wine or beer – challenged and in some cases totally overthrown. I left with a heightened appreciation for beer and a fascination with the subject of food pairings. So when I was invited to attend National Geographic Live’s A Come to Cheeses Moment: Wine vs. Beer event, where beer and wine would duke it out over best pairing with cheese, it took little to convince me.

Wouldn’t you know that earlier in the day I was advised to kick the dairy habit for two weeks thanks to suspected lactose intolerance (my reaction? censored!). So my second drinks smackdown fittingly became farewell to my beloved cheese. Forgive me then if this reads more as an ode to cheese than to drinks! Sigh. I inhaled deeply as I entered the Grosvenor Auditorium at the National Geographic headquarters, redolent with the stinky glorious aroma, ready to say good-bye.

It was a packed house, and we were incredibly lucky in our three distinguished (and humorous) presenters – Steven Jenkins, Joshua Wesson and Nick Funnell. Both Jenkins and Wesson are regular on NPR’s The Splendid Table – Jenkins is the first American to win the prestigious title Chevalier du Taste Fromage and Wesson is the author of Red Wine With Fish and a top sommelier, having opened Best Cellars in 1996. Funnell is the brewmaster for the Great American Restaurants chain and a winner at the Great American Beer Festival. They had an amazing depth of knowledge that I can’t hope to replicate, but I’ll try to give you a taste.

All of the cheese served was from raw milk, and Jenkins did point out that he had chosen obscure cheeses which might be difficult for us to get ourselves (you’ve just been challenged!). The price point of the wine was very reasonable, Wesson indicated, around $15 a bottle. Funnell had picked all local beers at roughly $7 a pint.

So let’s dive in! Continue reading

Food and Drink, The Daily Feed, We Love Drinks

Give me that Prohibition Beer

Photo courtesy of
‘Interior of saloon, Everett’
courtesy of ‘UW Digital Collections’

This is a shameful moment for me.  Coors, the brewer that brought us the swill that’s “as cold as the Rockies” has developed a beer that I’m a touch excited about.  Maybe excited is too strong a word.  I’m intrigued. Batch 19, a new lager from Coors, is being tested in DC at a few select locations.  The beer is modeled off of a pre-prohibition era recipe and promises “a bold hoppy flavor that is surprisingly well balanced.” DC is one of five cities in the country that Batch 19 is being shipped to, so, at the very least drinking it will be a unique experience.  As to the actual quality of the brew, I guess we’ll have to wait and see. You can get Batch 19 starting this month at Iron Horse, the Saloon, 18th Amendment and We the Pizza.

The Daily Feed

Cheers to Cherries

Photo courtesy of
‘Pretty in Pink [Explored]‘
courtesy of ‘kimberlyfaye’

Here’s an idea to get your DC spring weekend off to a good start: cherry beer.

Joining the list of 2010 cherry culinary delights is Cherry Blossom Fest from District Chophouse, first served last night at the Slow Beer Tasting put on by Slow Food DC and on tap for the next two weeks.

This ruby-red, slightly sweet creation is a filtered wheat ale made with a puree of real cherries — 294 pounds of cherries total, more than 1 pound per gallon.

Said Head Brewer Barrett Lauer, “This beer is a great beer to start off with, or end with, and has a delicate cherry aroma that compliments chocolate very nicely. It also tastes great with a touch of Oatmeal Stout in it.”

Two good beers at once? That’s a combination worth trying. Cheers to the cherry blossoms!

People, The Features, We Love Drinks

We Love Drinks: Thor Cheston

Photo courtesy of
‘Thor, Over Processed’
courtesy of ‘Samer Farha’

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.

When I sat down with Thor Cheston, the beer director at Brasserie Beck, our conversation centered on the future.  Not that I necessarily meant for this to happen, it just did.  Frankly, the future’s an exciting place.  The future is place where beer is wine’s equal (almost).  The future is a place where beer de cuisine is an art form.  The future is a place in which DC has a local brewery (!!!). Thor wants to be at the center of this future, making sure that everything happens according to plan.

Continue reading

Food and Drink, The Daily Feed, We Green DC, We Love Drinks

Friday Happy Hour: Guinness

Photo courtesy of
‘christmas eve’
courtesy of ‘volcanojw’

I know that St. Patrick’s Day isn’t until next week, but let’s be honest, it’s on your mind.  So, why drink anything other than Ireland’s finest: Guinness Stout. I don’t feel like I need to expound upon the flavor and richness of Guinness as I’m sure that everyone has tried it.  But, lest anyone fear that the upcoming holiday may contribute to growing waistlines, let me assure you that Guinness will not be the culprit.  It is a wonder beer, of sorts.  Despite it’s thick texture and powerful flavor, Guinness stout is actually very light.  It actually has fewer calories that Coca Cola.  In fact, there is evidence to suggest that may be healthy, if drunk in moderation.

Another fun fact: the great-great-great-grandson of Arthur Guinness is a local.  Os Guinness, who is a prolific author/critic/theologian lives in McClean.  So, this weekend drink for your health, drink for our local Guinness family member, and most of all, drink for St. Paddy’s Day.

Alexandria, Food and Drink, The Features, We Love Drinks

Drinks Smackdown! Beer vs. Wine

Remnants of Beer vs. Wine

Remnants of Beer vs. Wine, by Jenn Larsen on Flickr

Thor Cheston is the beer director for Brasserie Beck, while Leah Dedmon is the wine director for BRABO. They may both work for Robert Wiedmaier (Rammy’s Chef of the Year last June), but they are passionate rivals on the merits of beer vs. wine, especially when it comes to which will pair best with food.

Oh, they’re also engaged.

Fellow WLDC author Kirk and I aren’t engaged. We aren’t even really rivals, he just happens to be partial to beer while I prefer cocktails. But we are committed to bringing you the very best in drinks! So when we learned Thor and Leah would be going head-to-head in a battle to prove whether beer or wine would win as best for food pairings, we jumped. Four courses crafted by Robert Wiedmaier, paired by Leah and Thor with both wine and beer? There was even a tie-breaker course! It’s a rough life, but we suffered for you.

Most importantly, the loser of this ancient struggle has to do the other’s laundry for a month (that would be Thor or Leah, not Kirk or I!). Along the way we learned a lot about interesting ways to do food pairings with different types of beer and wine. All took place Wednesday night over at Wiedmaier’s “foodie trifecta” partnership with Kimpton’s Lorien Hotel & Spa in Old Town, Alexandria – BRABO, the Tasting Room, and the Butcher’s Block.

It was a tough crowd of fervent wine and beer lovers. So let’s kick this battle off with some oysters, a strong golden ale, and a chablis…. Continue reading

Food and Drink, The Daily Feed, We Love Drinks

Friday Happy Hour: Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier

Photo courtesy of
courtesy of ‘yto’

Welcome to the Friday Happy Hour, your single drink primer for the weekend.

I’ve been trying to come up with some sort of seasonal or circumstantial justification for recommending the Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier, but I really can’t.  The best thing I can think of is that you might die tomorrow and it would be a real shame if you went to your grave without trying this beer. The Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier is a wheat beer hailing from the Weihenstephan brewery of Bavaria (supposedly the oldest in the world). It’s consistently rated as the best hefewizen in the world and packs an enormous amount of complexity and flavor.  It bears notes of lemon and clove with strong overtones of banana from the acids produced by the particular style of yeast used during the fermentation process.  It’s sweet and refreshing, with a medium body and lingering finish.  Typically, you’d drink this style of beer during warmer weather, but it’s definitely worth having today.  You can find it at Little Miss Whiskey’s Golden Dollar on H St., or at Total Wine and More.

The Daily Feed, WMATA, WTF?!

Getting Home

Photo courtesy of

courtesy of ‘Chris Rief aka Spodie Odie’

So, I’m at work.  I decided to skip the trains and made it in with little hassle via Metrobus.  But, now I’m starting to worry about the commute home.  Granted, it’s still five hours off, but thinking about the mess that the Metro has been this morning makes me wonder if I should even bother trying to get out of the city.  I might just hunker down with a beer somewhere and wait this whole situation out.  Things should be resolved by 8ish, right?

The Daily Feed, We Green DC

Time for a Beer

Photo courtesy of
courtesy of ‘oparrish’

Update: This event has been canceled due to snow. Still looking for some liquid courage to see you through the storm? Join the crew for a happy hour at the downstairs bar at bread & brew from 5-7 p.m.

Even beer can be made better — made organically, that is. But what is organic beer, really?

This Friday, get the lowdown from Tim Adams, co-owner of Peak Organic. He’ll explain what an organic brew really is and how it’s brewed. And then you can sample its bubbly wonders yourself.

The DC Green Connection and Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) are partnering for this special networking event, which will bring together SAIS masters students and alumni and DC-area residents interested in going green.

Come from 5 to 9 p.m. to the Johns Hopkins University Student Auditorium, 1740 Mass Ave, NW.

I hope they save a nut brown ale for me.

Alexandria, Food and Drink, The Daily Feed

Friday Happy Hour: Founders’ Dirty Bastard

Photo courtesy of
courtesy of ‘tinney’

Welcome to the Friday Happy Hour, your single drink primer for the weekend.

On icy weekends, such as the one we’re facing, you can’t stand for a cool, fruity, refreshing drink.  It just doesn’t fit.  Instead, you need something warm and robust that will ward off the cold; something that you can sip so that the warmth lingers for as long as possible.  There are a few beverages that accomplish this, but I’m going to recommend Founders’ Dirty Bastard Scotch Ale.  This stuff is powerful, with an 8.5%ABV and a thick texture.  The flavor is complex and malty, with a sweet, smoky overtone.  It’s a perfect example of a scotch ale, just one step lighter than a stout, both in color and character. Beware, though, this Michigan brewed beauty is not for the faint of heart, and definitely not a beginners beer.  Rustico in Alexandria should have it on tap, or you can find bottles in most specialty wine shops.

Food and Drink, People, The Features, We Love Drinks

We Love Drinks: Greg Engert

Photo courtesy of
‘Beer Master Greg Engert’
courtesy of ‘snapzdc’

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.

Greg Engert views the world through the bottom of a beer glass. This is not a statement on his sobriety, but rather the lens through which he has chosen to focus his profession and personal interest. Greg is the beer director for the Neighborhood Restaurant Group, owners of Rustico and the new, wildly popular ChurchKey and Birch and Barley restaurants near Thomas Circle. He researches beers, meets with brewers, manages his stock of beverages, and has the final say on anything beer related at Neighborhood restaurants. Sounds like a dream job, right? Well, I’m not going to lie. It is a dream job, but that doesn’t make it easy, and Greg certainly isn’t one to rest on the laurels of his title.

Continue reading

Food and Drink, The Daily Feed

Friday Happy Hour

Photo courtesy of
‘spruce goose’
courtesy of ‘rabid_c’

Welcome to the first ever Friday Happy Hour, your weekly, single-drink primer.

In the Christmas spirit, I’m going to recommend a beer the bears the taste of the season.  Well, it bears the taste of your Christmas tree, anyways.  Spruce Goose, by Steamworks Brewing Co., is a strong ale brewed with spruce tips.  As you can imagine, the beer has a distinct pine flavor, which evokes the vestiges of the Christmas season like none other.  The ale is balanced and fruity, with subtle yet distinct overhang of spruce.  The pine is prevailing flavor, but it’s not over powering such that you get a full, complex range of flavors as you sip the beer.

It can be had from Rick’s Wine and Gourmet in Alexandria, as well as at other specialty shops in the area (readers: be so kind as to report sightings).

Food and Drink, Fun & Games, Life in the Capital, Special Events, The Daily Feed, The Great Outdoors

Saloon Flea Market

Photo courtesy of
‘The Saloon, U Street’
courtesy of ‘Jenn Larsen’

Commy, owner of the Saloon, is hosting a flea market this Sunday at his famed, U St. pub.  He promises to offer “many unique items” for sale, the proceeds from which will benefit his international school building efforts.  On top of the interesting goods and the worthy cause, the Saloon will be offering $2 off its selection of excellent beers.  The market will run from 1pm-5pm and, contrary to normal Saloon rules, there will be a strict, no-sitting policy for the afternoon.  So, go out, enjoy a nice beer on what promises to be a lovely fall afternoon and support school construction in developing nations.