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Archive for the ‘Bar/Restaurant Reviews’ Category

As you’ll recall, in a previous post, I gathered up some of the fine beers I’d had at Fire Works to retaste and review them, because I didn’t have my camera on me at the time. Well, last night we returned to Fire Works, and this time I had my little point-and-shoot camera in tow. I didn’t take my big ol’ Canon, so the quality of these isn’t going to be up to par. But I did want to capture what we drank there, and have a camera that would be easy for our server to use to snap a picture of us. This is because there was a very special reason for this outing…well, actually, in all honesty, maybe 50% of it was because we’d been eating out all weekend and had no groceries in the house…but part of that was also due to the other 50% of the reason we were there….Dan and I were celebrating our engagement!

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Woohoo! I’ve got a beautiful sapphire ring on my finger now and we’re getting married in September ūüôā

Anyhow, we’d had a big celebration with both our families a few hours after the engagement (Sunday night), but hadn’t had a chance to have a private little celebration, just the two of us. So we decided to go to Fire Works, and toast with some most excellent beers and chow down on the only pizza Dan has ever gotten excited about.

Anyhow, the place was hoppin’ even on a Monday night, so we took our 20-minute-wait to the bar and started out with the daily firkin.

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We each ordered one of that day’s cask selections: I got the Oliver Brewery ESB and Dan got Bell’s Kalamazoo Stout.

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It was quite delish. It tasted like a creamy, slightly hoppy amber ale, almost. I’m sure the creaminess came, at least in part, from the cask conditioning, and the slightly warmer temperature of it, along with that thick foamy feel, was perfect on a freezing night. Apparently Oliver Breweries/Pratt Street Alehouse is right over in Baltimore. And somehow I never knew this. Must make a day trip there sometime!

Afterwards, over an appetizer of acorn squash tempura (which sadly, went unphotographed, but it was incredible), we decided to split a flight. This one was called the “Bittersweet Nothings” flight and it featured (from left to right) Bell’s Two Hearted IPA, Flying Dog Simcoe, Allagah Tripel, and Delirium Tremens.

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All were awesome, but my favorites were the Simcoe and the Tripel. I won’t do a formal review because I wasn’t taking notes and really would need to taste them again to pick out specific tastes and flavors (though I do remember remarking that the Simcoe had some sort of herbal or woody scent/taste to it, like juniper or pine). But just know that they were good. And some were bitter (Two-Hearted IPA, Simcoe), while some had a touch of sweetness (Tripel, Delirium Tremens).

And the icing on the cake? Pizza leftovers.

"The French Connection": white sauce, brie, apples, chicken, roasted onions, prosciutto, tomatoes, & dijon cream

"The Black Sheep": local lamb sausage, marinated tomatoes, spinach, feta, red onions, organic tomato sauce, & balsamic glaze

So there you have it. Cheers, everyone!

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This past Friday evening was spent at the Brickskeller, a Washington beer institution of the way-back-est degree. Listed in the Guinness Book of Records as having the largest selection of commercially available beer of any bar in the world (hovering somewhere slightly above 1,000 options on the menu), the Brickskeller opened up in 1957 (with only 57 selections then) and was really the first DC establishment to propagate craft beer and bring local beers from all over this country- a plethora of others-, only regionally available around the site of their production, outside their tight geographic bounds.

I mean, where else can you drink a beer from Lithuania called “Lobster Lovers Beer” while sitting next to a guy drinking Viking beer from Iceland?

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Lobster Lovers (from RinkuŇ°iu Alaus Darykla in¬†BirŇĺai, Lithuania) was my second choice after the first beer I ordered, Werewolf (also from Lithuania, also chosen purely for its name), was out of stock. Honestly, I didn’t have my notebook with me and I was enjoying the moment and the company too much to have paid proper attention to the exact tastes and notes in my beer to write a proper review. I know it was 9.5% alcohol, light-colored but medium in body, full-flavored, and delicious.

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And it had a fantastic label:

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The reason we were at the Brickskeller Friday night was that that particular Friday night, December the 17th, was the last Friday the Brickskeller would be open as the Brickskeller. It closed after last night, and will reopen in the near future as “Rock Creek,” with a similar hole-in-the-wall, “down home saloon”-y type feel, and a focus on craft beer, but with a different name, different management, and a scaled down beer list.

Honestly, it might be a good thing in some respects. A pared down beer list will ensure that everything on it will actually be available (oftentimes you need to have second and third choices lined up when you order at the Brickskeller, because it’s just not feasible to keep each and every one of over 1,000 selections in stock all the time) and many feel that the Brickskeller was just old hat, stuck in the fact that it was an original 50 years ago, but has failed to keep abreast of the craft beer boom in the country over the last decade or so.

But you know what? The Brickskeller’s appeal lay beyond whether it was the biggest, best, most unique or most current provider. It was an institution, a piece of DC history that has seen half a century pass around it while celebrating, elevating, and serving us that which it was founded on: the incredible geographic and gustatory depth and breadth of the possibilities of beer. It was the first of its kind to do what it has done, and it has a place in many people’s hearts. The windowless, subterranean brick walls that made you feel as if you were in the warm belly of some saloon beast; the ancient bottles and cans lining every edge and corner of the bar; the come-as-you-are, no-frills feel that said “good beer is for everyone.”

From me to you, Brickskeller: enjoy retirement. You’ve certainly earned whatever pleasures await you next. I’ve heard Florida and Hawaii are nice the time of year. In the meantime, we’ll be missing you back here in the District.

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First things first, you may recall awhile back I announced my first success in the world of legit poetry: the literary journal Slow Trains was going to publish two of my poems in their fall issue. Well, the fall issue finally came out, and you can see my poems (and the fine work of other talented writers) here! My poems are “Spoonful” and “Midnight Movie” (look to the right).

Anyhow, in celebration of the fact that I am now, officially, a poet, Dan’s parents took us out to the Dogfish Head Alehouse in Falls Church for dinner (and beers, obviously). It’s the one of four locations closest to us, and let me tell you, we love it, but it is HOPPIN’ even on a random Tuesday night. Completely worth the wait though.

Here is a picture of Dan and I:

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OK, if you think the picture is poor quality, I apologize, but here’s where it was before that:

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And before that, the original picture:

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So I think I did a pretty OK job. Actually, seeing them together like that, I can’t decide if I like the first or second revision better.

Anyway, as usual, the food was fabulous. I have now had the ahi tuna, grilled salmon, shrimp tacos, chicken taquitos, buffalo chicken dip, crab dip, beef stew, and that night’s entree, the crab cakes, and all have been terrific. Also, I’ve discovered that leftover crab cake + English muffin + cream cheese = delicious breakfast. Why don’t I think to eat crab for breakfast more often??

Now, on the beer-front, I started out with the Punkin Ale, since it’s fall and I hadn’t had one yet this season! I’m finding that after awhile, it’s hard to describe what distinguishes one pumpkin ale from another. They all taste like pumpkin and fall spices, and while there are significant differences, it’s becoming a bit of a chore for me to try to pick out their individual qualities when I’m not tasting them side-by-side. I will just say that Dogfish Head’s take on the style is one of my favorites, and it’s a got a little more oomph at 7% ABV than most pumpkin ales, without being an imperial pumpkin ale.

I also tried some sips of Dan’s Chateau Jiahu, which claims to be reconstructed from the residue of what is so far the oldest fermented beverage known to man, discovered in an excavation in the village of Jiahu in northern China, and dating to 9,000 years ago. Unlike the doubts I had about the claims of Midas Touch’s origins, I actually remember hearing about this discovery when I was doing my archaeology field school in college, so I’m a little more apt to accept Chateau Jiahu’s hype. Now, Dan’s dad bought me a bottle of this as a congratulations present, so I want to save my thoughts on it for an official review, when we break out the bottle and I have an actual pour of it. But I will say this for now: it was very good. So good, in fact, that it prompted Dan’s mom, who normally doesn’t drink beer, to order one.

Now then, once we’d all finished our first round, we decided to splurge on the second (or, Dan’s dad insisted that we splurge on the second, because it was a celebration!), and bought a 750 ml bottle of one of Dogfish Head’s newest creations, Bitches Brew, to share. This is the bottle pictured in the photos above- and below.

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If Bitches Brew sounds like a Miles Davis album to you, you’re not crazy! In honor of the 40th anniversary of the release of Bitches Brew (the album), Dogfish Head released Bitches Brew (the beer). According to Dogfish Head’s website, Sam Calagione, founder of the brewery, was quite a fan of the album, “drawn to the alchemical spirits in Bitches Brew.” In Calagione’s words, “I listened to it when I was writing my Dogfish business plan. I wanted Dogfish Head to be a maniacally inventive and creative brewery, analog beer for the digital age. You could say that my dream was to have Dogfish Head, in some small way, stand for the same thing in the beer world that Bitches Brew stands for the jazz world.”

Bitches Brew the beer is 3/4 imperial stout, 1/4 honey beer, with some gesho root thrown in. I had to look up what gesho was, but when I did, I realized it’s what they mix with honey and ferment to make tej in Ethiopia. It’s similar to a hop, apparently. We were all pretty impressed with Bitches Brew. It’s rich and thick, and extremely roasty, almost to the point of being bitter (think like a roasted espresso bean- a toasted bitterness instead of a hop bitterness; after all, it’s only got an IBU of 34). Yet it’s still extremely smooth, and softened by that honey just enough so that everything works together and goes down easily. It’s intense, but not jarring; its loud roasts are tempered by just enough sweetness to hold it together and get it where it’s going. Much like Miles’ music:

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Shenan out!

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As you’ve probably guessed, I like to sample new beers (Gasp! Really?!) What you probably don’t realize is that I go to a lot more bars and restaurants than it probably looks like. In fact, my “By Bar/Restaurant” page is kind of sad; it’s only got three entries there. This is mostly because of two reasons: 1) when I go out to eat or drink, I oftentimes don’t think to bring my camera, and 2) I oftentimes don’t really like the idea of photographing my drinks while I’m out. I feel somewhat self-conscious about it, and don’t want any bartenders or servers who notice to feel like I’m looking to pick apart and rip into whatever they serve me. I also feel that the pressure to document and get perfect pictures can often take away from the experience of going out and enjoying that experience with others. And you’ve also probably figured out that I will simply not do a post without pictures.

So that’s why I thought that with this post, I’d revisit a couple beers at home that I’d had out at bars or restaurants recently but did not photograph or blog about.

First up is this guy:

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I had the Petrus Oud Bruin from Bavik Brewery on my birthday visit to ChurchKey in August. It’s a top-fermented dark ale (I’m assuming brown ale? Since the name translates to “Old Brown”?) aged in oak casks for 20 months. I remember liking it a lot at ChurchKey. Now to see how it pours at home!

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Mmmm. Delicious! I think I had the same thoughts this go-round as I did when I tried it on tap. For some reason, the oak taste doesn’t come through in this one. It may be aged for 20 months, but it doesn’t taste like it. HOWEVER! That’s perfectly OK, because this is still a very flavorful beer. To me, even though there’s no indication of this in any of the descriptions on the bottle¬†of its taste or production, it tastes like a sour ale or Flemish red ale. It’s got that same sour, tart-cherry taste but with the nuttiness of a brown ale. It’s a really interesting combination! The mix of nuttiness and sourness makes me want to pair it with some sort tangy and nutty Asian dish like kung pao chicken or fish in some sort of tamarind-based sauce topped with peanuts or cashews.

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Next up, I’d planned to relive my visit to a new craft brew and woodfired pizza joint in the Courthouse neighborhood of Arlington, Fire Works. First of all, let me just give Fire Works a rave review. Not only do they have a formidable selection of beer, their food is EXCELLENT. Dan, myself, and Dan’s dad shared the feta-stuffed lamb meatballs, the crispy duck salad, and two of their pizzas: the R.T. (pesto, salami, mozzarella, spinach, Cherry Glen goat cheese from right over in Maryland, roasted red peppers) and the Black Sheep (our favorite of the two, while both were excellent, with local lamb sausage, marinated tomatoes, red onion, organic tomato sauce, and balsamic glaze). Holy food-coma-inducing. We will be back!

Now then, what I said was that I’d planned to revisit my time at Fire Works with this beer:

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But it turns out that this was not, in fact, the beer I had there. The beer I had at Fire Works was Little Sumpin’ Wild Ale from Lagunitas. D’oh! Oh well! That review will just have to be saved for a different time. For now, I get a chance to review an entirely new beer!

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Nothing on this beer’s bottle says IPA, but it certainly resembles one. With an IBU of 64, it’s definitely hoppy enough to be one. But it’s also got a really interesting wheaty body. Almost as if they took a wheat ale and decided to ship it to India and up its hops to survive the long journey by boat. I’d previously tried the designated IPA from Lagunitas, and this definitely matches its hoppiness- maybe even surpasses it. Overall, a really tasty beer. There are also, however, two completely random reasons why I like this beer beyond its taste:

1) The bottle says “Life is uncertain. Don’t sip.” And while I’m all for savoring beers, I appreciate this sentiment.

2) Dan likes to make fun of my mild Southern accent that arises from time to time (which used to be less mild when we first started dating and I was living in Harrisonburg). Having lived for several years in Connecticut, he liked to point out anytime I’ve said something that belies my origins. Oftentimes, though, I don’t hear any difference between what I’m saying and how Dan says things. One classic example of this took place when we were driving somewhere and I said the word “little.” Of course, I (apparently) don’t pronounce this word as it’s spelled; I say “lil.” And Dan kept getting me to say the word over and over again, trying to get me to hear that I was saying it differently. I kept insisting, “I’m saying it the exact same way you are!” Which caused Dan to exclaim, “There are two T’s in ‘little’ and you’re not pronouncing either of them!” It’s a line we still laugh about to this day, and one which I’ll probably think of every time I drink this beer.

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Yesterday, I finally had the good fortune to try (and be treated to- thanks Mom & Dad!) Mad Fox Brewing Company in Falls Church. ¬†We originally went intending to catch the JMU vs Tech game, which didn’t happen. ¬†But no matter, this guy dominated anyway:

J-M-U wish you were a duke dog!!

Sorry Dad, I’m sure Tech will win again someday.

Anyway, moving on to the matter at hand…Mad Fox! ¬†I was so excited to see another brewery open up in the area. ¬†We have ones like District Chophouse and Capitol City Brewing Company downtown, but those are a bit more upscale and we save them for special occasions. ¬†And we have Dogfish Head, also in Falls Church, which of course we LOVE, but so does everyone else and the crowds can be a bit of a hassle. ¬†So I was excited to see what Mad Fox would do.

Since we were new (well, Dan and I were anyhow), we decided to go with two sampler flights of the 8 beers they had on tap that day.  Observe:

This would be, from back to front, the 80 Shilling, Kolsch, English Summer Ale, and American Pale Ale

And this would be, again from back to front, the ESB (Extra Special Bitter), Porter, Double IPA, and the Devil's Due (a Belgian golden strong ale)

All were delicious. ¬†Honestly, there wasn’t a single one that I wasn’t impressed with. ¬†There were some I was even surprised by, like the Kolsch. ¬†It managed to be bright and flavorful, while still being extremely light-bodied…which almost seemed like defying gravity as I was drinking it. ¬†The English Summer Ale was another favorite, wheat-ey and summery, as well as the American Pale Ale and Douple IPA (we’re suckers for hops). ¬†And of course, the food was a winner too.

I wish I had taken a picture of the appetizers, but I was too busy digging in to think to.¬† So please excuse the long blocks of uninterrupted text.¬† We ordered the “frickles” (fried pickles), which were crunchy and well-seasoned, with a batter that managed to actually stay on the pickle slices, which seems to be a problem with the fried pickles I’ve experienced in the past (though, for full disclosure, I’ve only ever had fried pickles at the Hooters in Williamsburg, VA, so I don’t know if I can really be called a fried pickle¬†connoisseur).

But the real star of the appetizers was the pork belly. ¬†Oh my god. ¬†According to Mad Fox’s menu description, and the description of our server, the pork belly is slow roasted for 14 hours and glazed with molasses and local honey. ¬†Apparently, it is basically a huge, thick slice of bacon that is pressed while it’s roasted, so the fat drains away and what you are left with is a thick slice of the most tender meat I’ve ever tasted. ¬†Seriously. ¬†It almost melts into a puddle of sweet, slow-roasted meaty goodness in your mouth. ¬†And it’s covered in a crispy, crackling molasses crust, and everyone knows molasses is my favorite ingredient in anything. ¬†The run-off juices and sauce are excellent for sopping up with the spoonbread it’s served with.

And not only is this dish delicious, but the porter was an excellent pairing for it. The porter was kind of a metaphor for the pork belly: very strong in flavor, but deceptive in body. ¬†Both were substantial, don’t get me wrong, but the pork was leaner and lighter than you’d expect from such a tender experience, and the porter wasn’t as viscous as its strong scent and flavor might imply. ¬†The porter’s predominant taste was roast, and it was roasted almost to the point of being smokey, without actually being a smoked ale. ¬†This complimented the deep, sweet taste of the meat and molasses, which has those smokey undertones itself (in my opinion). ¬†Smokey and sweet are the names of the game here. ¬†The porter also has just enough hops to balance things out a bit, so you’re not getting a mouthful of 100% malts.

Then, for our meal, Dan and I split the BBQ duck pizza:

Holy delicious. ¬†Pulled duck, porter BBQ sauce, caramelized shallots, cilantro, topped with Fontina and smoked Gouda, all on their 11-inch¬†Neapolitan¬†crust. ¬†And let me tell you, those out there who think that 11-inches sounds like a small pizza: Dan and I ended up taking two slices home. ¬†And we know how to tackle a pizza. ¬†I’m actually counting down the hours to lunch (unless I just wanna go for a cold pizza breakfast this morning…which honestly, might happen) just so I can eat it again. ¬†The duck and cheeses are delicious, and the sauce is the star of the show here: sweet, salty, tangy, awesome with the caramelized shallots and juicy duck.

Though there’s porter in the sauce, my favorite beer to pair with the pizza was actually the Devil’s Due Belgian golden strong ale. ¬†Apparently it’s brewed with 100 pounds of sugar, which explains its sweetness. ¬†But don’t be misled by that huge sounding amount: its sweetness is not overwhelming or cloying; it’s present without being overstated, and works well with the taste of the Duvel yeast the beer is fermented with. ¬†Similar, almost, to the taste of the English Summer Ale are its citrusy, grainy notes that help cut through the sweetness even as the beer simultaneously compliments it in the pizza. ¬†Sweet and savory is the name of the game here.

Finally, we noticed that Mad Fox’s brew menu also includes some of their beers on cask, as well as meads. ¬†We’ll definitely have to go back to see how their cask selections fare, and we both agreed we’d like to try mead (as neither of us ever has! ¬†Crazy, I know)

Beyond the food and the beer, the staff were incredibly helpful and personable, and really seemed interested in getting to know the customers, and both making their experience a good one and as well as making them feel a part of the Mad Fox experience themselves. ¬†Thumbs up, guys at Mad Fox, keep doing what you’re doing and we’ll keep coming back, I’m sure!

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Sorry to have been MIA for awhile- but it was with good reason.  Our  friend and my former roommate from college Patrick flew in Thursday night from Chicago and stayed with us all weekend, and just to make the reunion complete, our other former roommate (and friend!) Chris came up Sunday as well. We all took Monday off for an extended weekend of reliving our glory days and trying not to feel old now.

So the past few days were spent with these fellows:

This would be Dan, the loyal and dashing boyfriend

The very 1950s-American-ex-pat-in-Cuba-looking Chris

And Patrick, in striking silhouette

All together now:

1327-A S. Main Street reunited

Yes, that is a pinball machine we’re sitting at!¬† While they were up here, Dan and I had to take Chris and Patrick to one of our favorite haunts, Galaxy Hut.¬† This is really one of the best, and most fun, places to get beers in Arlington.¬† It is truly a beer bar, offering no wine or liquor selections, but having a frequently rotating set of approximately 20 or so beers on tap, and 20 or 30 available in bottles at any given time.¬† Like ChurchKey, it’s a good place to find beers you might not be able to find in retail, and a good place to sample beers that you may not buy an entire six-pack of yourself (especially high-gravity ones that may be more expensive to buy retail).¬† Also like ChurchKey, Galaxy Hut allows you to order your beers in several different sizes: a 4-oz mini pour, a 12-oz goblet, a 16-oz (American) pint, or a pitcher.¬† This is also helpful for trying several different higher-gravity beers that you don’t want an entire pint of.¬† In addition to this, it also has one of my favorite bar snacks: “hut dogs,” as they are named, which are hot dogs (meat or vegan versions both available) boiled in IPA.¬† Somehow the¬† hops pervade the meaty little casings and makes for a complex, slightly bitter, delicious little dog.¬† Yum.

And beyond its excellent beer selection and stellar hut dogs, it is a cool, funky place with unusual, off-beat artwork on the walls and, in addition to traditional tables, pinball machines and classic arcade games like Galaga and Mrs. Pac Man that have been converted into tables that you can sit at and play while you sip your beers.

And that’s how I enjoyed this little brew: with a side of Pac Man!

This brew would be Brooklyn Brewery’s Post Road Pumpkin Ale.¬† I love EVERYTHING about fall- football games, brisk weather, sweaters, Thanksgiving, even raking leaves- and the fall foods and drinks that come with the change in season, including pumpkin ales.¬† I relish the point in late summer when pumpkin ales start appearing on the shelves, a little too early, but sparking my anticipation of the change in seasons even more.¬† I try to sample as many different varieties as I can each year, and so far my favorites have been Dogfish Head’s Punkin Ale and Southern Tier Brewing Company’s Pumking Imperial Pumpkin Ale.

Post Road Pumpkin Ale did not disappoint.¬† It wasn’t smack-you-in-the-face-with-pumpkin-pie-flavor like Punkin and Pumpking are, but it was incredibly aromatic, with a softer, spicy taste that felt like the heat and steam from a pumpkin pie in the oven wafting over your tongue.¬† Besides the obvious pumpkin taste, vanilla was definitely there, with pumpkin pie spice (clove, cinnamon, allspice) tastes on its heels, and something slightly earthy at the end too…maybe a certain hop variety that lent it its out-on-the-farm feel.¬† I’ve just read that it uses Belgian biscuit malts, so maybe that buttery, biscuity finish is what I was tasting.¬† I would definitely recommend.

Cheers!

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So, my birthday was this past Saturday, and I decided that my grand ol’ 23rd had to involve three of my favorite things: hiking, beer, and food.¬† And so it did.¬† I went hiking with Dan here:

(“Here” being Great Falls, the Virginia side)

And then went to dinner with Dan, my parents, and my brother here:

This “here” would be ChurchKey (thanks to my parents for all the photos of ChurchKey- my camera, of course, ran out of batteries as soon as I pulled it out there!)

ChurchKey, though a relative newcomer, is one one of DC’s beer meccas, an establishment devoted to celebrating the diversity of craft brewing and one of the few places in the city where you can find cask ales.¬† A little background on cask ales, for those not in the know: it is unfiltered and unpasteurized, and is aged, conditioned (including secondary fermentation), and served in casks.¬† It is brewed without added nitrogen or carbon dioxide pressure, so its carbonation is natural and also very mild.¬† It is served much warmer than normal draught beers (not room temperature exactly, but closer to that end of the spectrum), which is supposed to bring out subtleties in flavor and texture exponentially (we, as Americans, supposedly drink our beer way too cold and way too carbonated, and mask any subtlety in them by numbing our tongues with bubbles and icy temperatures).¬† Dan and I have sought out cask ales and, before ChurchKey, had tried three different ones on three different occasions from three different brewpubs: twice we were very impressed, once we were distinctly unimpressed.¬† So I was very curious to try ChurchKey’s.

This was my first beer of the dinner, and it was a 4 oz. pour (one thing I LOVE about ChurchKey is that you have the option of a glass- which can range from 10-16 oz depending on the beer- or a 4 oz sample pour, which is ideal for sampling many different types, especially if they are strong/high in alcohol).¬† Now, I can’t be ENTIRELY sure of this beer’s identity, because I didn’t write it down, and while I remember that it was the last beer on the first page of the menu, ChurchKey’s menu on their website is outdated and the beer I ordered is not on there.¬† But I’m 95% sure this was Paradox Smokehead from BrewDog Brewery in Scotland.¬† This is an imperial stout, aged for six months in Smokehead single-malt whiskey barrels.¬† Here is my review:

Holy delicious.

OK, let me try that again, in the form of a brew-haiku (for newcomers, refer to this to see what a brew-haiku is):

Stunningly smooth. Soft,
warm breaths of peat smoke, bitter
roast of sweet, wild game.

I’ll let you drool over that picture one more time:

It was intense-tasting, with a surprisingly airy mouthfeel- like smoke washing over your tongue: intense, heavy, and present in taste and smell, but seemingly soft and ethereal to the touch of the surface of your tongue. ¬† It was the PERFECT beer to go with the cheese plate Dan, Mom, & I split, full of strong-tasting cheeses (a Camembert of some sort; Monte Enebro, a goat’s milk cheese; and some sort of cow’s milk cheese that I forget…darn outdated menus online again!), breads, and sides (including mango chutney, pickled cherries, honey walnut paste, and some sort of fig thing that I again can’t quite remember).¬† The tastes were strong enough to stand up to each other, with the buttery, creamy feel of the cheeses complimenting (through contrast) the wispy feel of the beer.

We also had a charcuterie plate (which had salami, bologna, sausage, chicken liver pate, some sort of thing that was like prosciutto, grainy mustard, bread, and gherkins) which also paired beautifully with the beer (though more of this first beer was had with the cheese, as it was brought out first) and a waldorf salad, and for some reason Dan and I found it completely necessary to order deep-fried sticks of macaroni and cheese after all was said and done as well.¬† And finish my dad’s sweet potato fries.¬† And come home to giant chocolate chip cookies and coconut macaroons.¬† Yep.¬† I do birthdays right! (Apologies for the lack of photos of everything else, but I decided that I wanted to be present for the meal and fully experience the tastes and smells and the company I was with, without interrupting it to take pictures of everything)

I also had two other beers: a Flanders Old Bruin style beer called Paulus (which luckily is on the outdated menu, and was tangy and sour, with a sweet, lactic edge- think tart cherries) and a saison that I can’t remember the name of and isn’t on the outdated menu!¬† Gah!¬† I need to call up ChurchKey and have them mail me a current menu or something.¬† But rest assured, it was also delicious.¬† So were all of Dan’s and my dad’s beers that I also sampled.

Verdict on ChurchKey’s cask ales?¬† Two gigantic thumbs up.

Verdict on ChurchKey’s non-cask beers?¬† Two more gigantic thumbs up.

Verdict on ChurchKey’s food?¬† Two final gigantic thumbs up.

If only I had 6 thumbs to give…

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