DC Beer Week 2014 – Where to Go Each Day

DC Beer Week yet again has a ton of awesome events that highlight what a great beer city DC has become (read how DC Beer Week got started in this OnTap story). I’ll defer mostly to the great previews highlighted by the Post, the Express, Eater DC, The Hill is Home  (and definitely be sure to pick up a copy of this week’s Washington City Paper Beer Issue too), but below I’ll list my top choice each day that is either free or close to free-the $50-65 3-5 course meals + beer are a pretty good value, but sometimes you want flexibility. (Yes, this intro is basically plagiarized from last year, sue me). I’m also listing unofficial events for bars who didn’t pony up the minimum $250 to be an official sponsor of the week, along with bars who are doing something special all week long (Adams Morgan is an underrated spot with several locations).

  • Sunday August 17th
    • Sierra Nevada Beer Camp Tour Takeover 
      • Churchkey
      • 12 Sierra Nevada collaboration brews, Cigar City (rare in this area, incredibly popular in Florida), Bell’s, Allagash, Oskar Blues, Victory and Firestone Walker
  • Monday August 18th
    • Dogfish Head: Dazed and Infused
      • Scion
      • 30 different beers from Dogfish Head, including 10 drafts, 7 bottles, & 13 infusions
      • $3 off all Dogfish Head beer
      • free glassware until supplies last
      • 5-11p
  • Tuesday August 19th
  • Wednesday August 20th
  • Thursday August 21st
    • Radler-palooza
      • Smoke & Barrel
      • hottest new beer craze of this summer-grapefruit & beer
      • radlers from  3 Stars, Boulevard, Harpoon, Devils Backbone, Stiegl, Sixpoint, Schofferhofer, and more.
      • House-made radlers & radler cocktails
      • 20 drafts and casks from everyone’s favorite Michigan brewery
  • Friday August 22nd
  • Saturday August 23rd
    • Colorado v Delmarva Cornhole Tourney
      • City Tap House
      • Breckenridge Brewery, Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, 3 Stars Brewing Company, Evolution Craft Brewing Company, Left Hand Brewing and New Belgium Brewing
      • plus cornhole tourney on patio (beers $5 for those participating in cookout)
  • Sunday August 24th
    • Not much on the schedule, but I’d stop by any of DC’s great beer bars not listed above or below such as The Big Hunt, Bier Baron, Granville Moore’s, Smith Commons, Penn Social, Iron Horse, Jackpot

Events All Week

  • Mellow Mushroom
    • 6 unique beers from Sweetwater Brewing on rooftop all week
  • The Black Squirrel
    • Pennsylvania Beer Week
    • One-off specialty brews from Troegs, Sly Fox, Victory & Stoudts
    • make Trifecta bets all week to guess most popular beers to win prizes
    • HH 5-8p Monday
  • Meridian Pint
    • all 24 drafts are local beers starting Monday
    • 3 local casks daily for $5/beer
  • Ventnor Sports Cafe
    • Sun: 8 Abita drafts on tap + po’boys
    • Tues: Yuengling trivia giving away swag & serving all beers
    • Thurs: Clambake with Narragansett Brewing
    • Fri: Texas Ho-down with Shiner ($5 Shiner beers)
    • Sat: 15-20 Colorado beers & Leopold Bros.
  • Glen’s Garden Market
    • events all week featuring $4 drafts
    • Tues: Mad Fox Tap Takeover
    • Wed: Maryland Showcase- Oliver Brewing Company, Brewer’s Art, and Union Craft Brewing
    • Thurs: Devil’s Backbone Tap Takeover and oysters
    • Fri: local craft beer
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BREAKING NEWS – Townhouse Tavern Closes

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Townhouse Tavern, the most under-the-radar dive bar in town, has closed, according to its Facebook page. The Dupont bar (17th/R) has been open since April 1997. It was the site of a federal cocaine sting in 2011. Recently, it has hosted regular comedy nights. No word on what is replacing it.

UPDATE: The reaction to BiDC’s breaking news was swift and hilarious on Twitter and especially in the comments section on PoPville. Eater DC also picked up the story. My favorite tweets/comments below:

“Please do not replace with a tapas place… ” – @DCBadger

“RIP Townhouse Tavern. Ye were a savage beast” –@Mr_Robinson95

“Good. I love dive bars, but TT was disgusting  ” – @jmurray20

“Not the Townhouse Tavs! … Just push me off on an ice floe already, D.C.” – @kristoncapps (Staff Writer for CityLab, The Atlantic)

“Holy crap, I can’t believe that Townhouse Tavern – the bar that built the progressive blogosphere – is closing down.” –@Laurenm 

“Now where will I go to get cheap beer and vaguely racist comments?” –@stego_21

“RIP Townhouse Tavs … I will miss your weird smell, sort of” -@sommermathis (Editor for CityLab/The Atlantic, formerly DCist head editor)

“It was always a dump, but got worse after [the FBI coke bust”, in terms of service and crowd (or lack thereof)…. It was interesting in early 2000s, but had not been worth your time (unless you lived there) for years.”-@fritzhahn (2nd tweet)

“Yeah, it became pretty crappy. I’m down with dive bars, but there were far better than Town House.” –@BenHarris_1

On PoPville (multiple references to it being a “coke den”)

  • “..That place was such a dump, but its departure seems to harken the further decline of 17th Street.”
  • “Townhouse was my “Cheers” for many years. It was a dive, but the people who owned it, worked there, and frequented it in the early 2000s were some interesting folk…”
  • “Yeah I’m struggling to come up with one [bar] that even comes close to being as disgusting as Townhouse.”
  • “This place was basically a Coke Den.”
  • “Anyone who has witnessed the tragic mess that used to occur every Friday and Saturday nights at 3 AM after they “closed” can attest to the fact that it was a coke den. Large groups of people outside with coke dealers lingering about. It was not a secret.”
  • “As someone without a coke habit or any interest in revisiting it, but who knew plenty of people with habits in college, it’s obvious if you’ve spent even an hour or two at Townhouse on a Friday or Saturday. Anyone saying otherwise just doesn’t know what they’re talking about or what to look for. I brought my out of state cop friend there and he couldn’t stop chuckling.”
  • ” This place was dirty, smelled awful, and was filled with sketchy people. I had one of my drinks drugged once there.”

My favorite comment:

  • “Yep and they used to keep the party going until the next morning. You weren’t allowed to leave because they didn’t want to alert suspicion that they were open past hours. I remember getting trapped in there once and having some scary guy screaming at me when I finally found a way to force a locked door open at dawn.”

The Gryphon is Back…

and so is social dining experience

Guest post by J Palm, BIDC co-editor
Follow, Tweet me @charmedlivingDC

The Gryphon's Raw Bar in action
The Gryphon’s Raw Bar in action

A few weeks ago, I drank and dined with the editor-in-chief of Barred in DC at the new The Gryphon. We were invited to the newly revamped restaurant & bar to sample and share small plates and taste new cocktails. Yep, our meal and drinks were comped, as a matter of disclosure, but as has always been hallmark to BIDC, the reviews are real and can’t be bought. (Well, maybe they could be, but the price hasn’t been right yet—wink)

You may remember The Gryphon as a fledgling upscale sports bar with dozens of screens trying to make its mark as a destination to watch “the big game”. But as previously reported by BIDC, that didn’t quite work out so the owners, who also represent The Gryphon’s sister Lost Society, drew the curtain, went back to the drawing board, and came up with a toned-down yet elegant (and a bit sexy with its rich color palate and snakeskin patterned wall paper) social dining experience, featuring a raw bar with a robust selection of oysters and clams to suit your taste, along with shrimp and lobster cocktails to share, and modern twists on your favorite ceviches. And let us not forget the real reason we all rely on BIDC—it’s really all about the bar for us, and the bar is good, serving creative, delicious, and well-balanced cocktails that provide a clean and craveable canvas for The Gryphon’s social plates.

Social room/back dining area
Social room/back dining area

First, el jefe ordered the Artemis Virtue—a refreshing cocktail of gin, lime juice, cucumber, mint, and sweet vermouth, sweetened with agave and topped off with a splash of soda. Think summer in a glass. It was a dark and stormy Tuesday evening, so we really needed this. Yours truly enjoyed her own summery concoction—the signature cocktail of the joint—The Gryphon consisted of Grey Goose L’orange, strawberry puree, lime juice and sweetened further with simple syrup. Watch out, for this cocktail is clearly easily drinkable, but it’s dangerous and will sneak up on you—sip leisurely. To accompany our drinks, we started our social dining experience with a shrimp cocktail to share. Apparently, the raw bar chef is always creating new renditions of this classic, so we had to see if he could show us something new (and he did).

The shrimp cocktail special when we dined was a spicy Latin twist on your traditional shrimp cocktail. This dish felt like Cabo. Shrimp, avocado, cocktail sauce, extra horseradish and other spices all mixed together and served on ice was a nice setup for what would be coming ahead from the team at the raw bar and the Texan chef, Joseph Evans (formerly of Smith and Wollensky).

Prosciutto-wrapped monkfish
Prosciutto-wrapped monkfish

As the name of the game at The Gryphon now is surf and turf, we had to have a good smattering of each. After the cocktail, we had a hearty dish of Monkfish wrapped in prosciutto—reminding you of the more traditional bacon-wrapped scallops. Nice flavors and a good sear on the fish made this dish a star. Continuing with “surf”, we definitely over indulged in the highly touted (by the staff) lobster gnocchi. I cannot tell you what a revelation this dish was in making a gnocchi a viable dinner option for me (I usually don’t like the stuff). It’s not just gnocchi, it’s better, and there’s so much lobster that you can’t believe the price.

Star dishes here - fried brussels sprouts & lobster gnocchi
Star dishes here – brussels sprouts & lobster gnocchi

At this point in the meal, I felt good enough to indulge in an additional cocktail (it sneaked up on me), so of course I couldn’t resist a drink named Aphrodite’s Kiss, who could? I fell in love—the blend of Absolut vanilla/regular and lavender syrup was surprising. It was light and sexy and I wanted another immediately (though I didn’t have one), so I ate more delicious food instead.

Tasty cocktails
Tasty cocktails

Moving on to “turf’, we sampled a couple of dueling steak dishes. I was eager to try the hanger steak (maybe it’s the simple country girl in me), but our most kind and attentive server strongly suggested that we try the Cajun filet mignon as well, as it was his favorite. While I was certainly not disappointed by either, I have to say that my favorite was the hanger steak. Its beautiful sear (verging on char) and fresh, bright green herb sauce was simply an all-around joy for my taste buds. The filet was also delicious, but even for me, the Cajun marinade/seasoning was a bit heavy handed. I noted to our server, who came back ‘round to hear my verdict, that with the seasoning the filet lost some of its “filet-ness” and really, to me, could have been any cut of beef since I’m not sure you’d necessarily be able to taste it beyond the seasoning.

Delicious Hanger steak
Delicious Hanger steak

More good news though—the beer, wine, and spirits list is well-rounded enough to scratch any itch and prices are in line with other DC hot spots, with the exception of a higher-than-usual priced DC Brau ($9). After a couple cocktails, a Devil’s Backbone Vienna Lager soothed BIDC’s chief and I took a break (despite the sparkling wine calling my name) before dessert drinks—it was a Tuesday night.

It must be noted that the side dishes were fantastic—Brussels sprouts are the new “it” veggie, but I promise, you actually do have to try these perfectly roasted, seasoned, and browned sprouts sprinkled atop with parmesan cheese. Southern girls know macaroni and cheese, and I’ve struggled with the creamy, over-truffled dishes being served all over the metro area. At The Gryphon, the mac is like what mom would make, no—grandma—but more up-to-date yet classically presented, bubbling over in a sizzling cast-iron dish.

Delicious Mac N' Cheese
Delicious Mac N’ Cheese

Bread pudding and cognac was a gluttonous end to our meal. The pudding was rich and creamy (even without the ice cream on top for there were technical issues in the kitchen). Not too sweet, but who needs all that sugar when life (and dinner) can be this good?

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nightcap cognacs
Bread pudding
Bread pudding

Further disclosure: Your guest poster, J Palm, is engaged to BIDC’s chief. We will marry in October. We dine and drink together frequently at home and “on the scene”.

Front bar area at The Gryphon
Front bar area at The Gryphon
Meat locker at The Gryphon
Meat locker at The Gryphon
Folks enjoying new patio from open air front area
Folks enjoying new patio from open air front area
Previously home to an awkward back bar, now plush banquettes
Previously home to an awkward back bar, now plush banquettes
Another view of back bar
Another view of back bar