From Rob Fink. Follow him on Twitter @RobDFink or email him at rob[AT]borderstan.com.
The Craft Brewers Conference (dubbed “CBC” for short) is an annual gathering of breweries, brewpubs, restaurant managers/beer directors/cicerones, as well as those who manufacture brew kettles, draft systems and kegs, amongst other things. Thankfully, CBC is being held in our fair city this year at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center March 26-29.
Although it’s specifically for brewing industry professionals, that doesn’t mean that us regular folks are prohibited from indulging in the vast array of events happening during that week.
Given there are so many events in and throughout the city, some of my must-go-to-or-else-you-should-relinquish-your-human-sanctity type of events are not in Borderstan proper. In no particular order, here are my top three choices for CBC 2013.
Tuesday, March 26, 5 pm
For this event, Firestone Walker is bringing a formidable lineup of barrel-aged rarities (one of which I’ve written about here) such as Parabola (barrel-aged imperial stout), Sucaba (barrel aged barleywine), and Velvet Merkin on nitro (barrel-aged oatmeal stout). If you’re more hop-inclined, Ballast Point will be slinging their inimitable Sculpin, both on draft and on cask. This is an event not to be missed.
Thursday, March 28, 4 pm
Where and What: Churchkey: The California Craft Beer Extravaganza.
Quite naturally, Churchkey has some of the best events for all of CBC week and Thursday’s will be particularly burdensome on the palate (in a good way, of course). Although the specific beer list has yet to be released, I already know I’m going to be here.
The list of breweries currently includes The Lost Abbey, Stone Brewing Company, Green Flash Brewing Company, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company and 21st Amendment — that list alone should be sufficient to convince you to make an appearance.
Friday, March 29, 1 pm
Where and What: Meridian Pint: Drink Local! Sponsored by BeerAdvocate.
Although CBC is really about bringing craft brewers from across the country together in one place, I would be remiss to not mention what’s looking to be the best event surrounding local beer. Twenty local breweries from Maryland, the District and Virginia will occupy all tap lines in addition to 20 different gravity-fed casks.
Although the beer list has yet to be released, look for not only Meridian Pint collaborations with some of the breweries, but also for standalone offerings from the likes of DC Brau Brewing Company, Flying Dog Brewery and Port City Brewing, just to name a few.
I want to stress that this is just a minute smidgen of the entire week; comrades in arms and fellow beer lovers at DC Beer have done a wonderful job of cataloguing the wide spectrum CBC events — please check out their webpage here. Cheers!
Batch 13 is the place to go if you are looking for special beer, wine or spirits. The two-level store has been open for a week now. At 1724 14th St NW (between R and S Streets), it is a new retail addition on the block. After some six months of waiting for permits — and then renovations to the former Dogs by Day daycare space — the liquor store’s decor is a delight to the eyes.
We spoke to one of the managers of Batch 13 who told us, “Batch 13 is a fun place to shop and learn about beer, wine and spirits.” The store has more than 1,000 craft beers from small breweries — a paradise to the aficionado. It also carries a wide selection of wines and will be carrying small batches of bourbons and whiskeys. It is the place where you can find a brand you know, or Distilled Aventinus, which sells for $98 per bottle.
Batch 13 eventually plans to open rooftop for special tastings and gatherings. Batch 13 has tastings every Friday and Saturday from 6 pm to 9 pm. The store is open from Monday to Thursday from 2 pm to 10 pm, Fridays and Saturdays from 12 to 11 pm. They also deliver.
Summertime in DC means a few things: humidity, flocks of tourists and the yearly ambush of summer interns. It also means outdoor barbeques and the perfect chance to enjoy some lighter, brighter beers.
Below, I’ve listed five of my favorites. I’m going to mix it up a little, though. Instead of the overplayed food pairings (hint: barbecue tastes good with almost anything), I’m pairing beers with complimentary songs.
My Top 5 Summer Beers Playlist
- M83 “Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming” paired with Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier: German beers are known for using simple ingredients (malt, yeast, hops and water) and creating something complex. This pale, wheat ale beer is easy to take in, provides bright flavors (tons of banana) and can be appreciated in bulk. M83’s entire album, “Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming,” is the perfect companion. It’s pared-down electronic, taking simple sounds and harmonies and creating a perfectly blended melody. Like the Weihenstephaner, the next thing you know it’s 3 am and you’re still in the “dream.”
- The National “Bloodbuzz Ohio” paired with Lagunitas Little Sumpin’ Wild Ale: Lagunitas’ Wild Ale is dark, complex and surprising. It’s easily the heaviest beer on this list, but its flavor isn’t too overpowering to enjoy in hot weather. Equally dark and mysterious is the baritone voice of the National’s lead singer, Matt Berninger. This song seems heavy at first, but may end up becoming the indie anthem for your summer.
- Mayer Hawthorne “The Walk” paired with Bells Oberon: Mayer Hawthorne brings his native Detroit’s past and the golden days of Motown to the 21st century. Similarly, Bells Oberon is a classic, but somehow current at the same time. It goes perfectly with an extremely hot day and is my favorite summer ale. Take this beer and this song to your next summertime soiree and hit the dance floor.
- Chuck Brown “Bustin’ Loose” paired with DC Brau The Citizen: This pairing is all about keeping it local. Why not take in DC’s most famous musician (RIP Chuck Brown) while enjoying a Belgian pale ale from local brewery, DC Brau. In fact, have a few. The godfather would want it that way.
- Justine Bieber “Boyfriend” paired with Pretty Things American Darling: You might not want to admit it, but Justin Bieber is not a fad and will be sticking around for a long time. Why not match him with another young gun that’s here to stay. This seasonal beer from the gypsy brewery, Pretty Things, is a pale lager that might surprise you. It’s a beautiful golden brown and knows how to please you… Kind of like a good summer boyfriend (or girlfriend).
All of these beers can be purchased in the Borderstan area. I recommend checking out the local P Street Whole Foods, which is where I went to complete my “research” for this post. It has a great selection of microbrews and a ton of bombers (those large individual bottles that might be confused for a 40-ouncer).
So there you have it; a beer list and a playlist for your next summer event. Leave us your own best beer and song pairings in the comment box.
Hellbender Brewing Company will be opening in “mid-2012”, according to an interview in DC Beer. Unlike some of their local counterparts, Hellbender will be focused on supplying bars with kegs.
They will have a smaller canning operation, perhaps also next year. Location is still TBD, although they are looking in NE DC. If you check out the site, you will notice they have a great East Coast beer pedigree (Dogfish Head) and an environmental focus (named after a salamander). Cheers!