Beer Flights in Washington, DC
December 12, 2012 11:19 AM   Subscribe

My GF's birthday wish was to go out for beer flights, and my Google Fu is failing me. I am looking for places in Washington, DC that serve beer flights and for bonus points that either have an awesome beer selection and/or more ambiance than a Gordon Biersch. (Note, I am not looking for places that just have awesome beer. I am looking for places in DC that have awesome beer flights available)
posted by forkisbetter to Food & Drink (18 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I'm pretty sure you can't go wrong with Churchkey. Best beer selection I've ever seen.
posted by reptile at 11:25 AM on December 12, 2012 [5 favorites]

Yup, came to say ChurchKey, but was beat on preview.
posted by General Malaise at 11:27 AM on December 12, 2012

Best answer: I second the Churchkey recommendation. Also, the DC Beer site would be a good place to start the search; you can also submit a question for tomorrow's Going Out Guru live chat - they are great at these things.
posted by cessair at 11:27 AM on December 12, 2012

Oh, if you want something a little lower-key than ChurchKey (it gets packed), I'm pretty sure Meridian Pint does flights too.
posted by General Malaise at 11:29 AM on December 12, 2012

Best answer: Meridian Pint has flights available on some special event nights (like this one). I am pretty sure they have them all the time, but you may want to call and ask.
posted by troika at 11:31 AM on December 12, 2012

Churchkey is pretty much exactly what you're looking for, they have a very impressive world class selection of beers available in flights - the last time I was there they had beers from Belgium that I hadn't even heard of and I live there. The ambiance is also pretty awesome.
posted by Blasdelb at 11:39 AM on December 12, 2012

DC proper is rather lacking in actual brewpubs, where beer is actually brewed on premises, and thus rather lacking in beer flights found in other cities with a more robust brewpub culture, since in my experience, beer flights are most commonly highlighting a selection of the beers that are brewed by an individual brewer or brewery.

So while you may get special occasions where a bar will host a special night highlighting the beers of a particular brewery, or sometimes, a night highlighting a particular style of beer across a number of breweries, there won't generally be beer flights available every night.

So besides Gordon Biersch, you might try other corporate brewpubs in DC, like District Chophouse & Brewery or Capitol City Brewing, but they're pretty mediocre.

If you're willing to go a bit further afield outside the city, Dogfish Head AleHouse or DuClaw Brewing might also be good bets.

Or this Saturday the 15th, you might want to check out the special event at Three Stars Brewing, which isn't quite what you're looking for, but...
posted by noonewilleverloveyou at 11:41 AM on December 12, 2012

Yes, go to Meridian Pint or Black Squirrel, Churchkey is way too crowded and overrated.

Better yet, go to RFD and support them while the Caps aren't playing and the Wizards suck.
posted by downing street memo at 11:56 AM on December 12, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks for all the suggestions so far! Does anyone know if Birch and Barley will serve flights? Also, while Scion does not seem to have flights on the menu, they do serve 4 oz. tastings.

I don't have a car, so going outside of DC is not really an option.
posted by forkisbetter at 12:14 PM on December 12, 2012

OP, are you specifically looking for places that will put together a flight of beer for you, and will advertise as such on the menu? For example, "Hops of the world sampler - features beer A, B, C, and D"? If so, I'm not sure places like that exist outside of chains. At least not in DC.

If you and your girlfriend are willing to choose the beers that comprise your flight (and want to have a better experience than a chain), bunches of DC bars offer 3 or 4oz beers for a fraction of the price of a full pint, that you can order as many of as you wish, and essentially cobble into a flight. After checking a few websites, it looks as though most of these places won't advertise the fact that they do small pours. These will come in small glasses, typically. Some places will have holders they place the small glasses into, and some may not, but the fact remains that if you've got yourself an assemblage of little glasses of beer in front of you, you've got a flight. It doesn't need to be a grand production, or something even advertised on the website/menu. Most bars that serve a decent selection of craft beers, and tout themselves as such, will have 3-4oz pours available on their beer menu. You can always call a place and ask if they do "small pours".

I get the impression that you're somewhat lacking in beer knowledge, so you'll want a bartender who knows their stuff. They can point you in the right direction, and help you put together a palette pleasing flight. Don't be afraid to ask your bartender for help. Bartenders in craft beer joints love nothing more than to show off how much they know about beer.

That being said, following are a few recommendations of my favorite beer spots in the DC area:

As was already mentioned, Churchkey has tons and tons and tons of beers - somewhat to their detriment, depending upon your needs. When boyfriend and I went last Saturday afternoon, it took us 20 minutes of pondering the draft menu to pick out our individual 3 beer mini-flights. I don't think it will suit your needs, because as also already mentioned, it gets crowded as fuck unless you go on a random Tuesday early evening. You definitely don't want to be ordering flights of beer in a standing room only bar. You also want to be able to converse with your bartender. Churchkey also has a bit of an odd food menu, serving mostly upscale bar fair. If you're looking for a place to have dinner with your drinks, this is probably not it.

As also already mentioned, Meridian Pint is another great option. It's only semi-crowded during the week, and they have great food. They definitely serve small pours all the time, not just on special event nights. Since a flight of beer is what you're after, I'd try to sit at the upstairs bar so that you can readily converse with your bartender. Hopefully you get the guy with the giant muttonchops. He's awesome. Or the guy with the giant blonde beard. He's awesome too. Atmosphere here is great. Totally recommended for a birthday dinner/drinks.

Black squirrel does definitely serve flights, though the atmosphere is somewhat lacking. Not quite special enough for a birthday night out, in my personal opinion.

Rustico has a few locations out in the burbs of Virginia (on preview, their Arlington location is a couple blocks from a metro stop!), and they have fantastic beers, and serve small pours given to you on a little paddle with the names written next to them. Had dinner at the one in Arlington a couple weeks ago and was super pleased with the food, as well. This place gets a little packed out. Bartenders may be knowledgeable, but too busy to help you select.

Smoke and Barrel in Adams Morgan has a great selection of beer, AND a great selection of bourbon. They serve small pours. Even on weekends they don't get all that packed. Their food is good. I dig it here. I'm still mad at the owners for doing away with Asylum though. RIP the dungeon-y goodness that was Asylum.

Pizzeria Paradiso has multiple locations in DC, and also has a fantastic beer selection. It's been a year or two since I've been to one, so I'd call and ask if they do small pours. Food is great though, and bartenders are SUPER knowledgeable and friendly.

On preview: I do not recommend the food at Scion. Have eaten here multiple times, and food/service/atmosphere have just been consistently crappy. I've eaten at Birch and Barley, and though I don't know for sure if they serve small pours, I'm almost positive that if that's what you'd wanted, they would be able to accommodate you, seeing as how Churchkey is right upstairs. The food at Birch and Barley is really, really good. Reservations are definitely necessary.

I may pop back in with more recommendations in a bit! Yay work procrastination.
posted by Gonestarfishing at 12:22 PM on December 12, 2012 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Pizzeria Paradiso totally does flights, they often have two or three preselected flights, but they'll also do any 3 or 4 small pours as a custom flight. How "good" of a flight you can build depends on what they have on tap, since it rotates a lot. Their draft list on the website is normally updated every day 3-4pmish, which is way, way better than any other beer bar I've ever been to.
posted by skynxnex at 12:32 PM on December 12, 2012

Yes, Birch and Barley does flights as well.
posted by downing street memo at 12:33 PM on December 12, 2012

Best answer: Just popping back in to say that since it's been confirmed that both Birch and Barley and Pizzeria Paradiso do flights, if I were you I'd narrow my search down to those two and choose based on type of food you'd prefer.

Both places are just fantastic food-wise, and both have a romantic atmosphere ideal for birthday celebration/date night. Paradiso will be a bit more rustic/comfortable/crowded/warm, Barley will be a bit more open/upscale/modern/swank.

Birch and Barley will set you back a bit more money-wise. Food is more upscale. Beer selection will be much grander than Paradiso, because they have the luxury of being able to offer the full Churchkey repertoire. As mentioned before, this can sometimes be a problem if you're an indecisive person like me.

Paradiso is much less intimidating, both food and drink-wise, but is still a classy dining experience nonetheless.

Good luck :)
posted by Gonestarfishing at 12:46 PM on December 12, 2012

Best answer: Seconding Rustico in Ballston - it's super close to the metro. Plus the food is delicious. They have an amazing selection of beers on tap. And not nearly as crowded as Churchkey.
posted by echo0720 at 5:06 PM on December 12, 2012

Nth-ing Birch and Barley in Logan Circle and Rustico in Ballston -- same beer director and restaurant group (Greg Engert, Neighborhood Restaurant Group)
posted by NikitaNikita at 9:46 PM on December 12, 2012

Oh, and, yes, Meridian Pint, as well! All are great choices -- Meridian Pint has more of a laid-back neighborhoody vibe, in my opinion.
posted by NikitaNikita at 9:52 PM on December 12, 2012

I'm assuming you posted the question in the Got Plans chat, and have therefore seen this, but just in case:

My GF's birthday request was to go out for beer flights- not just a place with a great beer selection- but specifically a place with beer flights. Where are the classiest, best places to go out for a beer flight?
– December 12, 2012 3:10 PMPermalink
Beer bars have kind of moved away from the whole "flight" program, since most of the good ones (ChurchKey/Paradiso/Meridian Pint/etc.) now offer all beers as 4-ounce pours in addition to full-sized glasses. (Brewpubs are an exception; I'm pretty sure Capitol City and District Chophouse still offer flights of their own brews.)

What I might do is go to the bar at Birreria Paradiso, Meridian Pint or Smoke and Barrel and ask the bartender to put together a flight of four beers for you. You might want four wildly different, four pale ales, or just four things you don't see all the time. The guys and girls know their stuff.

– December 13, 2012 2:12 PM
posted by inigo2 at 11:31 AM on December 13, 2012

Response by poster: Ended up going to Rustico just because it was a place I had never heard of before and we've been to Churchkey and Meridian Pint several times.

It was totally awesome! They will do custom flights of four, where you can pick any four beers on tap, or they had beers grouped by flavor profile that you could order as flights. Their food was extremely tasty, the ambiance was perfect, and it didn't break the bank. Totally perfect for a laid-back birthday dinner.

Thanks everybody!
posted by forkisbetter at 7:59 AM on January 11, 2013

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