In search of beer: DC edition
August 13, 2015 11:39 AM   Subscribe

Where in Washington, DC, can I buy exciting beer?

I would prefer recommendations for bottle shops or breweries...but if there's a great bar I should know about, do tell! I am familiar with ChurchKey but that's about it.

Extra points for suggestions that include DC-brewed beers (or anything that probably isn't available in NYC).
posted by ferret branca to Food & Drink (21 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Franklin's in Hyattsville is a little outside the city but brews in-house and as far as I know isn't available in NYC or indeed anywhere else that isn't Franklin's. There's an attached bar, (rather mediocre) restaurant, and (pretty fun) general store. You can drink Franklin's beer in the bar or rent kegs or growlers, and I think some bottled beers are available in the store, but as far as I know they don't distribute beyond that. They usually have a few solid standards and some more exciting seasonal or experimental offerings.
posted by babelfish at 11:50 AM on August 13, 2015 [2 favorites]

RFD in Chinatown, though it's not as extensive a selection as Brickskeller used to be.

DC Brau does a brewery tour I've heard is fun.

Just for fun Burger Tap & Shake used to do a deal every 1st Monday of the month where all draft beers are cheap until the kegs kick because they're clearing the lines.
posted by Wretch729 at 11:52 AM on August 13, 2015

Best answer: Here's a good site that gives you a run down of breweries in DC and surrounding areas. I've been to DC Brau, it's pretty cool and the beer is good. Right Proper is more of a brewpub, and the beer is more unusual ("experimental", I think they call it). It is tasty though, and they'll do samples if you aren't sure about some of the more adventurous options. Food's not bad either.
posted by Bunny Boneyology at 12:01 PM on August 13, 2015 [2 favorites]

The Lion liquor store near the Georgia Ave Metro station has a pretty great beer selection. I don't know if I'd go there looking for something rare, per se, but it's a lot more interesting and expansive than almost anywhere else I've seen in town.

Meridian Pint in Columbia Heights has a stellar, U.S.-only beer program, and it's significantly chiller and more pleasant than ChurchKey. Black Squirrel in Adams Morgan also has a pretty great beer program.

D.C. local brewery Atlas Beer Works puts out a rye that I've found to be one of the best new beers I've had in the past couple of years. It's available throughout the city on tap in bars and in cans in stores.
posted by General Malaise at 12:03 PM on August 13, 2015

Best answer: Right Proper in Shaw is probably my favorite brewery. I'm not a huge porter fan, but their Haxan has shifted me a little to the porter side.

Other breweries in DC include 3 Stars, Atlas, Bluejacket, DC Brau, Hellbender... and there are some good ones in the suburb areas like Port City in Alexandria or Lost Rhino in Ashburn.

Glen's Garden Market in Dupont has a decent amount of local beers. Don't know if you're in town this week, but tomorrow they're doing a "Most Local Tap Takeover" which will feature a bunch of the beers from the breweries I just listed above.
posted by kerning at 12:05 PM on August 13, 2015

The best liquor store for buying rare beer (or rare anything) that I've found is Sherry's Wine and Spirits in Woodley Park.

Churchkey is far and away the best place to go out to drink beers but the Meridian Pint/Brookland Pint/Smoke & Barrel family of restaurants has an excellent--if more limited--selection that won't make your wallet cry. If you don't mind cans, you can get a lot of really neat stuff at a ridiculously low price point at my beloved Red Derby up in north Columbia Heights.
posted by capricorn at 12:07 PM on August 13, 2015

Oh, brewery-wise I've been hearing good things about Denizens in Silver Spring.
posted by capricorn at 12:10 PM on August 13, 2015

Best answer: For often unusual but mostly well-made beers, definitely visit Bluejacket. They have 20+ of their own brews on tap at any time including several sour and funky beers. Some of them are available in bottles, but most are not obtainable outside the brewery. Mexican Radio is a favorite of mine. They don't do flights per se, but you can order taster sizes.

The homebrew club I founded is meeting tonight at my place BTW. Should be a nice evening to enjoy a quaff under the hops in the backyard!
posted by exogenous at 12:18 PM on August 13, 2015

If you go, like, right now, Boundary Stone has a special run of cask-aged beers from DC and DC-adjacent breweries on all 6 of their taps (from an event they did a few days ago AFAIK).

Their selection is usually pretty good and locally-sourced, but the current selection is fantastic, and full of stuff that I've never seen.
posted by schmod at 12:27 PM on August 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The Lion liquor store near the Georgia Ave Metro station has a pretty great beer selection.

Seconding this! It's not, like, a beer superstore, but for a neighborhood shop it's tremendous, and the staff is very helpful.

If you can get a car and go out to Total Wine in the suburbs... now there's a beer superstore. They carry a lot of local products, too - there are a bunch of smaller Virginia breweries that don't really distribute to DC (much less NY) but are stocked at Total Wine.

Churchkey, Bluejacket, and a like a dozen other area restaurants are all owned by Neighborhood Restaurant Group. They have a pretty solid, similarly structured beer program across their restaurants. I like The Partisan, personally (draft list).
posted by everybody had matching towels at 12:39 PM on August 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

DC beer tasting meetup????
posted by everybody had matching towels at 12:42 PM on August 13, 2015 [5 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks so much for all the recs, everyone! Bluejacket sounds especially fantastic.

(As does your homebrew club, exogenous, but I won't be in town quite yet so can't ask to crash!)

(Also, I would totally go taste beer with Mefites, everybody had matching towels, but am only really gonna be free tomorrow and Saturday. Everyone, feel free to drop me a memail if you want to join me on my beerly adventures...)
posted by ferret branca at 12:46 PM on August 13, 2015

Fenwick in Silver Spring has a great bottle selection, and a decent wine selection. Also Thirding Lion Liquor, which used to be a shithole but now has a surprisingly decent selection.
posted by aspersioncast at 1:46 PM on August 13, 2015

Pipetown Traders in Hill East, next to the Potomac Ave station. Relatively new but they've got a great local selection featuring some oddities and the staff are wonderful (no tastings though, at least the last time I went -- they were dealing with some licensing issues).
posted by veery at 3:30 PM on August 13, 2015

Best answer: Right Proper is my favorite beer spot. Their beers are not only excellent, but they do some really unusual, innovative brewing. They don't bottle, so you can only get it in DC.

Denizen's in Silver Spring (on the DC metro but not quite in the city proper) has a fantastic outdoor space and brews their own beer onsite.

Hellbender is a very tasty new brewery and they have brewery tours if you're into that. Three Stars is my favorite local brewery that sells beer in bottles and cans.

Churchkey is pretty great, but definitely try to get there early (they open at 4:00) because it gets packed.

If you end up going to Black Squirrel in Adam's Morgan you should also check out Smoke and Barrel. It's about a block down the road and also has a great beer selection.
posted by forkisbetter at 4:54 PM on August 13, 2015

I like the pint/growler time at 3 Stars, but oddly I'm not thrilled by many of their beers. I like the atmosphere, and it's kind of in my neighborhood.

For the best "area" selection of beers to buy, The Perfect Pour is the best I know of.
posted by OmieWise at 7:24 AM on August 14, 2015

Seconding that a trip to Total Wine in MD or VA would be worth your while. You can't beat it for sheer selection.

Closer to DC, I've never been disappointed by Chevy Chase Wine & Spirits. They have an impressive selection of single bottles too.
posted by treachery, faith, and the great river at 9:41 AM on August 14, 2015

Best answer: Bluejacket can get REALLY crowded at Happy Hour and for a couple hours on either side of a Nationals home game. Early afternoons are actually a good time to go in there, and weeknights after 7:30pm or so, it seems. Try the home-made tater tots and the Bifteki Burger.

There is a Harris-Teeter right across the street that has an OUTSTANDING beer selection, with one entire shelf/rack display of nothing but DC/MD/VA beers. This is all within 2 blocks of the Navy Yard metro stop on the green line.

Seconding Meridian Pint if you're on that end of town. Terrific place.
posted by Thistledown at 10:26 AM on August 14, 2015

Response by poster: Thanks, DC Mefites! All of your suggestions were intriguing though I only had time to try a few this visit. The highlight was a fabulous meetup at Right Proper. (Thanks, Mrs. Pterodactyl!) I also liked Bluejacket, where I picked up a bottle of the Mexican Radio stout; and I brought home a 3 Stars saison which my boyfriend enjoyed. On the whole I found Right Proper to be the most exciting brewery since it's DC-only and makes a wide range of really tasty beers. (I especially liked the Berliner, as did my sister, who had never tried one before.)
posted by ferret branca at 8:46 AM on September 14, 2015

For people stumbling onto this thread in the future, I'll just mention that Right Proper is opening a full-scale brewery in Brookland that will feature a tasting room.

Presumably, this also means that their draughts will start becoming available throughout the region.
posted by schmod at 9:56 AM on December 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

schmod, it actually opens tomorrow!
posted by Bunny Boneyology at 10:22 AM on December 2, 2015

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