For the second year in a row, Jeanne & I found ourselves hitting the road for July 4th weekend. While it means I unfortunately had to miss the SIB both years, don’t feel too bad for me. Last year was spent eating & drinking our way through Italy, and this year we were exploring Washington, DC. Jeanne’s brother (Jeff) and his wife (Jennifer) were kind enough to show us around all weekend and let us crash at their place. While this was far from a “beer trip”, we of course managed to hit a couple of key beer places and I really enjoyed seeing a good mix of neighborhoods/areas of DC.
We were staying neer the U Street Corridor, which is a great location for getting around via foot and the metro. We hit:
The Brickskeller– This Washington DC “institution” has been around since 1957. There is a bar upstairs with some draft beers, but we ended up sitting downstairs, which is bottles only. They have a really nice list of beers to choose from, and there were a few things on there that I was pretty excited about….which is why it’s unfortunate that they were out of stock on about 50% of what we ordered. I had definitely been warned from friends/other reviews that they often have beers on their list that they don’t have available. But, it’s just kind of amazing to see it first-hand. Some might call the decor historic, while others might call it a bit of a dump. We did not eat here, but the food coming out to other tables looked to be pretty unexciting. To sum it up, this place was just fine for a visitor like me to check out, but I’m fairly certain it wouldn’t be a regular place for me if I lived in DC.
Pizzeria Paradiso– Now, this is more like it. The Paradiso is one of DC’s most loved pizza joints (Napoli style), but their beer selection might be second to none in the city as well. Their bottle list was extensive (included good descriptions, and all were in stock), and their draft list had several interesting options. They are a big fan of Three Floyd’s Brewing, which is located in Munster, IN, and does not distribute out to DC (or anywhere even close). They love 3F beer so much that they occasionally fly out to Chicago, pick up a U-Haul truck and fill it up with bottles and kegs from the brewery in Munster. They then drive it all the way back to DC to serve to the beer geeks of the city, in addition to customers that are completely unaware of how much dedication was put into getting that pint of Alpha King in front of them. DC beer distribution laws seem to be a bit more flexible than Washington state….
The Paradiso has 2 levels. The upper level is a bright, clean restaurant with a small bar and several taps. Downstairs is a smaller bar area with a few tables and a lot less light; definitely a place to belly up to the bar and have a few pints. We sat at the bar upstairs and enjoyed a couple of pizzas (seriously great), and a taster flight that included Three Floyd’s Sand Pebbles (brown IPA), Palm, Bruery Orchard Wit, an Italian beer whose name escapes me and a Three Floyd’s Robert the Bruce on cask. That was followed up by a bottle of Mikkeller Single Hop (Cascade) and a full pint of that wonderful Sand Pebbles. Our bartender, Taylor, knew his beer and had several suggestions and we chatted about his thoughts on beer in DC. He also mentioned that Three Floyd’s had recently collaborated with the tattoo parlor directly across the street from Paradiso to create a beer called Jinx Proof (the name of the tattoo parlor), which I tried the last time I was at the brewery about a month ago.
Other adventures for the weekend included meals at some great restaurants. Rice was an upscale Thai restaurant. Hank’s Oyster Bar had some great fresh oysters (including 3 varieties from WA state) and a couple nice beers on tap. We went to a tapas place called Jaleo downtown that was fantastic. On Saturday, we went to see the Washington Nationals battle the Atlanta Braves. The new park was great and had a nice selection of food and some decent local beers scattered throughout the park. We had burgers from a place called Five Guys that were as good as you’ll get at a ballpark. We also had time to visit the American Museum of Art and the National Portrait Gallery, as well as drive around some of the popular sights of the capitol. We also visited the DC version of Pike Place Market, which is called the Eastern Market. We packed in quite a bit, but there is still tons more I’d like to see in DC.
All things considered, I really enjoyed DC and can’t wait to make another trip. There is plenty of good beer to be had, and the city itself seems like a great place to live.
Now, it’s on to Connecticut and Boston for the rest of the week…
Photos to follow in a few days.