Imbibe Hour

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Saturday, April 28, 2012

Beer and bargains, playing is half the fun, but time waits for no thirsty man

DC Brau's Stone of Arbroath at Bier Baron
DC Brau's Stone of Arbroath at Bier Baron
There are two things that you can't get away from when going out to enjoy good beer.  One is that you will be able to have beer on tap which is something you can't do at home (unless you have your own home bar and kegerator).  The second is, usually you will be spending more money, particularly when it comes to drinking non macro produced brews.

For me, drinking beer in the DC area can be expensive, that is why I was so excited in early April to read about a promotion that was going on for neighborhood bars and restaurants.

The Washington Post had an article about a passport that you could get to promote DC beer week. You buy a small badge for $10 dollars, visit the venues and you could get certain discounts.  The deals on beer varied from venue to venue.  Churchkey for example, had a promotion for the badge to have half off any cask beer on Mondays.  It was obvious when I looked at the offer the badge price would be quickly compensated for the deals that were offered.  The real kicker was that if you visited all of the places in your passport, you would get stamped, and could enter your passport in a drawing.  15 winners would get a $50 dollar gift certificate to 1 of the 15 bars, and... wait for it... 1 grand prize for $50 gift certificates to.. ALL OF THEM.  Looking at the list there were many venues I was quite often a visitor, some that I had not visited in some time, and some that I have never been to.  It was time to move post haste and get my badge and earn the prize... or... not.  Perhaps it is of no use to mention this deal now, since the end of April is upon us, but if I could make one saving grace to tell you about this promotion, it is that I have not got a chance to grab the brass ring.  But I tried!!  and found also some real new interesting things along the way.

Nugget Nectar at Churchkey
Nugget Nectar at Churchkey
The first place I thought of going to was an obvious one and that was Churchkey.  I am at this place often, and it is no stranger to anyone in the DC area as a premier destination for beer.  Here is a place to chase 40 taps and a bottle list that fits in a huge binder.  If you are a beer nut/geek/dork/freak, you need to visit.  It was also one visit here that during my passport hunt I met someone I will refer to as only "The Man".

"The Man", like myself, is a guy who comes into Churchkey with pen and paper in hand to review, not unlike me and many other beer reviewers.  There is one exception. "The Man" is retired, he's also much older than myself and is up to nearly 10,000 personal reviews of beers.  Striking a conversation with him we could talk about beers till we were blue in the face.  The hardest part, was he wouldn't let me leave!  Needless to say, I still had to figure out how to get to all these other places on my passport.  Me and "the man's" path I am sure will cross again.

Meridian Pint was a no brainer, It's often in between my work and on the way home so that was no big deal.  The Dupont Circle area was close to my area for work for after tipples that fit places like Pizza Paradiso, Kramers, Bier Baron  and so forth.  A few spot places could also be managed.  But how was I going to do the rest?  It was obvious that a good chunk involved a return trip to the Adams Morgan neighborhood.  The last time I was there to imbibe was during my last bachelor party which should put things into perspective, and will be a story I won't dare repeat here.  So what's new in Adams Morgan 7-8 years later?

Jack Rose bar
One of three walls of Jack Rose
I went to a place that never existed back in the day called Jack Rose.  Upon walking in, my eyes nearly exploded.  Rows, and ROWS and ROWS lined the shelves filled with mostly whiskey bottles.  I was rather stunned to see so many bottles on display, it was a physical library of whiskey.  I grabbed a seat though thinking about what beer to have, and more importantly, if the beer selection would be just an afterthought to the whiskey choices offered here.  With 20 choices on tap and a quick glance of the handles my mind was made up in an instant.
Aecht Schlenkerla Eiche on tap at Jack Rose
Schlenkerla Eiche on tap at Jack Rose
Peering out was a familiar name, and more so, it's name on a distinct green background that makes me drool everytime on first sight, that beer name is Aecht Schlenkerla Eiche, their oak smoked rauchbier.  I love this beer to death.

The tap list here at Jack Rose seems to focus on malty offerings, a Smoked and Oaked Epic beer popped out as well.  No doubt the offerings here at Jack Rose are bent to hit on the whiskey smokiness offerings, and the beers seem to hint at dark richness focusing on malt and smoke.  It is a place that I need to visit again.  A quick chat of the bartender mentioned that the place has the largest whiskey selection in the United States.  I really need to return...

Summer Solstice - Anderson Valley at Smoke & Barrel
Smoke & Barrel was another place I visited that is also new.  This place was a mystery to me at first, and it sort uh... made me wonder what happened to the old Asylum that use to be around here?  I quickly forgot settling in with a familiar favorite cream ale from Anderson Valley, their Summer Solstice.  Really nice atmosphere, and very friendly staff was what I left with for an impression.  The place contains BBQ but I did not have any when I visited at the time.

Tryst tap shot and staff photos in Adams Morgan
Being in Adams Morgan reminded me for an overdue visit to a place I always think of, but never get a chance to visit as much as I would like and that is Tryst.  A great coffee house, it has had what I would consider a very noticeable make over since my last visit.  Where is all the ratty ripped furniture?  Woah these walls are actually painted (and cleaner).  Still the portraits on the wall of the coffee staff are still there, this time against a clean yellow creme background.  I still get a kick out of the one guy who has a cup of joe over his groin, the camera angle posed and shot to make it look like he's a pic right of an ... ahem... porno mag.  Hey your espresso isn't THAT big buddy... ;)

Espresso at Tryst
Espresso at Tryst
I was surprised they were participating in the promotion for beer, I couldn't even remember if they even served beer back in the day?

Still, I took a breather and had of course great coffee. I almost forgot one of my favorite touches they have when they serve, and that is, animal crackers on your saucer.  Even though I didn't have any alcohol they still stamped my passport which was nice, remarking that it was yellow and VERY hard to see.

The Totality Incomplete
The totality incomplete
Still, after all this time adventuring, I am still not finished.  Time has nearly run out, and even the budget with the discount hasn't quite made it happen.  Technically of this writing I could "still" complete this passport but I am down to four places.  One is in my favorite DC neighborhood of H ST NE, called Granville Moore's.  Another is the District Chophouse that servers a nice side of corn bread in a cast iron skillet the size of your face.  The Big Hunt, while also in the Dupont neighborhood has always eluded me...  But as I understand it, when May 1st comes time is up for the passport.

I suppose.. and I say this with all hypothetical possibilities cause what I am about to say next is "technically" possible... BUT.. I could visit all of the four remaining places within the next 48 hours.

Somehow though the time and the funds always seem to run out, but the good beer and places in DC never does.


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