August 14, 2008

Side Beer Trip To Washington D.C.

Suffering under the occasional fit of restlessness, I trekked down to Washington D.C. last Saturday for a good old fashioned beer trip. 'Twas a good decision, and a good time.

Thanks to the help of Google and the Beer Advocate forums, I was able to patch together a rough plan of what to hit. My goal was to get to 3-6 places, with about a beer at each stop, and hopefully nail down a few of those stops on the Metro rail instead of driving all around town and trying to find parking everywhere. Mission accomplished.

In order, my stops were:

1)Pizzeria/Birreria Paradiso
2)Capit0l City Brewing Company
3)Regional Food & Drink (RFD)
4)Cafe Berlin
5)Dr. Granville Moore's

There's much more to do in D.C. and I'll keep that in mind for future trips, heading to places like Belga Cafe, Brasserie Beck, The Big Hunt, the Brickskeller, and the District ChopHouse & Brewery.

Without a doubt, the two best stops were the first and the last. I arrived at around noon in Georgetown, right around the opening for Pizzeria Paradiso. After fighting to find parking, I discovered their much hyped downstairs bar hadn't opened yet. However, they sent me over to the smaller upstairs bar and I was told all their tap offerings were available just the same. Cool.

The beer menu was tremendous, with about 18 tap offerings (mostly Belgian beers including a ton of hard-to-find brews) and almost limitless and eclectic bottled selections including rarities. I ordered a glass of Augustijn to go with my terrific pizza. What's cool is that after my pizza I tried a "build your own" 5 oz. taster flight. They let you pick 3 or 4 draught beers (or choose their preset offering) for $9 or $11. I went with the Belgian flight, knocking down an Avril, Hopsinjoor and XX Bitter. Good stuff. It was nice to relax and people watch, as Georgetown was hopping and filled with beautiful (and not so beautiful) people.

After that it was a fairly quick if turnabout-crazy drive across town to Union Station. From there I grabbed a quick ride to the Metro Center stop and walked a few blocks over to Capitol City Brewing Company. It was hot and I made a bland choice in going with the Boysenberry beer. Eh. The big windows and high ceilings are inviting and some of the offerings looked interesting but that particular beer hastened my departure. They have about five house beers and another five seasonals available.

From there it was a quick walk over to the bustling Chinatown, and RFD. RFD is the sister establishment to the Brickskeller, which boasts the world's largest bottled beer menu. I heard many complaints about Brickskeller and passed. Notably, it seems you have to order several beers before they have something in stock. That adventure was for another day, so RFD it was. The interior was boring, but I enjoyed my first ever Bell's beer. I chose the Oberon, which was refreshing. They had about 18 tap offerings as well, plus a decent sized fridge stocked with great beers.

From there I hopped on the Metro again and got lost for a while, grabbing the wrong train. Happens. After rerouting, it was back to Union Station and a quick walk to a nice German restaurant called Cafe Berlin. They usually have 3-4 beers on tap, and I went with the hef (I think it was Paulaner?). They serve them in cool half or full glasses with various German brewery logos. A guy a few tables over was actually drinking out of one of those oversized beer boots. I try not to listen in to conversations but he mentioned to someone at another table that was the only boot there and he'd gotten there early to ensure the boot was his for the evening.

So uh, if drinking authentic German beer from a boot is your thing, Cafe Berlin is the place to be.

From there I grabbed the car again at Union Station and made my final stop at Dr. Granville Moore's. GM's doesn't open until five, just a word to the wise. This place was featured on FoodTV's "Throwdown" with Bobby Flay, which is how I heard about it. They're famous for their Belgian food, particularly the mussels & fries (moules + frites). But of course they have Belgian beer, and who can pass that up?

Some people may be a little put off by the neighborhood this place is in, but it reminded me of my days at USC, living near a poorer section of town. I can see how people say parking can be a hassle, but I found a spot on a parallel street just behind GM's. Unfortunately there's no easy Metro or transit access here (or Pizzeria Paradiso, for that matter), so driving is the best bet even if it's only a mile from Union Station.

The upstairs area of GM's was featured in the TV show, but I opted for the dark and moody downstairs bar. I ordered up some frites with ALL their available dipping sauces and went with a Gulden Draak and something Donker. Both were quite delicious and served in appropriate glassware. GM's only has about four taps, but a tremendous bottle list of Belgian beers, many of them listed on the chalkboard as you enter.

Thing were quiet until about 630 when a steady stream of people rolled through. It's a tiny place, so that was my cue to surrender the seat for a more thirsty soul.

Not a bad day, in particular at Paradiso and Moore's. Washington D.C. clearly has a lot to offer and explore when it comes to beer and I'll definitely be back (hopefully while the weather is still warm!).


Steve said...

Now that's a trip report. Bravo.

Laura said...

For future reference, no need to hope over to Metro Center to hit Cap City from Union Station. There's a Cap City right next to the station in the Post Office Museum. Thanks for the great report!

Steve said...

oh PS- how was that Hopsinjoor? I saw that on tap at Beachwood last night.

BeerGuy said...

Thanks Laura!

BeerGuy said...


Meh. Amazingly given my tastes, and knowing it was a Belgian IPA, it had an odd hop taste that didn't quite balance to the rest of the beer.

Had a Lager-like freshness to it, with the obvious boldness of a Belgian IPA, which should have worked well but I don't know, wasn't working for me and was the one taster I was in a hurry to finish and move onto the other beers from.