DC’s Craft Beer and Artisanal Distilling Scene

Whether you’re sipping a chilly craft beer at Logan Circle’s ChurchKey or a craft cocktail over at the Passenger in the Shaw neighborhood, you’ll notice something altogether blissful: DC has never been more attuned to the riches of a good drink, thanks in part to creative mixologists and a slew of brewers and distillers who’ve set up shop in the region.

Hopheads looking to quench their thirst with a brew from the Chesapeake watershed have plenty of options on tap.

Superior suds, such as Chocolate City’s Cornerstone Copper Ale and DC Brau’s the Public, are made within the city limits. Lost Rhino’s Rhin’Ofest and Mad Fox’s Kellerbier Kölsch hail from Virginia, while Baying Hound Aleworks’ Śarvara Black India Pale Ale and Heavy Seas’ Peg Leg Imperial Stout are Maryland natives.

The largest local boutique brewery is Frederick, Md.’s Flying Dog, which ships to 33 states and 19 countries.

This year, the award-winning ale masters will produce 44 different beers, including Secret Stash, made with hops, potatoes, corn, honey and wheat sourced from nearby farmers.

Available in limited quantities a little over two weeks after the hops are harvested in late July or early August, it’s the epitome of a local beer. “The hops pick up some of our terroir—the limestone in the earth and the unique climate,” says general partner and CEO Jim Caruso. “That beer is distinctly different than any of the others we produce.”

Finish reading this article on the Endless DC website now.


Dirty Dishing: ChurchKey’s Greg Engert and His Beery Brouhaha

Tragicomic insider stories about the trials, tribulations, and just plain weird stuff that happens when you run a restaurant.

There’s a lot of red tape that needs to be cut through before you can open a restaurant. ChurchKey’s beer baron Greg Engert knows this better than most. When it came time to open the hoppy hangout on the 14thStreet corridor in October 2009, he had to deal with a blizzard of bureaucracy in the final days before opening. Eateries need to pass their health inspection in order to get their liquor license. Only after that crucial piece of paperwork is in hand can they stock any booze. For a place that planned on offering more than 500 different kinds of beer, this necessary chain of events presented a unique pain in the ass.

ChurchKey passed its health inspection on a Friday, which meant that they couldn’t get their liquor license until after the weekend. When that was finally obtained late in the day on Monday, Engert called the beer distributors, who already had everything loaded and ready to go. Within minutes, eight trucks were lined up on the curb holding 150 different kegs, 12 kinds of casks, and over 600 cases of beer. “I overbought,” Engert admits now. “When you’re stocking, you’re like a kid in a candy store sometimes. You’re thinking, ‘Oh, I gotta get that and I can’t miss that.’”

Since there are two flights up to where the kegs were to be stored, they had to be winched upstairs. This took the rest of Monday and well into the next day. Stocking had to be halted on Tuesday, so the staff could run through a mock service. Later that night, the sorting and storing of the bottled beers began. “It took hours just to find some of the stuff,” says Engert. “If a distributor drops off 120 cases with a three-foot long invoice, it’s hard to find that one weird beer from Norway with a strange name. It was insane.”

Finish reading this story on CityEats’ Plate blog now.

Photo courtesy of ChurchKey.


Eat By Numbers: ChurchKey

When you dine out, you might think about the ingredients that go into your food, but you probably don’t think about all the numbers that make your meal happen. Restaurants are filled with interesting figures that might not be apparent when you bite into an enticing entrée or take a sip of a signature cocktail, but they’re all around you.

This week, we pop open Logan Circle’s ChurchKey to find out the numbers behind their peerless beer list, discover how many pig heads they go through and get a calorie count on their addictive disco fries.


Pages in the training manual: 218

Different beer labels that have been served: 1700 draft, 400 cask and 1500 bottles

Beer bottles in inventory: 6,000

Beer-related events hosted since opening: 150

Bottled hard ciders available: Anywhere from 30-40, including options from France, Spain, England, Quebec and smaller producers in the U.S.

Get the rest of the numbers by clicking over to CityEats’ Plate blog now.


Creamy Smooth Operators: D.C. Dines on Spreadable Cheese

20100916-DC-cheese-1-250When you think smooth and cheesy, you may think of a Barry White ballad. But at some of the capital region’s best restaurants, chefs are also incorporating incredible spreadable cheeses into their most delectable dishes. These smooth stars of the dairy world add an element of scrumptious creaminess that’s impossible to deny no matter how they’re being used. Get the dish over at the Express website now.