March 25th, 2013 • No Comments
Things don’t always go right when you plan a Big Event – especially in Washington, D.C..
Packed and Chilly..
So I had an “interesting” conversation with the organizer of the inaugural DC Beer Festival
a few months before the event. The Organizer was frankly quite cocky about his ability to fill up the event (which he did – pretty unbelievable for a first year event without using Groupon/LivingSocial!) and when I mentioned that he “might not be the first and only beer festival ever”
Lots of Characters Pouring!
here in our fair city, he didn’t seem to hear my words..but what caught my attention more than anything was the date and the fact that this was pretty much an outdoor event at Nat’s Stadium..he said “and end of March is a good time, we can expect better weather..”
– HA – he doesn’t know DC!! Originally meant to be a one day event on Saturday, March 23rd, 2013, the Organizer added Sunday because sales were so strong – One Problem – the weather – snow was predicted for Sunday evening and that meant cancellation of that evening’s session, the one I had planned on going to..Thus, photos of the Saturday evening event..
Oliver’s Cherry Blossom Ale..it was quite good!
Doing Events in DC is Difficult – I spent 14 years organizing events here and I can tell you that it’s very tricky, especially pertaining to weather: rain, snow, hurricanes, you name it..oh, and let’s not forget post 9-11 Security..tough! I’ve been snowed out of a few events – the Israeli Embassy wine tasting comes to mind – and how do you cover your catering costs? I mean, I ordered $3,500 in food from a kosher caterer, do I expect them to keep the food? At the last second we both compromised and I paid them 50% – which probably covered their food costs and gave them a little extra. How about cancellation and refunds? Oh, and forgot to mention, that the freak snow storm that cancelled the Israeli Embassy event made it very difficult to confirm all the refunds..some people literally came to the event even though we tried every way to tell them it was cancelled..they ignored the blizzard, howling winds and impossible conditions!
Deciding when to limit ticket sales is the balance between profit and insanely crowded..As a promoter, I know how it is – you need to maximize profitability, but you need to consider the attendees experience. Overall, crowding is less desirable to attendees as they get older – they don’t want to be hassled, pushed, shoved or wait in line. The younger crowd actually desires “some” lines – just as in clubs/lounges, this suggests its the place to be!
Choosing the Right Beers Can Make a Statement-Everyone’s into local – Locavore, local beers, local chickens, on and on! DC Beer Festival had a very good mix of beers – Beer List DC Beer Festival. Unfortunately, I don’t have the Beer List, but there was a good selection of many craft beers – even Burley Oak, a relatively new craft beer from Maryland’s Eastern Shore. The trick with Beer Festivals is to promote the local craft beers like DC Brau, Chocolate City and 3 Stars with some of the nationals like Sam Adams and Harpoon..the trick is to include the bigger names without making the event seem like a pure marketing play for Big Beer – it’s really a “craft” beer festival an organizer should go for..
Make sure there is sufficient food Not a problem for this event – many of the Concessions like Ben’s Chili Bowl were open and serving the perfect food for the conditions – chili cheese fries and dogs! Food Costs usually aren’t an issue for Beer Festivals – they simply don’t include them in the price – but normally beer is unlimited or significant amount of tastings. Each jurisdiction has different laws (for example, Virginia does NOT allow unlimited beer tastings at festivals for a fixed price, so people are normally purchasing sampling tickets). Of course, unlimited beer samplings can create drunkenness issues – especially with today’s high alcohol craft beers – so having a small sample glass, and actually some wait for each beer is a good thing. I will say this – drinking beer in excess is somewhat easier to control than spirits – whiskey festivals can tricky to manage crowd control!
Hope this gives an overview of “some” of the issues pertaining to organizing beer festivals and events in general in the DC Area – Cheers!
Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler
– Taste of Japan, Thursday April 4th, 801 K Street, NW , Washington DC
– Washington City Paper’s Best Of 2013 Fete Presented by Verizon Wireless, Wednesday April 10th, 801 K Street, NW, Washington DC
– Decanter: A Celebration of Maryland Wine and Racing, Saturday April 20th, Pimlico Race Course 5201 Park Heights Avenue , Baltimore MD
March 10th, 2013 • No Comments
DCBrau Needs More Beer Dinners..
Guest Post by Christina Portz “Just the Bottle” Blog:
Did Somebody Say Beer Dinner?
I have great respect for DC Brau. The founders are hard working and passionate men. I remember after they first opened, I tried to find The Public Ale. It was amazing having that first beer. I had a friend at the time who had just moved to San Fransisco and took photos of DC Brau. He eventually made his way back home and loves DC Brau.
This past Thursday DC Brau held a beer dinner at 1905. The event was featured on TasteDC’s calendar (4-Course DC Brau Beer Dinner )among other great sites. Before the dinner, they held a release happy hour for their Saint Joseph’s Tripel. The beer is named in honor of Joey Belcher. They also donated a portion of the proceeds of the happy hour as well as remembered him fondly during the dinner.
I missed the happy hour as I was catching up with a friend at Vinoteca. It’s another great spot in the area that never gets too packed for weekday happy hour and offers several wines by the glass for $5.
I showed up shortly before the start of dinner. I was greeted by the wonderful staff of 1905 including one of my favorite bartenders, Lyn. She’s a sassy lady with amazing taste in beer and food. I also was lucky enough to meet one of the DC Beers crew, John Fleury.
Let’s get started with this tasty dinner. Nom nom nom.
DC Brau Citizen, Horseradish, Lemon Juice, Pickled Okra
The amuse bouche featured the DC Brau Citizen as an oyster shooter. I am not the biggest fan usually of oysters, but the spice and acid notes were perfect. The DC Brau Citizen had a balancing effect.
House-Smoked Pork Belly
Brined in DC Brau Penn Quarter Porter, Maple Glaze, Bacon Collards, Littlenecks
Paired with Penn Quarter Porter (5.5% ABV)
My preferred beers are stouts or porters. I love the Penn Quarter Porter. The pork belly was succulent. It was so creamy along with the beer it came out very luxurious. The collard greens with bacon added an element of salt.
There were amazing chocolate notes in the porter with some smoke towards the finish.
Lemon-Pepper Creme, Deviled Crawfish, Pickled Fennel
Paired with Saint Joseph’s Tripel (10% ABV)
This was yet another amazing dish. The tripel made delicious sense with the salmon. As Jeff presented the dish, he spoke of having beer compliment or contradict your food. It’s a great aspect of dining with beer.
The salmon was cooked perfectly. It was incredibly moist and sort of fell apart in my mouth. The deviled crawfish and pickled fennel added a nice sourness that was a palate cleanser.
The tripel was a great homage to the Belgian tripel. It wasn’t as overpowering as I find Belgian tripels (possibly food would help). It had lovely citrus notes, some toast and mild sweetness.
Crisp-Skin Duck Breast
Housemade Kraut, Sorghum Mustard, Barrel-Aged Ghoul’s Night Out Beer Salt
Paired with Barrel-Aged Ghoul’s Night Out (11% ABV)
Aged in Catoctin Creek Grape Brandy Barrels
Next we moved onto the duck, which to quote my man friend was “quacktastic”. The sorghum mustard added spicy notes combined with the barrel aged ghoul’s night our beer salt and beer itself. The beer had amazing caramel notes that brought out additional flavor in the duck.
Even though I prefer heavier beers, this may have been my favorite. It reminded me somewhat of a doppelbock with caramel flavors and a lovely smoothness.
We also had the opportunity to sample the Catoctin Creek Brandy to have a better understanding of how the beer was aged. This may be my new favorite brandy. It was very smooth with great vanilla notes and hints of molasses.
“Coffee & Doughnuts”
Paired with Barrel-Aged Penn Quarter Porter (5.5% ABV)
Obviously, I love donuts. I went to the donut party. One can never have enough donuts. As we finished our dinner, we were treated to donuts with light powdered sugar, chocolate ganche sauce, Barrel Aged Penn Quarter Porter and a coffee styled chaser.
The donuts were light, fluffy and warm. That’s a key to donuts is conning the mouth into thinking they are eating something that hasn’t been fried in grease. At least, that’s what I tell myself.
The barrel aging added more vanilla and toasty notes with hints of whiskey to the beer. It rounded the finish.
This was an amazing dinner with great people both attending and working the event. I always love my visits to 1905 and hope to go back soon.
Oh and DC Brau! I’m calling you out. Have more beer dinners!!
August 6th, 2012 • No Comments
WTOP Beer of the Week: 3 Stars Brewery Pandemic Porter
w/Greg Engert, Beer Sommelier of Neighborhood Restaurant Group
Last year in 2011, two new breweries opened up in Washington, D.C. – this after almost 60 years without a brewery to call our own. Yes, we have Brew Pubs like Capitol City Brewpub, District Chophouse, and Gordon Biersch, but a true brewery produces beer in quantity for off-premise consumption. With the openings of DCBrau on April 15th, 2011 (great article by Tammy Tuck/Lagerheads) and Chocolate City Beer on August 18th, 2011, the DC Beer Scene had something to Celebrate – Local Pride! You will hear over and over again if you live in the DC area that there are few natives, almost everyone who lives here comes for a job/career and the assumption is they may not be here for much longer than a few years. The sign of a good economy is a mobile economy – this is true, but employees are human and they need to identify with something. This is where the locavore movement came to be: the concept that by eating local, and supporting local businesses, you help the local economy and develop a sense of community pride. DC’s local breweries tapped into this need for local identity – just consider their company names and the names of their beers, for example, DC Brau’s The Corruption and The Citizen.
I also want to mention that DC doesn’t always mean “District of Columbia” to us locals – NoVa (Northern Virginia) and Montgomery County (sometimes Prince George’s County too!) in Maryland all make up our local craft beer market – Baltimore is a whole different story. Port City Brewery opened up in 2011 with a bang and from a slightly different angle – yes, Alexandria, VA needed a Brewery (or 2..) but the background of Port City’s founder is really the story of the evolution of a wine professional into a craft beer brewer. During my days in the wine business, I often saw Bill Butcher, Port City’s Founder, at Mondavi tastings promoting the wine lifestyle. And that’s what wine marketing is really about – lifestyle. People who purchase wine tend to have a higher income (or they did a decade ago), are well educated, and pretty much define the commonly used term today “aspirational” – they have money, but dream of a higher status, and Mondavi/wine perfectly fit into this cozy scenario. But beer is different, even craft beer. What Bill did is create a local brand that gives and identity to Northern Virginia that it needed – a sense of place. SEE LIST OF PAID EVENTS BELOW
Quick Info Resources:
Some events that feature local breweries or paid events to plan ahead for include:
3rd Annual DC Beer Week Craft Beer & Dinner Cruise on the Odyssey, August 12th (Sunday) boards the Odyssey at 5 pm, sets sail 6-9 pm
Enjoy unlimited tastings of more than 40 craft beers from across the US and around the world Included in the cost of admission is a full dinner buffet, DJ, dancing and a 3-hour cruise along the Potomac as we pass the majestic skyline of the nation’s capital. Cost is $125, tickets will not be available at the door, but can be purchased here.
-Italian Craft Beer Tasting
August 12th (Sunday) 2:30-4:30pm
Maple, 3418 11th Street NW, Washington, D.C. 20010
Maple is hosting an afternoon tasting of craft brews from Italy. The country’s vibrant beer scene has rapidly expanded in recent years,
but the beers are not yet widely available in the U.S. Join us to sample six Italian beers and learn about the breweries behind them.
Antipasti will be served. Beer List
Tickets Are $40/per person, exclusive of tax and gratuity
Please reserve your spot by calling us at 202-588-7442.
–Meridian Pint: Cheese and Oxbow Beer – August 13th (Monday) 6:30pm
Meridian Pint – 3400 11th Street NW
Join Tim Adams, co-founder and head brewer of Oxbow Brewing Company, and Tim Prendergast, Assistant Beer Director at the Meridian Pint and a Certified Cicerone®, for a casual afternoon exploration of Oxbow beers and American artisanal cheese. Through five pairings, you will see the amazing affinity that Oxbow’s farmhouse beers and artisanal cheese have for one another. $45 includes tax and gratuity. Buy your tickets here http://goo.gl/STeiK. Save $10 when you also purchase tickets for Smoke & Barrel’s “Beer Meat Whiskey: Utah Edition” event http://goo.gl/Wy47z.
-5-Course Ommegash it’s Allagang Beer Dinner, August 14 at 7 p.m.
Granville Moore’s, 1238 H St. NE, Washington, DC 20002Portland, Maine’s Allagash Brewing Co. and Cooperstown, N.Y.’s Brewery Ommegang provide the beer for this dinner with food pairings by Granville Moore’s Chef Teddy Folkman and his culinary team. Complete Menu Tickets Are $65/per person, Call For Menu and Reservations (202) 399-2546
– SOLD OUT-DC Brau’s Genuine 1st Annual Official DC Beer Week Crab Festival Monumental Extravaganza, August 15th (Wednesday) 5 – 10 pm
Quarterdeck Restaurant, 1200 Fort Myer Drive, Arlington, VA 22209
SOLD OUT-Please help DC BRAU celebrate indigenous beer and these indigenous mid-Atlantic delicacies – All you can eat crabs and DC Brau Discount Pitchers of Beer. Tickets Are $35/per person, Purchase Tickets Online
–Smoke and Barrel: Beer, Meat, and Whiskey: Utah Edition – August 15th (Wednesday) 7pm
Join Michael Malachowski, National Sales Manager of Epic Brewing, and Troy Karnes, Passionate Whiskey Missionary from High West Distillery, for an hour of exploration into pairing meat with Utah beer and whiskey. Executive Chef and pitmaster Logan McGear will offer three distinct meat plates each paired with an Epic brew and a High West concoction.
$45 includes tax and gratuity. Save $10 when you also purchase tickets to Meridian Pint’s Cheese & Oxbow Beer event. Details at http://goo.gl/58rNY. Tickets and menu available here:
–Mad Fox Brewing Company: Cask Beer Dinner August 15th (Wednesday)
Mad Fox Brewing Company – 444 West Broad Street – Falls Church
Five course beer dinner featuring Mad Fox’s cask beers. $75/person.
-Hopfenstark Guided Beer Tasting, Thursday, August 16, Georgetown, 7pm
Pizzeria Paradiso (Georgetown), 3282 M Street NW, Washington DC 20007
Featuring a guided tasting of 10 Hopfenstark beers by brewmaster Frederick Cormier
$35 for 10 three ounce pours & your choice of 1 twelve ounce pour paired with its own Special Pizza
Call 202-337-1245 for Reservations (Required)
Complete Menu of Beers
–District Chophouse: 2nd Annual Cask Night – August 16th (Thursday) 6pm
District Chophouse – 509 7th Street NW , Washington, D.c.
Featuring Handcrafted Casks from over 15 Local Area Breweries, including DC Brewers Beer Week Collaboration Beer: Solidarity Saison, Bluejacket, DC Brau, 3 Stars Brewing Company, District Chophouse, and many more! $50 ticket includes: unlimited beer sampling, light Chophouse fare, tasting glass, raffle prizes. Reserve tickets by calling 202-347-1922
–Smoke and Barrel: Crab Feast with Evolution and 3 Stars Brewing Companies, August 17th (Friday)
Smoke and Barrel – 2471 18th Street NW, Washington, D.C.
Tom Knorr, founder of Evolution Craft Brewing, is driving down bushels of Maryland Blue Crabs straight from the shore. Join him and the guys from 3 Stars Brewing for an all-you-can-eat crab feast. $45 covers tax and gratuity, as well bottomless Evolution and 3 Stars drafts from 6-8PM! Tickets available here: http://goo.gl/Tvj7i
–Bier Baron: Midsummer Barleywine Festival , August 17th (Friday) 7pm
Bier Baron – 1523 22nd Street NW , Washington, D.C.
The Bier Baron will be releasing its Cellar Reserve List—featuring its extensive collection of rare and vintage beers—and hosting a vertical tasting of four select vintages of Anchor Old Foghorn. Tickets can be purchased at BierBaronDC.com ($40 online/$50 at the door). Ticket includes entry to the event, a vertical tasting of Old Foghorn starting with an entire bottle of vintage 1991, and 20% off everything on the Cellar List and vintage barley wines on draft. Purchase Tickets Online (Paypal)
More to Come!
August 22nd, 2011 • No Comments
Enjoyed a fantastic tour of Catoctin Creek Distillery on Saturday, August 20th, 2011 when the DC Whiskey Drinkers (Facebook) had our private tour with Scott Harris and his team. Let me just say first, that for a City Slicker (I live in Georgetown) the area around Purcellville, VA is so relaxing and bucolic that I could feel all my tension fading away even before I came to the Distillery’s door. Catoctin Creek is located in an industrial park, but it’s a pretty quaint low-industrial area, and it’s pretty much smack in the middle of the woods! Also, I was relieved to find that my GPS took right to the front door, something that rarely happens this far out.
Catoctin Creek Distillery - Entrance
I didn’t realize it until I got there, but the Distillery is a pretty popular place on weekends, and the fact that we nabbed a private tour through the owner made a big difference – after our group of about 15 left, a mob of 50 or more thirsty whiskey lovers filled the tasting room and warehouse and we felt lucky to have had the privilege! Here’s a photo of the whiskey’s we tasted – note that there is already a plan to change the labels.
Catoctin Creek Distillery is currently producing 3 spirits – Mosby’s Spirits, Roundstone Rye and Watershed Gin – as well as Pearousia Pear Brandy. Mosby’s is an organic (actually, all of Catoctin Creek’s spirits are organic – this is why Scott is constantly forced to search for organic rye growers throughout the U.S.) unaged white spirit – but the rye definitely comes through with both a sweet and almost earthy best I can describe it as hot pepper and clay flavor that really awakens the senses – THIS is what Vodka only hopes to be! The Roundstone Rye is ages 4 month in new oak and is a mellower more rounded version of the Mosby, with just enough caramel/brown sugar from the oak to make this a great sipping whiskey. The Gin is botanical with more of a citrus, orange fruit component and less herby than many, which lends well to mixing with more fruit concentrated drinks to match. I didn’t try the Pearousia – oh well, there’s always another day..
Without going into too much detail about the process of making whiskey (Distilling 101 – another class, another day..) Scott takes the rye and turns it into a beer of sorts, also called the “Wort” – basically beer without hops and a Distiller’s Yeast vs Brewer’s Yeast fermented to approximately 10% alcohol before it’s put into the still and converted into spirit. The middle photo is the Wort in the still, the photo to the right of that is actually before that during the fermentation into beer. Some interesting side notes: Virginia doesn’t produce much organic rye grain, so Scott has to go elsewhere to get it (he wants to be truly local, but alas..)..while distilling the Wort, a percentage of the first distillation called the “heads” is unusable because it’s poisonous – the ratios Scott gave are 100 gallons of beer distill into 10 gallons of spirit of which about 1/2 gallon of that is lost as the undrinkable “heads”. Scott distills to about 170 Proof (85% alcohol) and cuts it to around 90 Proof. When he makes the brown rye aged spirit, he ages in new charred oak barrels for 4 months – 10 lbs. of spirit is absorbed by the wood and is lost (spirits are about 7 lbs. to a gallon, so he loses another 1 gallon and change – rather than throw out these barrels, he sells them to breweries (like DCBrau – DC’s first Brewery in almost 60 years!)
On the left is the Kothe Still – it’s sort of a combo pot and continuous still, and is one of the reasons that American Micro-Distilling is growing at such a rapid pace. Our group really enjoyed the tour – so much so, that one of our group purchased 2 cases..I’ll need to visit them soon! If you’re interested in tasting Catoctin Creek’s products, definitely take the weekend tour – but you can also find many of their spirits in stores throughout the Washington, D.C. region. Catoctin Creek is also the only distillery we have pouring with 34 breweries at MAC Brew Fest – DC’s Own Beer Festival on Saturday, October 15th, 2011 – if you’re planning to visit DC, check it out – Cheers!