Last time that I did my impression of Uncle Travelling Matt and updated you on my recent travels to the US we were still in city that never sleeps – New York. But after many many beers eventually needed to leave town so like a country song we jumped an Amtrak train down to Washington DC.
Washington DC, the city that sleeps soundly at night and has the odd nana nap as well. Let’s start by ensuring that we all have some knowledge of US geography. Washington and Washington DC are different places kids.
Washington DC is a like the Canberra of the US (or vice versa), it’s tiny, you can walk its length in a morning. It’s over on the East Coast, about a three hour train ride south of New York.
Washington State is way up in the top left hand corner of the US, it’s significantly bigger 1,048 times bigger that DC in fact. Its capital city is Seattle, asd as part of the Pacific Northwest, It is the famous for its craft beer culture.
Washington DC is not.
But there were a few local brews that we managed to seek out during our brief stay by the mighty Potomac river. Now when I say local I don’t actually mean DC (there ain’t much brewed in DC, except a few brewpubs, but we will get to that later) I actually mean neighbouring state – Maryland.
In DC we were staying in the awesomely named Foggy Bottom, which is the home to a couple of important places The State Department (AKA Hillary’s Pad) and George Washington University (AKA GWU).
Now if we had managed to find Hilary’s hubby I’m sure we could have downed a few brews at the State department, and got up to all manner of strife but alas we didn’t see him so we needed to rely on the college kids to provide us with our beer.
Although the bottle shops that surrounded us were ordinary (they seemed to do a roaring trade in Bud Lite, red cups and ping pong balls, but little else) so we needed to head to the best of their bars which was Tonic.
This was actually quite upmarket for the college bar, and thankfully they had a good selection of local brews on tap. So myself and Jord sat back, watched the Ice Hockey (It’s what you do when your local team, the Capitals are in the play-offs), ordered a Pizza and started working our way through the list.
First up was a brewery that I’m sure many of you have heard of Flying Dog, which along with Sierra Nevada is a brewery you hear a bit about down under. I had their Snake Bite IPA. The beer that was a deep amber colour with a creamy white head which disappeared quickly. The Hops are a smack in the face on the first sip, but as you settle into the brew the maltiness comes through well, the hops are still there but are more gentle. A great beer, easy to drink and refreshing yet interesting – Pint.
Next we moved onto TheRaven which is a lager that is made by the Baltimore Washington Beer Works.
This too is an amber colour, but whereas Fly Dog had a creamy head, this had a wispy one. The brew is strangely devoid of smell. Not surprisingly as this is a lager not an IPA this brew is maltier and less hoppy than the Snake Bite. Rather it is a gentle beer which is pleasant enough but lacks any breakthrough flavour, I’d happily drink it, but I wouldn’t rave about it – Schooner.
Last up was Hook and Ladder Flashpoint Pale Ale. In case you haven’t guessed itHook and Ladderhave a fire theme to their brews. It was started by a Volunteer Fireman named Rich Fleischer, and they have a ongoing commitment to support a charity that supports Firefighters who have be burned fighting fires (The fact that fire fighters who are injured on the job need a charity to support them and that there isn’t a union or government that would be doing this job says a lot about America’s welfare system, but never fear because beer can fix everything).
These guys and undoubtedly good blokes, but is their beer any good? Short answer, Yeah it is. The beer is at the darker end of the Pale Ale spectrum, with a stark white head of about half a centimetre. The beer smells quite acidic and alcoholic. It has some very nice fruit tones in the taste. Flavours of ripe plums and then roasted malts are coming through. In fact the brew reminds me of a Marzen in style. Like many a US brew I found the hoppy aftertaste just a little on the harsh side, but still a very nice tipple – Pint.
Six degrees of Norm: Where we prove all beers can be traced back to Norm from Cheers (George Wendt) in six easy steps:
- We enjoyed these beers at Tonic bar
- Which is on the campus of GWU
- Which is the college that Alec Baldwin attended
- Who starred in ‘The Juror’ with Demi Moore
- Who was Woody Harrelson’s wife in Indecent Proposal
- And Woody served beers to George Wendt when they played Woody and Norm in Cheers
Flying Dog Snake Pint – Jug
The Raven – Schooner
Hook and Ladder Flashpoint – Pint