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A Delicious Taste of DC Beer Week

Nothing quite like beer to liven up the normally languid Washington August. A few movers and shakers (including Jeff Wells of DOPS distributors and Teddy Folkman, executive chef at Granville Moore’s and the Capitol Lounge) have organized the first-ever DC Beer Week: six days of beer dinners, tastings and brewer meet-and-greets celebrating extreme beer, extreme beer cuisine, even extreme beer containers.

It’s going all week, but here’s a snapshot of yesterday, Day Two (I sat out the opening ceremonies on Sunday):

The evening began at 5 p.m. at Birreria Paradiso in Georgetown, as James Williams, regional sales manager for Manneken-Brussel Imports Inc., uncorked a “Methuselah” (six-liter bottle) of the celebrated Trappist ale Chimay Grande Reserve (also called Chimay Blue after the color of the label).

The immense bottle was as heavy as an anvil. There are only 25 in existence, to be decanted on special occasions, said Williams, and this was the first to be opened in the United States. Chimay Blue, the brewery’s strongest offering at 9 percent alcohol by volume, is a deep copper with a great depth of fruity (apple, plum, raisin) flavors and a peppery spiciness. The monks at the Abbey of Scourmont in Chimay, Belgium, also oversee a cheese-making operation.

What did we wash down with the ale? As a one-day-only special, the restaurant offered pizza Belgian-style made from the sharp, tangy Chimay cheese, topped with salty prosciutto, caramelized onions and endive.

Next, I was off to Brasserie Beck on K Street for Dogfish Head Happy Hour, featuring $5 drafts from the Milton, Del., craft brewery. Dogfish Head’s local rep, Devin Arloski, awaited with a 25- ounce bottle of Theobroma. Inspired by the libations of the ancient Aztecs, the tawny brew has a rounded sweetness from a dollop of honey, and a subtle bittersweet chocolate flavor from the addition of cocoa nibs and powder. Ten seconds after you swallow, the ancho chilis kick in with a prickly sensation in the back of your throat.

For dessert, the Black Squirrel on 18th Street was serving a hop ice cream as part of its “Hop Times in the City” tasting. Chef Gene Sohn took what he described as a creme brulee and drizzled it with a blackberry sauce and a reduction of the hoppy Dale’s Pale Ale. Hops, the bittering element in beer, can clash severely with sweet foods, but Sohn managed to bring out the citrusy elements of the brew without concentrating the bitterness.

Not bad for one night, but there's much more of DC Beer Week to be savored. Fritz Hahn over at the GOG blog gave a nice rundown of the rest of the schedule.

-- Greg Kitsock

By The Food Section  |  August 18, 2009; 2:00 PM ET
 | Tags: Greg Kitsock, beer  
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