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Posted at 3:59 PM ET, 02/ 7/2006

For Beer Lovers, This Is Paradiso

By Fritz Hahn

I made a first visit to my new favorite beer bar last night.

Located in the basement of Georgetown's Pizzeria Paradiso (and as yet without its own entrance), the Mediterranean-influenced Birreria Paradiso is a sunny yellow room with a tile floor and rustic pottery. The central focus is a group of leather chairs gathered around a wood-burning fireplace (which explains the cord of chopped wood running through the middle of the room).

General Manager Thor Cheston is a beer geek, and he's managed to gather the best beer-geek draft lineup in town. This is a tight, often esoteric list of 16 drafts that eschews Bud, Miller and Yuengling to focus on some top-notch Belgians (the wonderfully sour Duchesse de Bourgogne ale; a malty, citrusy Saison Dupont; rich Kasteel Tripel), several Germans, two stouts and a pair of Dogfish Head IPAs (both the 60 Minute and 90 Minute). Also impressive: the inclusion of an English-style beer engine dispensing real ale behind the bar. It's currently pouring Clipper City's Small Craft Warning, a very enjoyable pilsner from Charm City.

Eighty more beers are available in bottles.

Cheston says the draft lines will change often; when Fuller's Extra Special Bitter goes, it's going to be replaced by a much-anticipated keg of the extra-hoppy Pliny the Elder, which comes from California's Russian River Brewing Company.

You're not drinking Miller High Life, and the prices reflect this. Expect to pay between $5.50 to $8.25 for a draft, with most around $6 and some offering variable pricing -- the English Bluebird Bitter is available for $4 for a 10-ounce glass and $7 for a full imperial pint. If you can't decide, you can create your own wine-style flight of three five-and-a-half-ounce pours for $8.

Service is quick and friendly, and since it shares owners, an address and a kitchen with the Pizzeria upstairs, a full menu of pies is available -- perfect for accompanying some of the best beers around.

-- Fritz

By Fritz Hahn  | February 7, 2006; 3:59 PM ET
Categories:  Bars and Clubs  
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I'm pretty sure that isn't a wood burning stove.. it's gas. The wood in the bar is just for show.

Posted by: Jason | February 7, 2006 7:19 PM | Report abuse

It's been ages since I've been down to Georgetown. However this does seem to be worth the trip. Any advice on parking?

Posted by: Pete | February 7, 2006 10:52 PM | Report abuse

The atmosphere down there is great. Casual, cozy - complete with an active fireplace. Everyone was very nice. Food was great, obviously, and the selections were of quality. The beer choices will not give Brickskeller or RFD any challenge in terms of number of options, but the ones offered are well-curated and the menus have intriguing notes about what one can expect, so you can try something you might not otherwise know about.

Parking was easy at the many pay-to-park spots around. It might be scarce on a weekend, but on a weekday night there was an abundance. If spots were lacking, however, the mall and its giant garage are right next door.

Posted by: Brittany | February 8, 2006 12:44 AM | Report abuse

"Any advice on parking?"

Ride a bike. That's what a group of us did last night. Sampled a few of the offerings and rode it off back to Falls Church.

Chilly, but no guilt. 8^)

Posted by: Steve | February 8, 2006 1:46 PM | Report abuse

I'm in love and haven't been there yet -- Bluebird Bitter on draft. How busy has it gotten yet? Is is easy to find a spot at the bar?

Posted by: Greg | February 8, 2006 4:10 PM | Report abuse

Pretty great experience, really cool atmosphere and a knowledgable wait staff can recommend what beer to have with what food. Arrive early cause it fills up on weekends.

Posted by: Steve | February 9, 2006 4:59 PM | Report abuse

YAAAAAY. As a disgruntled former employee of the appallingly badly run (and hygienically questionable) Brickskeller, hurray! Can't wait to try it.

Posted by: Woot! | February 9, 2006 5:08 PM | Report abuse

"Arrive early cause it fills up on weekends."

How would you know this? Birreria Paradiso hasn't been open on a weekend yet.

(Yes, I expect it will be packed on weekends, but still ...)

Posted by: Fritz | February 9, 2006 5:18 PM | Report abuse

How does it compare to Lost Dog Cafe?

Posted by: Anonymous | February 9, 2006 11:26 PM | Report abuse

I believe the wood in the dining room is probably used for the wood buring oven upstairs. This is how they make such amazing pizzas!

Posted by: Anonymous | February 11, 2006 10:27 AM | Report abuse

I went there the second night it was open... the bike riders were there as well. I started with the flight of four beers and moved on to try many more until closing time. Great ambience. Tiny bar but lots of comfy seats around the room.

Posted by: Louise | February 12, 2006 12:35 PM | Report abuse

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