For Beer Lovers, This Is Paradiso
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.
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