News & Politics

Best Beer Bars in Washington

Where to go for crafts pairs, rare finds, and at-your-table taps

At Meridian Pint's tap tables, you can pour your own. Photograph by Yassine El Mansouri

Meridian Pint

3400 11th St., NW; 202-588-1075
Meridian attracts mostly young patrons looking to sample American craft beers on draft. Skip the crowds at the bar and sit at one of the three ten-seat tap tables, where groups can pour their own pints—priced per ounce—from a rotating selection of kegs such as Scrimshaw Pilsner and DC Brau.

Birch & Barley
1337 14th St., NW; 202-567-2576
Beer sommelier Greg Engert matches chef Kyle Bailey’s seasonal, six-course tasting menu with an array of food-friendly sips, from German bottles to pints of a rotating selection of five cask ales. The pairings—including the hard-to-find Paulus from Brouwerij Leroy in Belgium—are as fine as wine pairings at other places but half the price.

Little Miss Whiskey’s Golden Dollar
1104 H St., NE; no phone
The violet lanterns, wrought-iron benches, and lion-head fountain on Miss Whiskey’s back patio evoke the Big Easy, as does the vibe. The crowd is as eclectic as the 60-deep list of microbrews. You can wash down fare such as shrimp po’ boys from the outdoor grill on weekend nights.

Port City Brewing Company
3950 Wheeler Ave., Alexandria; 703-797-2739
Owner Bill Butcher leads groups through Alexandria’s first production brewery since Prohibition. The Saturday tours are a bargain: Five dollars gets a taste of each of Port City’s four brews, a glass, and a spin around the facility with a knowledgeable guide.

Birreria Paradiso

3282 M St., NW; 202-337-1245
Greg Jasgur—“beer bootlegger” at this bar below Pizzeria Paradiso’s Georgetown location—is known for working directly with producers such as Captain Lawrence Brewing Company of Pleasantville, New York, to obtain sought-after suds that aren’t imported by DC wholesalers. He sometimes rents a truck to haul back his finds—such as Three Floyds Pride & Joy, one of his favorites—for Pizzeria Paradiso restaurants in Georgetown and Dupont Circle. (There’s another location in Old Town, but Virginia allows beer to be imported only through a wholesaler.)

Lost Dog Cafe
5876 Washington Blvd., Arlington, 703-237-1552
2920 Columbia Pike, Arlington, 703-553-7770
1690-A Anderson Rd., McLean, 703-356-5678

Part deli, part pizzeria, and part fundraiser for the Lost Dog & Cat Rescue Foundation, each of these family-friendly eateries stocks more than 200 varieties of beer. The list ranges from accessible favorites such as Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA to rarer brews such as Ballast Point Sculpin drafts.

Quarry House Tavern
8401 Georgia Ave., Silver Spring; 301-587-8350
Quirky dive bars often offer generic beers, but not so this subterranean Silver Spring hideout. Yes, two-buck Natty Boh is an option, but connoisseurs can pick from a list of 300 brews and prime drafts including Flying Dog Simcoe Single Hop Imperial IPA.

This article appears in the July 2011 issue of The Washingtonian.

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Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.