The folks at 3 Stars Brewing know how to party.
Start off with the three basic food groups: Beer from their own stocks; oysters from Rappahannock Oyster Co., and barbecue from Smoke and Barrel. Stir, which yields the 2013 Oyster and BBQ Throwdown. Let rest, then add Green Hat Gin, Gordy's Pickle Jar and other vendors, as well as a few hundred people from all over the capital region and you've got a different kind of block party.
"Have you ever had smoked pickle?" a Smoke and Barrel meat-slinger asked. Who could ignore an invitation like that?
Washington has seen incredible growth in the past 15 years, attracting a wide span of educated creative, artistic and political types from across the country. They've repopulated areas left for dead in the 1990s (H Street, Columbia Heights, Shaw, Petworth) and, contrary to popular wisdom, have stuck around the city after having kids.
The scene at Sunday's throwdown might have centered around alcoholic beverages and smoked meats and was designed to appeal to the cool class in D.C. But the vibe was family friendly, as evidenced by the large number of little kids hanging out with their parents, strapped into Baby Bjorns and in strollers. "I know. We're leaving soon. Your father is filling up his growlers," one nap-conscious mom was overheard saying to her toddler.
In almost every way, the 3 Stars gathering resembled a summer-time neighborhood block party in Baltimore, Brooklyn or Philadelphia. Heck, even the police showed up, and were shown around by owner Dave Coleman.
But this neighborhood block party was a gathering from across D.C., a resurgent part of the population in Washington that spreads far across any one neighborhood in the nation's capital. And they like their beer.