Mug Shots: Drink Up — Beer Joints Abound in the Capital

Posted April 27, 2010 at 4:47pm

These days, ChurchKey (1337 14th St. NW) is the place for beer lovers. The bar offers some 500 beers, but the line to get into this hot spot stretches down the block as soon as the doors open. While ChurchKey may be popular, it’s not the only pub in town. D.C. is full of restaurants and bars with extensive and interesting beer lists.

Granville Moore’s in the Atlas District is a homey bar with a neighborhood feel and a massive beer list. The dark bar (1238 H St. NE) is housed in a row house that was once home to the medical practice of Dr. Granville Moore. These days it’s a Belgian restaurant with some of the best moules frites in the city.

You won’t find any Bud Light at Granville Moore’s, so this is not the place to take friends who like a lighter flavor. Granville’s has 60 beers in the bottle and six on tap at any given time. The bar offers beer specials Wednesday and Thursday nights, while anybody with a 20002 ZIP code — that of the Atlas District — gets a discount on Tuesday nights.

Belgian beer lovers should head to Barracks Row and check out Belga Café (514 Eighth St. SE). Belga’s book of libations includes five full pages devoted to beer. The beers are separated into categories including golden ales, stouts, triples, gluten-free beers and “the big bottles.” Six beers on tap are exclusive to Belga. The restaurant rotates a few taps to feature seasonal and special beers. This Belgian haven also offers a selection of cocktails made with beer. The Belgians Royal Cherry Cocktail is a favorite and combines two of Mug Shots’ favorite things — St. Louis Kriek beer and Champagne.

The newly opened Star and Shamrock (1341 H St. NE) ­— a cross between a Jewish deli and an Irish pub — is home to more than 30 beers, 10 of which are on tap. While the bar features staples such as Budweiser, Miller Lite and Guinness, it also has a good selection of microbrews. New York beers are highlighted with five beers from Brooklyn Brewery on the list, along with a few Coney Island lagers, which are produced by Shmaltz Brewing Co. in California.

In keeping with the Jewish theme, Star and Shamrock sells a variety of He’Brew beers, “the chosen beer.” Both the Messiah Bold and Genesis Ale are on tap, while the Bittersweet R.I.P.A., Jewbilation and Pom Ale are available in bottles.

About a year ago, beloved House-side hangout Capitol Lounge (231 Pennsylvania Ave. SE) underwent a face-lift. Granville Moore’s executive chef Teddy Folkman came on board to create a new menu for the dive, and a new beer list was also rolled out. Sure, at first it was surprising to see gourmet pizzas and bowls of mussels on the menu, but over time the Lounge worked out the kinks. The result is a top-notch beer bar with affordable prices and a friendly atmosphere.

The bar’s slogan has always been “no politics and no Miller Lite,” though that has never stopped the Lounge from offering standards such as Bud Light and Yuengling on draft. These days, the old standbys are served alongside dozens of bottled and canned beers, many of which are shipped from Belgium. The list includes the fruity Chimay Premiere Red and the light-tasting La Chouffe Golden. In fact, the Lounge offers a discount on all Belgian beers on Friday nights.

CommonWealth (1400 Irving St. NW), Chef Jamie Leed’s British gastropub, may not have the best food in town, but it does have one of the most impressive beer lists. Skip the London broil and go straight for the Boddingtons at this Columbia Heights haunt.

Twelve beers, including Harp, Smithwick’s and Belhaven Twisted Thistle, are on tap, and they come in two sizes — U.S. pint, which is 16 ounces, and U.K. pint, which is 20 ounces.

Indecisive drinkers can check out CommonWealth’s beer flights, designed to give drinkers a variety of flavors. In addition to the drafts, CommonWealth offers more than 30 bottled and canned beers.

Againn (1099 New York Ave. NW) is perfect for those who are fans of British beer but don’t want to make the trek to Columbia Heights. Located around the corner from the Convention Center, Againn — pronounced a-g-uin — features 15 beers on tap and more than 40 in the bottle. Popular British beers such as Newcastle Brown Ale and Black Sheep Ale are available in the bottle, as are American craft beers such as Founder’s Porter and Monty Python’s Holy Grail.

A new addition to the city’s beer scene will debut on May 7 with the opening of Biergarten Haus (1355 H St. NE), a German-style beer garden with an all-German beer list.