Thursday, January 22, 2009

Femme Fermental Goes to Washington

Okay, give a girl a break for one cliché on her birthday.

These past few days I was lucky enough to head down to DC for some inaugural/birthday fun. On election day in November, my best beer geek girlfriend, Jess, invited me to come down to DC for the inauguration, and my birthday, on January 20th. Being a beer geek and history dork, I could not resist.

Our first mission was to seek out Ommegang Obamagang. How could we not?

Luckily, Pizzeria Paradiso's relatively new basement beer bar, Birreria Paradiso, had tapped it Monday night. In 2006, Pizzeria Paradiso's second location in Georgetown decided to get in on the craft beer trend. They converted their basement party space into a bar, lounge, and table seating area, complete with fireplace.

With 16 drafts, 1 hand pump and 80 bottled beers, this place seems very serious about it's beer. The feel was very suburban basement house party; add in some Georgetown yuppies, a few North Face jackets, a clueless couple ordering margaritas, and, well, you get the idea.

After a short wait for bar seats, we sat down to enjoy our Obamagangs. Poured into a tulip glass, it was deep mahogany with a light brown frothy head. Medium-bodied with notes of figs, raisins, chocolate and roasted coffee, it reminded me very much of Ommegang Chocolate Indulgence Stout (without the dried cocoa powder flavor). Overall, I was happy with the beer, and thought it was worth the hype.

Moving to the bottle list, we selected Brewer's Art Le Canard. Brewer's Art is a small production brewery with a cult-like following out of Baltimore, Maryland. Currently, they have a brewpub in Baltimore. However, their bottled beers are being brewed and bottled at Sly Fox, in Royersford, PA.

Since Brewer's Art pulled out of the PA market more than a year ago, my opportunities to sample their beers have been few and far between. Brewer's Art Resurrection, their dubbel, and Brewer's Art Ozzy Ale, a Belgian Strong Pale Ale, were formerly available on draft. They are both incredibly good Belgian-style ales.

Le Canard, a Belgian Strong Pale Ale at 8% ABV, poured a medium copper hue. Medium-bodied, a fruity yeasty character with notes of apricots, apples, pears and citrus dominates the palate. The fruitiness is somewhat balanced by a nice bready malt backbone. Overall, it's a good Belgian-style ale by a small brewery.

As for Pizzeria Paradiso, I'd certainly make another trip. It had the best draft and bottle list that I found on my trip to DC. The pizza was, as always, excellent. The service and atmosphere left something to be desired, but I'm willing to put up with a lot for good beer.

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