08 Oct 2009

Beer on the Hill

Originally uploaded on flickr by Daquella manera

Originally uploaded on flickr by Daquella manera

When I was in first grade, I wanted to be a cocktail waitress when I grew up.  I was five years old and had just been shoved into some gifted program at my school, but for open house we had to draw a picture and write a story about what we wanted to be when we grew up.  I wanted to wear spangly earrings, high heels and sling drinks.  My parents – expecting something far more lofty from their “gifted” child – were horrified to find my picture in all of its glory hanging in the hall outside of my first grade classroom.

With some gentle cajoling from my mom, I amended my aspirations to Supreme Court Justice by day, cocktail waitress by night.  Not only did it never occur to me that those two paths might be mutually exclusive, but I was completely unwilling to give up the dream of spending my evenings at a bar. Over the years, I’ve realized that I was not attracted to serving people drinks, but rather to the drinks themselves and the bars in which they’re served.  (With a dash of fondness for heels and spangly jewelry.)  I’ve always been drawn to bars.  As much as I love good food, I’m more likely to spend my vacations checking out a city’s watering holes than their restaurants.  I prefer, in almost all circumstances, to eat at the bar.  Most of my best memories take place around a tiny table in dimly lit bar with the best friends anyone could hope to have.  Five Hill beer experiences not to be missed after the jump…

While a frou frou drink from a fancy glass or a pitcher of margaritas certainly have their place, I’ve generally got simpler tastes.  Bourbon in the winter, vodka in the summer is generally my preference – but the pure joy I derive from drinking a pint of well-poured beer isn’t rivaled by anything.  Too many years of flirting with Atkins (and his cousin South Beach) have served to make beer still feel illicit.  So when I decide to sit down to a glass of fermented amber waves of grain, I still get a little thrill.

We’re lucky here on the Hill, because from H St. to the river and everywhere in between, we’ve got so many wonderful choices to quench our beer drinking needs.  (Unless you want a Miller Lite at Cap Lounge.)  You can get a can of Natty Boh at the Pug, an Iron City (or IC Light) from my hometown Pittsburgh, next door at the Red & the Black or hit Jimmy Valentine’s for a grenade of Mickey’s Malt Liquor.  You can swing over to Trusty’s for a Yuengling (in a Mason jar) and the Dubliner is always good for a pint of Guinness.  Or head to the Hawk ‘n’ Dove for a Miller Lite and listen for the next great entry over at Spotted:  DC [Summer] Interns.  The beauty of the Hill is that we can accommodate the beer drinking needs of everyone from frat boys to beer snobs and there is a bar to suit any mood you’re in.

I worked painstakingly to come up with my five favorite Hill beer experiences.  This list isn’t even close to exhaustive, but it’s not a bad place to start:

Mussels, frites and any of their rotating selection of Belgians at the bar at Dr. Granville Moore’s.  (Ask the bartender to pair for you – their selection is always changing, but I’ve never been disappointed when I let the folks behind the bar guide me.)

Jagerschnitzel and a boot of Paulander (or the German draught of your choice) on the patio at Cafe Berlin.

A can of Corona and a basket of chips and salsa on the deck at Cantina Marina. (I know, not technically the Hill, but really close.)

Watching the Maryland game with a bowl of beef and bison chili and a pint of Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA at Lola’s.

A Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout and a funnel cake at the bar at the Argonaut.

What are your favorite Hill beer experiences?

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7 responses to “Beer on the Hill”

  1. emma jackson says:

    There is no one like colsberg!
    Best beer in the world

  2. FamousDC says:

    Nichole is after our heart.

  3. Margaret says:

    How could you leave out Little Miss Whiskey’s? An actual printed beer menu, trash food, and dancing every night? No cover ever.
    You just have to find it at 1104 H since there is – and never will be – a sign.

  4. Rich says:

    Good beer is also apparently in the eye of the beholder. I’m constantly lamenting the lack of decent beer options on the Hill. That’s not to say many places serve “bad” beer, but the selections are so generic and pedestrian. Lola’s is the perfect example. Nothing terrible; nothing great; nothing changes. Matchbox is the only place where you can get an above average draft. But even there you are lucky if they rotate in one new beer every few months.

    Pizza Paradiso/Gtown is still the gold standard in DC, with RFD and Commonwealth in the next tier.

  5. Nichole Remmert says:

    @Rich, to be clear, these are beer experiences – not the best beer.

    Agreed about Birreria though. RFD, while they have a great selection, has all the atmosphere of an office lobby in Reston, so I’ll pass.

  6. mappo says:

    H Street NE is part of Capitol Hill like Arlington is part of DC. Just sayin’.

  7. Chris in Eckington says:

    If you’re excluding H St, my choices for DRAFT beer on the Hill are as follows:

    1. Matchbox
    2. 18th Amendment
    3. Capitol Lounge (also good bottle selection)
    4. Belga (I know only four drafts, but you won’t find them anywhere else on the Hill, and they have a great bottle selection)
    5. Ugly Mug (although it borders on the ordinary and the atmosphere lives a little to be desired)

    Other places (such as Tunnicliffs) have a lot of taps, but their selections are pretty pedestrian.

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