Happy Hour with Fritz Hahn

Mar 14, 2019

Every other Thursday, Washington Post Weekend reporter Fritz Hahn discusses all aspects of going out: happy hours, date ideas, weekend getaways, new exhibits and other ways to have fun in the Washington D.C. area.

Hi everyone. Back for what feels like the first chat of Spring. 

Of note: I took at look at the revamped Guinness Open Gate Brewery for tomorrow's Weekend section, and wrote about the Arlington County Police departing adopting the UK's "Ask for Angela" campaign to offer help to customers who aren't feeling safe in bars. 

Here we go!

Thanks for the interesting article about Guinness. Next, please do a follow up story about Maryland’s best local craft breweries.

I've written many stories about Maryland craft breweries over the years -- Denizens, Burley Oak, Union, RAR, Waredaca, and so on.

I understand that some people reflexively don't like "big beer," which is not the way I'd describe Diageo, honestly, since they're much more focused on the spirit side of things. But Peter Wiens, Hollie Stephenson and the brewing team at the Open Gate are making some fantastic beer that even craft beer enthusiasts can appreciate, including a mole-inspired stout and a kettle sour with apricots.  

Hi Fritz - Maybe outside of your usual focus, but can you recommend any kid-friendly restaurants in DC? My nephews are coming to town. We already plan to go to Comet Ping-Pong and Jaleo, but I'd like to also have a few other options. Thanks!

I'd add 2 Amys for pizza, a booth at Ted's Bulletin for grilled cheese and milkshakes, and the lively Unconventional Diner to your list. 

If you're going to be at the museums on the Mall, I really like the cafeteria at the USDA, which offers incredibly healthy options (although you don't have to tell the kids). 

Chatters?

Is there anywhere to get a Resin draft? A buddy and I split a four-pack recently and I thought it was delicious. But a draft would probably be even more delicious! Thanks Fritz.

I am not aware of any local bars with Resin, Sixpoint's sticky double IPA, on tap, and can't recall seeing it recently. (I don't have the brewery app, which might help.)

How bad do you think the lines will be at the Dubliner, Fado and the Irish Channel, since it’s a Sunday?

This is the annual $100,000 question. Last year, when St. Patrick's Day fell on a Saturday, pubs filled up bright and early and stayed packed all day. In 2017, which was a Friday, they started getting mobbed in the afternoon. 

This year, I'm seeing more pubs that are extending the festivities over Saturday and Sunday, such as the Dubliner, the Four Courts and Fado -- the latter two are opening at 8 a.m. both Friday and Saturday, for example, while the Guinness brewery is hosting four events over the course of both days. This is either going to spread the crowds out -- especially for those who have to work on Monday and will take it easy on Sunday -- or make for one heck of a boozy weekend. 

Hey Fritz, What bars/restaurants do you typically find the most interesting crowds? Maybe an intersection where a lot of different DC folks meet. Thanks!

Great question. My best new bar of 2018, the Green Zone in Adams Morgan, draws lots of different groups: Cocktail aficionados, fans of Arabic music, people just looking for a fun place to hang out in a busy neighborhood. I feel like Service Bar, on U Street, has become a melting pot -- people who come for the fantastic cocktails made by Glendon Hartley and Chad Spangler, but also just folks seeking a laidback vibe and affordable drinks on the popular strip.

Dive or dive-ish bars also are notorious for mixing crowds: The Tune Inn, Showtime Lounge, the Pug, for starters.

Oh, and wandering around distilleries and wineries in Ivy City on a Saturday afternoon is ALWAYS good for people-watching. 

Do any breweries or distilleries in DC or north VA have any events for St. Patrick's Day or just in general this weekend?

Mad Fox has a big St. Patrick's Day party, with the tapping of their Irish red ale. Ocelot is throwing St. Patrick's Day parties Saturday and Sunday, as is Fair Winds, which has $5 stouts all weekend. 

It's kind of quiet in D.C., since the Brewers' Guild's Hopfest was last weekend, and Three Stars is hosting the big The Gang's All Here party with Other Half, Interboro, etc., on the 24th. 

It's obviously not as popular as previous popup themes (xmas, mario, etc.), but how are lines for the annual Shaw cherry blossom popup on 7th st?

To be fair, the Super Mario pop-up WAS part of the Cherry Blossom pop-up bar two years ago. 

But in my experience, the Cherry Blossom pop-ups aren't as long as the Christmas Bar or the single-themes, like "Game of Thrones." When I've been past this year (and I have to admit I haven't been in), the lines were short, but I expect them to get longer once Cherry Blossom Season really begins.

When I visited the Guinness brewery on this fall, I was impressed by how nice it was inside, though maybe that's why all the beer seemed $1-2 more expensive than it should be. It was very quiet there on a Sunday afternoon because the Ravens were playing and the bar didn't have TVs.

The lack of TVs is a great thing, isn't it? You (shockingly) have to talk to people while you drink your beers. 

The prices, to me, seemed pretty comparable to bars/pubs in D.C. -- $7.50 for a 20-ounce imperial pint of Draught Stout, $6 for an American pint of the Blonde -- but yeah, if you're going to the brewery, you might expect some sort of in-house discount.  (The Morita Milk Stout, steeped with three varieties of chili peppers, was $10 for 12 ounces, but I wasn't going to miss trying that one.)

I'm heading to Chicago for a long weekend in a few weeks... any good beer bars worth checking out to load up on my mid-west options while I'm out there?

There are Chicago beer folks who know more than I -- and I'd point you to Josh Noel of the Tribune, for starters. Highly recommend visiting a few brewery taprooms -- Half Acre, Revolution, Pipeworks, Begyle, Band of Bohemia. I haven't been to Dovetail or Whiner, but have heard good things about both. 

The Hopleaf and the Map Room are where beer travellers go for pilgrimages, but I'm also a huge fan of the Five Star Bar, where they play punk and ska while serving a great selection of craft beers that we don't always see in D.C. (3 Floyds, Shorts, etc.) Local Option is also cool, and there are waaaaay too many neighborhood bars to name. 

Okay, that's going to do it for this week. I will post more Chicago tips on Twitter if they come in via email/chat/tweet.

See you in two weeks.

Postpoints code is HH5902.

In This Chat
Fritz Hahn
Fritz Hahn has covered bars, drinks and nightlife for the Washington Post Weekend Section since 2003, but he also writes about everything from Civil War battlefields to sailing classes.
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