Happy Hour with Fritz Hahn

Jun 06, 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. Sorry about the last chat before Memorial Day -- it was postponed because I was getting a behind-the-scenes tour at the Smithsonian that lasted longer than expected. The result is tomorrow's Weekend cover story about the new Hall of Fossils at the National Museum of Natural History, which is truly spectacular. (We took some elementary school-aged paleontologists there, and they LOVED it.) 

In other news, it's the last weekend of Pride, so make sure you check out the piece Lavanya Ramanathan and I wrote last week about how the Pride party scene is becoming more welcoming and inclusive. 

And the Women's World Cup kicks off tomorrow. Want to watch the opening game with a glass of wine at the French Embassy? I wrote a story about how to do that

There are also a bunch of questions about the blind tasting of low-calorie beers that I organized for Voraciously. 

Let's get going. 


Last night, I struggled to think of a place that serves up a really good steak. No frills, just a platter of a decent cut and cooked steak with a side of vegetables. For the life of me I couldn't think of a place outside of H St. Country Club (and I'm not a representative, just a fan of their comfort food). Do you have any recommendations for such a spot?

Gonna be honest here: Never thought of the Country Club as a place to get steak.

I asked my colleague Tim Carman, who eats far more steak around D.C. than I do, and he suggested "Medium Rare is still the best bargain, though you don’t have options. It’s a one cut fits all steakhouse."

Tom Sietsema says that "Buck's Fishing & Camping offers a very good, 8-ounce flat iron steak for $22 -- terrific hand-cut fries included. Wood-grilled, too!"

I think you missed some very good beers that are lower in alcohol, such as Founder’s All Day IPA, and Firestone Walker Easy Jack IPA. Perhaps a re-test is in order?

Low alcohol doesn't always mean "low calorie," at least comparatively. I thought it was interesting that the lowest-calorie beer in the tasting, the 3.8 percent Harpoon Rec. League, was also the highest in calories, at 120. 

Founders All Day, which is the model for session IPAs, at least in terms of national sales, has 140 calories, which is right around a bottle of Budweiser (145 calories) and almost one-and-a-half times as much as Dogfish's Slightly Mighty or Lagunitas' DayTime. That's not really a fair fight when you're talking about low-calorie offerings. 

Also, Easy Jack is awesome, period. 

I'm not sure the beers in your taste test were on equal footing. The headline suggests you are looking for hoppy beers and yet two blonde ales (lower hop taste/bitterness) made the list with 3 other IPAs (higher hop taste/bitterness). If you had people taste test these beers that preferred IPAs (and thus higher hop beers) then the blonde ales were at a disadvantage. Hard to tell if this could be a reason for their relative low performance on your taste test or to discern if it's truly a reflection on the beer or the taste buds of the tester. The lower ranking beers had a lower IBU (18 and 9 respectively) to reflect the lower hop content compared to the higher ranking beers (30, 35, and 31 respectively) which seem to indicate a correlation between hop level and rankings. I always think that taste tests should be performed on equal style beers as well as by reviewers that like that style of beer. I have difficultly putting any weight behind beer reviews because you need to know the beer style preferences of people reviewing them. Not everyone likes IPAs, or sours, or wheat beers so it takes a certain palate to review them.

Sorry for any confusion. The point of the taste test was to sample beers that were being marketed as "low calorie," but were not generic light lagers. Everyone one of the beers in that test boasts about its calorie count on the label, and every one has (or should have) more flavor than a Michelob Ultra or similar beer. Testers weren't asked to evaluate the IBUs, or even to compare the beers to one another, but to evaluate them on whether they were better than a generic light beer.

This was not blind tasting at the Great American Beer Festival, but it involved a panel that included homebrewers and people who go to restaurants and/or bars for a living. I can tell you not all of them love IPAs. 

At the same time, we do blind tastings of hot dogs, pizzas, and other consumables. Not all of us who participate are necessarily connoisseurs of frozen pizzas, but we are fair.  

So, I've had it in mind that I need to learn the scooter scene (I grew up with a bike) and was thinking some sort of tour that using the app to find scooters and move from place to place might be an approach; and while I'm very curious about your recent rooftop bar list; I'm not sure a bar crawl and learning a new mode of transportation is the best idea. Any thoughts on what sort of tour might be suited to my project? and any thoughts on god consolidated scooter findings apps? and do we really think dockless bikes will vanish in the wake of all these scooters :(

My go-to urban navigation app is still Citymapper, which I've been using for years. It shows the location of the nearest Bird, Lyft, Jump, Lime and Skip scooters on a real-time map, as well as the scooter's battery level. (Probably other brands, too -- I'm just looking at the choices available within a five-minute walk of WP headquarters, which is another feature of the app.)

And no, probably shouldn't drink and scoot. Maybe consider following one of the local walking tours that my colleague Harrison and I wrote two summers ago? I could see a scooter coming in handy if you're exploring the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail, Embassy Row or even going over the Wilson Bridge. All are under 5 miles, too. 

Try any of the French cafes or bistros. Streak Frites is always on the menu, shouldn't be too expensive and you can always substitute a vegetable or side of greens dressed with vinaigrette if the fries aren't your thing. Might wnat to check website menus for pricing before you go.

True. I do love the pave at Bistrot du Coin, but it's $28. St. Anselm, where I'd happily eat steak when I'm not eating salmon collar, the flat iron starts at $24. 

No smartphone so no ride-hailing. So what's the taxi situation at the Wharf after shows let out at the Anthem? I understand there's a taxi stand right on Maine Ave but do cabs actually use it and line up there, or at least regularly cruise by?

There are cab stands on Maine and another at the far end of the Wharf, down at the Canopy by Hilton, though I see a LOT more Ubers/Lyfts lining up to pick up passengers than red city cabs.  (The Canopy is a hotel, so if there's not one there, you can also ask the staff to call a taxi for you.)

Any highlights from Savor week? Churchkey was amazing. I see Sovereign still has some good stuff available. Not sure if the Downtown Crown Other Half takeover was related. I didn't notice anything in retail outlets like last year when Sip of Sunshine was dropped.

The thing I'll say about Savor week is that I'm still seeing "exclusive" beers from Port, Night Shift, Allagash, Fremont popping up on beer menus around town. And while it's nice to be surprised when I settle in at the bar and there are rare Allagash sours or Fremont IPAs available on draft, it makes me wonder if the events just weren't as popular this year.

(NOTE: I was out of town for Savor proper, so couldn't tell you anything about the Friday or Saturday festivities.) 

The only cool/rare cans and bottles I saw were from Country Boy and Founders at Craft Beer Cellar on H Street. Will never complain about those two bringing packaged beer in D.C. 

Any suggestions for a hike in eastern MD? Maybe near Annapolis or further south? Anything nearish to a brewery or other worthy stopover would be great. Thanks!

Keep going east from Annapolis, cross the Bay Bridge and go to Stevensville. The cross-island trail, which covers up to eight miles on Kent Island, is a great ramble on an old rail bed. It's easy to detour into wildlife preserves or for antique browsing. There's also the wonderful Matapeake Beach, and Stevensville Crab Shack, which is legitimately one of my favorite places in Maryland for crab cakes, and I do not say that lightly. 

New to watching soccer - anyplace in Arlington hosting some watch parties? Thanks!

Ireland's Four Courts and Summers, which are both at Court House, will have viewing parties for U.S. Women's matches. I'm wondering if Summers might also have crowds for German matches, since several of Die Nationalelf play for Bayern Munich, and Summers is the official Bayern Munich viewing spot in the D.C. area. 

(FWIW, I have Germany finishing fourth and losing to England in the third-place match, with the US beating the Netherlands in the final.)

Hello. Could you please expand my list of trivia nights? I only know of Cheesetique's Monday night (Ballston) one. I would like to start going with a group of friends on a somewhat regular basis. Thank you!

My problem with most NoVa trivia nights is that they're identical to ones in D.C., run by the big companies like District Trivia (O'Sullivan's in Clarendon on Wednesdays), Geeks Who Drink (Chubby Squirrel brewing in Fairfax on Thursdays), or Trivia Kings (Samuel Beckett's in Arlington on Tuesdays), or Team Trivia (Bracket Room on Tuesdays). 

If I remember correctly, Ireland's Four Courts still runs its own pub quiz on Mondays. Happy to hear about any others.

So, I'm trying to think of something fun to do with my dad for Father's Day besides taking him out for a beer and a baseball game. Was hoping DC United was in town, but no dice. He has a pretty corny sense of humor, but still won't see a rated R movie with me. I'm a 51 year old Asian woman if that helps. Any thoughts? Thanks!

Does dad love jazz? June 16 is the last day of the D.C. Jazz Festival, and there are free outdoor and indoor concerts all over the Wharf. Maybe pair a couple of sets with drinks at Tiki TNT, or a snack on the roof of Officina? (The best part is that if the music isn't to either of your taste, you can leave and go hear something else not far away.) 

Maybe dad is more into screwball comedies? If so, "His Girl Friday" is screening at AFI, and I would totally recommend the classic Cary Grant/Rosalind Russell comedy, even if it wasn't part of AFI's "Fourth Estate" film series. 

If there's anything else he's particularly interested in, let me know and I'll try to help.  

Hi. I have visitors coming to town and they’ve asked to go to happy hour at “political bars” where they might bump into a congressman or at least their staffers. I was thinking of Old Ebbitt Grill or somewhere on Capitol Hill? Can you suggest a few places?

First, there's more chance they're going to bump into staffers than actual congresspersons at a bar. (Even the AOC sightings have been decidedly low-key, and I've heard about more places through off-the-record conversations than on.)

Bars on the Hill that are favorites of politicos for fundraising and events include Tortilla Coast (remember Ted Cruz's 'Tortilla Coast Caucus'?), Bullfeathers and Sonoma Wine Bar. I'd throw in Capitol Lounge, Union Pub and the Monocle, which was a favorite of JFK's but you'll still find Very Official People dining and drinking there after work. The former are much staff-ier.

You wrote: “ I thought it was interesting that the lowest-calorie beer in the tasting, the 3.8 percent Harpoon Rec. League, was also the highest in calories, at 120.“ Me thinks perhaps maybe there is a typo. Maybe “lowest-alcohol” instead of “lowest-calorie”?

Should have been "lowest-ABV." Sorry. Flying by the seat of my pants here. 

Sorry, Fritz. If you "postpone" and the next time you are on is when you would have been scheduled anyway, then you weren't postponed. You were cancelled. OK, question time. Fringe Festival. Is Mike Daisey really going to do a whole series on US history? Do we know how many episodes? Will there be a package deal for the series?

But I seriously thought I'd get back in time to do an abbreviated chat! Anyway. 

Mike Daisey's "A People's History," which I would love to hear at Fringe, consists of 18 different 90-minute monologues. He performed them all in Seattle last year over the course of a month. I don't know if he'd be able to repeat that feat over the course of Fringe, which runs just under three weeks. But I'd have any of them on my calendar. 

The full Fringe schedule comes out on June 17, btw, and the festival starts July 9. 

And you aren't going to recognize them. And they might pick someplace else to go as summer approaches because that place is packed with tourists. :)

Fair enough. I had friends who worked for other government agencies that would go to unlikely bars -- the Exchange, My Brother's Place -- solely for reasons of proximity.

Any recommendations for breweries near bike trails in NoVA? It's a great way to spend a Saturday or Sunday, and I'd like to try some new ones.

My favorite is Caboose off the WO&D, and it's not that far to Lake Anne Brew House from there. Check out the Bikeable Brews Guide for helpful mile markers and info.

Disappointed to see that all of the beers featured in your taste test were big brands, many of which are not craft. Are any local breweries making such low-calorie beers?

Of the five beers included, only two -- Lagunitas and Kona -- wouldn't meet the Brewers' Association's definition of a "small and independent craft brewer." (Boulevard is part of the Duvel family, yes, but it still counts.) 

As best as I know, no breweries in the D.C. area are making core beers that are explicitly marketed as low-calorie, which was the point of the story, not the level of alcohol.

You can find lower-ABV beers, from the likes of 3 Stars (the hazy new Diamonds are Forever), Old Ox (Alpha Ox) and Port City, where the Ways and Means session IPA has long been a favorite of mine, even if it's just a brewery-exclusive these days. 

I am accompanying my boyfriend to a work event running Saturday-Tuesday in a couple of weeks, and I'm going to have a lot of free time on my hand. Having visited previously, I've done the staples (Lincoln Memorial, Air & Space Museum, Holocaust Museum, Kennedy Center). Are there any places in the National Mall area that are particularly suited to a solo tourist with 8+ free hours each day to use up? Appreciate your help!

That's a lot of time. The first resource I'd point you to is our guide to the Must-Sees on the National Mall, soon to be updated with details of our new favorite T. rex. If you haven't visited the Freer/Sackler galleries, or don't know what to see at the the National Museum of African Art, this is a good starting point.

Last year, I wrote a story about small, quirky museums - everything from the gross-out exhibits at the National Museum of Health and Medicine to the more contemplative National Museum of American Jewish Military History. There's a lot there to delve into, and I couldn't even include all the places I wanted to. (Sorry, Clara Barton Missing Soldiers Office and the Organization of American States. Next time?)

Also, if you're going to be around the Mall, you might want to see my guide to the best times to visit the memorials on the Mall

Would love to try the Lagunitas and Harpoon out one afternoon.

They both should be pretty widely available; I'm picturing crushing a couple of cans of DayTime on the back patio at Dodge City right now ... 

Hi, I logged on to WP specifically to look for breweries within half an hour of Tysons that would be especially good for out of town guests. So glad to have found your chat. I'm not a beer drinker (but give me a great cocktail) so my ideal place would have excellent food and cocktails as well as a great beer selection (and flights) since I am completely out of my league here on the beer end. Thank you!

So, Virginia. Laws in Virginia are complicated. Most of the breweries in Northern Virginia only sell the beer they make, not wine -- unless, like Quattro Goombas in Aldie, they make both wine and beer. 

Most of the breweries I usually recommend that way -- Ocelot, Solace, Crooked Run -- are beer-only establishments. Ocelot and Solace have food trucks on the weekend, while Crooked Run's Sterling location has an in-house taqueria with really good tacos and empanadas. 

The best option might be Mad Fox Brewing in Falls Church, a brewpub with award-winning beers that also has full wine and cocktails programs. (I haven't eat more than bar snacks there on recent visits, though.) 

I might suggest you look at a craft beer bar, rather than a brewery -- B side in the Mosaic District has a killer cocktail menu as well as great local beers and food. 

to the National Archives and, after the Declaration was read and the Old Guard marched, was able to walk back to the car and drive to a friend's bbq in Virginia. Easy. Not going to work like that this year with the President talking at the Lincoln Memorial? Are they going block off all the streets days ahead of time? I just find an open air speech close to people to be a real risk and can't imagine how it works outside of doing a full inauguration security deal.

No one knows, and everyone is wondering. Motorcades are disruptive enough every day, let along July 4.

Hi Fritz and thank you for doing this chat! My sister is turning 30 in the next month; she lives in Philadelphia and I don't know many spots that would be celebratory. I am thinking of something that is modern and pretty in general with some delicious drinks, it could be kind fancy but not necessarily. I would like to get a reservation ahead of time so we are not waiting around. Apart form a place to eat if you or any readers have any recommendations for stuff to do in the area (maybe something unusual) they would be very appreciate, preferably if it's Uber/walking distance from center city. Thanks again!!!

Readers, you need to help. I haven't hung out in Center City in a while and would appreciate your recommendations.

Okay, that's it from me. See you back here in two weeks.

PostPoints code is HH3135. 

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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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