Happy Hour with Fritz Hahn

Oct 12, 2017

Every other Thursday, Washington Post Weekend and Food reporter Fritz Hahn discusses happy hours, new cocktail destinations, local beers, date ideas and the late-night scene. Of course, he's also happy to talk about staples of the old Got Plans chats, such as weekend getaways, brunch spots, new exhibits and other ways to have fun in the Washington D.C. area.

Hi everyone. Thanks for joining me on a rather gray day. Today is the official opening of the Wharf -- even if most of it isn't quite open -- with a Foo Fighters show at the Anthem. It's also Game Five for the Nats, and if you haven't heard, Metro is staying open later to get everyone home. (Thanks, Pepco.)

A few things you hopefully didn't miss:

Tom Sietsema's 2017 Fall Dining Guide

My story about whether sour beers can be a gateway to craft beer

And a guide for people who want to celebrate Halloween with events that actually sound interesting, instead of the same-old bar crawls and costume contests.

Is The Anthem going to schedule weeknight shows to get people out before Metro closes? I'm going to roll the dice with LCD Soundsystem, but this will be a deal breaker in the long run.

I asked Audrey Fix Schaefer, the communications director for the Anthem/9:30 Club/IMP venues, and she says that, for the most part, doors at the Anthem will open at 6 or 6:30, and shows will start at 7:30 or 8. If that's the case, it shouldn't be too bad: the last train towards Greenbelt from Waterfront is at 11:24 during the week and 12:54 on weekends. 

If things start trending later, though, I'd hope that times get adjusted. And don't forget about all the Wharf's potential neighbors who might not want that kind of noise late on a school night.

Thanks for the article about sour beers, that sounds like an interesting festival. What are the best local sour beers (Virginia/DC) and what bars have good selections of sour beers?

My favorite local sours at the Make it Funky festival were probably the Get the Funk Out of Here from 3 Stars, the tangerine Old Pro Gose from Union, and Bluejacket's really interesting coolship wild ale aged on blueberries.

At last weekend's Baltimore Craft Beer Festival, I was really impressed by the Flanders ales from Steinhardt Brewing in Braddock Heights, near Frederick -- their Kriek was very, very nice.

As for bar selection - I'd suggest the Sovereign, which always has a great mix of traditional Beligian lambics and sours and new American interpretations of those styles. 

The Wharf is looking epic... when the dust settles, where are the good craft beer spots there? Also, are there any early takes on The Anthem? After seeing pictures of the inside at the Foo Fighters show last night, I finally realize how huge the venue will be. Hopefully the IMP team pulled it off so we'll have a non-DAR/Verizon spot to watch acts bigger than 930.

Co-workers who've been to the Anthem have come away very impressed with the space, raving about how much better it is than DAR, and how, as one put it, "they [IMP] really learned a lot from doing shows at Echostage." 

There's been some grumbling about the slowness of WIFI, the lack of phone reception (I don't see those as bad things, necessarily) and the waits for food, which I'm sure will be worked out. One important point: The venue doesn't take cash, so bring credit cards.

As for bars -- I haven't heard much about craft beer, to be honest with you. Hank's and Rappahannock both have good craft beer at their other locations. I'm getting my first looks at a couple of bars tonight before the Foo Fighters show, and I'll try to tweet/Instagram anything promising. 

Why do more bars serve Sour beers rather than Brett beers? I feel like Brett beers are more widely produced, but I find less at local bars. Is this an issue with bars being able to educate customers more easily about flavors of a Sour beer compared to the complex flavors of a Brett fermented beer?

I think you might be on to something. I heard stories from brewers and bar owners at Make it Funky about how they used to have far more customers sending beer back or complaining about "bad beer" than they do now, when people are learning a little more about the different styles. 

Another reason might be that the brett IPAs and such that I do see -- say, Boulevard's Saison Brett, anything from Oxbow -- are rather limited distribution in the first place, and not the kind of thing that pops up at your neighborhood bar. 

Not cash only. Went for the soft opening on Tuesday and it's a great space. Lots of great sight-lines, bars on every level, and a great balcony.

Yes, sorry - that's what I meant to type. Will fix right now. I wonder if that's going to speed things up, or just make for long waits when the house lights come up and everyone wants to get their tabs at the same time. 

that doesn't really mean the last train gets to the last station at the end of the line at that time. So, what exactly does it mean? Seems to be that there is at least one train on each line going to each ending point of the tracks in the center of the system at that time, but maybe not. I'm mostly a red line rider on weekdays, but sometimes shift on weekends.

Right. When Metro announces a "last train" time, like the 11:24 last train from Waterfront, that train is timed so that it is guaranteed to make connections with the other lines at L'Enfant Plaza and Gallery Place. Because the lines are different lengths, trains that leave Metro Center at Midnight are going to arrive at the ends of the lines at different times. 

Have a friend just getting into beer wanting to do the frederick ghost tour and possibly a brewery or two beforehand in early november. Any brewery recommendations?

Flying Dog is still the best in the Frederick area, and their taproom is open for growler fills until 8 on Friday and Saturday and 6 on Sundays. Only catch is that it's not downtown. If you're limited to that, the Monocacy taproom is a solid choice. Attaboy, south of Carroll Creek, had an New England IPA with guava at the Baltimore festival last weekend that was fine, and I'd be interested in checking out more from them. 

Doing a 2hr walking tour of the wharf with about 3 friends on Saturday, October 28th from 10am-12pm. Will any restaurants down there be serving brunch or lunch by then for us to check out around noon? Thanks.

This is a good question. According to a Wharf story we posted yesterday, Del Mar, Hank's and Requin are all scheduled to have their full menus going the week of Oct. 23. I don't know if they'd have their brunch/lunch going right away; my hunch is that they won't. 

Hi Fritz - Read your article on barrel-aged beer recommendations. Why were so many of your selections from large corporate beer places? Was this "paid news"? So many better barrel-aged beers out there. Please check out 50/50 Brewery in Truckee, CA, one of the legends of barrel-aged beer. (And they are not owned by some conglomerate corporate shop, at least not yet!)

No, it's obviously not "paid news." My editors had asked me for a piece on barrel-aged beers that were coming out this fall/winter, kind of pegged to the story about how Lagunitas lost access to High West barrels after the distillery was sold to Ballast Point's parent company. But they also wanted me to write about barrel-aged beers that people can actually find.

50/50's Eclipse bourbon-barrel-aged stout is great. I saw almost none of it in D.C. last year, outside of (I think) two or three bars and two stores. (The brewery's annual production is less than 2,000 barrels a year, I think?)

Beer nerds love knowing about the coolest, rarest beers coming down the pipeline. I get that - I count myself in that category, and it's why I included Moriarty in the column.

But that's also a very small audience -- maybe the 1 percent of beer drinkers. Most people aren't going to spend an hour calling beer stores trying to find a stout. And sometimes, my column is targeted at the general public, not the person who's willing to drive for 90 minutes to a brewery and wait in line to buy four-packs of a maple syrup-and-coffee stout. (I've done that: First Meal from RAR. Fantastic stuff.) 

I try to keep it balanced between me nerding out about lambics from Free Will and why certain brewers are all about lupulin powder, and also talking about Oktoberfest beers or barrel-aged stouts. Something for everyone, I would hope. 

Seemed like there was some buzz around all the new places in Ivy City 6-12 months ago -- does anyone actually go out there? How's Dock FC?

Dock FC is dope. Good breakfast tacos, lots of screens, a more general (non-team-specific) crowd than you'll find at Lucky Bar or Fado. 

I like making that a first stop on a Saturday morning, followed by visits to the distilleries (Magnus, New Columbia, One Eight, Republic) and then a beer or two at Atlas. Big Chief's rooftop is a cool spot when the weather cooperates, and Ivy City Smokehouse just got a deserved nod in the Michelin Bib Gourmand "cheap eats" guide.

I think the knock against Ivy City right now is that it's kind of removed from everything else, but I think it will eventually be more connected to Union Market/H Street/Trinidad. We'll see. 

" The venue doesn't take cash" Wow. I have to say, I hope they reconsider that. I really hate using a credit card, and I can't be the only one!

Yeah, even at the 9:30 Club right now, I frequently pay in cash so that I don't get caught in the inevitable tab-closing madness at the end of the show. I have the feeling I'll be doing a lot of buying one round at a time. (I was hoping the bars would take Apple Pay or Android Pay, which https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/going-out-guide/wp/2017/06/09/the-new-franklin-hall-wants-you-to-spend-more-time-drinking-and-less-time-waiting-at-the-bar/?utm_term=.7608bf753998#mce_temp_url#.)

Is this a real thing? Also, does the zoo have decent beer?

Yes. As mentioned in this morning's Weekend Things to Do column, the National Zoo is now running happy hour from 3 to 5 p.m. Thursday through Sunday at the Panda Overlook, the cafe above the Panda House on the Asia Trail. $5 beer, wine and sangria, and $5 nachos and other snacks. 

The last time I drank beer at the Zoo -- something I've been doing since 2006  -- it was domestic beer and Kirin, nothing special. This happy hour's more about hanging out and looking at pandas than anything else. 

My cable is awful... What are the best bars around town to catch Game 5 and (HOPEFULLY) NLCS?

The Big Stick, the Salt Line and Justin's are go-to spots around the ballpark, both home and away. (The Half Street Irregulars fan group were hosting viewing parties at Big Stick for the games in Chicago, for example.)

Duffy's, DC Reynolds and Meridian Pint have also hosted parties with sound and drink specials; and the less said about those guys at Ivy and Coney the better. 

It’s been forever since I’ve been out to Leesburg and will be heading that way soon for a wedding— is there anything new and exciting in the drinking/dining scene there? Are the breweries/pubs still offering good beers?

The most recent bar I've written about in Leesburg was the Biker Bar, as part of our Best DC Dive Bars series. 

There is the Delirium Cafe, if you're into Belgian beer.

Bars with the best beer are probably still Tuskie's and MacDowell Brew Kitchen. Brewery-wise, there's Crooked Run and the very cool Vanish, which isn't downtown, but is worth the trip for beers and barbecue. 

I am amazed by your patient and reasonable answer, while being accused of being a corporate shill. A sincere thanks for what you do.

Thanks. Beer drinkers are passionate people, which is one of my favorite things about writing about beer. I love promoting the little guys as much as possible, but sometimes we all need to remember that bigger doesn't always mean "AWFUL CORPORATE SELLOUT!"

After all, who won the gold medal in a blind tasting of hundreds of Imperial IPAs at the Great American Beer Festival last week?

Ballast Point's Manta Ray.

I like making amateur mixes at home- always find myself missing one ingredient or twist to elevate the drinks I make. Any particular bars with bartenders that are helpful in mixing advice? I've found a lot of places that are more than happy to discuss their craft, but usually a little to shy to ask about what I'm making at home.

Go on a weeknight, or early in the evening. Sit at the bar and chat. I would say Rob or Devin at Copycat Co., Adam or Lucy at 2 Birds 1 Stone, Glendon or Chad at Service Bar, Trevor or Faith at Five to One, Mick at Left Door ... all laid back spots where you can chat about cocktails and enjoy a few, too.

Any recommended places closer to the Beltway?

"The Beltway" covers a lot of ground. The Locker Room in Falls Church, Owen's Ordinary in Rockville, Tapp'd or Caddies in Bethesda (I haven't been to the latter since they changed owners, though), Southside 815 in Alexandria ...

interplay of the passionate beer people interesting to read. Like watching an impressive sport I don't really understand. Like luge.

Hopefully you can pick up some of it through osmosis! (I think that's how I learned the basics of curling.) 

Please share the Post Points Code before ending the Chat. Thanks!



And with that, I will have to come to any end. See everyone in two weeks, when we'll hopefully still be talking about baseball.

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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