RFD Strong Ale Tasting

Strong Ale TastingLast night I attended night number two of RFD’s annual Strong Ale tasting.

For the uninitiated, RFD is a world-renowned beer bar and restaurant in Washington D.C. ‘s Gallery Place/Chinatown neighborhood (a.k.a. brewpub triangle, since there are three within a few blocks). Proprietor Dave Alexander also owns The Brickskeller, near Dupont Circle, which is registered in the Guinness Book of World Records for having the largest selection of bottled beers anywhere.

Alexander opened RFD a few years back to focus more on draft selections and, as implied by the initials in its name, “Regional Food and Drink.” I wish their beer and food selections lived up to the “regional” claim, but the real reason to visit RFD is for its beer tasting events.

The Strong Ale tasting (and most of the other events too) is hosted by Bob Tupper, founder of Tuppers’ Hop Pocket beers (he’s finally got a website – check it out), and always features numerous guest brewer/speakers and enough strong beers to make it a night not to remember.

Strong Ale Brewers

From left, here are just a few of the ten or so brewers who presented beers last night, all of whom are, in this case, from the Mid-Atlantic region: Mike Morris and Mike McCarthy from the Shirlington location of Capitol City Brewing (whose beers I blogged about here); Bill Madden of the brand new Vintage 50 Restaurant and Brew Lounge in Leesburg, VA; I think the next guy is “Pete” from the Capitol Hill location of Capitol City Brewing; and finally, Kevin from the Baltimore Cap City (who announced last night that he’s moving to Chicago to help open a new Gordon Biersch).

Jim Busch Jim Busch presented Victory Brewing‘s St. Victorious Dopplebock, that includes some smoked malts which lend it a unique comforting flavor and help to moderate what can sometimes be an overly sweet style to my taste. I also found out that Jim is my neighbor – although Victory Brewing is in Downingtown, PA, Jim lives right here in Silver Spring, MD. And even though the signage above him in this picture might seem to suggest that he is the devil, born in the year One, he was actually a really nice guy and invited me to visit the brewery in Downingtown, which I plan to do in just two weeks!

The tasting featured three cask conditioned beers, served from firkins: Cap City’s Double IPA, Clipper City’s Below Decks Barleywine (dry hopped in the cask) and Vintage 50’s Wee heavy. There were also offerings from Old Dominion, Sweetwater Tavern, and He’Brew.

Jeremy CowanThe last photo is a glamour shot of Jeremy Cowan, owner of Schnoz (his joke, not mine), I mean Shmaltz Brewing, marketer of the He’Brew line of beers. He presented a rye double IPA called Bittersweet Lenny’s R.I.P.A., a tribute to Jewish comedian Lenny Bruce. In honor of Lenny’s ribald sense of humor, Jeremy opened his talk by exclaiming: “Cocksucker.” He had us in stitches for about 15 minutes.

The evening closed with Bob Tupper’s traditional live auction to benefit Children’s Hospital. After ten strong beers, I actually vaguely recall bidding $200 on the whole lot of beer goods (which included $50 in gift certificates) and was outbid by only $20.

To find out about upcoming beer events at RFD you can try checking their website, although it rarely seems to be kept up to date. The best thing is to get on their email list by emailing brickskeller_at_aol.com with “I want on” in the subject line.

Perhaps a beer events calendar is needed for the Mid-Atlantic region? I encourage you readers to let me know if you think this would be a useful resource. Meanwhile, you can also refer to the calendars on beeradvocate.com and ratebeer.com.

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