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Arts & Craft

Among other things that are great about living in in the DC Metro area, the amount and quality of free museums is staggering. You have to admit, we’ve got it pretty good. Recently I met up with a friend from out of town who was visiting the National Gallery of Art. I met her in the Concourse Level cafe that connects the East and West wings. I was pleasantly surprised to discover they had a strong beer list.

Beer is not something I think about when visiting any place that attracts and caters to tourists. I assume the museum of food service contractor will select the item with what they perceive to be the widest appeal. In the case of beer this usually means a mass market domestic and/or a mass market import. The National Gallery of Art has chosen a different path. They offer American craft beers at two of their four cafes and a popular French lager in one of their cafes.

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The Espresso & Gelato Bar carries Smuttynose Brewing’s Old Brown Dog Ale, Weyerbacher Brewing’s Heresy (Imperial Stout), Pennsylvania Brewing Company’s Penn Dark (Munich Dunkel Lager), Victory Brewing’s Prima Pils, and Duck-Rabbit Brewery’s Milk Stout.

The Cascade Café carries Smuttynose Brewing’s Old Brown Dog Ale, and Victory Brewing’s Prima Pils.

The Garden Café rotates their beer based on the menu, which is currently “French cuisine developed by award-winning chef Michel Richard in honor of From Impressionism to Modernism: The Chester Dale Collection.” The beer pairing for this French menu is Brasseries Kronenbourg’s Kronenbourg 1664 (Pale Lager). This menu will be offered through February 10, 2011.

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I find it interesting that all of the craft beers come from east coast breweries. This makes me wonder if it was a conscious choice or simply a matter of what the vendor had to offer. I am a little underwhelmed by the choice of Kronenbourg 1664, but it may simply be a function of what the cafe’s vendors were able to obtain. Although you can find good French beers in the U.S. (like Brasserie La Choulette’s Bière des Sans Culottes), they are not as ubiquitous as beers from Belgium.

I am generally impressed with the overall selection and quality of craft beers offered at the National Gallery of Art. I hope museum goers respond well to being offered craft beer in museums by the choices they make at the register.

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