Although not without good reason, Adams Morgan is more than just Jumbo Slice Pizza and beer-pong tournaments. The neighborhood has some well known craft beer bars and some unassuming gems masquerading as everyday dives.
The sidewalks of Adams Morgan can be packed on the weekends, but it reverts to a calmer version of itself on most weeknights. I have also found the service staff to be friendly and engaging. Many seemed to be noticeably appreciative of patrons who visit during the off-peak days.
Below you will find a compilation of the Adams Morgan area’s best beer bets.
View DCBEER.COM – Adams Morgan Beer Guide in a full screen map
The Reef features a chill mid-level seating area with plenty of space, and aquariums with fish to stare at while you enjoy a brew. If you like a little more movement in your evening, try their roof-top bar. It is enclosed in the winter and open to the night sky in the warmer months.
While not LEED certified or anything like that, I find The Reef lives their green ethos quite well. They only serve draft beer to eliminate bottle waste. And their menu features “organically-grown seasonal vegetables, free-range poultry and meats, fair-catch seafood.”
The Reef – 2446 18th Street NW
Beer Menu: http://www.thereefdc.com/ontap.html
Happy Hour: $1 off all beers, seven days a week from 5-8pm
The Black Squirrel
Conceived of as a place that combines good beer with good food, and an atmosphere that is grown-up, yet unpretentious, The Black Squirrel delivers. With a recently opened upstairs lounge (open Fridays & Saturdays) and a basement bar soon to come, they are aiming to give patrons more space to spread out and enjoy their exceptional beer selection.
The Black Squirrel is so dedicated to bringing Washingtonians excellent beers that they sent an employee to Brewlab (a professional brewing school in Sunderland, UK) to create their own line of house beers. Keep an eye out for these when they debut in the near future.
The Black Squirrel – 2427 18th Street NW
Beer Menu: http://www.blacksquirreldc.com/menu/beer-list/
Happy Hour: None, but Tuesdays are half-priced appetizers, and Thursdays are half-priced hamburgers.
For a place that specializes in spirits, Bourbon has an exceptional draft and bottle list. The dark, candle-lit atmosphere is relaxing and challenges what people think a beer bar should look like. They serve upscale comfort food with Old Bay Fries, Meatloaf, and Bourbon Bread Pudding, all with delicious pints of beer… just like Mom used to.
Bourbon – 2321 18th St NW
Beer Menu: http://bourbondc.com/bourbon_am_menu.pdf
While not the most expansive list of craft beers in Adams Morgan, Tryst is unique simply because they are a coffeehouse that happens to serve beer. In addition to a variety of coffees, lattes, teas, and pastries, they serve a nicely edited menu of draft and bottled beer. They even offer their own take on a java stout called The Dufrain; a pint of Guinness with an espresso shot.
Tryst Coffeehouse – 2459 18th St NW
Beer Menu: http://www.trystdc.com/index.php/section/category/menu/the_bar/beer_wine
Smoke and Barrel / Bottom of the Barrel
Punk rockers may mourn, but Asylum is no more. In its place is Bottom of the Barrel, a space not-much-changed from Asylum, although the beer selection is better. The beer selection upgrade comes from the Smoke and Barrel, which is right upstairs. The Barrel is a tasty barbecue joint with all kinds of meat options and a selection of two dozen domestic and international craft beers. Don’t worry, vegans, you can still get the options that made Asylum a favorite destination for non-meat, non-butter, etc. eaters.
Smoke and Barrel/Bottom of the Barrel – 2471 18th St NW
Ventnor Sports Cafe
Sometimes you just want to watch the big game in a genuine sports bar filled with TVs and cheering fans. Usually that means you have to suffer through pitchers of watered down lager and little else, but Ventnor Sports Cafe has got you covered.
In addition to the usual sports bar draft lineup, they have Victory Prima Pils, Bell’s Two Hearted, and Starr Hill’s Dark Starr Stout (2009 Great American Beer Festival gold medal winner). Many of the bottles were selected to give sports fans from different parts of the country a taste of home including; Baltimore-Washington Beer Works’ Raven Lager, Stone Levitation Ale, Southern Tier Raspberry Wheat, Oskar Blues Old Chub, Duck Rabbit Milk Stout, and Pennsylvania Brewing Penn Dark Dunkel Lager.
Ventnor Sports Cafe – 2411 18th St NW
Angles Bar & Billiards
My friends would affectionately describe this place as an “old man bar,” and they’d be right. When I walked into Angles there were a couple of old-times at the bar, so I almost walked out figuring they only served Coors Light and rail whiskey. I’m glad I stayed and found at their menu filled with a treasure trove of beers. Their draft selection is unremarkable, but their bottles include Allagash Dubbel, Anchor Steam, Flying Dog Doggie Style Pale Ale, Chimay Red, & Blue, Saison Dupont, and Darwin Brewery Flag Porter.
Angles Bar & Billiards – 2339 18th St NW
This very small bar packs a quite a punch with the size of their beer selection. Pharmacy Bar features a well-curated CD jukebox, stacks of board games, a few draft beers and bottles that include Aldaris Porteris Porter, Aldaris Zelta Pale Lager, Ayinger Celebrator Doppelbock, Kasteel Rogue, Duvel, and Anchor Steam.
Pharmacy Bar – 2337 18th St NW
At first glance this appears to be a dingy pool hall. Okay, it IS a dingy pool hall, but it also has a laid-back vibe, fantastic rotating local art on the wall (currently Chris Bishop), and an extensive beer list. With no kitchen, food pairing is a breeze; just bring in some carry-out and pick a beer to match!
On draft they have many of the usual suspects as well as Anderson Valley Boont Amber, Palm, Brooklyn Brown, and Bell’s Two Hearted. In bottles they have Lagunitas Brown Shugga, Mendocina Black Hawk Stout, Samuel Smith’s Pale Ale, Pinkus Ur Pils, Ayinger Bräu Weisse, and Green Flash Hop Head.
Bedrock Billiards – 1841 Columbia Road NW
Beer Menu: http://www.bedrockbilliards.com/bedrockbilliards.html
L’Enfant Café & Bar
L’Enfant is a French cafe and crêperie with intimate indoor bar and a scenic outdoor seating area. In addition to savory crepes, pomme frites, and Croque Monsieur they also feature a nice selection of Belgian beers including (on draft) Duvel Green, Chimay White, Hoegaarden, Stella Artois, Afligem Blond; and (in bottles) Chimay Blue, Chimay Red, Orval, Westmalle Triple, Palm, Delerium Tremins, and De Koninck.
L’Enfant Café & Bar – 2000 18th St NW
Do you like pizza? Circuses? Craft beer? If you answered yes to any combination of those three things, Mellow Mushroom is the spot for you. Delicious pizza with a nice chewy crust along with more than a dozen craft offerings, this is a great place to stop in and have a few pints and a meal. While you’re in there, admire the circus-themed decor, including the strongman suspended in the air as you walk in. Two floors and an outdoor space make this a fine option to have private events, too, if you have reason to do so!
Mellow Mushroom Pizza Bakers – 2436 18th St NW
Jack Rose Dining Saloon
From the folks who brought you Bourbon, here’s Jack Rose Dining Saloon. With a beer program headed by former ChurchKey mainstay and beer genius Nahem Simon, Jack Rose has two levels on which to drink. On the first floor, step in to a real-life library to whisk(e)y. Three walls covered in shelves and shelves of bottles will stun and amaze even the most ardent spirit fans. There isn’t a library of beer, unfortunately, but there are about a dozen lines filled with solid selections. On the second floor is one of the best roofdecks in DC. Partially covered, but also set up with heat in the winter, the 40-50ft. bar also has the beers from downstairs. A bar on either side of the main pine on the second floor is great for private parties. Great spot to spend an afternoon sipping craft beer and trying out whiskey.
Jack Rose Dining Saloon – 2007 18th Street NW
Long an establishment to kick back and relax, Toledo Lounge was purchased last year by the owners of The Black Squirrel and Ventnor Sports Cafe. They upgraded the menu to a small but interesting selection of starters, sandwiches, and comfort food that is bolstered by a tasty, mostly American, craft beer selection. You’ll still find Belgians like Orval and Westmalle there, but for the most part you’re looking at a steady diet of some of America’s best craft breweries. Collaboration is a big deal in craft recently, and it seems like this is another such team-up from the folks behind two of 18th Street’s already-successful craft beer spots.
DeVinos is one of the biggest purveyors of Belgian and American craft beers among the downtown shops. They have a whole rack located amongst their wines dedicated to Belgian imports. The coolers mainly stock American beers of the micro variety. One thing to note is the tap sticking out of the wall. Don’t ask us how it’s legal, just enjpy the draft beer samples this dynamic beer shop is offering. Also look for their sister shop up in Columbia Heights.
DeVinos – 2001 18th Street NW
This bodega has risen from its humble roots as a dumpy corner store to what is now a formidable wine and beer shop. They’ve been stocking great American micros and have been bragging about them on Twitter.
VirginiaMarket – 1776 U Street NW