For many, the annual issue of Washingtonian Magazine’s 100 Very Best Restaurants is eagerly anticipated and oft discussed.  While reading this year’s list of restaurants, I found myself wondering… does the quality of the beer being served at these restaurants match the quality of the food being prepared?  As you will see, in some cases we think yes, and in a number of others, we think no.

This year Washingtonian Magazine chose to rank only the top 40 restaurants; numbers 41-100 were all ranked equally. With this in mind, will examine the Top 100 list in a series of three articles: Our Top Picks, The Best of the Rest, and “Foie Gras & Fizzy Yellow Water?

With DC Restaurant Week approaching (August 15 – 21) as well as DC Beer Week (August 14-21), you might want to narrow down your selections by examining who has a solid beer game and who has fizzy beer shame.  We are here to help break it down like a fermentable sugar.

Beer Menus for all restaurants all in one place?

DOWNLOAD this PDF of all 100 restaurants, their beer menu as of August 2011, a link to their online beer menu if available, and the star rating.


Our Top Picks

After collecting the beer menus from restaurants in this year’s Washingtonian Magazine’s 100 Very Best Restaurants came the task of who amongst them has the best beer lists.  We decided early on that we did not want to turn this into an analytical task where we fed a list of beers into a matrix of values and considerations.

If we had we would have followed the guidance of “Understanding Beer” by Dr. J. Evans Pritchard, Ph.D. Instead we opted to go the subjective route guided by a few considerations: 1) How extensive is the beer menu?, 2) Does it present a variety of styles?, 3) Is there a mix of common favorites and rarely found gems?

Here is what we came up with.

2 Amys

(ranked #27)
3715 Macomb Street NW

Image courtesy of flikr user asmythie

Consider that this is a relatively small pizza place yet has beers on draft like Baladin and Del Borgo, that most places don’t even carry in bottles, and you’ll start to see why this gem made it to the top of our list.  2 Amys doesn’t chug out Adams Morgan-style “Jumbo Slices”; they create Neapolitan masterpieces.  They are making craft pizza and it seems they have taken the time and care to offer a menu of craft beers to match.  The beers offered tend towards Italian craft beer or birra artigianale. Production of and appreciation for hand-crafted beers in Italy is on the rise.  It is nice to see it getting some exposure in a place where you can sample creative Italian beers in the context of creative Italian food.
(as of 8/7/11)
DRAFT: Moretti Lager, Reissdorf Kolsch, Tuppers’ Hop Pocket Ale, Old Speckled Hen, Bells Oberon, Het Anker Lucifer, Baladin Nora, Baladin Super, Del Borgo Enkir, Italiano Tipo Pils, Harviestoun Bitter & Twisted
BOTTLE: Menabrea, Menabrea Amber, Moretti La Rossa, Almond ’22 Torbata, Baladin Nora, Baladin Wayan, Barley Friska, Barley BB10, Del Borgo ReAle Extra, Del Ducato Nuova Mattina, Del Ducato Verdi Imperial Stout, Del Ducato Via Emilia, di Como Malthus Birolla, Montegioco Demon Hunter, Montegioco Rex Grue, Piccolo Chiostro, Troll Shangrila, Hitachino Nest Espresso Stout, Hitachino Nest White Ale

Birch & Barley

1337 14th Street NW

I cannot fathom the beer list at Birch & Barley (and its upstairs sibling, ChurchKey) being accompanied by anything less than amazing food.  It is no wonder it made Washingtonian’s Top 100 list.  Beer Director Greg Engert and his team have assembled not only the best beer list in the city, but also one of the best on the east coast. With 555 beers across 500 bottles, 50 ever-changing drafts, and 5 casks, the B&B/CK team has a ton of options to find the perfect pairing with their delicious food.
(as of 8/8/11)
CASK: Flying Dog Imperial IPA: Single Hop – Centennial, Oliver’s Dark Horse English Mild, Etienne Dupont Cidre Bouché Brut de Normandie 2010 French Cidre
DRAFT: Gaffel Kölsch, Harpoon Summer Beer, Brooklyn Lager, Eggenberg Naturtrüb Zwickelbier, Victory Prima Pils, Arcobräu Zwicklbier, Hofstettner Heller Bock Saphir, del Montseny + Lupulus Iberian Ale, Stone Pale Ale, Great Lakes Lake Erie Monster, Speakeasy Betrayal American Strong Ale, Lost Rhino Face Plant IPA, Haandbryggeriet IPA, Avery India Pale Ale, Smuttynose Finest Kind IPA, Bell’s Two Hearted Ale IPA, Haandbryggeriet Røyk Uten Ild Dampfbier, Haandbryggeriet Bestefar Strong Ale, Heller-trum Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Urbock, Duck-Rabbit Doppelbock, de Musketiers Troubadour Speciale Belgian Pale Ale, Allagash Fluxus 2011 Bière de Garde, Tröeg’s Java Head Stout, Beer Here Nordic Rye Danish Brown Ale, Flying Dog Wild Dog: Barrel-aged Gonzo Baltic Porter, DC Brau Penn Quarter Porter Robust Porter, Sierra Nevada Porter, Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald Robust Porter, Oppigårds Stark Porter, De Molen Hel & Verdoemenis Imperial Stout, De Molen Cease & Desist Imperial Stout, Mikkeller Black Hole Barrel-aged (White Wine) Imperial Stout, Mikkeller Black Hole Barrel-aged (Red Wine) Imperial Stout, Allagash White, Ayinger Bräu Weisse Hefeweizen, Brouwerij Huyghe St. Idesbald Blond, Duvel Single Fermentation Blond Ale, Epic Brainless On Peaches Belgian Strong Blond Ale, Kasteel Tripel, Schneider Aventinus Weizenbock, Gouden Carolus Classic Strong Dark Ale, Jolly Pumpkin Weizen Bam Helles Hefeweizen, Westons Stowford Press Medium Dry Cider, Michel Jodoin La Grande Tentation Québécois Cider, Æppeltreow Kinglet Bitter American Cider
BOTTLE: 500 choices,  Too many to print, but we’re sure you will find something you like.


(ranked #23)
1520 14th Street NW

I have great admiration for a place that serves country-specific food without binding themselves only to the popular beer of that country.  Estadio offers a few popular Spanish Pale Lagers, but the remainder of their list is comprised of mostly American craft breweries.  With a few exceptions the list seems to have skipped beers made according to basic style categories and favors beers that use style categories as a jumping off point for experimentation and improvisation.  This menu reads like a chef’s tasting menu, but for amazing beer. ¡Salud!
(as of 8/9/11)
DRAFT: Estrella Damm Lager
BOTTLE: Moritz, Alhambra Negra, Estrella Galicia 1906 Reserva Especial, Cervesera del Montseny Lupulus, DC Brau Public Pale, Butternuts Heinneweiss, Tröegs Sunshine Pils, Anderson Valley Summer Cervesa Crema, Short’s Nicie Spicie, Short’s Huma-Lupa-Licious IPA, Surly Bitter Brewer, Surly Coffee Bender, Estrella Damm Inedit, Pretty Things Jack D’Or Saison, Jolly Pumpkin La Roja, Brewer’s Art Green Peppercorn Triple, Southern Tier JahVa, The Bruery Orchard White, The Bruery Hottenroth, Brewdog Tactical Nuclear Penguin (1oz pour), Ithaca Thirteen, Surly Smoke 2010, Trabanco Poma Aurea Cider, Trabanco Cosecha Propria Cider, Sarasola Sagardoa Cider, Michel Jodoin Cidre Rosé Mousseux Cider



(ranked #31)
775 G Street NW

Proof has broken the mold and shown that just because wine is their chosen focus doesn’t mean that you can’t have a world-class beer program.  With very few exceptions, the beers chosen skip the entry-level offerings from the respective breweries and go directly for the the more complex and unique offerings.  The flavors range from subtle to big, but all are distinct; presumably to stand up to and complement the flavors of the food being served.
(as of 8/8/11)
DRAFT: Crispin Classic Cider, Jolly Pumpkin Luciernaga Artisan Pale Ale, Long Trail Amber Ale, Uinta Wyld Extra Pale Ale
BOTTLE: Schlafly Kolsch, Schlafly A IPA, Victory Sunrise Weissbier, Rogue Mocha Porter, Rogue John John Barrel Aged Ale, Green Flash Hop Head Red, Wells Bombardier, Oskar Blues Dale’s Pale Ale, Oskar Blues Mama’s Little Yella Pils, Brooklyn Lager, Pretty Things Baby Tree Quadruple Ale, Pretty Things St. Botolph Rustic Dark Ale, Pretty Things Jack d’Or Saison, Jolly Pumpkin Bam Noire, Etienne Dupont Cidre Brut, Stillwater Existent Ale, Brewer’s Art Le Canard Ale, Brew Dog Tactical Nuclear Penguin, North Coast Old Stock Ale 2009, 21st Amendment Watermelon Wheat Ale, 21st Amendment Hop Crisis IPA, St. Sebastian Golden Ale Yeast Hoist, DC Brau Public Pale Ale, Epic Imperial Red Ale, Founders Red Rye Pale Ale

Be sure to check back in with us for parts 2 and 3 of our series!

Our Top Picks