March Madness, the NCAA men’s division I basketball tournament, starts today. Depending on how you feel about the play-in round, this is either the first or the second round, but either way today and tomorrow will be two of the best days in American sports this year. Georgetown’s The Sovereign wants to help you celebrate by putting 68 Belgian and Belgian-style bottles on at half price between now and Sunday.
The Sovereign opens early today at 11:30am in time for the first tip-off. There is no admission fee for the event. Bottles will be 50 percent off the regular menu price. Specials will be available all day on both floors.
The list of overwhelming and impressive (the full version of it appears below). If you’re not someone who typically goes in for either Belgian beer or large format bottles, it might be a little daunting to know what to pick. There are a couple of schools of thought here. Obviously the more expensive the bottle the bigger the savings you’re getting, but there are some value picks to be found in here (just like in the NCAA bracket). Here are a few that I’d be ordering.
Allagash Emile (Pineau des Charantes BA Sour Brown Ale) – $12.5 – 375mL- Allagash has a ton of these smaller format oddball bottles that are worth your time, but Emile isn’t one you’ll often see on menus. Wikipedia tells me that Pineau de Charantes is “a fortified wine made from either fresh, unfermented grape juice or a blend of lightly fermented grape must, to which a Cognac eau-de-vie is added and then matured.” I have no idea how that would taste on a sour brown ale, but $12.50 is the right price for me to find out.
Anchorage Anadromous (Whiskey & Red Wine BA Sour Brown Ale) – $16 – 750mL – Anchorage flies under the radar for these styles way too often. The Tide and Its Takers, their Brett ale that was in market a few years ago, was underrated. This is a brewery that knows barreling, and for them to take a sour offering and give it treatments in both whiskey and red wine barrels is intriguing. This would be a Cinderella in my bracket, I think.
Blaugies La Monuese (Saison) – $11 – 750mL – Blaugies’ Saison is classic. No frills, just a wonderful encapsulation of the style, and you’re getting a great, drinkable, thirst-quenching value here.
Bruery Terreux Tonnellerie Rue 2015 (Oak Saison w/ Rye) – $10 – 750mL – There’s a lot on this list for people who like sour ales, but if that’s not your bag I’d urge you to consider The Bruery’s rye saison here. It’s a spicy, more malt-forward take on the style.
De Leite Fils A Papa IV (Wine BA Sour Brown Ale) – $7.5 – 330mL – De Leite doesn’t have the name recognition of a lot of its Belgian counterparts, but you’re not often going to find a Bordeaux barrel-aged beer at less than $10 and yet this what we have here.
De Ranke Cuvée De Ranke 2016 (Strong Blond Ale & Lambic) – $16 – 750mL – This is hardly a sleeper pick. Probably a #1 or #2 seed, but the value is just incredible. If you haven’t had Cuvee De Ranke before, I’m sorry to recommend it to you because having had it you might not be able to turn down ordering it when you see it on a bottle list from here on out. There aren’t a lot of beers that deserve the adjective “beautiful,” but this is one of them.
Dunham Assemblage #1 (Red Wine BA Saison) – $12.5 – 750mL – I know nothing about Dunham, but I’m a sucker for wine barrel-aging of saisons, and to get 750mL of this for $12.50 I’m absolutely taking a leap and going for it. The description from The Sovereign says, ” blend of propolis & pale ale refermented with brettanomyces & aged in zinfandel barrels.”
Fantome Vertignasse (Saison w/ Spinach & Spices) – $12.5 – 750mL – This is an oddball and maybe one of the riskier picks on this list. I’ve found Fantome’s quality to be inconsistent over the years, which makes me shy away from them in general. When they’re on, the quality is unbelievable, but I’ve had as many middling bottles as great ones. Despite that, this description is weird enough to have caught my eye: “finished with spinach juice & Indian spices. brewed for the 9th rencontre des brasseries du luxembourg belge.” I don’t know which “Indian spices” these are, but the idea of blending them with saison yeast’s estery spiciness is intriguing. How often are you going to get to try a beer finished with spinach juice? Live a little.
Jester King Deimos’ Companion (Oak BA Papalo & Lime) – $12.5 – 750mL – One of two Jester King picks on my list here. Jester King has a deft hand with these saisons brewed with weird ingredients. Papalo is a plant that is reminiscent of arugula and cilantro, and the papalo and limes included in this beer are both Texas-grown. I hope this will actually be quite refreshing with the herbaceous notes adding some zip.
Jester King Kollaborationsbier (Oak BA Pale Lager) – $12.5 – 750mL – Maybe I’m a sucker for Taras Boulba (okay, I’m a sucker for Taras Boulba), but if I see two great breweries (this is a collaboration with Live Oak) trying to do an American take on the Belgian classic, I’m going for it. Go ahead and order a draft De La Senne Taras Boulba, too, and do a side-by-side.
Jolly Pumpkin La Roja 2016 (Oak BA Sour Red Ale) – $17.5 – 750mL – There was a time around 2011-2013 when La Roja really had its moment in the sun in the DC beer scene. Jolly Pumpkin’s presence in DC is greatly reduced since then, but La Roja with a couple of years of age on it is a great value here. This is a sour amber ale that retains plenty of its malt and caramel notes while also eliciting a very deft, delicate funk underneath. It’s a joy to drink this beer, and it’s a good time to either discover or rediscover it.
Perennial Foeder Saison (Oak BA Saison) – $22.5 – 750mL – Another beer that is a pure value pick. Perennial is making some wonderful yeast-forward beers and getting their foeder version at this price is a steal.
Saint Somewhere Bouteille Vert (Saison w/ Brett, Honey & Citrus Fruit) – $14 – 750mL – This is a collaboration with Jester King, and The Sov’s description says “open fermented with a blend of saison yeast & brettanomyces; finished & conditioned with local honey from Cee Bee Heirloom Citrus groves & packaged in green bottles.” I don’t know about this green bottle thing, but there’s enough here between the honey, which should make this super dry, and the open fermentation to grab my attention. Saint Somewhere is also fairly underrated generally and little seen up here so this could be a good introduction.
Struise Tsjeeses Reserva: Bourbon (Bourbon BA Strong Pale Ale) – $9 – 330mL – Did you bring a friend to The Sovereign who is grousing about all the fancy beers and who just wants a whiskey-ginger? Go ahead and grab this bottle. For the cost of a whiskey highball, you’ll be getting plenty of value in terms of ABV and flavor.
Those are my picks. Interested to see yours in the comments. Anyway, here’s The Sovereign’s half-priced bottle list. I included the 50% price of the current bottle list menu (price and availability subject to change) and the bottle format. No guarantees this is what the pricing/formats are when you show up, but it should be close.
|Beer Name||50% |
|Allagash Emile (Pineau des Charantes BA Sour Brown Ale)||12.5||375mL|
|Allagash Evora (Brandy BA Strong Blond Ale)||12.5||375mL|
|Allagash FV 13 (Sour Brown Ale)||12.5||375mL|
|Allagash James & Julie (Sour Brown Ale)||12.5||375mL|
|American Solera Amber Canyon Magik (Pinot Noir BA Saison)||12||500mL|
|American Solera Cranbarrel (Oak BA Sour Red Ale w/ Cranberry)||12.5||375mL|
|Anchorage Anadromous (Whiskey & Red Wine BA Sour Brown Ale)||16||750mL|
|Anchorage Mosaic Saison (Oak BA Saison)||12.5||750mL|
|Anchorage Love Buzz (Red Wine BA Saison w/ Rose Hips, Peppercorns & Orange Peels)||7.5||750mL|
|Blaugies La Monuese (Saison)||11||750mL|
|Boon Oude Geuze Black Label 2015 (Gueuze)||17.5||750mL|
|Bruery Terreux Tonnellerie Rue 2015 (Oak Saison w/ Rye)||10||750mL|
|Cantillon Classic Gueuze 2017 (Gueuze)||12.5||375mL|
|Cascade Cranberry Ale (Sour Red Ale w/ Cranberries, Cinnamon & Hibiscus)||22.5||750mL|
|Casey Cherry Fruit Stand: Bing (Oak BA Saison w/ Cherry)||20||750mL|
|Casey Saison (Oak BA Saison)||20||750mL|
|Crooked Stave L’Brett d’Cherry 2015 (Oak BA Sour Red Ale w/ Cherry)||11||375mL|
|Crooked Stave Serenata Notturna Reserva: Blueberry (Sour Red Ale w/ Blueberries)||11||375mL|
|De Dolle Dulle Teve 2016 (Strong Pale Ale)||7||330mL|
|De Dolle Oerbier Special Reserva 2015 (Red Wine BA Sour Brown Ale)||11||330mL|
|De Leite Fils A Papa IV (Wine BA Sour Brown Ale)||7.5||330mL|
|De Leite Merci Maman (Blond Ale)||4.5||330mL|
|De Ranke Cuvée De Ranke 2016 (Strong Blond Ale & Lambic)||16||750mL|
|Drie Fonteinen Oude Geuze 2016 (Gueuze)||12||375mL|
|Drie Fonteinen Doesjel 2015 (Gueuze)||12.5||375mL|
|Drie Fonteinen Oude Kriek 2016 (Kriek Lambic)||13.5||375mL|
|Drie Fonteinen Zwet.Be (Porter)||6||330mL|
|Dunham Assemblage #1 (Red Wine BA Saison)||12.5||750mL|
|Dunham Propolis (Witbier)|
|E9 Du Vieux Monde (Oak BA Saison)||12||750mL|
|E9 Catharsis (Oak BA Saison)||12||750mL|
|Eric Bordelet Sidre Brut (Cider)||12.5||750mL|
|Fantome Pissenlit (Saison w/ Dandelion)||12.5||750mL|
|Fantome Vertignasse (Saison w/ Spinach & Spices)||12.5||750mL|
|Girardin Black Label 2017 (Gueuze)||13.5||375mL|
|Girardin Kriek (Kriek)||12.5||375mL|
|Grimm Psychokinesis (Oak BA Sour Blond Ale)||12.5||650mL|
|Hanssens Oudbeitje (Oak BA Lambic w/ Strawberry)||13.5||375mL|
|Hof Ten Dormaal Kriek 2017 (Kriek)||8.5||330mL|
|Jackie O’s Distant Corners (Saison w/ Rice & Oolong Tea)||15||500mL|
|Jester King Biere de Blanc du Bois (Oak BA Sour Blond Ale w/ Wine Grapes)||17.5||500mL|
|Jester King Deimos’ Companion (Oak BA Papalo & Lime)||12.5||750mL|
|Jester King Kollaborationsbier (Oak BA Pale Lager)||12.5||750mL|
|Jester King Snorkel (Saison w/ Smoked Sea Salt & Oyster Mushrooms)||12.5||750mL|
|Jolly Pumpkin Bam Di Castagna (Oak BA Saison w/ Chestnut)||6||375mL|
|Jolly Pumpkin IO Saison (Oak BA Saison w/ Rose & Hibiscus)||17.5||750mL|
|Jolly Pumpkin La Roja 2016 (Oak BA Sour Red Ale)||17.5||750mL|
|Jolly Pumpkin Oro de Calabaza: Grand Reserva #1 (Oak BA Strong Blond Ale)||12.5||375mL|
|Oxbow Crossfade (Saison w/ Brettanomyces)||17.5||500mL|
|Oxbow Barrel-Aged Farmhouse Pale Ale #10 (Oak BA Saison w/ Brett)||25||500mL|
|Perennial Foeder Saison (Oak BA Saison)||22.5||750mL|
|Perennial Funky Wit (Oak BA Witbier)||22.5||750mL|
|Rulles Saison (Saison)||12.5||750mL|
|Rulles Triple (Tripel)||12.5||750mL|
|Saint Somewhere Lectio Divina (Dubbel w/ Brett)||11||750mL|
|Saint Somewhere Bouteille Vert (Saison w/ Brett, Honey & Citrus Fruit)||14||750mL|
|Struise Pannepot Reserva 2018 (Oak BA Strong Dark Ale)||9||330mL|
|Struise Rio Reserva: St. Emilion & Bourbon (Wine & Bourbon BA Strong Dark Ale)||7.5||330mL|
|Struise Tsjeeses Reserva: Bourbon (Bourbon BA Strong Pale Ale)||9||330mL|
|Thiriez Blond (Blond Ale)||10||750mL|
|Thiriez Vielle Brune (Oak BA Sour Brown Ale)||11||750mL|
|Tilquin Gueuze 2016/2017 (Gueuze)||15||375mL|
|Tilquin Quetsche 17/18 (Lambic w/ Plums)||18||375mL|
|Tilquin Rullquin 16/17 (Lambic & Stout)||25||750mL|
|The Veil No More Sleep (Oak BA Saison)||20||750mL|
|Verzet Oud Bruin Vineyard (Oak BA Sour Brown Ale w/ Grapes)||22.5||750mL|
Anyway, good look out there today finding value and deals no matter where you’re watching the games. Best wishes if your team made the tournament. Given that your bracket will almost certainly be wrecked after today when all four number one seeds lose, your time is really probably better spent working through these beer deals. Check out our calendar for other great events today as well!
(P.S. I’ll save my takes about the NCAA’s financial exploitation of student-athletes for another day, but I couldn’t hit publish on this piece without a nod to it.)