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The RAMMYS 2019 Beer Program of the Year, a DC Beer Take

The Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington (RAMW) hosts the RAMMY’s every year,

the gala that “honors the exceptional ability and accomplishments” of “the region’s restaurants and foodservice community.” We now know thanks to the Michelin Guide that the region’s foodservice community extends over 70 miles to Washington, Virginia.

A ticket would typically run you $325 but thanks to a contest you may be able to get in for free. Per RAMW “The week of May 20, any guest who posts photos at a RAMMYS beer program finalist location using the Instagram handle @RAMWdc and hashtags #RAMMYSbeer & #RAMMYS19 will be entered to win a pair of tickets to the 2019 RAMMY Awards Gala on June 30. One winner will be selected at random and notified via Instagram by RAMW.”

RAMMYs 2019 Beer Program

The award nominees for Beer Program of the Year are B Side, Caboose Tavern, Pizzeria Paradiso Dupont, Republic, and Roofers Union.

Nominees have to be a RAMW member to be eligible to win, and the winners are ultimately chosen by RAMW: “Nominations are submitted online only through the nominations website by RAMW members, public relations representatives, restaurant owners, operators, staff, and the general public. Submissions are reviewed by RAMW for eligibility and approved for judging. There is no fee to enter submissions.” The biggest issue people have had with the RAMW award system is that winners are ineligible for the next five years. So that even if a beer program of the year was the best program three years running, it couldn’t be nominated again.

One of our more outspoken writers, speaking on condition of anonymity, noted, “My fear about this is that the nominees will take it as me saying they’re bad… They’re not bad. These programs are good. Some are very good. But none of them… is within a standard deviation of ChurchKey or The Sovereign,” and so we at DCBeer find ourselves in this predicament.

Churchkey/Birch & Barley last won the title in 2014. Last year it went to Owen’s Ordinary, another Neighborhood Restaurant Group establishment, like B Side. 2017’s award went to Jack Rose Dining Saloon, in 2016 Right Proper Brewing Company won, and 2015’s winner was Pizzeria Paradiso Georgetown.

The programs nominated and their alumni have significance to the DC brewing world outside of their importance as beer programs. Pizzeria Paradiso has employed some of the sharpest minds in the DC brewing world. Take for example Thor Cheston, who was responsible for Pizzeria Paradiso’s beer program before opening Right Proper. Or Josh Fernands, also from the Paradiso empire, who slings Allagash and keeps DC plied with Allagash White as well as Resurgam and a whole host of other world-class beers from Maine that wouldn’t otherwise trickle into the District. Other “behind the mash paddle” Pizza P alum Rob Fink is manufacturing world-class beer at Jailbreak Brewing Company. Further afield, Greg Jasgur left Pizzeria Paradiso for Oxbow Blending & Bottling in Portland Maine in 2014. Also in Maine is Anne Marisic, at Maine Beer Company, formerly NRG manager at Bluejacket and Birch & Barley/Churchkey. 3 Stars lead brewer Meth Gunasinghe, responsible for many of the creative pilot beers, began at Caboose Brewing where he dipped a brewing toe there.

Roofers Union GM and Beer Director Dave Delaplaine carries on the tradition of The Reef, one of the first restaurants in the District to marry beer to food, in the same location, with smartly selected taps and a cellar list.

Brett Robison, a cofounder of Silver Branch Brewing Company, began building a strong locally-focused beer program at Republic in Takoma Park. In many ways, the beer culture on display at Republic was ahead of its time though much of the important work being done in Montgomery County continues to this day.

So go support the nominees as they continue to be purveyors of fine ales and lagers. Promotions go from Monday, May 20, through Friday, May 24. The winner will be announced at the RAMMYs on May 30.

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