Birch & Barley / ChurchKey
Taps: 55 / Bottles: 500
Cask: Y / Beer-to-Go: N
Ratings: 123 | Reviews: 97 | Show All Ratings:
4.39/5 rDev -2.9%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3.75 | selection: 5 | food: 4.25 | $$
Went to ChurchKey for the first time this past Saturday. Was very impressed with the 29 page bottle list of over 500 bottles/cans. I got a DC Brau On the Wings of Armageddon and a Lagunitas CouchTrippin Fusion 19 which the waitress didn't even know they had because it hast even come out yet!
Food was good. I had the jerk wings and they were not dripping in sauce, which was appreciated. I would make this a weekly stop but I live in NY so that would really put a dent in my wallet. Anyway, loved this place.
02-24-2014 18:34:49 | More by WheelsPSU
4.64/5 rDev +2.7%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.75 | food: 4.5 | $$
My girlfriend and I were in DC for the weekend and decided to hit Churchkey up for an appetizer, beer and a glass of wine for her. Albeit it was very crowded, we lucked out and got a seat. I'd recommend getting there early. The beer selection is off-the-charts!!! I was able to land OTWOA there. The food was fantastic! Definitely get the grilled cheese and bread board if you go. The waiter, who's name escapes me, was very attentive for as busy it was. He was personable and even recommended other beer places/shops to go to while in the city. The wine was even great! I would love to go back and eat at Birch & Barley. Well worth visiting!
02-23-2014 00:22:19 | More by Cubatobaco
4.88/5 rDev +8%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4 | $$
Above the restaurant, up a steep stair, a shotgun barroom with windows at the front and bathrooms in the back. Long bar fills 2/3rds of the room with a great mix of booth, table, bar chairs. Mostly wood, seats aren't the most comfortable, the large crowd that gathered were middle upper class young and lively.
Quality Everything sampled was clean and excellent.
Service: Fantastic. Both servers we encountered were very knowledgeable and obviously loved beer. Friendly, took great care of us even after the place got very busy, we never sat without a beer or water. I really was impressed that the menu (which is impressive for several reasons) listed serving temperatures.
Selection. The night I visited they were just putting out at least 30 English kegs and casks adding to the 30 or more other taps present for an event. The bottle list is a phone directory. I recognized almost nothing. What I did, I recognized as high quality choices. This is graduate school for beer drinkers.
Food: What I had was good (the fried mac and cheese) but not great. The servings, like the beer sizes were small, which is fine as the price reflected that. Very good for bar food, but I wouldn't recommend going in hungry.
02-22-2014 15:42:50 | More by HardTarget
4.78/5 rDev +5.8%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.75 | $$$$
We visited Churchkey last summer with friends before heading downstairs for dinner at Birch & Barley. The beer selection was phenomenal. I can’t imagine a beer selection being any better than theirs. The beer service staff was very good and knowledgeable. I’d definitely head back any time I’m up in the DC area. I’d say it’s a bit overpriced, but I expected that so it wasn’t a surprise. The food at Birch & Barley was fantastic. The waitstaff was quick to offer a beer selection to pair with the food which was a huge plus. If you are looking for an upscale meal to go along with an excellent beer, you can’t go wrong with Churchkey / Birch & Barley.
02-14-2014 15:49:49 | More by adam42381
3.86/5 rDev -14.6%
vibe: 3.75 | quality: 4.5 | service: 2.5 | selection: 4.5 | $$$
Visited last week while in town for the holidays
ChurchKey is one of those places that I've heard about for years, before craft beer really exploded. The selection is legendary, and I was happy to get a chance to finally check it out after being in the area twice in recent times.
I visited around 10pm on a weeknight, but the bar was still packed, as were most of the booths. The space was kinda chic, but I do think it was a bit too dark, which I can appreciate at a place like monks, but It doesn't match he rest of the feeling at ChurchKey. I liked the lounge-like areas, but overall I just don't think the atmosphere was special.
I managed to find a seat at the bar and began to ponder my first beer. 50 or so drafts, a few casks and about 500 bottles, so I had my hands full. Both beers I had were great pours, and in appropriate non-branded glassware. The selection of draft beers was both diverse and well thought-out, and it the highlight of the bar. I loved that they offer 4oz. pours, though rare beers + DC meant that they could easily exceed 1$/oz.. Ouch!
I had an appetizer but I won't rate their food on that - I will say that the menu looked promising. Prices were high, even for me coming from a city with relatively high bar prices, but that's DC for you.
Service was probably my least favorite part - my bartender seemed detached from reality. I'm not sure if he was high, or just not interested. Even when we did communicate, it seemed forced and as if I was a bother. On top of that, the super long bar with only two bartenders made it difficult to get quick service (I don't think it's fair to blame the workers for that). The only real disappointing aspect of the evening.
ChurchKey lived up to the hype, and is somewhere that I hope to return to someday.
12-30-2013 01:19:35 | More by jophish17
District of Columbia
3.99/5 rDev -11.7%
vibe: 3.25 | quality: 4 | service: 3.25 | selection: 5 | food: 4 | $$$
UPDATED after a second visit.
Visited Church Key on a Saturday evening 2/2 and the restaurant Birch & Barely on 3/26/13 and many times afterwards.
Overall, this place is on my list when I need a special beer. But the bar upstairs tends to be too crowded and service suffers. Sitting at the bar in the Birch & Barley is much prefered. They REALLY need to resolve the dishwashing detergent odor issue noted below.
2/2 - Arrived about 6pm looking to have a few beers before we headed down the street for dinner. This was the first time I had visited. ChurchKey had been on my "to visit" list for quite some time and I finally made. Unfortunately I was underwhelmed.
A - When we walked in the first thing we noticed was the stale beer smell. Reminded me of my fraternity bar where I paid $0.25/beer. I can get over the smell, but for paying the prices the least they can do is keep it clean and somewhat fresh smelling. It was crowed (not complaining, popular places get crowded) with a good vibe. Seating is a challenge. And the lighting is quite low, making it difficult to read the beer menu.
Q - No complaints
S - Waiter was friendly and helpful, but the service was very slow. Busy and crowded means slow, but it was almost an hour between my first and second beers.
S - Beer selection is great, both on tap and by the bottle.
3/26 - A Wednesday during the Craft Brewers Conference. Super crowded. A new line up of beers special for the night. Cool stuff.
A - The restaurant is less crowded and has a better atmosphere.
Q - I have to ding them this time. 3 of my 5 tastes had that dishwashing detergent odor. Could not taste, but the odor was clearly evident. Thought it was maybe the beer the first time. Sitting at the bar in the restaurant watching the bartender put glasses through the dishwasher. When she pulled the glasses out she would do a quick rinse on the glass washer before pouring a beer. I mentioned it to the bartender and she agreed. Without my asking she credited two of the beers. She was more attentive to rinsing the glasses before a pour.
S - Service in the restaurant is much better than in the upstairs bar.
S - Unbelieveable. Top notch.
F - Somewhat narrow menu but the food was good. I had the pieroges and the chicken rosemary flatbread. Both were yummy and arrive quickly.
11-08-2013 13:49:03 | More by Sludgeman
4.44/5 rDev -1.8%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.75 | service: 3.25 | selection: 5 | $$$
One of the best beer selections I've ever seen. We really liked this place, great crowd. The bartenders though knowledgeable can be hard to track down if your standing and not seated at the bar. If your looking for an unparalleled beer selection than this is the place. Overall this place is a Home Run.
10-24-2013 13:04:10 | More by Bifpocaroba
4.75/5 rDev +5.1%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.75 | $$
I ate/drank there this week during DC Restaurant Week. The menu was 3 courses with optional beer pairings (no brainer - duh). The food was world-class. The beer pairings were nearly perfect. The beer selection was vast - hundreds of beers I've never had and some I've never heard of. The bar staff was extremely knowledgeable although the atmosphere was so noisy I couldn't always hear what they were saying. It's a little bit pricey but not really considering the quality. Definitely best of class in DC.
Beers (all draft): Bells Experimental 2013-3 (I think - it was an off-menu recommendation), Oxbow Farmhouse Pale Ale, La Cholie Fraulein (doppelbock from Canada) and Panking Pole (a dry English cider). All excellent and all well-paired with the food.
08-23-2013 23:59:26 | More by GregKeith
4.91/5 rDev +8.6%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 5 | service: 4.75 | selection: 5 | food: 5 | $$$
Just about the best overall dining experience I've ever had. I've been there 3-4 times. The first time we were in the dining area. Everything was very professional but not uptight. The other times we were in the bar area upstairs.
The food was absolutely excellent all times there. They source locally and specifically look for farms using sustainable and organic practices. The food even in the bar area was prepared and presented very well, first class.
He beer selection was phenomenal. They had numerous local and regional. They offer several serving size options for beers, and you can always get a taster before you actually purchase. The bar tenders are quite knowledgeable and easy going. Prices are fair for the area, but for local craft artisianal foods and brews you should pay more.
It is worth going out of your way for this place. You will not regret it, and you won't want to leave.
07-27-2013 19:22:35 | More by wapcap
4.65/5 rDev +2.9%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.75 | selection: 4.75 | food: 4.25 | $$$
I was in DC this past weekend and made a point to check out this place with some friends. Really, really glad I did. After trying some beers I never see where I live (San Diego), Maine Beer Co. and DC Brau, I checked out the bottle list and was blown away. I've been to a good amount of beer bars, but I don't know if I've ever seen a bottle list this extensive before. It's incredible. Worth a visit to view that alone.
As far as everything else here goes, I was impressed. The server was really cool, really knew his beer and gave some great recommendations. The food here was solid as well, which was a huge plus. Just be careful if you get the cherry float, it has seeds. My buddy almost lost a few teeth in the process of finding that one out. The pricing for beer here is steep and would make this place a bit prohibitive for me to visit often if I lived nearby. That said, I don't live nearby and I'm really glad I was able to check this place out.
07-24-2013 22:05:42 | More by notchucknorris
Birch & Barley / ChurchKey in Washington, DC
99 out of 100 based on 123 ratings.