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Birch & Barley / ChurchKey

Not Rated.
Birch & Barley / ChurchKeyBirch & Barley / ChurchKey

112 Reviews
Reviews: 112
Visits: 238
Avg: 4.44
pDev: n/a
Taps: 55
Bottles: 500
Cask: Y
[ Bar, Eatery ]

1337 14th St NW
Washington, District of Columbia, 20005-3610
United States
phone: (202) 567-2576

visit their websiteWebsite view map and get directionsMap @churchkeydc

Place added by: drabmuh on 10-27-2009

No notes at this time.
Place: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 112 | Visits: 238
Reviews by BeerSox:
Photo of BeerSox
4.4/5  rDev -0.9%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 3 | selection: 5 | food: 4

I finally made it to the place after two attempts. Attempt one resulted in arriving on a Tuesday night (shortly after the grand opening) to find a packed bar, and that the restaurant (Birch & Barley) not taking "walk-ins". Attempt two I showed up at 3PM ET when the bar was supposed to open at 1PM (according to their website). Others made the same mistake, although they updated their webpage the same day, probably after many people informed them of the error. Anyway, I was turned away, so I wandered around DC for an hour and went in about 4PM (3rd attempt). The bar already had several people, not sure when they started accepting people. Maybe 3:30?

The place is located close to both Dupont Circle (Red Line) and McPherson Square (Orange/Blue Line). Depending on where you're coming from, either one is just as good, and about the same walking distance. It's close to a neighborhood which seems quite, but not sure what the area is like.

The atmosphere reminds me of a tea room, with it's mustard yellow cloth and the shape of the furniture, along with the lanterns. All that's missing is the hookahs. The bar area is a little more typical, with about 30 (very comfortable) seats, along with plenty of LCD HDTVs playing sports or maybe daytime TV.

The selection of this place is amazing. Close to 50 taps, five of them are cask (best I've ever been to). Many of them very rare (and also pricey, but reasonable for what it is). There are tons of bottles (didn't count), accompanied by a little binder listing all of them.

The service is spotty in my opinion, even when it isn't crowded. There have been several apathetic server moments, and sometimes it takes a while to get attention of a server, even when they look right at me (again, even when it isn't crowded).

The food selection is somewhat slim, and a bit overpriced in my opinion. The burger is not worth $14. It's good, but not that big is not that great. The downstairs menu is probably a lot better.

Best selection in DC, one of the best cask selections in the US, and probably one of the top bars in the country overall. Recommended.

 2,113 characters

More User Reviews:
Photo of costanzo_mike
4.61/5  rDev +3.8%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.75 | food: 4.75

Photo of Cpmitchno1
4.58/5  rDev +3.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4.75 | food: 4.5

Photo of Cynic-ale
4.01/5  rDev -9.7%
vibe: 3.75 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.25 | food: 3.75

Photo of benzalman
4.39/5  rDev -1.1%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

Photo of jrfehon33
3.76/5  rDev -15.3%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 2.25 | selection: 5 | food: 3.5

I visited Church Key while on a business trip because it has a reputation for a wide selection of beer from around the world. I wasn't disappointed. Their draft and bottle lists rival that of any bar in the states or Europe. The vibe and food are good. If you don't care about cost this place will quickly become your favorite. However, their pricing is flat out greedy. I hate to knock a place that obviously prides itself on quality and selection. I appreciate both. However, a great bar cares about its clientele through a number of other avenues, most importantly providing fair pricing. Church Key simply doesn't do that and so my trip last month will be my one and only.

 676 characters

Photo of DovGibor
3.95/5  rDev -11%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 5 | food: 3.75

I've been to ChurchKey three times and it's always an interesting, albeit imperfect experience. Their selection is amazing. It leans more towards sours than most places, and the general public. I'm not crazy about their classification system, but if you know craft beers, you'll eventually find what you're looking for. They have an amazing wall of vintage beers above booths, and cases with illustrious names on them stacked above the bar.

Service is great for locals, not so great for everyone else. The lighting tends to be dim, but so are many bars. The menu is limited, though good. I've had enjoyable appetizers on two visits. On my most recent trip I needed dinner and ordered a burger. The bun was burnt and I would have sent it back for a new bun, but I'm not a local and after 5 minutes of trying to wave down my server I gave in to hunger and just ate it.

It is warmer than is comfortable, and I think this is a problem. They go to great lengths to serve their beers at proper temperature and in proper glassware. Separate draft lines and coolers for three temps. Remember all those illustrious vintage beers? They're all stored at this uncomfortable temperature. Why go to such lengths to serve a 10 year old beer at 55º, when it spent 9.5 of those years at 80º? Maybe I'm missing something, but it made me wonder.

I'd still recommend visiting if you're a craft beer fan in DC. Just don't have too high expectations for the experience.

 1,470 characters

Photo of Sammy
4.54/5  rDev +2.3%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.75

Photo of FyreStorm
4.34/5  rDev -2.3%
vibe: 3.75 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3.75 | selection: 5

Visiting from Ontario, did my homework and made sure to make this place a priority. The decor is subdued as is the lighting...it's not a 'show' bar, but at the same time the couches and furniture do provide some comfortable perch to imbibe your brew.

The bottle selection is next to none. Staggering menu with tons of choices in every variety.

My wife and I took advantage of the healthy draft list and sample 4oz available to work our way thru about 20 selections on two separate visits.

Service was attentive but not hovering.

Overall I can't imagine visiting DC and not popping in here.

 595 characters

Photo of VeganUndead
4.69/5  rDev +5.6%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.75 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

Photo of DerekCarruth
4.79/5  rDev +7.9%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.75 | selection: 5 | food: 4

As far as beer places go, this is going to be hard to beat. Man, the selection is spectacular. 45-50 beers on draft and about 300-400 bottle options, maybe more. If you can't find an outstanding beer in your style you are never going to. As far as beer bars go this is top of the class. Well done.

 302 characters

Photo of mkholmes25
4.43/5  rDev -0.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 4.25

Photo of needMIbeerinMD
4.59/5  rDev +3.4%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.75 | food: 4.75

Photo of Flying-ABV
4.9/5  rDev +10.4%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.75 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.75

Fantastic!! 700 beers in the book and about 3-dozen on tap. Serving temps of 42/48/54F. No nitro taps but great atmosphere beer and food. Bar upstairs and restaurant down. I'd keep coming back for sure!!

 207 characters

Photo of mjstern70
5/5  rDev +12.6%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 5

This place is beyond words. You must go there if you're in the area at all.

76 characters

Photo of cshafer7
4.29/5  rDev -3.4%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 3.75 | food: 4.25

Photo of chinchill
2.91/5  rDev -34.5%
vibe: 3.25 | quality: 2 | service: 3 | selection: 3.75 | food: 3

Visited the upstairs Churchkey pub only as the downstairs area was closed.
Loud and crowded bar, which I can put up with to some extent.
Not acceptable is the fact that the beer I ordered seemed to be infected. The brewery may be to blame, in part, but the pub is certainly ultimately responsible. To add insult to injury, they billed me for 50% more than the price listed on their menu. Somewhat minimal service staff never checked to see if the beer as satisfactory.
Even without this, the beer list, high pricing, and mediocre facility are far from world class; the high rating is beyond comprehension.

 611 characters

Photo of ChrisinRI
4.75/5  rDev +7%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.75 | selection: 4.75 | food: 4.75

Photo of N17shelfside
4.43/5  rDev -0.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 3.75

Photo of stevoj
4.5/5  rDev +1.4%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4.75 | food: 3.75

A nice cozy upstairs bar, dim industrial feel, My one beef was the lighting, impossibly low lights and small type on the menu made it almost impossible to read. Decent food, I did not get a chance to see the bottle list buy heard it was pretty good.

 249 characters

Photo of Highbury09
4.4/5  rDev -0.9%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4.5

Photo of whitenads
4.85/5  rDev +9.2%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 5 | service: 4.75 | selection: 4.75 | food: 5

Photo of vonnegut21
4.41/5  rDev -0.7%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.75 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.75 | food: 4.75

Photo of Siggy125
4.65/5  rDev +4.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4

Photo of Devman171
4.65/5  rDev +4.7%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4

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Birch & Barley / ChurchKey in Washington, DC
98 out of 100 based on 112 ratings.