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Birch & Barley / ChurchKey

Not Rated.
Birch & Barley / ChurchKeyBirch & Barley / ChurchKey
BA SCORE
99
world-class

179 Ratings
Ratings: 179
Reviews: 108
rAvg: 4.51
pDev: 10.86%
Taps: 55
Bottles: 500
Cask: Y
Beer-to-Go: N
[ 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

Notes:
None, yet.

(Place added by: drabmuh on 10-27-2009)
Place: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 179 | Reviews: 108 | Display Reviews Only:
Reviews by Sludgeman:
Photo of Sludgeman
4.13/5  rDev -8.4%

UPDATED

Visited Church Key multiple times - weekdays and weekends, early and late, during events and not.

Overall, this place is on my list when I need a special beer. Its a beer drinkers bar . . . the bar upstairs tends to be too crowded and service suffers. Sitting at the bar in the Birch & Barley is much prefered. Go early and leave early, the experience will be much better and you'll most likely get the beer you are looking for. Not kid friendly except early. Can be too dark for some of us whose eyes are little older. They REALLY need to resolve the dishwashing detergent odor issue noted below.

3/26/2013 - 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.

2/2/2013 - 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.

Sludgeman, May 23, 2014
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4.5/5  rDev -0.2%

Great Place for Suds & Buds

MMarkMelly, Thursday at 09:51 PM
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DavidHume, Aug 31, 2014
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4.5/5  rDev -0.2%

Awesome selection, attentive and knowledgeable staff.

srletend, Aug 31, 2014
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4.24/5  rDev -6%

Dreizhen, Aug 30, 2014
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4.5/5  rDev -0.2%

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4.5/5  rDev -0.2%

bigred89, Aug 24, 2014
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5/5  rDev +10.9%

TNeedles, Aug 21, 2014
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5/5  rDev +10.9%

DJBabs, Aug 19, 2014
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5/5  rDev +10.9%

reebtaerG, Aug 18, 2014
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4.2/5  rDev -6.9%

dexterk1, Aug 17, 2014
Photo of ONovoMexicano
4/5  rDev -11.3%

A superb beer selection is what you'll find here, as well as some good food with an emphasis on locally-sourced ingredients. That's a good formula for me.

I had the bratburger, which came with fries, and was comped some green beans that were probably the highlight of the meal. Well, except for when the bartender (I was sitting at the bar) gave me a small pour of Aecht Schlenkerla Fastenbier to complement the brat. It was a match made in heaven. The juicy, smoked flavors of the brat paired with the campfire, smoked ham flavor of the beer was a brilliant combo. Kudos to the bar guy for that.

And kudos to ChurchKey for the enviable tap selection. There was recently a sort of tap takeover by an Italian brewing outfit, Brewfist, so many of their brews were on tap. I wasn't crazy about any of them but they do some wild brews that were worth at least trying. Also available were some relatively local breweries like Union and 3 Star Brewing which are doing some good things and had beers I enjoyed. The real beer geek in me thanks Churchkey for having Cuvee Delphine by De Struise brewers on tap. That's a beer I'd be hard-pressed to find, or even be on the lookout for, anywhere else.

Overall, this place offers a fine-dining experience (complete with a very dim-lit ambiance) and craft beer galore. You can kill two birds with one stone. Woohoo.

ONovoMexicano, Aug 17, 2014
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4.5/5  rDev -0.2%

HookemHoos, Aug 11, 2014
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4.75/5  rDev +5.3%

Finley020, Aug 06, 2014
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4.75/5  rDev +5.3%

Shootpassbeerme, Aug 02, 2014
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4.25/5  rDev -5.8%

Minnesota_beer_guy, Jul 29, 2014
Photo of clayrock81
4.16/5  rDev -7.8%

This might not be the greatest beer bar I have been to or drinking time/experience I've ever had but as I review this place it might just be after all. The draft and bottle list is impressive and the four oz sample you can get for any draft is great. I would say that the four ounce samples are pricey but then again this is DC so that might be norm for area. The setup is great too (I went in afternoon so no idea if crowding is problem at night) - plenty of bar seats and booths, TVs turned to ESPN channels (pleased me), low lighting and music so you don't have to shout and the vie is more relaxed. Perhaps only complaint is it seemed to take a while for our food which didn't bother me. As for beer selection I still stand by my first sentence that it's not the greatest beer bar b/c they do get stuff from everywhere and stuff I can't find anywhere else with exception of Philly. A must go for anybody hitting DC.

clayrock81, Jul 25, 2014
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4.75/5  rDev +5.3%

philerman, Jul 25, 2014
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freimuth, Jul 23, 2014
Photo of WicksCherrycoke
4.56/5  rDev +1.1%

Yes, this should be your first stop in DC (I'm local). The beers are the point here but reviewed separately. Regarding the place itself, the bar at CK makes it easy to spend long hours sampling their enormous selection of drafts and bottle reserves; substantial/expansive bar, well spaced and padded bar stools w/ armrests, attentive/knowledgeable bar staff, B&B chef make great bar food and pairings. I appreciate the seclusion and the throwback lounge vibe (although some may not); i.e. bar is up a long stairwell with a rather dark interior, no outside views from bar-some window seating is available.

About half of CK has excellent TV viewing (from bar, booths/tables) and staff is good about tuning in your game but don't expect sound, you're here to drink, so are the people behind and around you.

Draft and bottle menus well organized (profile, style, product and servicing details), easy to review and select. Although I have not made it through the 555 lineup, the published selection of drafts and bottles appears to be accurate and up to date only because I have been coming here for about 4 years I have not encountered any instance where something was out or unavailable (and I have tried).

The 55 daily drafts can be sampled (4 oz.) but if you want to dent the 500 bottle lineup bring a friend (or make one).

A phenomenal place..

WicksCherrycoke, Jul 22, 2014
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Birch & Barley / ChurchKey in Washington, DC
99 out of 100 based on 179 ratings.