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Birch & Barley / ChurchKey

Not Rated.
Birch & Barley / ChurchKeyBirch & Barley / ChurchKey
BA SCORE
98
world-class

184 Ratings
Ratings: 184
Reviews: 109
rAvg: 4.52
pDev: 10.84%
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: 184 | Reviews: 109 | Display Reviews Only:
Reviews by slander:
Photo of slander
4.58/5  rDev +1.3%

Cabbed it as far as we could before traffic started to stop, and now we’re doing a lot of not moving at all. Screw this, let’s get out and we’ll walk the rest, which we did, leaving the girls the cab for their afternoon play, and away. Not too far to go but had to push through the sidewalks jammed with onlookers. While Ed marched in the pride parade, Mike & I headed in & upstairs and got set up...

Looong straight orangey wood with alt key drawings topped bar with a patterned wallpaper base and foot box, seating 20 on reddish leather swivel chairs, and a 4 seat piece on the end for those who don’t play well with others. A piece of the barback holds a pair of 25 row tap towers, with mostly nondescript handles, and 5 handpumps in between. 2 & 3 door coolers running the length, otherwise. Light wine & booze shelved, and magnums & big big bottles atop over those. 4 flats running the wall over the barback (Oh, so sad, Red Sox, losing to the Nationals), and glassware dangling from the underside of the keg storage cold room piece space above.

White wall of brick over the bar and red wallpaper on the opposite wall, with some space towards the rear holding bottles shelved displaying goods for salesing. Wood plank floors, black ceiling with blended ductwork, large ornate drop lamps to the rear over center, track spots, & wall mounted fixture pieces.

8 booths adjacent to the bar; difficult to navigate by which I mean, get in & out of, due to their weird corners. Rear room loungings back there, with low cushioned benches and moodiness. Up front, a dozen 2-seat tables along the walls on elaborate backed cushiony things, and a pair of long hightops down center. Large circular chandelier overhead, big windows over 14th NW, and red curtained frontings.

50 taps, and just more than ½ of them Shorts beers for the event they’re doing today. I am not listing all this shit, but I will tell you that the draft menu is broken out by ‘character’; malt, roast, smoke, fruit & spice, tart & funky, crisp, hop, & authentic cask ale. You can go full on glassful or sample beers in 4oz tasters, priced between $2 on the low end and $4.50 for the heavy hitters; the exception being the Avery Samael’s Ale 2012, which went for $7 (yeah, fuck that).

We just sampled a whole lot of this and that, 9 of them from Shorts; Sustenance Black Bier, Publican Porter, Bellaire Brown Ale, Thundeur (black ale brewed w/charred pine needles, branches & cones), The Soft Parade (rye w/raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, & blackberries), Pineapple Side-Down (duh), Nicie Spicie (wheat beer w/lemon & orange zest, coriander, & peppercorn), & The Curl (Impy Pils w/Amarillo), Huma-Lupa-Licious IPA (a 140 IBU IPA), and a handful others; Boulevard Saison Brett (Tank 7 on Brett), Bluejacket/Funky Buddha/Cigar City collab Snack Attack! (all salty caramel peanutty), Bluejacket/Devil’s Backbone collab Black Berliner Techno Weisse, & Flying Dog Disobedience (Abbey Dubbel w/maple syrup). The best of ‘em were Shorts Publican Porter & The Curl, and the Boulevard Saison Brett. Mind you, Ed is hating on the place saying he can’t find a beer he wants.

The aforementioned 5 handpumps, if you really must know; Shorts Franken Pils (India Cream Ale) & Anniversary Ale Blood Orange Wheatwine, Flying Dog Disobedience, Founders Red Rye & Centennial IPA.

And a bottle list of holy shit, ‘cause they’ve got one of those, you know, with (like) 500ish entries, including 50 cider, Gluten Free & N/A offerings, and another 56 reserve (vintage) list entries. Some of these are absurdly pricey (Drie Fonteinen Snozberry Kriek for $75, WTF? and the Abbaye Du Saint Bon-Chien 1.5L for $130 is a bit painful, too. My price gauge (lovely) Orval tells the tale at $13, meaning ‘above the norm’.

Checked in on the food menu, and ordered a few snacky snacks, as they be. We split the Arrancini (peas, mint & Manchego risotto balls), Asian wings, and the fire roasted Shishito peppers (with a spicy harissa peanut dippy sauce). This was the Shishito pepper introduction for the boys, they were solid; not up to Anselm snuff, but still really good, as was the Arrancini.

Did I mention the keg storage ev-ery-where? (Including under my seat at the booth). Pretty damn strange. Dug the tunes, although Ed is now hating on the Flaming Lips ‘Yoshimi’. Our server knew a lot about a lot; line cleaning, beer availability, etc. It’s a great house, and filled in real quick behind us, timing being everything, post parade. Excellent selection, good foodings. I was quite pleasantly surprised. Wonder what goes on downstairs?

slander, Oct 25, 2012
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First class place. I showed up on the day of the dominion 25th anniversary celebration and was fortunate to enjoy a bell's two hearted on cask, victory dirtwolf and dominion the dream 25th anniversary black IPL. 50 beers were on tap and hundreds of other bottles available. Atmosphere was a bit dark, but friendly crowd. The service was top notch. When asked, the bartenders explained how much work went into changing 50 kegs over the night before in preparation of the 25th anny party, flushing all the lines with cleaner then water before changing over the kegs. I was impressed by three different temperature controlled coolers housing the kegs to serve at optimal serving temps. This is a must stop in the DC area and only a short walk/bike ride off the metro red line.

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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.

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Birch & Barley / ChurchKey in Washington, DC
98 out of 100 based on 184 ratings.