Birch & Barley / ChurchKey
Taps: 55 / Bottles: 500
Cask: Y / Beer-to-Go: N
Ratings: 153 | Reviews: 103 | Display Reviews Only:
Reviews by slander:
4.58/5 rDev +1.8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5 | $$$
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?
10-25-2012 02:52:20 | More by slander
More User Reviews:
1/5 rDev -77.8%
vibe: 1 | quality: 1 | service: 1 | selection: 1 | food: 1 | $$$$
I have no idea how this place is rated a 99. Let me explain why I will never return to this place again and why each category is rated as a one. Visited on Sunday, 22 June, 2014. I wish I could rate it a zero, but one is the lowest. After looking for a parking place for close to a half hour--- seriously, there is no place to park around this area and the restaurant has no parking--we paid $17 to park in the Washington Plaza Hotel. All parking garages close to the restaurant were closed or full. So, after you screw around looking for parking, get ready for the most expensive, overpriced beer menu on the planet! What a rip off! Prices are DC and then some...just plain price gouging going on here! The food menu is really mediocre...and calling it mediocre is a gift to this place....better said, the menu is shit. Massively overpriced small portions. Crappy choice of appetizers, lame entrees and a joke of a flatbread layout for a place that supposedly prides itself on its beer list. Nothing good at all to complement your overpriced beers. Service is inattentive. You would think our server had a dozen tables of her own, when there was only us in her section and she was nowhere to be seen when we needed something. Glasses sat empty and we had to flag her down for overpriced refills. Our entree plates sat, empty, on the table for 15 minutes before we asked a busboy to remove them. Overall terrible experience and will never be going back. Waste of time and money....zero.
06-23-2014 09:43:35 | More by 4thelvofbeer
Birch & Barley / ChurchKey in Washington, DC
99 out of 100 based on 153 ratings.