Birch & Barley / ChurchKey

Birch & Barley / ChurchKeyBirch & Barley / ChurchKey
Birch & Barley / ChurchKeyBirch & Barley / ChurchKey
Bar, Eatery

1337 14th St NW
Washington, District of Columbia, 20005-3610
United States

(202) 567-2576 | map

View: Place Reviews
Reviews: 132 | Ratings: 303 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of cratez
4.9/5  rDev +8.6%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.75 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.75

What I had: Draft samples of Hill Farmstead & Blaugies La Vermontoise, Perennial Peach Berliner Weisse, and Dominion Hop Mountain Pale Ale, pint of Mad Fox Defender American Pale Ale and Prairie Artisan Ales Birra, seared bluefish for me, appetizer bread plate, tomato cucumber salad, hand-cut pappardelle, and several sauvignon blancs for my fiancé, caramel icebox cake to split.

What I liked: Upscale, cosmopolitan atmosphere, plenty of seating available at the dinner bar, well laid out beer and food menus, ridiculously knowledgeable and inviting service from the bartender, impressive and carefully selected draft list, love that they offer flights, truly exceptional food, my partner really enjoyed her wine.

What I disliked: Our server, while stellar, was a little one-dimensional to the extent that he only discussed the beer and food and didn’t talk about the wine . Prices are high but that’s not surprising for a place of this calibre.

Would I go back? Yes. Birch & Barley easily ranks as one of the best restaurants we’ve ever been to. This is a must-visit destination when in D.C.

Overall Rating: 98

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cratez from Ontario (Canada), Jan 30, 2020
Photo of RMW66
4.73/5  rDev +4.9%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.75 | selection: 4.75 | food: 4.75

A great find on a recent trip. Great selection of beers on tap and an amazing selection of great beers by the bottle. Food was terrific and staff were helpful and knowledgeable. One of the very best IMO.

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RMW66 from Australia, Dec 21, 2019
Photo of chrisjws
4.65/5  rDev +3.1%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.25

Vibe is divey, they got TVs and it's dimly lit aside from the area by the window. Doesn't look like much, until you see the beer list.

Taplist is excellent, as good as can be expected for any bar with 30ish taps. All styles, served in proper glassware. You can get small pours or full pours. Lots of great local beer, also a lot of rare beer from all over the States. The bottle list is incredible, period. Take a look and I dare you to call me a liar.

Food is very ok, the poutine was not that good but it was tasty, just not poutine.

100% a must visit in DC

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chrisjws from California, Oct 27, 2019
Photo of AmeriCanadian
4.79/5  rDev +6.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.75 | selection: 5 | food: 4.75

Absolutely exceptional spot. Except for the lack of lighting in the upstairs bar area and inexplicable painted, poured concrete bar top (??), ChurchKey has a near-perfect lunch and (many) beers experience. Incredible tap list, endless bottle options, excellent food, and outstanding, knowledgeable service. Best all-around beer bar I've encountered to date.

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AmeriCanadian from Tennessee, Oct 05, 2019
Photo of andypeters1971
4.75/5  rDev +5.3%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.75 | selection: 4.75 | food: 4.75

everything you want in a beer bar and then some. Great location near Logan Circle, great space in the second floor overlooking the street, plenty of most styles of beer, fantastic food and knowledgable servers.

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Photo of dukeandduke
4.5/5  rDev -0.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.75 | selection: 4.75 | food: 3

1/28/19 (Washington D.C). In town for work, and glad I stopped in to this haven of craft draft and cask pours. Typical modern bar, service at the bar was great, standard sports on the TV blended with movies or comedy. Food was pricey, wings were not good but burger very good. Many great varieties of beers available including 4-6 cask pours, hard to find in most places. This bar does a great job stocking a variety of brewers and styles, and has dozens of bottles in addition to their extensive draft list. No happy hour specials, most D.C. bars have them, and a bit pricey, but worth it if you are searching unique styles or brewers. Have been back a few times since, everything consistent.

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dukeandduke from Illinois, May 06, 2019
Photo of TheGent
4.88/5  rDev +8.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5

The vibe in this place is pretty basic. Just feels like a typical bar. And it’s rather dark inside. Sometimes too much. But it does feel and look like a beer bar, with the many taps, kegs sitting out on the balcony, visible bottles adorning the wall, and all of the bottles available for purchase in the fridges behind the bar visible to all.

Ok, moving on from the dark interior, which is the only thing I could get myself to complain or nitpick about, this is one of the best beer bars I have ever been to.

There are several reasons for this:

1. First, and foremost, the servers are extremely knowledgeable of beer and the extensive menu. As someone who often knows exactly what I want, I find myself often asking the servers for their opinions. Especially when it comes to the bottle list. “Here’s what I’m in the mood for, what do you recommend?”

2. The selection is world class. All styles and categories: hoppy, sour, funky, malty, etc. and they have multiples of each on the menu and categorize them by style / characteristic. There is literally something for everyone on this menu. They have 4-5 cask hand pumps. Their bottle list is infinite and overwhelming.

3. They serve full and half pours.

4. The servers are extremely knowledgeable (did I mention that already?), service oriented and just genuinely nice people.

I go every time I am in DC, and I feel like a “regular” every time who gets that special treatment, but here is just the way they trat every customer. Respect.

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TheGent from New Jersey, Apr 20, 2019
Photo of JamFuel
4.84/5  rDev +7.3%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.75 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

Churchkey is probably one of the most renowned beer bars in America, if not the world, and for good reason.

Located up a staircase, the large room is plush and dimly lit. Long bar, basically the length of the room, with the most comfortable bar seats I've ever sat in. Plenty of tables and booths as well.

The beer selection is staggering. The tap list runs about 50 beers, of all conceivable styles, from light and refreshing to huge and decadent. Choosing what to get is a real challenge here. And that's not even touching the bottle list which is one of the longest and most comprehensive I've seen. Every style is represented, and from most world class breweries you can think of. This list can make you very poor, very quickly.

All this beer of course needs curating and explaining and the bar staff here is up to the challenge. Great knowledge and understanding and it seems like they all really like beer. Just the fact that I ordered a blonde ale from Bluejacket that came out looking, smelling and tasting more like a NE pale ale that was served in a stange. The bartender looked at it and right away checked that it was the correct beer (it was) and if I wanted a more suitable glass. THAT is service of the highest level.

Food was really nice, I had a burger on the first night, my friend had poutine fries, both were delicious. On the second night I had the flatbread, which was amazing.

Overall, world class in every department. The fact that I came here both nights I was in town says a lot for me.

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JamFuel from Sweden, Dec 31, 2018
Photo of darktronica
4.65/5  rDev +3.1%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.75 | selection: 4.5

My new go-to place for beer in Washington, DC--I'll be back whenever I'm back, so to speak. Great draft selection of mostly regional winners across a range of styles, but with some outstanding rarities thrown in unexpectedly. Multiple cask offerings. After getting a few of their more high-end draft offerings, my server also brought two four-ounce pours of their own beers, on the house. The bottle list is also exceptional, with fairly reasonable prices on a lot of stunners and aged beers that I have not seen elsewhere.

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Photo of Stevedore
4.45/5  rDev -1.3%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.25

For Churchkey, I had high expectations coming here because of the reputation that preceded this bar, and this place met them all. Located on the second floor of the building it shares with Birch & Barley, long beautiful bar that accommodates quite a few people. Lots of fantastic drafts, lots of local MD/DC/NoVA beers on draft. The bottle list is also phenomenal, and there is a ton to choose from. If you want to drop serious coin, they have lambics such as Drie Fonteinen available in bottles. Food is solid, fairly standard DC pub fare that will fill you up nicely. But for my dollar, I would go to Shake Shack that's across the corner beforehand, but that is not to say that the food isn't excellent. Service was good and I really enjoyed my time here. If you are wanting to try all these Aslin/Veil/et al beers and can only come to one bar in DC, this is it. If you only want Belgian ales and lambic, I would head over to Sovereign- but if that is not an option, there's plenty of that here as well.

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Stevedore from Wisconsin, Mar 22, 2018
Photo of bl00
4.3/5  rDev -4.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.25

Visited the upstairs bar Churchkey during late afternoon on a weekend. Lighting in the stair well entrance and some parts of the bar was too dim coming from a late November afternoon outside. We were able to sit by the window though. Service was slow. We ordered an appetizer which the first server forgot, though the second server was kind enough to remove from the bill. Selection of beers is excellent, including a large bottle list. Half pours are offered, got to sample many excellent IPAs from VA.

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bl00 from Pennsylvania, Nov 27, 2017
Photo of VABA
4.5/5  rDev -0.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5

What is there to say about one of DC's best bars! They have a very good selection of tap beers including some of the rare local ones such as Aslin & Ocelot.

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VABA from Virginia, Oct 29, 2017
Photo of socon67
4.56/5  rDev +1.1%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.75 | food: 4

Great spot where craft beer is represented. About 30 taps and some casks plus an incredible bottle selection. Service is solid even on a Saturday night when we arrived. Tons of rare offerings made the trips worth it. Absolutely a must visit if in the area.

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socon67 from New York, Jul 31, 2017
Photo of b-mc-g
3.68/5  rDev -18.4%
vibe: 2.5 | quality: 4.75 | service: 1.75 | selection: 4.75 | food: 3.75

ChurchKey undoubtedly takes the DC crown for both beer selection and handling. The number of drafts, breath of style, and handling of their beer products is unparalleled in this city. Despite their excellence in the beer department they're deficient in on glaring but simple area-service. Their servers, while generally knowledgeable about the product, are frequently curt, disinterested, condescending, and pretentious towards their patrons. I have experienced this on multiple occasions across varying levels of them being busy. If you're looking for great beer but are not concerned with the service aspect of the industry then you'll be just fine.

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b-mc-g from Maryland, Jun 07, 2017
Photo of Jay_P22
4.56/5  rDev +1.1%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.75 | food: 4.5

Visited ChurchKey on Tuesday, January 24th, 2017.

Vibe is really nice. Perfect size crowd, every table and spot was pretty much filled.

Quality is almost as good as it gets...from the beer to the food. Draft list was amazing, food is solid. The place looks nice, hip and modern. Really up to date.

Service was good. Server was knowledgeable about the beers which was good to see.

Beer selection there makes this place a must. Started with fresh Hopslam on draft, had Hardywood Christmas Morning, Dino Smores, Mexican Cake collab with Evil Twin, and a RAR juicy IPA. I took a friend there who was visiting from LA and he was impressed. The bottle list is even better.

Food is nice. Ordered wings (solid) and tots (really good version). We only really came for drinks, but the menu made me want to come back.

Overall, you must go if in DC. I have been to most of the places, and this is near the top. Parking is tough, but a parking garage is walking distance if you can't score street parking.

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Jay_P22 from Virginia, Jan 27, 2017
Photo of HipCzech
4.69/5  rDev +4%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.75 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.75

From notes: visited Birch & Barely on 30-May-2013 for dinner. Enjoyed the tasting menu while visiting D.C. Outstanding mix of stylish dining room, friendly and knowledgeable staff, delicious modern plates, and terrific beer list to match - a winner on all levels.

Crudo of Spanish Mackerel - Gin Yogurt, Celery, Dill, Pickled Mustard Seed
Marsilia / Birra Amiata / Italy

Seared Striped Bass - English Peas, Sunchoke Purée, Watercress
Perle ai Porci / Birra Del Borgo / Italy

Handmade Potato Gnocchi - Rabbit Sausage, Fennel Pollen, Ramps, Ricotta Salata
Instigator / Bluejacket & Mad Fox Brewing Company / DC & Virginia

Spring House Farm Goat Loin - Toasted Bulgur, Savoy Spinach, Pine Nuts, Cherry Belle Radishes
Rippa / Green Jack Brewing Company / England

Vanilla Bean Cheesecake - Citrus Segments, Blood Orange Sorbet, Pound Cake, Basil
Aphrodite / Brasserie Dieu du Ciel / Quebec

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Photo of RutgersBeerGuy
4.21/5  rDev -6.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.25 | food: 4

We were in DC back in March and went to Churchkey mid-afternoon on a Saturday. The place was very crowded, but with a very positive buzz. We grabbed beers at the bar and waited for seating to open up. The seating situation is kind of sit-where-you-want and first-come-first-serve, so vigilance is the key if you're waiting around.

A few days before our visit, they had hosted Victory's 20th anniversary celebration and the taplist still showed the residual effect of it. As a person who'd call Victory his favorite brewery, I was fine with this, however is probably isn't a great indicator of the everyday offerings. Everything was in good shape and served in appropriate glassware. I also appreciate that they appear to always have a handful of cask options.

Once we got a table, we ordered food. There's a lot of small plate and appetizer-type options, but the menu is on the short side, on the whole. The flatbreads were good and likely the standout.

Service was attentive, despite the large crowd. We never waited long for a round.

At the end of the day, ChurchKey was great. It might be a tad pricey, but it's DC.

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RutgersBeerGuy from New Jersey, Oct 04, 2016
Photo of redgorillabreath
3.76/5  rDev -16.6%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 3 | selection: 4.25 | food: 4

Visited solo as an out of towner. There's a restaurant downstairs, and a bar with many selections on tap and a hip menu food-wise. Prices reasonable for DC, grilled octopus with squid ink and couscous was outstanding, accompanied by a RIS on tap served in a snifter. I'll be going back.

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redgorillabreath from Pennsylvania, Aug 19, 2016
Photo of hollywoodbeergirl
3.78/5  rDev -16.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3 | selection: 4 | food: 4.25

Love the place but I think I would love it more if I were a local. I felt like an outsider. I am pretty mellow and patient and polite but I can imagine others getting frustrated with the service here. Great beer selection obviously and if I lived here I would probably give these guys a nice portion of my paycheck. Places like this make me miss my Vermont vacations where the beer is still world class yet the service a touch more friendly and personal. Still a great place.

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Photo of rjd722
4.76/5  rDev +5.5%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.75 | selection: 5 | food: 4.25

What's not to love about this classic beer bar? Restaurant on the first floor and bar on the second; I always to go the bar upstairs because you can still get solid food. Awesome tap list with a variety of temperatures depending on the style. Many, many bottles...many.

I try to come here for as many of their special events as possible. The last time I was there we had great service and the waiter was very knowledgeable, happy to make recommendations. You won't find a better overall beer spot in the DC area.

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rjd722 from Maryland, Feb 28, 2016
Photo of jrfehon33
3.76/5  rDev -16.6%
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.

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jrfehon33 from Pennsylvania, Sep 27, 2015
Photo of DovGibor
3.95/5  rDev -12.4%
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.

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DovGibor from New York, Sep 19, 2015
Photo of FyreStorm
4.34/5  rDev -3.8%
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'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.

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FyreStorm from Ontario (Canada), Aug 03, 2015
Photo of DerekCarruth
4.79/5  rDev +6.2%
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.

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Photo of Flying-ABV
4.9/5  rDev +8.6%
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!!

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Flying-ABV from Oklahoma, Jul 16, 2015
Birch & Barley / ChurchKey in Washington, DC
Place rating: 4.51 out of 5 with 303 ratings