Birch & Barley / ChurchKey

BA SCORE
98
world-class

118 Reviews
Birch & Barley / ChurchKeyBirch & Barley / ChurchKey
PLACE INFO

Type: Bar, Eatery

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

(202) 567-2576 | map
churchkeydc.com

Notes:
No notes at this time.

Added by drabmuh on 10-27-2009

PLACE STATS
Score:
98
Reviews:
118
Ratings:
269
Avg:
4.44
pDev:
7.88%
 
 
Taps:
55
Bottles/Cans:
500
Cask:
Y
Beer-to-Go:
N
View: Place Reviews | Events
User Reviews
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Reviews: 118 | Ratings: 269
Reviews by Jimmys:
Photo of Jimmys
4.68/5  rDev +5.4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4

i wish i could write 2 separate reviews, one for B&B and one for Churchkey, but since they are lumped together i suppose i will just do an "overall" review. however, some categories have to review each individually.

Atmosphere
C: get here early. and avoid friday/saturday nights. or else you will not like the atmosphere. definitely a lounge-like atmosphere with large booth, great comfortable bar stools, some high tables, and some couches/small tables in the back. very impressive display of tap handles showcasing all 50 craft taps + 6 beer engines of quality brews. i definitely can see how people can gripe about the crowds, so please if you are planning on coming, get here early so you can post up a quality spot at the bar. if you are right there the bartenders will take very good care of you. (4.5)

B&B: dimly lit hip eatery. tables are well spread out and since they are more of a reservation/sit-down joint definitely did not feel crowded. no tv's down here so bring the cell if you plan on checking scores (i discovered my bracket was in ruins when i checked my phone in the bathroom). same tap lines from upstairs run downstairs as well just without the fancy handles. (4.0)

Quality
C/B&B: both of these places are exceptional in their presentation of both beer and food. i love a place that uses proper glassware in presenting beer (although sometimes i would like a larger serving than a 10oz. stange) and cares about your 'experience' while consuming. food is the same way with their flatbread pizzas coming out on wooden cutting boards and their dishes (we ate from the tasting menu) all had unique plating. (5.0)

Service
C: like i harped on in the atmosphere section, get a spot at the bar and you will not be disappointed. the bartenders are all extremely knowledgeable about what they have on tap/bottles and can find a beer for you if you are lost in the selection. if you sit a table the service can be more of a crap-shoot, especially if they are crowded. (4.0)

B&B: exceptional service. our waitress was very helpful and made sure our water glasses/beer glasses were full. my favorite thing about the service was that we choose to do the beer pairing with the tasting menu, so each time we got a new beer taste a different 'beer server' would come over and give tasting notes as well as how it will meld with the tasting dish. another point worth noting was at one point the kitchen was behind (the kitchen does the food for churchkey as well as B&B) and the kitchen sent out a flatbread pizza as well as a few pints all comp'ed. when management comes out to keep the table informed of delays, and works with the table to keep them satisfied, this is a sign of exceptional service. (5.0)

Selection:
C/B&B: since both places share the bottle/tap list i can also lump these together. ill keep this one short, go online and see what they have on tap/in bottles. the tap selection is ALWAYS rotating/fresh/rare. this is The beer bar to go to if you are in the area.

Food:
C: definitely the simpler of the 2 menus. flatbread pizzas, sandwiches, simple tasty apps. i highly recommend the fig and prosciutto flatbread. (3.5)

B&B: some of the same items as churchkey, but a bit 'fancier'. similar to the beer list, entrees are rotating, but usually will feature a duck, lamb, nice piece of red meat, etc. the tasting menu is where it is at. 5 courses all small/moderately portioned so you can have a bit of everything. still managed to get a little full though. (4.0)

Value
C/B&B: bring your wallet. it is very easy to spend some dough in this joint. the beers/dishes are definitely expensive, but this is DC. as for the beers, you get what you pay for. a lot of these are definitely beers that are worth/difficult to seek out so overall you might be paying for your search or paying this establishment.

this is definitely my lengthiest review written for this website, but this place is worth it. it is THE beer bar to go to if you are in DC or in the area. if you are a connoisseur of the finer things in life check it out, you will not be disappointed.

 4,085 characters

More User Reviews:
Photo of deakin
4.74/5  rDev +6.8%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.25 | selection: 5 | food: 4.25

Photo of Jay_P22
4.56/5  rDev +2.7%
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.

 1,019 characters

Photo of d_stack
4.55/5  rDev +2.5%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5

Photo of HipCzech
4.69/5  rDev +5.6%
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

 892 characters

Photo of StoutLover14
4/5  rDev -9.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3.25 | selection: 4.75

Photo of frasergrove
4.78/5  rDev +7.7%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

Photo of RutgersBeerGuy
4.21/5  rDev -5.2%
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.

 1,122 characters

Photo of redgorillabreath
3.76/5  rDev -15.3%
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.

 286 characters

Photo of SveNss0N
4.9/5  rDev +10.4%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

Photo of hockeypuck
4.66/5  rDev +5%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 5

Photo of epyon396
4.5/5  rDev +1.4%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.75

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

Photo of Emersonio
4.51/5  rDev +1.6%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.25 | selection: 5 | food: 4

Photo of dwagner003
4.25/5  rDev -4.3%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4.25 | food: 4

Photo of Dmcdonald33013
4.33/5  rDev -2.5%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 4.75 | service: 3 | selection: 5 | food: 4.25

Great spot to add to your pub crawl wild in Georgetown.

55 characters

Photo of stephenjmoore
4.59/5  rDev +3.4%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.75

Photo of TheBlueJerzzzz
4.41/5  rDev -0.7%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.75 | service: 3.75 | selection: 4.75

Photo of cadaugherty
4.44/5  rDev 0%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.75 | food: 4.5

Photo of neil2me
4.83/5  rDev +8.8%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.75 | selection: 4.75 | food: 4.5

Photo of spacebear09
4.29/5  rDev -3.4%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

Photo of MNBeerGeek
4.36/5  rDev -1.8%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5

Photo of ZEB89
4.43/5  rDev -0.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.75

Photo of jcoleMA66
4.78/5  rDev +7.7%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

Photo of hollywoodbeergirl
3.78/5  rDev -14.9%
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.

 475 characters

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Birch & Barley / ChurchKey in Washington, DC
4.44 out of 5 based on 269 ratings.
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