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Birch & Barley / ChurchKey

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116 Reviews
Birch & Barley / ChurchKeyBirch & Barley / ChurchKey

Type: Bar, Eatery

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

(202) 567-2576 | map

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Added by drabmuh on 10-27-2009

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User Reviews
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Reviews: 116 | Ratings: 263
Reviews by slander:
Photo of slander
4.58/5  rDev +3.2%
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?

 4,627 characters

More User Reviews:
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

Photo of GreatStoutman
4.28/5  rDev -3.6%
vibe: 1 | quality: 4 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.75

Photo of rjd722
4.76/5  rDev +7.2%
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.

 513 characters

Photo of Tomkob11
4.65/5  rDev +4.7%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.75 | selection: 4.75 | food: 4.5

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

Photo of brandoman63
4.32/5  rDev -2.7%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4.5

Photo of Brian29
4.35/5  rDev -2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4.5

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Birch & Barley / ChurchKey in Washington, DC
4.44 out of 5 based on 263 ratings.
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