Indulge at the Unite the District Fest

The feeding frenzy at the Unite the District Fest is sold out for tonight, but take heart, you can still get tickets for tomorrow.

With all you can eat and drink for a mere $35, this party proves to be an even better deal than the all-you-can-eat-seats at baseball stadiums, where for the same price you’re limited to ballpark food (hot dogs, popcorn, peanuts, and no alcohol).

More than 20 local restaurants and 10 breweries are participating in Unite the District, held on D.C. United’s Audi Field, so you get upscale food. Plus, alcohol is included!

What kind of food, you ask? Participating restaurants and breweries include:

  •       3 Stars Brewing
  •       ANXO Cidery
  •       Bardo Brewing
  •       Beefsteak
  •       Bluejacket
  •       Captain Cookie
  •       Captain Morgan
  •       Chaia Tacos
  •       Chicken + Whiskey
  •       Chloe
  •       Crimson
  •       DCity Smokehouse
  •       Denizens Brewing Co.
  •       Duvel
  •       Founding Spirits
  •       Fruitive
  •       Furlough Cheesecake
  •       KIND
  •       La Vie
  •       Lagunitas
  •       Peruvian Brothers
  •       Pinstripes
  •       Provision 14
  •       Public Bar Live
  •       RASA
  •       Right Proper
  •       Salt Line
  •       Sauf Haus
  •       Tarara Winery
  •       Terrapin Brewing
  •       The Brighton
  •       The Queen Vic
  •       Valor Brewpub
  •       Whaley’s
  •       Willie’s BBQ

 Not all these breweries and restaurants will be at the fest both days — check the website if you have a favorite you don’t want to miss.

Unite the District is not just a gastronomical fest — it also includes an art gallery, cooking demos and live music. Dance to the rock and hip-hop rhythm of local favorite Black Alley on Friday, and on Saturday, enjoy the popular ’90s cover band White Ford Bronco.

Unite the District Fest, 7-10 p.m. Friday, Oct. 4 (21+ only) & 2-5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 5 ($20 for ages 3-17)


D.C. Needs a Signature Beer

Baltimore has Natty Boh, Chicago has Old Style, Milwaukee has Schlitz, Minneapolis has Hamm’s, Austin has Lone Star and an amorphous swath of the Midwest has Busch Light — so why doesn’t D.C. have a signature cheap beer?

Not to say there’s any shortage of cheap beer in D.C. — I’ve been swilling it for years at various spots around town. But we don’t have that one cheap beer that’s synonymous with the city. Why is that?

One theory: All the cheap beers cited above were guzzled by a previous generation of blue-collar types — truck drivers and steel workers, who punched out at the union-mandated end of the day, retired to the bar to get soused, then stumbled home to yell at their wives and kids and then pass out face-first in the mashed potatoes.

For the next generation of urbanites, there’s an ironic appeal in tapping into that history — and it doesn’t hurt, after several decades of flat wage growth, that these beers are cheaper than dirt (and taste like it).

By this logic, the reason that D.C. doesn’t have a signature cheap beer is that Chocolate City was never a big blue-collar union town with a manufacturing base. But there’s another possibility.

What if D.C. does have a signature cheap beer, but it’s one that’s SO cheap that it can’t be sold in bars, and thus the millennials reading this article on their phones have no idea it even exists?

I lived in Shaw for a decade, paying minuscule rent in a rundown rowhouse, slumming it on unemployment for five or six of those years (long story), and in my experience, there was one beer that almost everyone bought in that mini-rush before the corner stores closed: Steel Reserve. I’d go so far as to say that if you took a survey among D.C.’s broke folks, bums, winos and general ne’er-do-wells, you’d find that Steel Reserve was actually D.C.’s low-key official cheap beer.

Why? Because a tallboy was 99 cents. And at just over 8% alcohol, it’s by far the cheapest way to get drunk on beer.

But even though it’s got an excess of street cred, it tastes really, really bad.

Let’s be honest, when people say beers like PBR taste bad, what they’re actually saying is that they don’t have a taste; they taste like tap water. But Steel Reserve very much has a taste, and that taste is shockingly, appallingly bad.

Imagine lawn clippings and urinal cakes soaked in leaded gasoline, left in the sun for two weeks.

It’s worse than Natty Ice, worse than Bud Light Lime, worse than actual pee (probably). You couldn’t even charge a dollar a pint for it in a bar; I’m pretty sure you couldn’t even give it away.

But who knows? If I walked into a bar, and they had Steel Reserve on tap, I might not order a pint (no, I definitely would not order a pint), but I would laugh and take an obnoxious photo of it for Instagram.

Could the pull of nostalgia, street cred and a savvy social media campaign be enough to overcome rock-bottom quality? In 2019, it’s not only possible, it’s an absolute certainty.

Maybe it’s time for D.C.’s signature cheap beer to step out of the shadows and into the zeitgeist.


Celebrate Oktoberfest for an Uber Good Time

Oktoberfest is in full swing in bars and restaurants all over the DMV, so don your lederhosen, braid your hair and hoist a mug in a toast to this revered, two-week festival dedicated to drinking beer.

The tradition of Oktoberfest comes specifically from the Bavarian section of Germany, in the southeast part of the country. According to Time magazine, the festival originated with the wedding of Prince Ludwig of Bavaria to Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen more than 200 years ago. Imagine if your wedding was so epic the celebration became a worldwide holiday?!

As much as we love to drink beer out of steins during Oktoberfest, the truth is, Germans drink different beers from many different vessels. For instance, glasses are considered more appropriate for lighter beers. Steins, on the other hand, are sturdy and meant for longer binges. You may have seen decorative steins with lids — these were originally intended to help prevent the spread of plague.

German beer glasses, mugs, and steins get waaaaaaaay more complicated than this — check out German Girl in America for a real in-depth analysis.

While the focus of Oktoberfest is on beer, traditional Bavarian music is also often a part of the fun. And as far as the food is concerned, you may be familiar with Bavarian cream donuts, but you have to eat your dinner first. This may consist of bratwurst, Wienerschnitzel or spatzle. Many of our local German eateries offer foods from all over the country, including pretzels, potato soup, burgers, hot dogs and sausages.

Lots of local bars will feature German beers as the festival continues through Oct. 6, but try to include a stop at one of these authentic, local biergartens, many of which have outdoor seating and are dog-friendly:

Beer Events All Week!

We’re in the thick of DC Beer Week, with fun events scheduled all week to celebrate this yeasty libation.

  • Stop in between 4 and 11 tonight at Churchkey, 1337 14th St. NW, where all 55 taps are pouring local beers. Buy a 4-ounce taster or a whole glass.
  • Taste local Montgomery County beers and vote for your favorite, 5-7 p.m. Tuesday, Dawson’s Market, 225 N Washington St, Rockville, MD.
  • Taste and vote for one of six barrel-aged beers from 6:30 to 10 p.m. Tuesday at Boundary Stone, 116 Rhode Island Ave. NW. Tickets, $30 advance, $35 at the door; VIP tickets $60, early entry at 5:30 to meet with brewers, free snacks, glass and T-shirt.
  • Listen to two beer connoisseurs talk about their experiences with beer all over the world from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at Heurich House Museum, 1307 New Hampshire Ave NW; tickets, $10.
  • Meet the strong, beer-loving women who create brews in and around D.C. and listen to the panel discussion, 6-10 p.m. Thursday, Red Bear Brewing, 209 M St. NE.
  • Go on a tour of 19th-century brewer Christian Heurich’s home that is now a museum, 1307 New Hampshire Ave NW, and sample a flight of three local beers from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Friday.
  • Hop aboard the Potomac Riverboat’s Miss Mallory for this DC-Brau sponsored sunset cruise; 6-8 p.m. Friday. Departs from The Wharf near Transit Pier in Southwest D.C. Tickets, $75, includes one beer and hors d’oeuvres, additional beer available for purchase.
  • Get limber with beer yoga from noon-1 p.m. Saturday, Right Proper, 624 T St NW. Flight of three beers, free tote bag, jelly bean bar.
  • Head out to Union Market, 1309 5th St. NE, Saturday from 2 to 6 p.m. to sample beers from more than 40 local brewers. Live music, schmooze with brewers. Tickets $60-$80.

You can find other beer specials throughout the week at Brookland Pint, Red Bear Brewing Company/Distillery Lane Cider Works, Area Two, Brookland Pint, Pizza Paradiso, Port City Brewing Company, The Partisan, City Tap Penn Quarter, Redrocks, Bronson Bier Hall, Anxo and Aslin.



Pancakes & Booze Tonight

The founders of the Pancakes and Booze tour want you to take the time and trouble to learn a little bit about local art. So to draw you in, they are selling booze and offering free, all-you-can-eat pancakes to go with it!

View more than 500 pieces of art — including drawings, paintings, photos and sculptures — by more than 100 local artists. Vendors will also be on hand, selling items such as handcrafted jewelry, hand-painted sneakers and more. Demonstrations include live body painting and other creative arts. Hear music by local DJs and producers.

I attended this a couple of years ago — the crowd was a freaky group of all ages and backgrounds and the atmosphere was lively and throbbing. The price this year is three times what it was two years ago, so that speaks to the show’s success and popularity.

Get there early, the line is long.

Tonight, 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. at the Howard Theater, 620 T St NW; tickets, $15 general admission, $18 line-jumper


Get Started Early on DC Beer Week

Did you know next week is DC Beer Week? Maybe every week here in D.C. is beer week for you, but organizers are trying to make next week special with a slate of events paying homage to everyone’s favorite fermented grain beverage.

A few (unsanctioned) beer-themed events precede the start of the official festival Sunday, Sept. 8, so why not start celebrating early?

District ChopHouse & Brewery 9th Annual Cask Night + 5th Annual Cask Day

Stop by this downtown stalwart to sample beers from 20 local breweries. Your $55 ticket gets you a bottomless tasting cup and light snacks.

6-11 p.m. Friday, Sept. 6 and noon to 5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 7, District ChopHouse & Brewery, 509 7th St. NW

Brews Around the World: D.C. International Beer, Wine & Food Festival

They’ve got wine and food, but the focus is on beer for this all-day celebration, where you get to taste more than 80 beers from around the world. (Please consider Metro, Lyft or a DD.) Tickets are $30 per session (Session 1, 1-4 p.m.; Session 2, 5-8 p.m.; pay $40 and get in early at 12:30 or 4:30 p.m.); prices go up to $54 and $74 as the event gets closer.

To placate your girlfriend or your wine snob buddy, festival organizers will offer at least 24 wines, 10 hard ciders and several hard sodas as well. A separate Oktoberfest area will feature a dozen beers from Bavaria. No word on whether there will be any Bavarian cream doughnuts, but the festival will offer nibbles and snacks throughout the day. If you get a hankering for more than a pretzel, hit up one of the food trucks that will be there (but that’s extra $).

12:30 to 8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 7 at The Bullpen, 1201 Half Street SE

Tacos ’N Taps Festival

Channel college-you at this all-you-can-drink beer, tequila and taco fest. General admission, which includes more than 60 types of unlimited drink tastings, souvenir cup, contests, games and more from 1 to 5 p.m., is $36.

More than 15 vendors will sell tacos and other Mexican food, with prices starting at $3. The VIP experience ($71) allows you to drink for longer (you get in early — at noon!). You also get four taco tickets, a sombrero, your own separate port-a-potties and “some surprises.” Designated driver tickets are $25; kids under 12 are free, but no kids activities are planned.

12-6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 7, Akridge Lot (next to Audi Field), 1880 2nd St. SW

DC Beer Week Fun Run

Chug a beer, run 1.5 miles, then get another beer as a reward. The beer is free, but it costs $10 to run — $25 if you want a T-shirt. Proceeds go to the DC Brewers Guild, a 501(c)(6) organization.

10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 8, Right Proper Brewing Company Brookland Production House + Tasting Room, 920 Girard St. NE.


End-of-Summer Events in Clarendon

Summer is winding down. Pools are closing. Schools are opening. Don’t miss your last chance to attend a fun event for kids, grownups or dogs at Market Commons, 2800 Clarendon Blvd, Arlington.

Tomorrow, Aug. 23, Pam the Kindersinger will entertain children with an interactive show from 10:30 to 11:15 a.m. including dancing, singing and puppetry. Next Friday, Aug. 30, the hugely popular children’s band Rocknoceros will perform. All concerts are held on The Loop.

If it’s your child’s birthday, they can get a free ice cream cone from Nicecream!

On Wednesday, bring your pooch to the final Dog Swim Paw-ty of the season from 4 to 6 p.m. Free scoops of Nicecream for dogs while they last!

Rock the Loop, a final end-of-summer celebration featuring music, beer and wine will be held from 5 to 9 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 1. Rockville Strings will play from 5 to 7 p.m., and Driven to Clarity, a Baltimore rock and pop band, will play from 7 to 9 p.m.

Proceeds from the sale of alcohol go toward Homeward Trails Animal Rescue, a shelter facilitating private pet adoptions throughout the DMV.



Celebrate Summer at Food Truck Fest

They call it Truckeroo, but it isn’t so much about the trucks as the food that’s in them. It’s once a month, and Friday, Aug. 23, is your second-to-last chance to indulge this year.

Held at the Bullpen outside of Nats Park in Navy Yard, Truckeroo draws participating food trucks from throughout the DMV, so it’s your chance to sample a variety of cuisines, all in one spot.

These monthly events, which include live music and games, have been an effective way to lure hundreds to the area when the Nats are out of town; this weekend our Boys of Summer are playing the Cubs at Wrigley Field.

The event is in its ninth year, and the last Truckeroo of this season is scheduled for Friday, Sept. 20.

Try Korean BBQ Taco Box, Lombardo’s Detroit Style Pizza, Red Hook Lobster Pound, District Jerk, Mexicano Square or food from one of the 10 other food trucks that will be on hand.



Can I Get a Side of Culture with That?

You wouldn’t think you’d need an Around the World Cultural Food Festival in the DMV, because every day we spend here is a kind of cultural festival. But this event is a great opportunity to cram a lot of culture in quickly, without having to walk far.

In its fourth year, the festival is showcasing more than 26 countries. Attendees can sample food and beverages, shop for crafts, watch performers and even get their face or hands painted.

Sample foods from Colombia, Greece, Guam, India, Brazil, Jamaica, Lebanon, Peru, Trinidad & Tobago, Yemen, Turkey, Italy, Morocco, Japan, Australia, Venezuela, China, France and the U.S.

The food at this festival is authentic an affordable — think Pop-Up Patisserie, not Le Diplomate. It’s free to attend the event, and food and beverages will be available for purchase. VIP tickets, which include a chair in the shade and a special, shorter food line for each vendor, are sold out.

Artisans and crafters will also be on hand, including South African Bazaar Craft Cooperative, Happy Henna Guy and Milena Guro jewelry.

We live in one of the most diverse cities in America. Food and culture from all over the world is just a few Metro stops away.

Cultural Food Festival, 11 a.m. to 7 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 17, Freedom Plaza, Pennsylvania Avenue between 13th & 14th Sts. NW; free


Try the Area’s Best During Restaurant Week

We’re in the thick of Summer Restaurant Week, but it’s not too late for you to plan to hit one of the 250 participating spots throughout the DMV.

For the bargain-basement price of $22, you can get a delicious breakfast or lunch, and $35 gets you a three-course dinner. This is an amazing opportunity to try out some of those places you couldn’t otherwise afford — and no, Minibar and Pineapple and Pearls are not on the list.

Instead, try the proven 1789, Capital Grille, Rare Steakhouse or Fogo de Chao for a five-star experience. If you want to fill up for your $35, maybe try Matchbox, Not Your Average Joe’s or Rosa Mexicana.

Some places we have visited and recommend include City Winery, Fig & Olive and Doi Moi.

The Restaurant Week website allows you to search by neighborhood, city, name or type of meal (breakfast, lunch or dinner), so you’ll have no trouble finding exactly what you’re looking for.

Summer Restaurant Week runs through Sunday, Aug. 18. Eat up!