The District Beer Hunt is back! Last year’s event was a huge success and we hope this year will be as well. Our friends over at DC Beer have taken over the organization of this year’s Hunt. Don’t worry, many of us at J Street have been a part of the planning and will be judges again.
I’m really torn here. Part of me wants to behave like Bill Murray in Rushmore who deliberately talks down a woman to his friend so he can go for her himself. I want to write a horrible, scathing review of Justin’s in the hope that no one else ever goes there; I want to keep it all to myself. The other Part of me wants to pull a Jerry McGuire and storm into a room announcing that “you complete me.” I feel like the entire world needs to know how incredible this place is. Justin’s Cafe opened a year ago down in a very revitalized SE. And it’s incredible. I’ve tried over and over again to find one thing even slightly wrong with this bar, and I just can’t.
Justin’s only has 4 beers on draft, but they all meet Pyzocha’s dream of no macro-brews. Racer 5, Lagunitas, and Bell’s Oberon, and GL Eliot Ness are all available. The draft list is complemented with a solid bottle/can collection including two choices from Oskar Blues, Two Hearted, North Coast, Duck Rabbit and more. While it’s not necessarily the most extensive beer list, it’s unbelievably solid and there is something for everyone there.
But hey, there are plenty of bars in DC with a good beer list – what makes Justin’s so good? Staff and ambiance. The staff at Justin’s is unbelievable. Joe, Eric, Liz and the rest of the staff I’ve met have all been unbelievably friendly, helpful and nice. Despite a somewhat bustling bar, Eric took the time to introduce himself to me on only my second beer. Liz found a way for me to somehow order 7 drinks in about 50 minutes. Joe shared a bottle of GL Holy Moses just because he could, and remembers what people are drinking – when they leave the bar and come back 3 hours later.
Justin’s is just that neighborhood bar. It gets a ton of transient ballpark traffic, but also plenty of locals and other beer aficionados that aren’t just there to drink, but to enjoy people’s company. Sitting by yourself at the bar isn’t a lonely experience at all – I’ve talked hops, SE, Wrigley Field, and women with people I’ve sat down near at the bar. Between the staff, the beer, and the atmosphere, Justin has created a place that really feels great to spend time in.
The food is similarly solid. The brunch, wings, and buffalo burger Pyzocha and I have had there have all been really solid, and I haven’t even had their signature brick oven pizza.
The only possible issue is size and crowd. The cafe isn’t huge and before/after games can get pretty packed in, impacting the overall ambiance. Popularity unfortunately has it’s downsides, but I’ll live with them.
Count my voice among the praise singing choir. I had a phenomenal time this weekend talking with the team, the awesome staff at Bourbon, the participants, and the curious randos.
1. I autographed titties. I felt like Kid Rock.
2. The Bourbon Decker sandwich and baked beans were amazing. It might be the best sandwich I have eaten in 2011.
3. The fat guy from Brew’s Clews leaning over me to drunkenly and hilariously hit on my girlfriend.
4. The 10 or 12 randos who wondered why I was signing sheets for people. I’d say at least 8 of them were interested enough to ask if we do a scavenger hunt every month.
5. Rogue Nut Brown Nectar.
6. The team that got a call from the DOJ at 4am to come claim their passed out teammate.
7. WAFC Jr. canceled all Sunday games.
8. That one time when I autographed some titties.
1. Walking home from Adams Morgan because of the crazy cab situation.
2. The drunk girl on Georgia Ave with the glassy eyes.
3. The stranger who offered to “give me a ride” at the corner of 14th and Harvard. No thanks, creepo.
4. My back after sitting on a bar stool for 20 hours in a 36 hour period.
5. Sunday morning hangover.
Most teams I talked to had an amazing time and would like to do it again. I would like to do this again in the fall if we can put it together (we’ll see). I know that Bourbon was super appreciative of the business we brought in. James, Rachel, and Craig took really good care of me. I could not have asked for a better bar staff. I was initially pretty offended that some teams focused more on finishing first than on learning about new beers and new bars, but I have calmed. Not everyone likes to have a good time, and that is fine. I would like to focus more on the costume aspect of the hunt next time. I’m a big fan of people looking ridiculous for arbitrary reasons. I agree with Pyzocha’s suggestion that the prizes should be more random. Only one team can finish first. I think emphasizing having fun and learning about new beers was our goal. Most teams did that.
Thanks to Tonzi for doing all the hard work putting this together.
I agree with everything that Shintern said, but would like to add that I heard many many teams complimenting the food that was found at various stops along the way. I had a few teams come into Justin’s for brunch and they all raved about the food. Speaking of Justin’s, I was chatting with one of the managers, Joe, while at a slow point of the day and he said their goal of the participation was to get people to know the place even existed (they’ve only been there for about a year), especially with the baseball season starting on Thursday. This was clearly a success because every team that came in said that they had either not been there or not even heard of it before.
Along the lines of the competitive aspect of this; you could tell the teams that were in it to win it, and they were the minority. Many teams hung around at the bar for multiple beers, I know at The Black Squirrel on Friday night, there was a team there until close having a good time. So I’d say the majority of teams were just in it for the fun of the clues and to try the different good beers. It seemed like every team was telling me that they can’t wait for next year and how they knew even more people that would be interested in participating next time. I even had a team suggest we do a spring and a fall one.
One thing for a future event, which will probably be the hardest part of a future one, is to get more volunteers. I think I can speak for everyone here: it was a blast, but those were two looooong days at the bar. It was great to have Boardwalk stop by at the Squirrel and X stopping by Justin’s on Saturday, because the bartenders get busy and there isn’t always a team at the bar to talk to. So the extra person made the time go by much faster. I would definitely do it again though – even if I was by myself the whole time. Along these lines, a lot of teams were really thankful for what we did especially when a typical conversation on Saturday would go like this:
“are you here all day?”
“I am here all day”
“wow, are you getting paid for it?”
“just a small stipend”
“wow that’s impressive, thanks for doing that” or “did you see that guy at meridian pint last night he was in rough shape”
“haha well he had to get there at 10 this morning to start again” to no response, just a stare of disbelief.
I had at least 3 or 4 of these conversations Friday and Saturday, mostly on Saturday where I had the unique experience of seeing some of the teams for a second time before the party. I had a great conversation about homebrewing with one guy on a team and another about hopslam and beer in general with another guy.
All in all it could not have gone better and that is even before we consider that we lost our organizer before the event. Great job everyone, I hope to do it again.
First off, I had a great time this weekend at Meridian Pint and would really like to thank the bar for participating and Sam and their whole staff for their hard work and making me feel welcome. All the teams that came through seemed to be enjoying themselves and talked about learning about new bars and beers, which, for me, was the goal of this weekend.
I understand that people are competitive and want to win the prizes, and I don’t fault them for being that way; we set this up as a race. What I really enjoyed were the teams that came to Meridian Pint on the second day. When these teams showed up, everyone got a different beer, they talked to other participants, the bartenders, and normal customers (spreading the DC Beer Hunt gospel), and the teams were in high spirits (most said they felt they were winning since they were enjoying the bars and beer, aka the journey). Hats off to the two ladies that came out for brunch at MP despite finishing the Hunt the night before; obviously, they needed some good hangover food but were also keen on some day-drinking.
I also want to thank everyone who offered suggestions for future hunts. No one criticized the Hunt, only offered ways to improve it. Such as a series of raffles at the end for all the teams that had completed the Hunt, costume contest based on throughout the weekend participation, and having a list for both days.
Finally, I appreciate everyone that drank responsibly this weekend and took advantage of our city’s public transportation options. I kept asking people on Friday night to travel responsibly only to receive numerous “No shit, Sherlock” looks.
What a weekend!
This was a huge event for us. Well, that’s an understatement. I can’t come up with strong enough words to really describe how big this event was.
The District Beer Hunt started as just a crazy drunken idea while watching Monday Night Football. I and my fellow J Street Beer brethren kept kicking the idea around, trying to figure out a way to make it work. We were going to attempt to do it ourselves, just for fun. Eventually we realized we could throw it together and have whoever felt like participating jump in.
The idea progressively got bigger. I spoke with a few friends and some bar staff and managers to see if it was something that they would be interested in taking part in. Surprisingly, everyone was excited about the idea. I called in the big guns at DCBeer.com to see if they could lend a hand, and did they ever. Bill was there to help with a lot of the logistics. He has great connections. And before long we had 10 bars willing to take part and happy to help the idea turn into a great event. The final piece to the puzzle was Flying Dog. Once they said they were in, we knew we were good to go.
Now that the District Beer Hunt is but a fond memory for many of us, it’s time to go over the clues and their answers. Try not to beat yourself up over the obvious ones.
1. Hunter S. Thompson would’ve chosen this over juleps at the Kentucky Derby. Flying Dog oak aged Gonzo
2. If Homer wrote an alternative to his Odyssey, but left the pages blank. Epic Brainless
3. Uncle Jimbo lost the right one playing with his power tools. He’s got this beer to remind him of what’s still there. Left Hand Sawtooth
4. “Alright, alright, alright! That’s why I love them Colorado beers. They keep getting hoppier, and I drink them the same way.” Boulder Hazed and Infused
5. Pizarro spent one year looking for this beer’s namesake. Flying Dog El Dorado Single Hop IPA
6. Favorite fermentable of Apoidea everywhere, especially those from the Beaver State. Rogue Hazelnut Brown Nectar
7. In honor of the upcoming Masters Tournament, this corner is the most famous of all. Amen Black IPA
8. Lewis and Clark, Edmund Hillary, and Robert Perry could have just lived vicariously through this beer. Instead, Perry lost eight toes. Bells Expedition Stout
9. Bebop your way over to this legend’s tribute. North Coast Brother Thelonius
(They ran out of Thelonious so we had to switch it up on the fly)
9.a This beer is a prime choice. Port City Optimal Wit
10. We’re sorry you’re bovinophobic, but don’t be afraid to drink this optical illusion. Duck Rabbit Milk Stout
11. A dark Cave. In the middle, a Caldron boiling. Thunder. Enter the three Witches. Founders Double Trouble
12. Belgian Father who observed and described this near-Buffalo natural landmark in 1677, thus bringing the landmark to the attention of Europeans. Ommegang Hennepin
13. Malapterurus electricus is a fish, but this beer is a “fish.” Sierra Nevada Torpedo
14. Production of this beer started during the War Between the States. Chimay Cinq Cents
15. Enjoy a dark beer to celebrate December 5, 1933 – which was definitely not a dark day. 21st Amendment Back in Black
16. All indications point to finding great beer at RFD, but only one suggests it’s not safe to go into the water while enjoying this beer. Heavy Seas Small Craft Warning
17. Sounds like a Muppets’ offshoot. Yes, that one. Great Lakes Dopplerock
18. The nutty, self-flagellating albino from The Da Vinci Code created a lot of this. 21st Amendment Monk’s Blood
19. Heav’n has no Rage, like Love to Hatred turn’d. Now you finish the rest and order the beer. Flying Dog Raging Bitch
20. You had better touch this untouchable beer. Great Lakes Eliot Ness
To all who made it out, thank you for participating. We’ll have a post out soon with out impressions of the crazy weekend!
Clues and Answers are available HERE!
Below is the information you’ll need to participate in this exciting event! Please check back often as this information will be updated frequently and finalized one week before the event begins.
– Teams will consist of up to 4 members.
– $20 entry fee per team; don’t forget to come up with a creative team name!
– Teams must go to RFD between 7pm and 11pm on Friday March 25th to check in and receive the necessary materials (wristbands for team members, beer checklist, list of bars and directions). Once you’re checked in, search out those beers!
– Teams must visit as many of the bars listed as possible. The checklist you received at the check-in has clues about the beers you are hunting for. Look at each bar’s beer list carefully. When you think you’ve figured out which beer is on your list, purchase it.
– To get credit for the beer on your checklist, only one member from the team needs to purchase the beer. For example, if you have a team of four, only one person on your team needs to buy the beer to have it marked off on your team checklist. With all the tasty offerings the participating bars are putting out, however, the allure of each team member purchasing a beer may be too great to overcome!
– Don’t forget to show bar staff your wristband in case they’re offering a special price for Beer Hunt participants!
– Once the beer has been purchased, bring your checklist and beer (as proof) to the Beer Hunt volunteer at the bar. They’ll check off your beer and you can start your quest for the next one!
– Please remember to travel from bar to bar responsibly! Use cabs, buses, or metro, or consider using an alternative like http://www.bemydd.com.
Once you’ve had all the beers on the list (or as many as you can handle), bring your checklists to RFD on Saturday for the Post Beer Hunt Party for prizes and, of course, beer! Party starts in the back room at RFD at 8pm! Please have your checklists in by 10pm to be eligible for prizes.
Prizes will be rewarded on a variety of categories! These include:
– Most beers found (1st prize and runner-up, ties to be settled by most bars visited/time finished)
– Most bars visited (1st prize and runner-up, ties to be settled by most beers found/time finished)
– Best team name
– Best team uniform
The Big Hunt – 1345 Connecticut Avenue NW
The Black Squirrel – 2427 18th Street NW
Bourbon (Adams Morgan) – 2321 18th Street NW
Iron Horse Taproom – 507 7th Street NW
Justin’s Cafe – 1025 First Street SE
Meridian Pint – 3400 11th Street NW
The Reef – 2446 18th Street NW
RFD – 810 7th Street NW
Scion – 2100 P Street NW
Smith Commons – 1245 H Street NE
Pre-register and save some time at the check-in table: email us at email@example.com and let us know that you’d like to participate. We’ll send you a PayPal invoice for the $20 registration fee.
We hope to see you there!