Posts tagged “Lagunitas

Bar Review – Justin’s Cafe

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.

I hadn’t gone to Justin’s before our own Beer Hunt, and I’m so glad I got that opportunity.  It’s introduced me to yet another great DC bar that I’m always excited to spend time in.


Beer Madness! 57 (1)Two Hearted v. (3)Sumpin Sumpin

(1) Bells Two Hearted
(3) Lagunitas Little Sumpin Sumpin

Our first Elite Eight matchup is a good one.  Two hoppy beers vying for your attention.  The Two Hearted has the track record, but experience isn’t necessarily the only thing when we reach this level.  Will the sweet hoppy flavor of the Two Hearted claim the win, or can the crowd will the gentle wheat of the Sumpin Sumpin to a not so gentle takeover.

Beer Madness! 53 (2)Dale’s Pale Ale v. (3)Little Sumpin Sumpin

(2) Oskar Blues Dale’s Pale Ale
(3) Lagunitas Little Sumpin Sumpin

I was really hoping for a matchup between Dale’s Pale Ale and the Whale’s Tale Pale Ale, but the bracket committee goofed and the dream match up isn’t going down.  Instead, we get the strong in all facets Dale’s against the sneaky can from Lagunitas.  Little Sumpin Sumpin may not receive the national attention that Dale’s Pale Ale gets, but they do play a crowd pleasing style that should gain them a lot of fans as they advance past their well known opponent.

Beer Madness! 48 (11)Loose Cannon v. (3)Sumpin Sumpin

(11) Heavy Seas Loose Cannon
(3) Lagunitas Little Sumpin Sumpin

A Loose Cannon can cause an incredible amount of havoc on deck.   Sailors!  Make sure your cannons are secured on deck.  It’s physics!  On the other hand, Little Sumpin Sumpin probably has a secret or two waiting to break out in this contest.  It’s right there in the name.  In conclusion, CANNON BAAAAAAALLLLLLLLL!!!!!

Beer Madness! 32 (3)Little Sumpin Sumpin v. (14)Stella

(3) Lagunitas Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’
(14) Stella Artois

Stella Artois – a mostly European team – was lucky to make it into this bracket, but I don’t see them staying very long.  There is a little something special about the Lagunitas Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ and I see them dominating this matchup, unless there is an influx of douche.

Beer Madness! 12 (4)Lagunitas Czech Pils v. (13)Rogue Dead Guy

(4) Lagunitas Czech Pils
(13) Rogue Dead Guy

The Czech style pilsner is generally a light easy drinking beer.  Lagunitas looked at it and said “this is lame, let’s bump it up a few notches”.  That mentality is the only thing giving this Pils a chance.  The Dead Guy is a dark, strong bock with a bit more booze.  I see the Dead Guy nosing this one out.  It’s just a tougher beer.  Plus, if you vote for Lagunitas, that skeleton guy sitting on the barrel will come and get you while you sleep tonight.

Brew Review-Lagunitas Brown Shugga’

Lagunitas has a great reputation, so despite my fear of anything that advertises itself as being “sweet,” I was optimistic that if anyone could do it right it’d be Lagunitas with their Brown Shugga’.

Pouring this beer, I was surprised by the red/amber tinge to the brown that one might expect from a brown ale.  It had a light head but a strong, fresh, distinctly hoppy aroma.  The smell alone was quickly convincing me that this was a good decision, though the gentle sweetness that accompanied the hoppiness reminded me not to be too excited just yet.

Taking the first sip, any second thoughts were quickly put to rest.  The immediate taste is a bit sweeter and less bitter than the aroma might suggest, but this balance forms an incredibly full flavor with enough complexity to keep the consumer interested through the last sip.  Even with its distinct sweetness it avoids the trap of becoming syrupy.  The bitterness from the first impression also reappears towards the end, leaving a fresh finish.

I would highly recommend Brown Shugga’ to anyone looking for an interesting beer with a lot of flavor.



Brew Review-Lagunitas Dogtown Pale Ale

This pale ale pours a golden copper with a nice head that is thicker than my photo suggests (I drank some).  It has decent lacing and carbonation at about a month out from its production date (six pack).   In terms of mouthfeel, it  is light to medium body and very drinkable.

The taste is very dry and hoppy.  The beer starts off soft and has an aggressive bitter finish.   It has a caramel and crisp biscuit malt flavor that balances the hops.   I tasted, in order of prominence, grapefruit, apricot, and raspberry flavors that likely came from the some of the 43 hops used.   Overall, doggone tasty.   Gulp a glass down if you get a chance.  Like the label says: “Life is uncertain, don’t sip”.

Donald “Don” Von Matterhorn
Revelry and Recreational Sports Division
Von Matterhorn Industries International Unlimited Global Inc.