Well, that was a hell of an adventure. We didn’t “win,” but we WON. Everyone WON. As it should’ve been.
For a solid month I had been antsy for March 25th to roll around. The reveal of the Inaugural District Beer Hunt happened to me on Oscar Night, thanks to the sanity-saving choice of heading over to H Street. The premise was simple: beer scavenger hunt through some of the best slingers of craft suds in DC. Ten bars, clues for two beers at each bar, one judge to quiz you on your selections. Yes, at one place we were questioned as to which is which and how they related to the clues.
Bars both established and new to the scene provided a vast swath of what constitutes the watering holes of DC. Every member of TeamTPG experienced a new spot, which was the spirit of the event. Get out with friends, drink what you don’t normally drink, drink where you normally don’t go, and meet people along the way. We did just that.
The team mindset was not to rush, was not to pressure ourselves to get everything right the moment we walked into the bar, not to miss the experience. Starting at HQ (RFD), we took stock of what we were up against. Every clue from the start made little to no sense. At least without a beer list. We felt good knowing that we couldn’t just “oh, pfft, duh!” our way through the Hunt from our table in Chinatown. We also knew that getting to Adams Morgan early was imperative because we didn’t want to be wading through children. Planning for 7 of the 10 bars to be Red Line accessible was genius. Oh, wait, we had a wonderful driver. Still it was smart. (I’m fully aware it was coincidental, whatevs.)
Adams Morgan turned out to be quiet which gave us time to move freely at our desired pace. Not that we knew what it was like before the expansion, but The Black Squirrel‘s basement was very cool, except low. Very glad the taller members of our team were sober enough to avoid the low bridge. Pointless whining aside, great place. The move over to Dupont was made easier by the Parking Space Gods blessing us with continued good luck and a spot right in front of Scion. We ran into some of the same teams from AM, who worked their itinerary almost identical to ours. Great minds and all that, including (except for?) some good natured curveballs. Did you know that Coors Light was not an answer? That answer was overheard during exchanges between teams, but always with a smile. Same goes for, “if I told you, I’d have to kill you.” Civility runs rampant in DC.
Having nailed down the seven core/cluster bars, we chose to head north to Meridian Pint in Columbia Heights. A newer establishment that utilizes the table-taps, we felt we made a great choice in our #15 and #16 beers as Meridian Pint resides in a cozier section of the neighborhood. We also took this time to chat with Bret Schenewerk of J Street Beer Review, one of the co-originators of the event. Bret’s a swell guy and graciously talked with us for nearly forty minutes. That interview, should the audio take, will be posted soon. If you can make it through the drunkenese, you deserve a medal.
The thing about the judges is that every single last one was welcoming, encouraging, talkative, and genuinely excited to meet the teams. No amount of insomnia could derail them. One judge we met twice, during each leg of the competition. This guy was at his post(s) for nearly the full 27 hours. This was dedication.
Our Friday night ended with finding a locked door at Justin’s Cafe at 2:54am. Dangit. Saturday went quickly with just Justin’s and Smith Commons to go through and we found ourselves done around 7pm. The wrap-up party was an hour away and the checklist deadline was 10pm, so we found our path diverted to some of H Street’s other fine fares. Thankfully we pounded our last beers at 9:30 to get checked in at 9:42. Quite possibly, this is why we didn’t win. Boo-hoo.
I’ll tell you who did win, Hammock Sex. Whether it was Overall or Best name, I don’t remember, but they won something. Flying Dog wins because they sponsored the weekend and supplied some kegs(?) of their Pale Ale for the after party. Best Team Name, Best Costumes/Uniforms, and a few other prizes were handed out in the form of rare issue and rare reserve Flying Dog brews. MY prize was a pocketfull of stickers from the bar.
The organizers of the Hunt (DC Beer, J Street, Flying Dog) were blown away be the response to this event. Projected to have roughly twenty teams, 62 groups of beer lovers amassed. There was talk of a cap at one point on Friday. Thankfully, that never happened.
There were some kinks, some inconsistencies, some nebulous definitions of “winning” and “finishing” and “time,” but our team was unfazed. Nothing interfered with the enjoyment, the flow, the randomness of the weekend. Our questions were answered and the major issues resolved early on at HQ. And we got everything right! Let’s be honest, if the first installment of an annual event goes PERFECTLY, then something was definitely wrong. We have no regrets. There was nothing we would have changed.
Here were the rules and regulations.
For those of you who want to try your hand at the clues, here’s the list of bars and clues for your creative thinking pleasure. All of the bar sites should have the full menus and reflect all the choices. Think you have it figured out? Leave you guesses in the comments.
Try the beers and try the bars. Your life will be enriched.
Filed under: Bar Reviews, Beer Reviews, Events, Original Articles | Tagged: Adams Morgan, beer, Bourbon, Chinatown, DC, DC Beer, DC Beer Hunt, Dupont, Flying Dog, Iron Horse, J Street Beer Review, Justin's Cafe, Meridian Pint, RFD, Scion, Smith Commons, The Big Hunt, The Black Squirrel, The Reef |