As I prepared to participate in DC Beer Week last year, I had difficulty finding beer from participating breweries in my local stores. Unfortunately, that isn’t something that improved this year. In fact, it was even more difficult to find actual DC beers in the local grocery stores. Admittedly, this is a little frustrating because it’s sometimes nice to just enjoy a beer in the comfort of my own home, rather than having to head out to a local restaurant or brewery to drink local. That said, on Monday when I mentioned to a couple of coworkers that it was DC Beer Week and suggested we head to a local brewery to indulge a little, neither of them hesitated to accompany me.
This wasn’t our first visit to Bluejacket Brewery by the DC Navy Yard, but one of the interesting things about Bluejacket is that there is a regular rotation of the beer available on tap. This does have its cons, as my coworker found out when he went to order one of his favorites–Mexican Radio–only discover that it was no longer on tap. However, it also means that there is constant experimentation happening at the brewery by both the brewmaster, who is innovating with new styles and techniques, and the customer, who always has something new to taste.
On this visit, I started with the Haywire, which is a “hoppy” wheat ale. It was added to the menu at the start of DC Beer Week, so it seemed only right to begin with this lighter beer. It was a hazy, golden-yellow with an off-white foam and some lacing on the side of the glass. On the nose, there were lemons and wet hay. In the mouth, there was citrus, hay, and a hint of something herbal. The beer had the bitterness I expect from hops, but not as much other flavor as I expected, especially considering the nose.
Because I was feeling more adventurous with my beer than with my food, I ordered my Bluejacket usual – the Chicken Burger, which is a ground chicken patty with fried shallots, red wine aioli, and arugula, and the kale Caesar salad instead of the fries. The Haywire probably wasn’t the best pairing with my lunch, although that was my own bad pairing choice. I definitely preferred both the beer and the burger on their own rather than together.
Ultimately, my impression of the Haywire was it had some nice wheat beer characteristics upfront, but the finish fell off the cliff leaving me wanting more from the beer. I was glad I tasted it, but it’s probably not a beer I will order again.
After the Haywire, as an admitted Brett- and IPA-lover, I couldn’t resist tasting the American IPA that was brewed with brettanomyces–Spectre. The beer was a cloudy yellow-gold. On the nose, there was a mixture of pineapple, Riesling, and wet horse. In the mouth, there was pineapple, grapefruit, and hints of honey and hay. I thought the beer was interesting and well-worth tasting, although it’s also a beer I could only drink one of before being ready to try something else. If you like beer that is fermented with Brett, this is definitely a beer you should try.
The last beer of the day was The Stroppy, which is an American Pale Ale. The beer was a clear, medium-to-dark amber. On the nose, there was some grapefruit and some dry grass. In the mouth, there was citrus, dry grass, and a hint of something floral. This beer was the winner of the day for me, although I wish I had some of Bluejacket’s wings or tater tots to eat with it as The Stroppy was very food-friendly. The beer was very much my style, so I hope Bluejacket keeps it on tap a little longer as I’d love the opportunity to drink it again.
While Bluejacket’s brews are only available on location, if you like visiting craft breweries and live in the area or find yourself visiting DC, Bluejacket should be on your list of places to go. It’s particularly convenient if you combine your visit with a baseball game at Nationals Park, which is only a few blocks away.
Question of the Day: Do you drink local beer or wine at home or is it something you tend to order only when you’re out at a restaurant or bar?