Stars and Bars: Great American Beer Bar @ ChurchKey, 2/28/17

Bottles Bottles in the beer fridge at ChurchKey (Photo by Bill Couch)

DC beer bar ChurchKey (1337 14th St. NW, DC) took top honors as a Great American Beer Bar in a survey conducted by, announced the Brewers Association on Tuesday.

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Stars and Bars: New Beers from Hellbender, 3 Stars @ SAVOR Week

Dascha Beer Garden (and Liz Taylor) under an overcast sky Wednesday

Wednesday evening was overcast and cool. It was perfectly comfortable to be outside with a light jacket but it was certainly cooler than DC would expect for the first week of June.

What a great opportunity, then, to drink an appropriately medium-bodied beer with a light touch like the Hellbender Brewing Co.’s new Ella Kölsch Pale Ale. Ella is definitely more pale than kölsch, with a dense but pleasing color and a bite of refreshing bitterness upfront but with that clean kölsch finish.

Hellbender debuted the beer during happy hour Wednesday at Dascha Beer Garden (1600 7th St. NW, DC), timed in conjunction with Savor Week — the days leading up to the Savor American Craft Beer and Food Experience at the American Building Museum (401 F St. NW, DC) on June 5-6.

Hellbender Brewing Co. (5788 2nd St. NE, DC) quite likes the kölsch pale ale, or KPA, style, and it has been experimenting with it a bit this year, previously releasing an Equinox KPA. According to Hellbender, “This new hybrid German/American style combines the traditional American pale ale recipe with German Kölsch yeast. The end result is a dry, refreshing pale ale with big hop flavor and aroma!”

The Hellbender KPA series will consist of beers built around various hops, subject to seasons and availability, the brewery said. The Ella hops is from Australia, and it imparts the beer with spices and flowers along with an aroma of tropical fruit. The Ella KPA weighs in at 5.7% ABV, 37 IBU, 6 SRM.

A look at if not a taste of the new Hellbender Ella KPA

Ella wasn’t the only new beer to debut from a local brewer this week.

3 Stars Brewing Co. (6400 Chillum Pl. NW, DC) extended its collaboration series with Pizzeria Paradiso (3282 M St. NW, DC) to introduce Monday a new entry in its nine-part Paradiso series. The debut occurred at the Pizzeria Paradiso Monday Night Beer Club, which offers beer specials usually along a theme on the first Monday of every month.

Paradiso: Sun sits atop the menu that tells you all about it.

The new beer, Paradiso: Sun, is a rustic farmhouse ale brewed with cedar tips. At 5.1% ABV, Paradiso: Sun was quite drinkable, and its woody flavor paired quite well with pizza! (Imagine that.) As always at Monday Night Beer Club, the knowledgeable Rob Fink, Paradiso assistant bar manager (and District Chophouse assistant brewer!), was manning the bar to pour the special and provides insights into their origins.

The entire collaboration series draws inspiration from Dante’s Paradiso. The first beer in the series was Paradiso: The Moon, a pale wheat saison brewed with sour oranges. The second was Paradiso: Mercury, a red wheat rye saison brewed with blood oranges. And the third was Paradiso: Venus, a blend of the first two beers aged in Sangiovese barrels.

All in all, Hellbender, 3 Stars and Paradiso brought fine new beers to a great week of events!

Pizza and beer? Por favor!

Stars and Bars: Mad Fox Brewing Coming Soon @ Glover Park?

Bob Tupper with Mad Fox-ers (01)

Bill Madden and Charlie Buettner discuss their Festivus Ale with Bob Tupper at Mad Fox on Dec. 18, 2014.

Sometime in June, microbrewery Mad Fox Brewing could open its DC brewpub (2218 Wisconsin Ave. NW, DC) in the Glover Park neighborhood after a long delay.

The Glover Park neighborhood Twitter account @gloverpark retweeted a conversation between @MadFoxBrewing and local @FarewellHider on May 2, wherein Mad Fox stated, “Still working on the space, at least a month or so.”

@FarewellHider replied, “Hopefully you’ll open before the next @gloverpark Day in June. I still have a coupon you handed out last year!” The annual Glover Park Day is Saturday, June 6, this year.

The conversation highlights the long struggle that Mad Fox Brewing faced in opening its brewpub location at this particular address, last home to a gastropub Mayfair and Pine and once home to Town Hall, now relocate a block or two north (2340 Wisconsin Ave. NW, DC). As Mad Fox Brewer Bill Madden has recounted in interviews with other publications, the process of restoring the restaurant space soon to be home to the Mad Fox Brewpub took much longer than anticipated.

Mad Fox Brewing first announced its plans to open a second location in addition to its Falls Church microbrewery (444 West Broad St., Suite I, Falls Church, Va.) on August 12, 2013. The initial press release touted plans to open the DC location as a 4,590-square foot taproom with 127 seats before the fourth anniversary of the flagship brewpub “by the end of first quarter 2014, depending on the renovations needed and the permitting process.”

“Glover Park is a wonderful neighborhood that deserves a great beer bar like the Mad Fox Taproom,” said Madden in a statement at the time. Mad Fox has been searching for a location in the nation’s capital for the past 20 months, scouting out 27 neighborhoods throughout the District. “Glover Park offers an ideal fit for our concept and shares similarities with Falls Church in its demographics and overall environment. And just like in Falls Church, we look forward to becoming an active and positive member of the community, contributing to both the economy and the culinary options of the area.”

The DC brewpub plans to offer “draught and English-style cask service, with up to 24 draught and cask options. Diners can expect a full menu with appetizers, sandwiches, burgers, salads and small plates.”

Madden confirmed Mad Fox would brew all beers in Falls Church.