Sweet is Sour Rodenbach Brewmaster Rudi Chequire Visiting DC

Fans of sour beer will not want to miss the chance to meet Rodenbach brewmaster Rudi Chequire as he visits DC to celebrate the release of three seasonal draft specialties, one of which has never been available in this country. Rodenbach Brewery, from Roeselare, Belgium, was founded in 1821 by four brothers. The brewery is well-respected for its sour beers, many of which are often aged in large wooden vessels known as foeders (pronounced food-ers). Rodenbach proudly boasts the world’s largest collection of the upright wooden vats, with 10 different cellars, or foederzaals, as they are referred to in Belgian.

Sours are more popular now than ever in the United States. “It is very exciting to see. Sour beer is growing rapidly,” says Rodenbach regional brand developer for the Mid-Atlantic, Orest Mryszuk. “America’s pallet is evolving and maturing quickly. Also, for brewers, making a good sour consistently is the Holy Grail. It takes decades to perfect the art.” But what makes a true sour? A sour, Orest continues, is “…a beer that has been acidified (one of the most traditional ways of preserving beer) and has been aged on wood.” Keep an eye out for the following Rodenbach brews in the upcoming months:

Vintage 2013 has been aged for two years in a single foeder (number 149 for the curious). At 7% ABV, it is a rich unblended beer.

Caractere Rouge is the classic Rodenbach Vintage with fresh cherries, raspberries and cranberries that have been macerated for six months. Maceration is a process typically used in winemaking in which color and flavor are leached from fruit through soaking or fermentation in a sealed chamber saturated with carbon dioxide.

Foederbier has never been sold in the U.S. It is a blended beer that has been aged in a foeder for two years. Unfiltered with low carbonation, this 6% ABV brew is not to be missed.

Be sure to catch Rudi on his upcoming visit to this region to pick up a signed bottle or try one of the rare beers on draft. The brewmaster will be in Northern Virginia on October 5, in DC on October 6 and in Baltimore on October 7. To learn more

Pumpkin Beers

Punkin’ Lovin’

With fall’s arrival, pumpkin beer frenzy is back and bigger than ever. But not all pumpkin beers were created equal and some are stranger than others.

First, there are several ways brewers can utilize pumpkins in the brewing process. Some will use roasted pumpkin chunks in the mash, but many brewers stick to pumpkin puree. Actual pumpkin flavor is hard to detect in beer since the gourd itself, without any seasonings, has a very subtle flavor.

When it is used in place of malt, the starch is converted to sugar and then fermented which removes most of the pumpkin flavor. As a result, in addition to actual pumpkin, most brewers will use spices commonly associated with pumpkin pie such as clove, cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom to create the modern pumpkin beer dynamic.

If you are a fan of pumpkin spices, keep an eye out for the higher ABV ones that usually have a stronger malt bill to support the heavy seasoning. If sweeter beers are not your thing, there are several very subtle pumpkin offerings on the market as well.  Here is a sampler of this season’s crop.

A few fun facts 

The practice of brewing with pumpkin can be traced back to the Colonial era when it was often used as a substitution for barley that was either unavailable or too expensive. Although it is a delicacy today, the poor often used pumpkin out of necessity.

Home-brewing founding fathers George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were known to have brewed beer with pumpkins at Mount Vernon and Monticello.

Buffalo Bill’s Brewery from Hayward, CA reintroduced the style in 1985 with their Pumpkin Ale, the grandfather of the modern pumpkin beer craze.

According to the Brewers Association, seasonal beers (including pumpkin beers) were responsible for over 20% of total craft beer sales in fall 2014 and even outsold IPAs in the fall of 2013

What to try

Schlafly Pumpkin Ale
The Saint Louis Brewery, MO
8.0% ABV. Schlafly’s pumpkin offering is so popular that it typically sells out by October. Brewed with pounds of pumpkin and spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg and clove, this beer is one of the best in the category.

Southern Tier Brewing Company, NY
8.6% ABV. Tons of allspice and cinnamon dominate the nose of this beer that tastes like a bottle of pumpkin pie. A must-have for the pumpkin spice latte fans out there.

The Great’ER Pumpkin
Heavy Seas Brewing Company, MD
10% ABV. What makes this one special is the bourbon barrel aging. Nice vanilla, oak and bourbon flavors balance out the strong pumpkin spice to create a boozy classic. It is also a very drinkable 750 ml bomber, considering its high alcohol content.

Imperial Pumpkin Ale
Weyerbacher Brewing Company, PA
8% ABV. This easy-to-drink imperial ale is dominated by nutmeg, clove and cardamom. However, its strong malt bill helps balance out the spice flavors and reduce the booziness.

Oak Jacked Imperial Pumpkin
Uinta Brewing Company, UT
10.31% ABV. Aged in oak barrels for six months, this pumpkin beer packs a lot of booze and spice flavor. It is also unique for its 10.31% alcohol content, a tribute to Halloween.

The Fear
Flying Dog Brewery, MD
9% ABV. The Fear is essentially a pumpkin porter, with its dark color and roasted pumpkin spice flavors. The bottle artwork is designed by Ralph Steadman, guaranteeing it will be one of the scariest labels on the shelf.

Punkin Ale
Dogfish Head Brewery, DE
7% ABV. This spiced brown ale is named after Delaware’s annual pumpkin launching championship that draws people, and their pumpkin-chucking inventions, from all over the world. The brewery has switched things up by redesigning the bottle’s artwork each of the last three years.

Fat Jack Double Pumpkin
Samual Adams, MA
8.5%. Classic pumpkin pie spices season this fall beer that boasts 28-pounds of pumpkin per barrel. Its mild seasoning also makes it a very drinkable beer.

Jack-O Traveler Shandy
The Traveler Beer Company, VT
4.4% ABV. Perhaps the only pumpkin flavored shandy you will find this fall, Jack-O Traveler combines typical pumpkin seasonings with lemon peel to create a refreshingly low-ABV beverage.

Pumpkin Ale
Long Tra il Brewing Company, VT
5.5% ABV. With subtle pumpkin spice flavors, this medium-bodied ale is sessionable and pairs nicely with food.

Widmer Brothers Brewing

A West Coast Take on the East Coast Craft Evolution with Kurt Widmer

“If anyone says they got into brewing for money 25 years ago they’re liars,” says a smiling Kurt Widmer hoisting his goblet of famed Hefeweizen in a toast at The Partisan, “I think the same is still true today.”Kurt’s sharp wit and depth of character are not confined to the beer he’s been brewing over the last 30 years, in fact he’s quite open about his personal rise to the top with his brother Rob and Widmer Brothers Brewing (

Kurt saw the west coast blow up in the ‘80s and ‘90s with the first wave of independent craft brewing, and today I’m full court pressing him on the state of the industry, how he succeeded and where we’re going here on the east coast, as our area has seen an unprecedented brewery renaissance, with new ones opening almost monthly.

Currently Widmer is targeting the east coast with a streamlined portfolio of their classics including their famous Hefeweizen, Okto Festival ale and other “W” Brewmasters’ Release Series seasonal brews and their most recent gluten free Omission offerings — all in an east coast market that is growing by leaps and bounds.

“There’s too many good beers….you can’t just start a brewery for a business, passion comes first.”

In 1979 craft brewing was legalized in Portland, Oregon and avid home brewers like the Widmer Brothers found themselves in a unique time in west coast brewing history. The timing was right and a new craft beer industry ready to be forged was peaking over the horizon.

“We had one craft brew pub in town we all went to,” he laments, “and they had old equipment and made bad beer [laughter], but despite this the community supported them because they wanted and took pride in local beer. We saw this and thought why couldn’t we do that and be better at it, so we quit our jobs and we did it. We were inspired to try to make our own beer because we saw you didn’t need all that fancy equipment (the big brewers had) and we saw a market (supported by the neighborhood around us) for us to succeed. We never dreamed we’d get rich—our original business plan was only to start a brew pub and have five (off premise) accounts.” So the brothers started with humble beginnings in an industrial building in Portland with spare parts and small expectations, and began to micro brew and embrace a community thirsty for local suds. Before they knew it they we’re growing. “Why work 40 hours a week for someone when you can work 80 for yourself,” laughed Kurt. Widmer Brothers went from brewing for a handful of pubs to brewing nationally in the years that followed, and success is something they continue to build on and strive for.

“Our real success came when we took a chance and launched an unfiltered American wheat beer,” says Kurt, “and I think when it comes to brewing on the east coast you’re going to see similar success stories. You may have the best equipment, a great product, great distribution or a distinct advantage being one of the first breweries in the market but taking a HUGE chance (with our unfiltered wheat beer) is what got us on the map and to where we are today.”

Huey Lewis said it best in his song, “I need a new drug,” but I think he meant beer. Right Huey? In DC Kurt thinks “taking a chance” and “creating the next big thing” is going to be the BIG difference for a few of the breweries in our area and I can’t help but agree. Similar local success stories such as Mad Fox’s gold medal winning unfiltered Kellerbier Kolsch, DuClaw’s Sweet Baby Jesus Peanut Butter Porter and perhaps even the GABF 2015 Best Small Brewery/Brewer Port City’s Optimal Wit tend to lead credibility to his creed.

“…But you’re only as good as your competition,” said Kurt, “Once we had success others followed and I think you’re seeing that here on the east coast. There’s a similar beer market out here now with a lot of opportunity for brewers to brew a lot of variety of beers, but drinkability is the key.” You may have seen this theory proven over the summer as craft brewers turned out in full force with a seasonal cornucopia of sessionable, easy to drink offerings.

I can only tell you that from my interview with Kurt that one thing is for certain here in the East. The craft beer market will continue to grow, but only a few will rise to the top and expand to other markets (as Sam Adams and a few others have) – and I have a feeling those DC area breweries that have the same passion in their hearts, the wherewithal to take chances and at the same time to make great drinkable beer will be the ones to emerge. Kurt Widmer just shared his blueprint folks, so I encourage to pick up a sixer of Widmer to share with your friends until we all find the next local brewery success story together.

To learn more about Widmer Brothers Brewing visit, find them on Twitter @WidmerBrothers and on Facebook at Widmer Brothers Brewery. Find their tasty brews on tap at area bars and restaurants and at local retailers like Total Wine & More and Whole Foods.

Virginia Wine

Virginia Wine Unearthed

“Wine is … the only antidote to the bane of whiskey.” – Thomas Jefferson 

With seven recognized American Viticultural Areas (AVAs), around 250 wineries, and more than 3,000 acres under vine within the state, the Virginia wine industry is growing rapidly and showing no signs of slowing down any time soon. Virginia has a long history of growing grapes for wine production – the settlers at Jamestown were required by law to plant and tend at least 10 grape vines, George Washington cultivated vines at Mount Vernon and Thomas Jefferson also grew grapes on his property in Monticello for 30 years. Not much of note came from these lofty aspirations and decade-spanning efforts, but the tradition of wine appreciation and production was firmly established. Virginia currently ranks 5th in the nation for wine grape production, and attracts nearly 2 million visitors to its wineries each year. This year is the 27th anniversary of October’s official recognition as “Virginia Wine Month” and the month-long celebration also coincides with harvest time. The leaves are changing, the nights are becoming cooler and beautiful Virginia wine country is waiting. Have you given Virginia wine a chance?

Virginia Grapes 101:

Virginia grows a variety of grapes, but over the decades of winemaking a few varietals have shown an affinity for the region. These varietals have developed a recognized style and gained appreciation among critics and enthusiasts alike.

Red Varietals 


Common Aromas and Flavors: Black cherry, plum, earth, spice

Acidity: Medium to high

Tannins: Medium

Alcohol: Medium

Fun Fact: Norton is not a member of the vitis vinifera vine species (most well-known varietals are); it is part of the native American species, vitis aestivalis.

Cabernet Franc

Common Aromas and Flavors: Cranberry, tobacco, bell pepper, violet

Acidity: Medium to high

Tannins: Low to medium

Alcohol: Medium

Fun Fact: Cabernet Franc is one of the parent grapes of the king of grapes, Cabernet Sauvignon. The other parent is Sauvignon Blanc.

Nebbiolo (neh-bee-OH-lo)

Common Aromas and Flavors: Cherry, licorice, leather, roses, oak

Acidity: High

Tannins: High

Alcohol: High

Fun Fact: Nebbiolo, which comes from the Italian word meaning “foggy,” is the grape used to make the famous Italian wines Barolo and Barbaresco.

White Varietals 

Viognier (VEE-ohn-yay)

Common Aromas and Flavors: White flowers, honeysuckle, peach, mango

Acidity: Low

Tannins: Low

Alcohol: Medium to high

Fun Fact: Viognier is the most widely planted white Rhône (France) varietal in the United States.

Seyval Blanc (Say-VAHL-blahnk)

Common Aromas and Flavors: Citrus, melon, green apple, sometimes oak

Acidity: Medium

Tannins: Low

Alcohol: Medium

Fun Fact: Seyval Blanc is a hybrid grape; that is, it is a genetic cross between different vine species.


Common Aromas and Flavors: Melon, apple, lemon, often buttery

Acidity: Medium

Tannins: Low to medium

Alcohol: Medium to high

Fun Fact: Chardonnay is currently the most-planted grape in Virginia.

Try a Few!

With the wealth of Virginia wine options, it can be a bit daunting to pick a place to start. Search out the wines below to experience some “classic” Virginia styles. Visiting the winery itself is always the best way to experience a wine, but you can now order online from many wineries. There are also several restaurants and retailers throughout the DMV who carry some Virginia wines.

Sparkling Wine 

Thibaut-Janisson Blanc de Chardonnay NV

Made in the classic “Champagne” method, dry, crisp

White Wine 

Glen Manor Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc 2014

Citrus fruit, light, refreshing

King Family Vineyards Viognier 2014

Floral, round, lush

Rosé Wine 

Paradise Springs Winery Nana’s Rosé 2014

Merlot-based, citrus, strawberry

Red Wine 

Chrysalis Vineyards Barrel Select Norton 2012

Plum, earth, vanilla

Tarara Winery Cabernet Franc 2012

Raspberry, mint, floral

RdV Vineyards “Friends and Family” 2010

Bordeaux-style blend, black cherry, spice, elegant

Dessert Wine 

Barboursville Philéo NV

Moscato blend, sweet, floral, bright

Fall Harvest Festivals Galore

There are plenty of fun wine festivals, events, and happenings taking place throughout the month, many celebrating the most recent harvest. Check out some of our top picks to get you in the Virginia wine spirit.

Friday – Sunday, October 2, 3, 4

Fall Wine Fest, George Washington’s Mount Vernon, Mount Vernon

Saturday October 3

Rock the Grapes Harvest Fest, Veramar Vineyard, Berryville

Fall Family Fun Fest, DuCart Vineyards, Etlan

Saturday, October 10

Chesapeake Virginia Wine Festival, Chesapeake City Park

Friday, October 16

Wine, Moon, & Stars, Virginia Mountain Vineyards, Fincastle

Sunday, October 18

Fall Barrel Tasting, Autumn Hill Vineyards Blue Ridge Winery, Stanardsville

Saturday, October 24

Festival of the Grape, Powhatan Historic Courthouse Square, Powhatan

Thursday, October 29

Haunted Vineyard, Notaviva Vineyards, Purcellville

Friday, October 30

Halloween Bash, Glass House Winery, Free Union

Saturday, October 31

Harvest Festival, Hartwood Winery, Fredericksburg

Spooktacular Halloween Party, Miracle Valley Vineyards, Delaplane

new dining dc

New & Notable October ’15

On Tap scouts out the restaurants, bars and clubs that are new to the scene or shaking things up.


Aslin Beer Company
Order: In Memoria (lime kolsch)
Started by three brothers-in-law and named for the family that ties them together, this newcomer to the region’s burgeoning brewery scene grows its own hops. The brewery bar is open Wednesday-Sunday, and patrons can purchase growlers. Aslin Beer Company: 257 Sunset Park Dr., Herndon, VA; 703-787-5766; search AslinBeerCo

Bad Saint
Order: Willy Santos (coconut wine, cocchi americano, banana liqueur, calamansi, lime)
Is this the next Rose’s Luxury? That’s the whisper on the street (though the Bad Saints pretend they don’t want the fame), and it just might be true. How else do you explain the young urbanites swooning over prawn crackers with shrimp paste, adobo-style squid, and cocktails made with banana liqueur and obscure citrus fruits? And what other restaurant inspires long, patient lines? You decide. Bad Saint: 3226 11th St. NW, DC;

Bar Deco
Order: The All American (house-made bacon-infused bourbon, homemade bitters, maple syrup, bacon garnish)
This beautiful art deco-inspired bar restaurant opened in the historic Bulletin Building in Chinatown. Spread over four stories and featuring a rooftop bar, Bar Deco has preserved the building’s iconic feel. But the cocktail menu is what we’re really swooning over. Bar Deco: 717 6th St. NW, DC; 202-774-5867;

Due South
Order: Shoefly Punch (Bulleit bourbon, ginger liqueur, Due South bitters, simple syrup, ginger beer, orange, mint)
Southern rustic comes to the Capitol Riverfront, brought to us by the owners of Bayou, Smith Point and Jetties. The gorgeous space features Southern food updated for DC’s urban preps (kale farro grain salad, 12-hour smoked brisket with Anson Mill grits). Due South: 301 Water St. SE, DC; 202-479-4616;

L’Hommage Bistro Francais
Order: Coq au Vin
L’Hommage Bistro invokes convivial French bistro dining, with a few updates. The restaurant uses rice flour in many dishes instead of wheat (the classic thickener for French sauces), which will warm the hearts of celiacs and their fellow-travelers. L’Hommage has promised more vegetarian options as well. The bakery attached to the main dining room features pastries and Illy coffee to go. L’Hommage Bistro Francais: 450 K St. NW, DC; 202-791-0916;

The Prospect
Order: Caramelized Old Fashioned (Calvados, apple bitters, salted caramel)
Sports fan meets foodie, and they embrace enthusiastically. That’s The Prospect (from the folks behind Provision No. 14), with 40 televisions, duck burgers and goat nachos. The Prospect: 1214 U St. NW, DC; 202-450-4109;

Red’s Table
Order: Bread and Roses (Irish whiskey, dry Madeira, orange bitters)
Opened by three brothers who grew up locally, Red’s Table is meant to be an extension of their childhood home, with a focus on elevated comfort food (think peach pie with thyme, black pepper and bee pollen) and soul-warming drinks. We enjoyed the dining-room view of Lake Thoreau. Red’s Table: 11150 S Lakes Dr. Reston, VA; 571-375-7755;

Scarlet Oak
Order: 909 Triple Play (PBR, Dickel rye whiskey, pickle back)
I had no idea the District’s ‘official’ tree is a Scarlet Oak, but now we have a restaurant to permanently remind us. The sister restaurant to AdMo’s Southern Hospitality brings its “modern American” menu (code for pizza, burgers and whatever the chef wants to make) to the Capitol Riverfront We like that happy hour starts at 3:30 p.m. (M-F). Scarlet Oak: 909 New Jersey Ave. SE, DC; 202-780-0140;

SKWR kabobline
Order: Chipotle-style
It’s that famous assembly line, adapted for Middle Eastern food (lamb, eggplant, hummus): admire the rotisseries, then assemble your humanely-raised base, protein, sauces and toppings. SKWR kabobline: 1400 K St. NW, DC; 202-682-1717;

Order: Chimichurri chicken wings
The Silver Diner is a local legend, both for ‘healthy’ diner food and for middle-of-the-night, post-party noshing. Silver is part of the same family, just swankier. Silver: 7150 Woodmont Ave., Bethesda, MD; 301-652-9780;

Order: PB&J (Bulleit bourbon, oloroso sherry, peanut potlikker, Bama grape jelly, egg white, salty peanuts)
Succotash at National Harbor offers a “progressive perspective” on Southern classics (curried succotash pot pie, anyone?), which includes vegan and gluten-free menu options, as well as over 100 whiskeys. Succotash: 186 Waterfront St., National Harbor, MD; 301-567-8900;

Wicked Bloom Social Club
Order: Out of the Frying Pan, Into the Fire (mezcal, lime, pomegranate, habanero)
This quirky bbq-and-cocktails destination is the latest adventure from the folks of DCity Smokehouse; Ben Matz (Eat the Rich) sets the cocktail agenda with a delicious focus on brown spirits. Wicked Bloom Social Club: 1540 North Capitol St. NW, DC; 202-750-6375; search WickedBloomDC

Independent Grounds
Why: Do good, drink good
Independent Grounds Coffee House launched its crowdfunding campaign to open a non-profit coffee shop in DC that provides a vocational work-study program for high school students with autism. Support them. Independent Grounds crowdfunding page:; Facebook search independentgrounds

Olivia’s Diner
Why: Brunch
DC is overwhelmed with brunch options, but a diner offering bottomless mimosas is a no-brainer. Olivia’s just started serving brunch, so go before the weekend hordes descend. Olivia’s Diner: 1120 19th St. NW, DC; 202-775-3777;

Why: Pumpkin Fizz (house-infused vanilla vodka, seasoned pumpkin juice, lemon, egg white, cream, rose water)
DC’s Ritz-Carlton has doubled the size of its posh lobby lounge and rechristened it Quadrant. But more importantly, there is a renewed emphasis on lush, creative cocktails, led by Christopher Mendenhall (Westend Bistro).
Quadrant: 1150 22nd St. NW, DC; 202-835-0500; search Properties/WashingtonDC/Dining/Quadrant

Women Chefs dc
Susan Wallace realized by Jennifer Barlow

Women Chefs: Artists in the Kitchen

Strathmore is celebrating the artistry of cooking this fall, unveiling 21 original portraits of renowned regional and local female chefs created by 22 visual artists. The Women Chefs: Artists in the Kitchen exhibit pairs artists with chefs, giving the artists the opportunity to explore different mediums and portray each chef through their own creative interpretation of their culinary talents. Strathmore visitors can check out the free exhibit in the First Floor Galleries of the Gudelsky Gallery Suite in the Mansion at Strathmore now through November 8. On Tap caught up with three artist-chef pairs to get a sneak peek of what to expect at this unique celebration of food and art.

Nora Pouillon, Restaurant Nora 

Portrayed by Kaltoum A. Maroufi

When Chef Nora Pouillon first met artist Kaltoum Maroufi at a gathering for those selected for the Women Chefs exhibit, they felt a strong connection because of their European descent – Pouillon is Austrian and French, and Maroufi is French and Moroccan. Pouillon, who opened Restaurant Nora in Dupont Circle more than 35 years ago and has since been heralded as a pioneer in organic and farm-to-table cuisine, invited Maroufi to have dinner at her restaurant to help her get a sense of her workspace and food. The next steps in Maroufi’s creative process included a visit to Pouillon’s home and a photo shoot in her restaurant.

“She took a series of photographs of me in different positions and insisted that my hands [be] visible, since they are the tools of my trade,” Pouillon says.

The chef describes “Nora’s Portrait” as an accurate portrayal of who she is now, since she’s rarely active in the kitchen anymore. Now, Pouillon is “the creator, the educator, and the manager of my team – and of course, the representative of my passion.”

Maroufi says her main focus in creating the oil on canvas painting was to meld Pouillon’s old world style and her new age fusion cuisine with the artist’s classical painting style for a formal portrait with trompe l’oeil – or “fool the eye” – effects, a specialty that she has developed over the past 30 years.

“I wanted it to be a piece that would be at home in the milieu of Restaurant Nora,” Maroufi says.

Ruth Gresser, Pizza Paradiso & Veloce 

Portrayed by Micheline Klagsbrun

Chef Ruth Gresser, founder of Pizza Paradiso (with three locations in Georgetown, Dupont Circle and Old Town) and new quick-service eatery Veloce at 1828 L St. NW, says Women Chefs challenges everyone to see beyond the stereotypical image of chefs as “young, bearded, and tattooed” – and male – and embrace the alternative images of who these female culinary artists are.

Gresser invited artist Micheline Klagsburn to her home nestled in the woods where she prepared what Klagsburn describes as “an exquisite lunch, working with a palette of flavors and textures to create a multi-layered composition” that inspired the artist to do the same with her portrait.

“I let all the ingredients – trees, colors, our shared Jewish heritage, her generosity, the delicious meal, my photos of her hands – stew around in my brain for a few weeks, [and] then the painting emerged,” Klagsburn says.

“Offering (A portrait of Ruth)” was a truly unique experience for the artist, whose work is about sometimes mythological, often abstract transformations based on organic forms, layers, colors, and textures. Klagsburn poured and manipulated ink on canvas and then used layers of oil paint to depict the cultural and spiritual significance of offering and sharing a meal, using the tree of life, the cup of wine, which is central to Jewish tradition, and Gresser’s hands, “the instruments of her skill,” to capture the chef’s spirit both professionally and personally.

Gresser says the painting is amazingly beautiful, and Klagsburn “captured elements of who I am and who I am as a chef and transformed them into a very successful work of art.”

Susan Wallace, Black Restaurant Group

Portrayed by Jennifer Kahn Barlow

Many of oil painter Jennifer Kahn Barlow’s works to date have revolved around delectable desserts, so the artist says she could not pass up the opportunity to learn more about Pastry Chef Susan Wallace’s background and inspiration for creating mouth-watering pastries.

“Being able to expand my sweets painting series by adding personal meaning from Chef Susan’s culinary journey gave me the opportunity to add an extra dimension to my own work,” Barlow says.

She describes her oil on canvas piece, “Childhood Dream Realized,” as a literal piece in the “painterly realistic style.” And at the heart of the painting are Chef Wallace’s masterpieces – her desserts.

Chef Wallace, the Corporate Executive Pastry Chef for Black Restaurant Group (Republic, BlackSalt, Pearl Dive Oyster Palace/Black Jack, and Black’s Bar and Kitchen), says she felt an immediate connection with Barlow because the artist grew up in the same town in Massachusetts where the chef’s father spent his childhood.

The theme of childhood resonated with Barlow, who added some personal touches to the painting including Wallace’s mother’s cookbooks and her Easy Bake Oven “as a reminder of her roots.” Wallace’s mother taught her how to bake, and she still uses many of her recipes but adds a modern twist to them – including her famous nut brittle.

“Susan’s drive, determination, passion, and pride for the amazingly delicious result is truly inspiring,” Barlow says. “This exhibit it a great way to learn more about not only the restaurants amongst the Washington, DC food scene but the genius chefs behind them. Moreover, [to] pay homage to the talented women that have taken over the traditional men’s restaurant kitchen.”

The Mansion at Strathmore: 10701 Rockville Pike, North Bethesda, MD; 301-581-5100;

KO Distilling
KO Distilling Co-owners John OMara and Bill Karlson

KO Distilling Opens in Manassas

It took more than two years for co-founders Bill Karlson and John O’Mara to go from conception to the grand opening of KO Distilling in Manassas, Virginia, on the weekend of September 12.

“It’s been quite the learning curve for us, and it’s taken markedly longer to pull off than we expected,” says Karlson.

The two college classmates from the United States Merchant Marine Academy began KO Distilling as a retirement project. Now Karlson, KO’s CEO, finds himself working 60 hours per week. “It started out at a much smaller scale conceptually than it’s turned out to be,” he says with a chuckle.

KO Distilling has a 550-gallon hybrid copper pot still from noted manufacturer Vendome. O’Mara is the company President and Head Distiller, and the team has hired Ryan Hendricks to join him as a distiller. They have a 12,000 sq. ft. space, with room enough for their equipment, barrel storage and a tasting room.

Currently they have three products available for sale, including two versions of their Battle Standard 142 gin, a standard 90 proof version, and a Navy Proof bottling, at 114 proof. The gin is named in homage to the 142 Cadet/Midshipmen from the Merchant Marine Academy who lost their lives serving in World War II.

The third offering is Virginia Moon White Whiskey. While many white whiskeys are made predominantly from corn, they don’t use corn at all in theirs. “Corn whiskey moonshine can be kind of harsh,” says Karlson. “Ours is 60% wheat, 30% rye, 10% malted barley. It’s a very smooth white whiskey.”

There’s more on the way, including rye whiskey, vodka and rum, and potentially a range of other products. KO Distilling is making bourbon, too, but if you want some of that, you’re going to have to be patient. As opposed to many startup distilleries who use small barrels to accelerate the aging process, and then release whiskeys that may have had only a few months in the barrel, KO Distilling is solely using full size 53-gallon barrels. And they plan to sit and wait on it.

“For those distillers that are doing the younger bourbon… it’s a newer bourbon, and it can still be good,” says Karlson. “But one that’s been in the barrel six to eight years is going to be better.”

Of course, while that’s his target, he acknowledges they may not end up being quite that patient. “There’s going to be a temptation to get to ‘em earlier than that. In fact, John would probably say five years,” he says with a laugh. “But I’ll say six to eight.”

At full capacity, they can stock away between eight and 10 barrels of bourbon per month, in addition to the gin and white whiskey they’re producing. With storage space for 700 barrels though, they decided to kickstart their stock by purchasing 80 barrels of bourbon from MGP in Indiana.

“It would take us forever to fill up our storage area, so we decided to get a jump start on that,” explains Karlson. Most importantly though, they don’t intend to be duplicitous about their purchased whiskey, hiding the fact that they didn’t distill it themselves.

“When we bottle that, it’ll say on the label distilled in Indiana, bottled at KO,” he says. Honesty is the best policy, and nobody likes to be lied to about what they’re drinking.

Either way, you’ll be waiting to enjoy their aged whiskey. In the meantime, their three products are available for purchase at the distillery, or via special request to Virginia ABC stores. KO hopes to have their products on ABC retail shelves this year, having just made a presentation for Virginia ABC’s quarterly cycle process.

“We’re pretty optimistic that in the very near future we may have from one to three of our products on the shelves,” he says. “I think at as many as 100 ABC stores.”

KO Distilling offers tours Tuesday-Friday from 1-6 p.m., Saturday from 12-7 p.m., and Sunday from 1-6 p.m. Tours cost $6, and last 30 to 45 minutes, and tastings cost another $6 per person.

KO Distilling: 10381 Central Park Dr., #105, Manassas, VA; 571-292-1115;

halloween breweries

Boos, Brews and Haunted Breweries

Jess Hurd of Badwolf Brewing Company

On Tap: The brewery’s name certainly lends itself to Halloween, how did the owners come up with it?
Jess Hurd: Oh, yea it definitely does! It’s a Doctor Who reference. The owners, Jeremy and Sarah are big Doctor Who fans.

OT: Does the brewery have any Halloween events planned?
JH: We are going to be doing a haunted brewery. We are still working out the details, but we are having it here at the big Badwolf location. We kind of want to keep people guessing as to what they are going to come into when they are here. I think that’s the best part of a haunted house, not knowing what to expect.

OT: What are the fall brews on tap at Badwolf?
JH: We will be doing a couple of Fall Furkins, cask ales, by adding pumpkin spices and apple cider from Rinker Orchards in Stephens City, VA into our Jesse’s girl brew and possibly into our ESB.

OT: What is your personal favorite Halloween costume?
JH: A couple of years ago, when the NHL lockout was going on, I was that for Halloween. I wore a Bruin’s jersey, shorts, hockey socks and my Birkenstocks, just because I thought it was funny and threw plastic chains all around myself. And the people who got it loved it! So, this year, I’m trying to think of a way to sort of poke fun at myself and be deflategate, without being obvious…

OT: Any creepy brewery stories?
JH: There were rumors when we first purchased the property that there was writing on the wall. And that there was some sort of warning written on it. But the interesting thing is, the people who said they saw it can’t find it, it’s gone. But, we didn’t paint, so we don’t know what happened.

Badwolf Brewing Company: 8420 Kao Circle, Manassas, VA; 703-479-2305;

LT Goodluck of Hellbender Brewing Company

On Tap: What’s the story behind the name Hellbender?
LT Goodluck: It is the name of a salamander that used to be indigenous to the area and reflects the brewer’s focus on being as environmentally friendly to the area as possible. Our brewing system actually uses a lot less water than normal brewery setups and if you look around all the furniture has been either reclaimed or built by the people that work here. We’ve also teamed up with the Anacostia Watershed Association. They’ve actually held meetings here and they had a screening of a documentary they did about local salamanders. So, it’s all definitely a big focus of the owners.

OT: Where can people find Hellbender’s beer?
LT: We are on 65 different taps in the DC area and that tap certainly stands out. These guys designed the taps based on the salamander. We just recently started distributing in Virginia and Maryland. We have a map on our website that shows exact spots where everyone can pick up our beers, and we are adding new spots each week.

OT: What seasonal beers you are currently offering?
LT: As we move into fall we will introduce more rich flavorful beers, such as the new Grampus smoked nut brown. We actually use Applewood Cherrywood smoked malts from Copper Fox Distillery to make that beer and you get a lot of the smokiness from that and smell the malts.

OT: What is your favorite Halloween candy?
LT: Probably beer. Not your traditional Halloween candy, but if anybody showed up at my door and gave me a beer that would be kind of cool.

OT: Any events planned for Halloween or October?
LT: We opened up November of last year, so we haven’t celebrated Halloween here yet, but we are having an Oktoberfest to celebrate our one year anniversary, so we are hoping to have a huge party, with tons of collaborative beers with other local breweries, a block party outside, food trucks and music.

Hellbender Brewing Company: 5788 2nd St. NE, DC; 202-827-8768;

Liz Shear of Jailbreak Brewing Company

On Tap: How did Jailbreak Brewing Company come about?
Liz Shear: The owners of the company, Kasey and Justin, originally worked in the government sector. Both of them hated their jobs. Every day they woke up and just weren’t passionate about what they were doing anymore. They had a plan to start this brewery and thought one day “we are going to get out of this and do it.”

OT: So what happened?
LS: Justin went into work one day and gave his two week notice and told Kasey, who said, ‘ok we’ll start the brewery in a year or two.’ Justin said no, I just put in my two weeks; we have to start the brewery now. So, they both just up and quit their jobs and started the brewery. This was their jailbreak out of life, so they look at this as a freedom of expression. And then it just so happens we are down the street from a jail…

OT: What do you all brew for the fall?
LS: We don’t want to do a pumpkin beer. We just think a lot of people do it well enough, so we leave it alone. We do have a beer called Carrot Cake Conspiracy, amber ale with spices and roasted carrots. And then we have the Imperial Carrot Cake and that is carrot cake that will get you drunk.

OT: Any Halloween plans for the brewery?
LZ: We are doing a party in the brew house on Halloween called Brewoween. We’ll have three bars in the back, food trucks, photo booth and DJ Tiz will be playing in between band sets. He’s Biz Markie’s front man. And then Here’s to the Night is headlining. We saw them play at the Fillmore two months ago and they were really good, so they will be doing a concert here on the brew house floor.

OT: Any taste treats you’ve whipped up with your beer?
LZ: Definitely Scoville Chili with our Welcome to Scoville Jalapeno IPA. A lot of people have made cupcakes with Desserted, our chocolate coconut porter. We had a woman that actually made us a cake for our one year anniversary and each tier was made with one of our beers. It was an amazing cake – all Big Lebowski and Jailbreak themed.

Jailbreak Brewing Company: 9445 Washington Blvd. N, STE F, Laurel, MD; 443-345-9699;

Mad Fox Brewery DC

Bierdo Visits Mad Fox Brewery DC

Home is where the Hardt is…you’ll find him on a stool at Mad Fox. –Ancient Washingtonian Proverb

Sometimes life is funny Bierdos. 15 years ago, local bar star Stan Zeigler gave me my first DC bartending job in Georgetown. Fast forward to now and as I walk into the brand new Mad Fox Brewing Company Glover Park location (2218 Wisconsin Avenue, NW, DC; 202-791-0389; there he is behind the sticks greeting me with a hug, a cold beer and one of his infamous one-liners. Needless to say some places are familiar, inviting and just feel right – such is the case of the long awaited Mad Fox Brewing location in Glover Park DC.

I’ve always been advocate of Mad Fox beer and a personal cheerleader for Bill Madden and his team at their Falls Church, VA location (seriously, I believe my first beer article was about Mad Fox and he literally poured me one of everything while we shared stories, super nice guy). Between their delicious mumbo sauce wings, mouthwatering pizza, and amazing monster burger creations from executive chef Travis Weiss, your mouth is dribbling on your polo and you haven’t looked at the beer menu yet! The Molotov Hoptail DIPA, Unfiltered Kellerbier Kolsch and Orange Whip IPA remain some of my favorite local beers to this day, and I direct folks to their growler nights on Tuesdays because it’s the best deal in town. Now a second location has been erected for food and beer lovers in the District, and though slightly different, it has the same familiarity and great potential as the first one. General manager Marcos Javier is slowly winning over the regulars with $4 kick the cask Mondays, $5 flights Sundays and $2 off pints during happy hour. So, behold my beer brothers, Glover Park has a new temple for craft beer and eats that you might not know existed. You can almost hear Al Pacino’s infamous “Whoo-ah!” echoing from the distance, “I’m in the dark, here!” …Well, you don’t have to be in the dark any longer DC, the inviting light of Mad Fox is here to welcome you.

Here are three, brand spanking new beers I implore you to try this October at Mad Fox at either location:

Stingy Jack’s Pumpkin Saison 5%
Don’t forget to ask for the crushed pie crust glass rim! This classy seasonal pumpkin ale is made with 250 pounds of local MD Heirloom Cinderella pumpkins and has a secret pumpkin pie spice recipe. Caramel, citrus peel and pumpkin spices combine to coat the back of your tongue in a pleasant way usually reserved for desert.  Rating:Not stingy on the nice pumpkin spice!

Hitzig Frau Oktoberfest 2015 5.7%
A Munich style Oktoberfest with a HEAVY malt backbone on the tail end. Extremely drinkable – if it weren’t for the residual hops I’d almost call this a light seasonal, but those malts also definitely dominate in a good way. Rating: This beer is Frau real.

Sandy Eggo IPA 7.9%
My new favorite from the Fox. Bright citrus/grapefruit hops IPA with caramel malts, I could see this winning a medal someday. West Coast style IPA all the way, hence the moniker with the play on words. San Diego, get it! Rating: Let go of my eggo and get your own kiddo. What a beer!

Have a beer for the Bierdo to try? Drop him a line at [email protected]

St Patrick's Day Fun dc

St Patrick’s Day Fun

Why only celebrate St Patrick’s day on March 17? There are tons of events going on throughout the entire month, from parades, to beer tastings to Irish trivia. So take advantage of this opportunity and show your Irish side throughout the month leading up to the big day.

March 17

8 Glorious Days to Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day

ALEXANDRIA, VA. Start on March 7th with a St. Patrick’s Day parade, live music starting at 10 a.m. March 10 is Irish trivia at 8:30 p.m. with food fun and prizes. March 11 at Taste of Ireland: sample five brands of Jameson for $18 per person. March 12 is the Perfect Pint contest starting at 5 p.m. March 13 is the weekend kickoff party and festivities including music and dancing through the weekend. March 16 is St. Patrick’s Day Eve featuring live music by Ronan. Finally, the big day March 17: no cover charge, live music, Irish dancing and more.

Murphy’s Irish Pub: 713 King St. Alexandria, VA;

March 17

Official St. Patrick’s Day PubCrawl

NW, DC. Who says St. Paddy’s should only last one day? This year, enjoy three lively rounds of festivities, 13, 14 and 17! Kick it off at DuPont Circle, but make your way to the pub of your choice. Sign up for single night crawl tickets, or join in for all three! Must be 21+ to participate.


March 17

St. Patrick’s at O’Sullivan’s

ARLINGTON, VA. It’s gonna be a blowout weekend starting with Tommy Gann Friday night, Lenny Burgees and Eddie Pasa Saturday, Lenny back on Sunday and Brian Fitzy and Willem Dicke on St. Patrick’s. Plus Irish dancers and bagpipers all weekend. Bonus, enter for a chance to win a trip to Ireland!

O’Sullivan’s: 3207 Washington Blvd., Arlington, VA;

March 17

St. Patrick’s Blowout with Fadó

NW, DC. Start with St. Practice Day on Saturday the 14th, doors open at 9 a.m., full brunch 10 – 2 p.m., Six Nations Rugby all morning with no cover and Stout 7 at 9:30 p.m. Sunday is parade day. Doors open at 7:30 a.m., full brunch 10 – 2 p.m., EPL action, Six Nations Rugby with no cover, then Danny Barns Band at 2 p.m. and drink specials for Caps fans rockin’ the Green. Then the big shebang Tuesday the 17th, doors open at 8 a.m., cover charge starts at 2 p.m. with Ice Wagon Flu and finally Lloyd Dobler Effect at 8 p.m.

Fadó: 808 7th St. NW, DC;

Tuesday, March 17

Shamrocks and Shennanigans

NW, DC. Celebrate all things Irish with Lindy Promotions, Coors Light, Bushmills & Three Olives at DC’s premier St. Patrick’s Day celebration! Toast the ‘luck of the Irish’ all day long with great drink specials, live Irish music, bagpipers and more at Rumors in Dupont!

Rumors: 19th & M St, NW, DC;

Tuesday, March 17

St. Patrick’s Celebration at Bilbo Baggins

ALEXANDRIA, VA. Enjoy St. Pat’s with specialty beers from some of the world’s best craft brewers.

Bilbo Baggins: 208 Queen St., Alexandria, VA;

Tuesday, March 17

St. Patrick’s Celebration at Whitlows

ARLINGTON, VA. Enjoy traditional Celtic music with Paul and Bob from 5 – 11 p.m. Bagpipes at 8 p.m.

Whitlows on Wilson: 2854 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, VA;

Tuesday, March 17

St. Pat’s at Mister Days

ARLINGTON, VA. This spot is Irish owned, Irish themed and on St. Pat’s they’re going to party like the Irish – and wearing green is encouraged!

Mister Days: 3100 Clarendon Blvd., Arlington, VA;

Tuesday, March 17

St. Pat’s Party at Recessions

NW,DC. Get hooked up on this Irish holiday with $5 Jameson. Celebrate with specials on Baileys, Guinness and Harp and Irish Fare.

Recessions: 1823 L St. NW, DC;

Saturday, March 21


SE, DC ShamrockFest is America’s largest St. Paddy’s Day celebration, where thousands come to rock their shamrocks off to widely-hailed bands of Celtic and Alternative rock. Get ready for a day full of shenanigans where the beer flows strong and everyone is Irish for the day.

RFK Stadium: 2400 E Capitol St. SE, DC;

Get Your Green On Local Irish Bars


51st State: 2512 L St. NW, DC; 202-625-2444;

Blaguard: 2003 18th St. NW, DC; 202-232-9005;

Fado: 808 7 St. NW, DC; 202-789-0066;

Irish Channel: 500 H St. NW, DC; 202-216-0046;

Irish Whiskey Public House: 1207 19th St. NW, DC; 202-463-3010;

James Hoban’s Irish Restaurant and Bar: 1 Dupont Cir. NW, DC; 202-223-8440;

Kelly’s Irish Times: 14 F St. NW, DC; 202-543-5433;

Mackey’s Public House: 1823 L St. NW, DC; 202-331-7667;

McFadden’s: 2401 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, DC; 202-223-2338;

Molly Malone’s: 713 8 St. SE, DC; 202-547-1222;

Nanny O’ Brien’s Irish Pub: 3319 Connecticut Ave. NW, DC; 202-686-9189;

Rí Rá Irish Pub: 3125 M St. NW, Washington DC; 202-751-2111;

Solly’s U St. Tavern: 1942 11th St. NW, DC; 202-232-6590;

Star & Shamrock: 1341 H St. NE, DC; 202-388-3833;


Fado: 1 Park Place, Annapolis, MD; 410-626-0069;

Flanagan’s Harp & Fiddle: 4844 Cordell Ave., Bethesda, MD; 301-951-0115;

Galway Bay Irish Pub: 63 Maryland Ave.  Annapolis, MD; 410-263-8333;

Harrington’s: 177 Fleet St. National Harbor, MD; 301-200-0770;

Limerick Pub: 11301 Elkin St, Wheaton, MD; 301-946-3232;

McCloone’s: 141 National Harbor Plaza, National Harbor, MD; 301-839-0815;

McGinty’s Public House: 911 Ellsworth Dr. Silver Spring, MD; 301-587-1270;

O’Malley’s Pub: 2 Montgomery Village Ave. Gaithersburg, MD; 301-948-8900;


Auld Shebeen: 3971 Chain Bridge Rd. Fairfax, VA; 703-293-9600;

Eamonn’s Dublin Chipper: 728 King St. Alexandria, VA; 703-299-8384;

Ireland’s Four Courts: 2051 Wilson Blvd. Arlington, VA; 703-525-3600;

Ireland’s Four Provinces: 105 W. Broad. St. Falls Church, VA; 703-534-8999;

Kate’s Irish Pub: 6131 Backlick Rd. Springfield, VA; 703-866-0860;

Murphy’s Grand Irish Pub: 713 King St. Alexandria, VA; 703-548-1717;

Ned Devine’s: 2465 Centreville Rd. Herndon, VA; 703-793-7376;

O’Faolain’s: 20921 Davenport Dr. Sterling, VA; 703- 444-9796;

O’Malley’s Pub: 2650 Jefferson Davis Highway, Arlington, VA; 703-684-7200;

Paddy Barry’s: 8150 Leesburg P., Vienna, VA; 703-883-2000;

Brennan’s Irish Pub: 2910 Columbia Pike, Arlington, VA; 703-553-1090;

Rí Rá Irish Pub: 2915 Wilson Blvd. Arlington, VA; 703-248-9888;