While you were away on vacation or bundled up in your homes over the holidays, you may have missed the opening of Georgetown’s newest beer hall The Berliner. The 4,200-square-foot establishment was inspired by modern Berlin, Germany, offering comfort food, a spacious venue and, of course, delicious brews. To get an inside look at the selection process for beers and better understand the vibe of DC’s newest German-themed beer spot, On Tap spoke with operating partner Mike O’Brien, who also serves as The Berliner’s chef and beverage director.
On Tap: What did you find alluring about The Berliner?
Mike O’Brien: I wanted to get away from the high cost of living [in the San Francisco Bay Area]. I first became involved with The Berliner in June 2018. I’ve been making sausage for 10 years, and a lot of those are German-style because it’s such an integral part of the culture and cuisine. As far as German beer, I really have a passion for it.
OT: You feature a myriad of German-style beers. How did you settle on the final list?
MO: I wanted to include smaller producers that I knew about and had tried. The list was constantly changing, but some of the smaller German beers were directly imported. I’m very happy with the Kulmbacher’s EKU Pils – those are exemplary German pilsners.
OT: How often will you change up the beer menu?
MO: Ideally, the menu changes pretty much daily. They’re small changes, but I’m not going to have dedicated lines. It’ll change organically, and I’ll start to bring in larger German producers like Hofbräu. The local beers will rotate. We reprint our menu maybe once a week, but we expect changes to pick up in the summer. The one I’m most excited about is just solid lagers. For a place concentrating on German styles, [solid lagers are] great for us. And [lagers are great] for me personally, because those are the kinds of beers I like to drink.
OT: How do you think the décor adds to the modern, industrial vibe of The Berliner?
MO: We wanted to have more of a modern German feel. My business partners have a lot of family in and around Berlin and are in the know as far as the trends there. We wanted to be different. We didn’t want it to feel like a typical German bar. We wanted it to feel like something special. The space isn’t dark. It has high ceilings, [is] airy and the wood is a lighter shade.
OT: What sets the two dining areas apart from one another?
MO: They definitely have different, unique feels to them because the downstairs color is white and natural light comes through, while the upstairs is darker green and the ceiling is dark. It provides a different feel. Once the weather clears up, then it’ll be emphasized even more.
OT: How important is it to you that the food menu complements the beers you offer?
MO: One of the great things about beer is there’s so many varieties and it lends itself to food really well. We have 24 taps and you can vary the flavor profiles enough that something will pair up. I’ve kept the food menu pretty tight, which lends [itself] to pairing.
The Berliner: 3401 Water St. NW, DC; 202-621-7000; www.theberlinerdc.com
Greetings, beer nerds! As you likely know, there are a number of fantastic spots in the DMV where you can grab a pint, and their menus are always evolving and adapting to your tastes. If you’d rather avoid the guessing game, check out what’s coming up at a few of these fine establishments.
MONDAY, JANUARY 28
Bend & Brew at Mad Fox
Do you love yoga? Do you love beer? Regardless of your answers, why not combine the two? In this 60-minute introductory class, the group will flow while sipping on flights of delicious Mad Fox brews made in the very same building. The best news? Happy hour goes until 7 p.m., so you’ll have time to hang out and grab a pint of your favorite beer. 5-6 p.m. Tickets $25, bring your own mat. Mad Fox Brewing Company: 444 W. Broad St. Falls Church, VA; www.madfoxbrewing.com
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 30
Join Capitol Cider House Cidermaker Jared Fackrell for a 90-minute, hands-on, interactive workshop and learn how to make cider from the comfort of your own home. Not only will guests enjoy a sampler flight of Mid-Atlantic ciders during the workshop, they’ll also receive a cidermaking starter kit. 7:30-9 p.m. Tickets $39. Capitol Cider House: 3930 Georgia Ave. NW, DC; www.capitolciderhouse.com
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 1
Après Ski at The Sovereign: Colorado Beers & Spirits
Join The Sovereign as they feature some of their favorite beer and spirits producers from the Rocky Mountains. On this night, they will showcase wonderful wares from Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project, Casey Brewing and Blending, Breckenridge Distillery, and Leopold Bros. Whether you are a lover of beer, cocktails or both, this event is for you. 4-10 p.m. Free to attend. The Sovereign: 1206 Wisconsin Ave. NW, DC; www.thesovereigndc.com
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 7
Fair Winds Beer and Dessert Pairing
Throw away your resolutions and come join Fair Winds for the ultimate beer and dessert pairing. No one does it better than Out of the Bubble Bakery in Springfield, Virginia, with goods baked 100 percent nut- and dairy-free. This event sold out last year, so don’t hesitate to capitalize on the amazing desserts. 6-9 p.m. Tickets $30. Fair Winds Brewing Company: 7000 Newington Rd. Lorton, VA; www.fairwindsbrewing.com
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 9
DC Homebrewers: February JamBEERee Meeting
The DC Homebrewers Association’s February meeting will once again be a joint meeting with other area homebrew clubs. The association will be debuting the latest SMaSH beer experiment at this meeting, plus there’s an IPA competition and a food pairing competition sponsored by various clubs. You’re also welcome to bring other food to share and, of course, bring homebrew to share. 1-5 p.m. DC Brau Lodge: 3178 Bladensburg Rd. NE, DC; www.dcbrau.com
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 14
Valentine’s Beer Dinner
True Respite Brewing Company and Say Cheese! are bringing you a Valentine’s Beer Dinner for craft beer and grilled cheese lovers alike. The dinner will include four pairings and a bag of chips to use as a palate cleanser. Each pairing will consist of an 8-oz. beer and one-quarter of a specialty sandwich from Say Cheese! There are four options to choose from. 6-8 p.m. Tickets $28-$53. True Respite Brewing Company: 7301 Calhoun Pl. Suite 600, Rockville, MD;
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 15
Love Thy Beer Winter Warmer Showcase
Join the Brewers Association of Maryland at Love Thy Beer, the signature event of FeBREWary: Maryland Craft Beer Lovers Month. This must-attend event for the craft beer enthusiast features exclusive beer releases you won’t find at your local craft beer store and a selection of specialty beers brewed specifically for FeBREWary. Brewers are being challenged to come up with their own individual “Cupid’s Curse” brew for you to taste and vote on your favorite. 6-10 p.m. Tickets $50-$75. Silver Spring Civic Building: 1 Veterans Pl. Silver Spring, MD; www.visitmaryland.org/article/febrewary-maryland
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 16
Cupcake and Beer Pairing
For the love of friends, family and that someone special, head to Tucked Away Brewing. Indulge in some delicious cupcakes from The Lemonade Bakery while enjoying a flight of beer, perfectly paired to complement one another. The bakery will also be onsite selling other tasty treats. 1-4 p.m. Tickets $16-$20. Tucked Away Brewing: 8420 Kao Cir. Manassas, VA; www.tuckedawaybrew.com
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 21
Southwest Neighborhood Happy Hour
Join the tap room at Union Stage for a neighborhood happy hour featuring 16 taps of local and national craft beers, handcrafted pizzas, and an extensive liquor list. Happy hour specials include $1 off select drafts and $10 for a pint and half pizza. Event starts at 5 p.m. Free to attend. Union Stage: 740 Water St. SW, DC; www.unionstage.com
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 23
Battle of the Barrels
Passing from hand to hand, liquid to liquid, season to season, the complexities of barrel aging can be endless. Want to see who does it best? Dive into a battle of the barrel with 3 Stars Brewing, Charm City Meadworks, Don Ciccio & Figli, Oliver Brewing Co., One Eight Distilling and Supreme Core Cider where you’ll taste a collection of barrel-aged beer, mead, cider and amaro, each finished in a District Made Straight Rye Whiskey barrel. 1-6 p.m. Tickets $25. One Eight Distilling: 1135 Okie St. NE, DC; www.oneeightdistilling.com
Celebrate winter at part four of Pizzeria Paradiso’s Four Seasons Beer Festival at its Georgetown location. This festival will feature seasonal drafts, beer slushies, snow cones, popcorn, and games including skee-ball, pinball, darts and more. 1-5 p.m. Tickets $15. Pizzeria Paradiso Georgetown: 3238 M St. NW, DC; www.eatyourpizza.com
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 23 – SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 24
9th Annual Barleywine Festival
Don’t miss the largest barleywine festival in the Mid-Atlantic. Mad Fox will showcase more than 30 barleywines from around the region and across the county, with multiple sessions on Saturday and a single session on Sunday. 11 a.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. on Sunday. Free to attend. Mad Fox Brewing Company: 444 W. Broad St. Falls Church, VA; www.madfoxbrewing.com
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 25
The Paradiso Blackboard: Pizza and Beer Class
Learn about the intricacies of matching the right beer with your food or the right food with your beer, then try your hand at creating the perfect pairing. 6-7:30 p.m. Tickets $30. Pizzeria Paradiso Spring Valley: 4850 Massachusetts Ave. NW, DC; www.eatyourpizza.com