Category Archives: Breweries

Skagway: Best Food in Alaska?

Skagway Brewing Company Fish & Chips

Skagway Brewing Company Fish & Chips

The Gold Rush town of Skagway has a population around 1,000 most of the year, ballooning to 2,000+ during cruise ship season, so you can imagine the bustling metropolis we encountered.  Despite being kind of touristy, Skagway is also quaint, easy to navigate, and a lot of fun.  Also, they have surprisingly good food.

We lunched at the Skagway Brewing Company (7th and Broadway), where we had spectacularly good fish and chips, maybe the best ever – “best fries ever” said Mrs. Me, but for my money the fish was equally outstanding.  The halibut (not cod) was fresh and perfectly cooked; the batter was thick, crunchy, and rich, but stayed with the fish, not falling apart at all.  Fries were fresh-cut, dark, appropriately salty, similar to Five Guys when you are lucky enough to get them right out of the fryer when they’re still supercrisp.  Even the tartar sauce was above average. SBC also brews its own beer, and the Chilkoot Trail IPA was a fine example of the genre.  Best meal of the entire trip, aside from maybe Sabatini’s.

glacierbrewinggraffThe graffiti in the men’s room was also pretty good. It’s hard to beat the yearning authenticity of “The only thing better than yer beer is if we could have a fat dube to complement it with!!!” — I was most impressed with the correct use of “complement.”  Above that someone had written “Your mom on toast! Spred?” Which, although clearly also quite deep and subject to multiple possible interesting interpretations, did not win the spelling prize.

We struck further liquid gold at Flying Squirrel Espresso (5th and Broadway, not their primary location I think, tucked inside a fudge shop or something), evidently the only place in Skagway serving iced caffeinated non-carbonated beverages.  Lucky for me they know what they’re doing; when I asked for an iced americano the barrista said “my specialty!” and whipped up a very good one, not just compared to the toxic sludge on the Coral Princess but actually good.

That’s all the Skagway eating we had time for, which is too bad, because I bet there is more good eating there.  We stumbled across a little not-really-farmers’ market, which included a good-looking taco truck (food trucks even in Skagway!), a bunch of crafts and art, and one woman selling enormous zucchini (like magnum-wine-sized) but no other discernible foodstuffs.  Overall a good food town considering the population.  We would have happily stayed another day, but Princess insisted on whisking us further south, to Juneau.

Leaving Skagway

Leaving Skagway


Metro thinks we’re still in August, so I may as well finish catching up from summer. My July visit to Churchkey (1337 14th Street NW) is kind of a blur. It was a hot day, and my brain melted as the afternoon dragged on. Probably Churchkey’s beers didn’t help, but I remember enough to know we really enjoyed the experience.  Their website is basically a placeholder and their facebook page has only marginally more info, but thanks to their sister restaurant Birch & Barley (which is downstairs, Churchkey is up), I can look up what we ate and drank.

We liked DC Brau’s “The Corruption”. But they change their menu so often, whatever else we had has been lost to the sands (hops?) of time. Some kind of cask ale from Heavy Seas was consumed, I’m pretty sure.  Also something slightly naughty-sounding, like the Corruption but different.  And a bunch of us had Lagunitas‘ Little Sumpin’ Wild with dinner, loved it. Anyway, all good, and the guys behind the bar were all superfriendly and full of explanation about the overwhelming selection — not as many beers as the Brickskeller, but they’re all in stock, and they’re all really good, so an overall big win for Churchkey.  I also like how you can order either 4oz or a full glass of anything, and prices are not unreasonable.  If I lived closer to Logan Circle, I would spend far too much time at Churchkey.

Oh, the food: solid, but nothing special. The mac & cheese sticks were okay, fries were pretty good, I’ve forgotten what else we had.  Nothing bad, indeed a fine array of drinking-accompaniment snacks, but not as excellent or excellent-value as the beer. Friends who have been to Birch & Barley like the food there; I think there is minimal upstairs-downstairs overlap foodwise.

Road Trip: Dunedin Brewery (Dunedin, Fla.)

Dunedin Brewery (937 Douglas) is the oldest brewpub in Florida and the beers are great, especially the Dropkick Murphy’s Erin Red Ale (from the limited availability “Brewmaster’s Reserve” list — alas they didn’t have either of their IPAs when we visited). Piper’s Pale Ale also tasty.  Good mix of locals and tourists, good microbrewery ambience with big vats on one side of the room and people working them.  Brewing in progress!  Food only okay, fries from frozen and burger cooked pretty much well-done, and that’s the only way they’ll do it. Apparently the onion rings are the thing to get.  Oh well.

Road Trip: Breweries of Charlottesville

Near Charlottesville, anyway. We were told the Blue Mountain Brewery, in Afton, had good food in addition to good beer, and we were not disappointed in the beer or food or anything else.  The Blue Ridge Mountains on the horizon actually had a smoky blue tint as we drove into town on a recent weekend, just gorgeous scenery. Our server was the ideal balance of friendly, informative, conversational, and unobtrusive. I liked the chili nachos, especially the addictive cheese sauce, and the gyro was also good. We didn’t try the pizzas, which were being ordered at nearly every other table (and the place was packed) — they looked tasty but too many toppings piled high on too-thin crust (maybe a feature to some people but a bug to me).

We started with a beer sampler and, as predicted by our server, we liked the Full Nelson pale ale best, it was simultaneously hoppier and better balanced than the IPA.  Lager and kolsch were also pretty good, if you like that kind of thing.  Another round, of Full Nelsons!  Followed by a quick but interesting and fun tour of the very small brewery, contained mostly in a single large room in the same building as the restaurant, and conducted by one of the co-owners who doubles as (c0-?) brewmaster.  Great experience, would go back often if we lived down there.  Wheaton needs a brewpub like this (nothing against Royal Mile or Limerick Pub; totally different to have a microbrewery in the back room!). Everytown, U.S.A. needs a brewpub like this.

Thus fueled, and led by a designated driver who did not indulge in the extra Full Nelson, we drove to Crozet and Starr Hill Brewery, where we did not lunch because they do not serve food.  But their bar was hopping, three pourers nearly overwhelmed by the thirsty crowd. They were pouring small (but free!) tastes of eight brews, including the straightforward Jomo lager, the banana-scented The Love wheat beer, the excellent Northern Lights IPA, and a double imperial IPA that isn’t listed on their website, is available only on tap at the brewery, and blew our doors clean off. Liked the Love, but LOVED the 2ximperial. Worth the trip by itself.

Na-no, Na-no


How many nanobreweries does it take before collectively they are no longer “nano”?  Trick question, irrelevant.  Greg Kitsock at WaPo updates his previous entry to note that Rockville’s Baying Hound (not to be confused with the Barking Dog) is longer the only local nanobrewery. Hello, Washingtonian’s Brewing Company!

Oddly, shazbot also reminds me of “Schlitz bottle”…coincidence?

More Limericks

There once was an Elkin Street pub… (I’ll have to give this more thought)

The Gazette joins the reportage party for Wheaton’s imminent Limerick Pub. Lots of good detail there, I love how the LP and the Royal Mile Pub seem to be working together for mutual benefit.  We all will benefit, I think!

Also in today’s Gazette, Bethesda’s Bistro LaZeez. Mmm, tahini…

And in the Post, a neat article on nanobreweries, focusing on Rockville’s Baying Hound Aleworks, whose beer is about to be (or may be already) available at Royal Mile.  Convergence!  If they make a tahini beer then we will really have something.

American Tap Room (Bethesda)

The roof, the roof, the roof is on fire! Like gentrified moths we fluttered below the beckoning torches and into the American Tap Room, which recently replaced Austin Grill as resident local chain restaurant at the Woodmont-Elm intersection. I’m not a big AG fan — Uncle Julio’s Rio Grande Cafe a couple of blocks away is much better — so this seemed like a potentially good trade.

And I guess it was, though I don’t think I’ll hurry back to ATR either. It’s a little too slick for me, like they’re trying too hard.  We started with quesadillas and “Phoenix Wings,” which they really push, but although the chicken was fine, the spice rub was as bland as I’ve ever had on a wing, especially one they claim will have some heat.  The quesadilla was actually pretty good, though Mrs. Me liked it less than I did.

We thought we liked the cheeseburger, until we found one of those plastic toothpicky things buried in the middle of it.  I should say, I found it, when I bit into it and it splintered in my mouth.  Fortunately the splinters were soggy, no injury, not a huge big deal, except — yuck.  Maybe should have said something to a manager or the server, but didn’t. Aside from that, a solid enough burger. Okay salads.  Overall, not really our style, and unimpressive food at those prices.

A couple of pluses: we liked our server a lot, and the beer list is excellent, they clearly take that seriously.  I had a Goose Island IPA, which is tough to find over here (and which was apparently a late addition to the list and does not appear on their online menu).  I’d go back for a drink (though no happy hour situation listed on their website, dunno if they have one or not), but that’s about it.

Dogfish Head: Putting the Beer in Oktobeerfest

Saturday’s Germantown Oktoberfest was okay, people seemed to be having a good time, with lots of crafts and games and open space for kids, a totally family-friendly event. Decent variety of food for that size event. Beer selection was poor, but the sun was shining and there were accordions and yodeling, so how bad could it be?

Much better beer selection at Dogfish Head Alehouse in Gaithersburg, where we stopped on the way home and where it may as well be Oktoberfest every day. I liked the Burton Baton, but the 90 Minute IPA remains our favorite. Nachos were fine, I don’t think we had tried them there before.

Dick’s Drive-In and Other Seattle Eatin’

This week’s NYT article on sense of place and food — the idea that it is more meaningful to eat, or at least purchase, food at its point of origin rather than by mailorder even though most things are available via FedEx these days — made sense to me. Many local favorites lose a bit of value now that you can get most any product anywhere in the country. Like many people, I still crave certain foods from my younger years; there’s no place like home. Our recent visit to Seattle was, among other things, an opportunity to visit a couple of old favorite restaurants and discover new ones.

I’m not sure a Dick’s Deluxe would taste as good if I didn’t first drive up to the delightfully retro-garish orange-and-white-and-glass box, place my order at the walkup window, wait and watch the perpetually in-the-background burger assembly and potato slicing, and finally walk back to my car with my paper sack full of fabulosity. Visiting Dick’s Drive-In in person and soaking up the atmosphere along with the grease is kind of the main point, beyond burgers. Some people diss Dick’s because you can’t have it your way (no picking and choosing condiments or toppings; they offer four burger options with no micromanaging allowed), but if you’re willing to relax and eat it they way they make it, that’s some mighty fine fast food burger-and-fryage, just as good as it has been for decades and still an excellent value. I had a Deluxe and a cheeseburger, and fries, and a couple of tartar sauces, and yes yes yes.  That should keep me going for a couple more years.

Other Seattle culinary adventures after the jump (sans photos as lamely usual): Continue reading

Other Asheville Eatin’

We branched out from bbq to find several other fine culinary options over the holiday weekend:

Corner Kitchen: the Obamas ate here in April (funny blog post by one of their servers the hostess); we sat in the downstairs bar, two entire walls of which are ceiling-to-nearly-floor windows; wine list seemed a little pricey and the fried calamari was bland and mostly breading, but the grouper was excellent and its pillow of andouille-laced potatoes even better; mountain trout on sweet potato puree and crab-corn bisque also good. Very nice atmosphere and service, one of the nicer places in town. Menu changes weekly and they seem to be trying for an Asian-Cajun taste vibe; I would probably go for the Cajun side in the future.

Early Girl Eatery: hip, popular downtown casual cafe serving breakfast all day; there was a constant half-hour-to-an-hour wait all late morning/early afternoon on Monday. Dining room feels like an elementary school classroom with chalkboard specials, schoolroomish windows, mediocre art on the walls.  Menu is long and everything was decent but nothing was really good; I had biscuits with gravy, grilled pimento cheese (weird grainy consistency) with tomato and spinach, and a side of mediocre collard greens. Others enjoyed their breakfasts of eggs, potatoes and biscuits. Awesome service by a staff of hipster/punk girls. I probably should have ordered breakfast food.

Pack’s Tavern: newly remodeled tavern in a 103-year-old building across from city hall that was for many years an automotive supply company; great remodel job leaving the original exposed brick, adding lots of wood and sleek surfaces, creating a new-yet-antique vibe; excellent on-tap list including many local and regional brews; we especially liked the Terrapin Hopsecutioner IPA (Athens, GA), the French Broad 13 Rebels ESB (Asheville) and the Craggie Antebellum Ale (Asheville), made with molasses using a 19th Century recipe. Nachos also very good, our server knew her beer and was friendly and attentive, great experience, will be our first food-and-beverage stop whenever we revisit Asheville.

Asheville has been about ten degrees cooler than the DC area this weekend, so we’re not happy to come back to the heat and humidity. But we are looking forward to a return to Wheaton eatin’…