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

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Churchkey

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

Sorry.

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.