148. Old Ebbitt Grill, Washington, DC

I’m not sure what this place is trying to be. I’m not sure they do, either.

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Apparently the oldest dinning saloon (whatever that means) in Washington D.C. and very close to the White House, so all sorts of important white grey men must have come here for beer. Their website proudly offers 1856 as their opening date because, you know, history, but this was when it was in Chinatown. So not really that old is it? And now it is owned by a local restaurant conglomerate boasting thirteen properties. So it’s in a different location and owned by different people. But: history.

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Their website also claims the patronage to be a bustling mix of tourists and politicos. Score. Apparently the oysters are great, if that’s your sort of thing.

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Venue: 5/10

Grand, very expensive looking, which can make your typical beer enthusiast feel a bit unwelcome because, as everyone knows, fermented grapes, not grain, is the sophisticated thing. Because the Romans did it, presumably.

Beer: 2/10

If oysters were beer, then this would be right up there. They’re not though, are they?

Worthy? No.

A grand venue, no doubt, but not a beer bar.

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144. The Dubliner, Washington, DC

The Dubliner seems to be an institution in DC, but it wouldn’t really stand-out in Ireland. Since this is a global list, it seems hard to justify this inclusion.

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In truth, the dive-bar Irish pub right next door was much more affable and relaxed and had a better beer selection AND live music too.

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On a summer night such as on my visit, the expansive outdoor seating is a boon, and the close proximity to the station  adds to the appealing location, especially for a swift half between trains or a first port of call after a long journey. I imagine it is popular with the suited 5-o-Clock-finisher’s from the surrounding downtown offices.

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The interior is split into two: restaurant and bar, the latter of which offers a long row of stools, sports on tv and attentive bar staff to help you while away some hours. But so does next door.

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Yes, that’s a lager served in a Guinness glass in the background. Come on people.

 

Venue: 5/10

Nothing extraordinary for Ireland, but a real good effort for the States.

Beer: 3/10

Very decent Guinness for this side of the pond, but a very limited selection otherwise.

Worthy? No.

From an American history perspective, perhaps. But not for the beer.

28. The Brickskeller, Washington, DC

The Brickskeller has unfortunately been sold off and re-opened as The Bier Baron Tavern. So it’s kinda on the list.

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Fortunately, the excellent beer can collection is still there. Apparently (according to the surprisingly extensive Wiki page) The Brickskeller was a stalwart during the collecting fad in the 70’s, where the fathers of well-healed underage collectors would pay for hundreds of dollars worth of cans to be emptied from the bottom, in order to preserve the top, and deliver them as the valuable trinkets they are to their kids.

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They even have an old Waitrose one from the UK- I didn’t even know they ever existed.

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Great venue, vast beer menu; why the bad review? One women is responsible for this: the barmaid. Maybe I’m used to superhuman attentiveness and almost-ass-kissing joviality when I’m in the States, maybe she wouldn’t have stood out in Europe. She certainly wouldn’t have in Zum Uerige. The difference there is that the gruff efficiency with which their staff sling another alt on your table is part of the charm. She was a ruinous scourge on an otherwise excellent beer bar.

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I get that bar staff work for tips (whaaat- they work for MONEY?!) but one of the huge advantages about working in a beer bar is…working with all that yummy beer. If you’d rather do shots with your friend/love-interest at the end of the bar, then go find a lovely little dive-bar where not only is this fine, it’s recommended. But these places should be a haven where I can ask which saison she recommends (some of which are United Statian, so new to me), and get some passion, maybe some tasting notes- not just a name, with no explanation. This might sound petty, but this is but one instance on a list of aggrievements.

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Venue: 4/10

A lot of potential; almost great decor. The staff are ruining this place.

Beer: 8/10

A broad, well-described selection, helpfully categorised by country and style, with explanatory tasting notes to help you through the varieties.

Worthy? No

It almost definitely used to be, and I really want it to be.  Sadly, this has fallen by the wayside. A large menu is not enough these days: otherwise this list would be largely comprised of Belgian bars.