Wednesday, October 20, 2010

How to get coffee in NE DC

If you're familiar with the Northeast quadrant of DC, you've probably already bemoaned the lack of good coffee outside of H St, which is blessed with both Sidamo and Sova. Sure, there are McDonalds and 7/11s (the Dunkin Donuts on 16th and Rhode Island Ave is closed), but be honest: coffee at these two stores is a caffeine delivery system and nothing more (not that there's anything wrong with that). However, on the campus of The Catholic University of America, there's a Starbucks so obscure that it does not appear on the Starbucks store locator. It's the only Starbucks in NE and is much closer to where I work and live than H St.

If you're driving, park at a meter on John McCormack Road, or hypothetically press your luck by parking on campus. You'll only be there for 10 minutes, so why not live on the edge and risk a ticket? Walk to the Pryzbyla Center, using parking garage stairs as a shortcut through campus, and go up to the 2nd floor - voila. Order what you want and be on your way. I usually go for the off-menu cafe con leche (or cafe au lait if you're feeling more continental), which means I get to explain to the barista that I'd like coffee and not a latte. To get back to Michigan Avenue you'll need to cut through campus, exiting at the front of the Basilica.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Good Beer Everywhere!

I spent this weekend in Front Royal, VA, mostly at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute's open house (and no, I didn't get to pet a clouded leopard cub). As is often the case when I'm traveling, I do a bit of beer research before I go someplace. I tapped into the wealth of knowledge that is the DC beer listserv... and got nothing. Somebody posted something about Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, which must be the most taken-for-granted good beer out there by now, and proclaimed Front Royal a beer wasteland. This same listserv downplayed the interesting beer options in New Zealand when I went there in May. In both cases they were wrong.*
Now, there's nobody in or around Front Royal making and bottling good beer, but there are certainly folks distributing and selling it. Products from Brooklyn Brewery, Bell's Brewery, Unibroue, Southern Tier, and semi-local St. George, most famous for letting the Tuppers make Hop Pocket at their facility, are all available. If you go there, check out J's Gourmet and Vino E Formaggio.
And on the way back to DC I stopped off at the Gainesville, VA Wegman's. Now there's a grocery store that understands good beer.
If you enjoy craft beer we truly live in a golden age. There's no better time to be alive, because good beer is everywhere. Thank formal and informal networks of brewers, thank effective supply-chain management, thank the interwebs... good beer has become globalized and democratized. And that's a very very good thing.

* Free advice: seek out Epic Beer's Armageddon IPA and Mayhem Pale Ale if you're in New Zealand. NZ brewers are increasingly influenced by the US, which means hops and Belgian yeasts are prevalent, and US beers can hang with the best of them.