Last Monday I had a chance to get over to ChurchKey while I was in DC. The restaurant downstairs, Birch and Barley, was closed, but that's not what I was there for anyways. I was there to check out a lambic event at the best beer bar in the city.
Unfortunately I don't have any pictured of the beer or interior since the lighting was low. I was able to try sample of a ton of good beers including Gueuze Tilquin, Oude Gueuze Tilquin L'Ancienne, and Abbaye
De Saint Bon-Chien.
The first was a clean, crisp blend of new, one year and two year old lambics which are then all fermented and aged in oak barrels. The outcome has a very complex "barnyard" smell, most of which doesn't translate into the taste well. While the puckering lemon and green apple taste is refreshing, not much of the nose factors into it. It is tasting now, but here's to hoping that the flavor will more with age. At 4.8%, you could drink this all day, as long as your palette and stomach can handle the sour.
The Oude Gueuze is essentially the first beer's big brother. At 6%, it has a little more oomph to it, but most of the qualities stay the same. Both have the very funky and complex nose and the simple, straight forward lemony-tart flavors. The Oude Gueuze may be a bit more dry, but that is the big difference.
If the first two were eerily similar, Abbaye De Saint Bon-Chien was a huge departure. Where they were straw yellow, Bon-Chien is an almost copper color with no visible carbonation. No head whatsoever. The smell is cherries, vinegar, oak. It almost reminds me of a wine. The taste is tart cherries, oak, and the vinegar up front and fading into a nice malt sweetness. The carbonation is about just as slight as it looked. If you told me there was no carbonation, I would believe you, but I feel like I got just a couple bubbles in there. As still as you can get while still being carbonated. The wine comparison definitely was there. It actually didn't remind me much of beer between the stillness and hugely complex flavor. Interesting, but I don't think I would pay for it again.
I also got to try some of their food while I was there. I got a tasty muffuletta panini and an order of crispy, hot tater tots. They obviously weren't the highlight while I was there, but they were more than just sustenance. While I came here to have a meal with my beer, you wouldn't be in the wrong to flip that on its head and have a beer with your meal either.
I haven't been to a ton of bars in DC while traveling, but out of the ones I have visited, ChurchKey tops the bill. The number of taps and bottles they have is amazing and the food surpasses mere pub grub. If you like beer, this is your place when visiting the Capitol. They have a ton of great brewery events, so check out their event calendar if you're going to be in the area. I know I'll be back the next time I'm in the city.
(P.S.- I am way behind on reviews because of traveling and house work recently, so the upcoming reviews are going to be very short. I'll try to get back up to date in the next couple of days. Cheers!)