District Chophouse


 Open just ten weeks, the District Chophouse brings another venue for craft beer to the D.C. area. The impressive interior includes raised dark green upholstered booths with two-tone wooden sides and trim. Shaded lamps reside on each table an afford an air of intimacy. The remainder of the dining area features small tables with white linen table clothes and cushioned wood chairs. Along the left side of the spacious room lies a 12-place dark wood bar with two sets of stylish 3-tap brass towers. Two ceramic handles are on hand to present cask-conditioned beer through their respective beer engines. To the rear of the building, past the framed black & white beer and capitol prints, under the 20 foot tan and brown ceiling of dark brown ducting and drop-down large domed lamps, lies the open kitchen. Upstairs hosts a lounge with another bar, three silent TVs, tall tables with stools, and three pooltables. Cigar smoking is allowed throughout the lounge as well as at the downstairs bar.

 Also occupying the second floor is the 14 barrel J.V. North West brewing system with its shiny stainless steel brewhouse and well-lit fermenters. A peek into the brewhouse reveals a few oak Jim Beam barrels used for certain specialty beers. Eight serving vessels lie out of sight, hidden away in the basement. House beers get a diatomaceous earth (DE) filtering along with carbonation from forced CO2. The Old Mule Brown offers a medium body matched to a nice dry malty flavor. The Sawbuck Wheat is slightly hazy with a clove/banana aroma, light body and clovey flavor. The cask-conditioned Pils has a delicate mouthfeel, creamy smooth body, and great dry-hop dominated flavor. The cask-conditioned Bourbon County Stout is aged three days in Jim Beam Old Grand Dad barrels. Starting with a whiskey aroma and flavor, the smooth mouthfeel is well-matched to the malty flavor. A great dry "oaky" finish tops the experience. The cask-conditioned Amber offers great aroma hops along with a nice light body and mellow hop bitterness in the flavor. The cask beers each receive separate temperature control for their serving vessels. Even recycling is employed as grains from the 28,000 pound capacity silo on the roof move through the brewing process and are ultimately taken away by a local farmer. New for winter 1998 is the bottle-conditioned Belgian Dubbel. As the liquid emerges from the 750 ml bottle early aromas of fruity esters allude to the Belgian ancestry of the yeast used. The amber-colored nectar offers a great "tangy" mouthfeel and complex malty/fruity flavors. The finish is both dry and spicy. A very nice job and a bold move for a brewpub.

 In 2003, the approach to Happy Hour involves a $2.50 price, rather than the usual $5.25 for a pint, for the two beers listed on the large black chalkboard. Recent offerings include the Belgian Bastogne, with a dense gold color, light white head, full mouthfeel, even flavor balance, and mellow malty sweetness with the subtle hops presence becoming apparent into the finish. The Velvet Brown appears a deep mahogany color with a lasting thick tan head. The nitrogen dispensing results in a nice medium body and smooth mouthfeel. An even flavor balance offers a rich, dark, malty-sweetness accompanying a drier, chocolaely character. Very nice! The Oatmeal Stout stands opaque, with a very thick tan head. The rich chocolate malt flavor grows into roasted malt territory, all the while offering a creamy mouthfeel and medium body, before finishing with a subtle hint of hops.

 The food doesn't take a back seat to the top-notch beers. Even a simple green salad consists of Romaine Lettuce and grated parmesan or bleu cheese. As you might expect, the menu centers around beef. Many sandwiches combine the lean chopped beef with sourdough buns. The appetizers such as the Chicken Tenders are a meal unto themselves. Both quantity and quality are well represented in the entrées such as the Hazelnut Chicken with raisins.

 Use the Chinatown stop on the METRO Yellow Line and exit for the Arena. Alternately, a brief walk North of the Smithsonian, just before Chinatown, the District Chophouse offers a top attraction for both beef and beer lovers alike. When the first-floor bar gets too crowded there's always more room and more beer available upstairs around the pooltables. The view's not bad either.

District Chophouse
509 7th NW
Washington, D.C.

Reviewed by Tom Ciccateri - August, 1997, December, 1998, March 2003

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