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Birch & Barley / ChurchKey
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Taps: 55 / Bottles: 500
Cask: Y / Beer-to-Go: N
$$$ - a bit pricey
[ Bar, Eatery ]
1337 14th St NW
District of Columbia
phone: (202) 567-2576
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Reviews by Eriktheipaman:
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3.5 | $$$
After living here for 6 months I finally made it into the city to check this place out. It's pretty much known for being the best place in DC to grab a beer.
The tap list is outstanding and they truly take advantage of the DC lax beer laws. They had a Surley night a few nights earlier and they still had some left over which is awesome. The beer prices are fair considering how expensive everything can be in the city and they also offer 4oz tasters from 2-4.5 bucks.
We ordered a bread plate, chinese type salad, and some mac and cheese bites. The food was all pretty good but nothing to write home about.
I will go back if there is a special event worth checking out otherwise I might stick to the places a bit closer to me.
03-16-2012 14:51:37 |
More by Eriktheipaman
More User Reviews:
vibe: 3.75 | quality: 4 | service: 4.25 | selection: 5 | food: 4.25 | $$
I was only upstairs at ChurchKey and never went downstairs to Birch & Barley. One long bar nearly the length of the building upstairs with some tables around the perimeter. A little dark. When we got there, we were able to score four seats at the bar. By the time we left, however, it was standing room only, three dudes deep to get a drink. Bleh. And this was a Tuesday night. I can only imagine how it gets on the weekend.
Speedy, friendly, informative service. Even with it being very busy, there was no shortage on service.
Second to none in terms of selection. Truly impressive tap line up with ~55 taps occupied by American, local, and foreign craft brewers. All different beer styles and regions represented.
Food was good. Got the grilled cheese with tomato soup. I'd get it again.
Value was much better than what I was expecting to pay in DC. Sample size pours worked out well as I got try about six different beers with dinner and payed less than $25. I'd definitely go back to this place, as long as its early enough again to beat the crowd.
05-15-2013 18:30:07 |
More by garuda
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3.25 | service: 2.5 | selection: 5 | $$$
For CBC week I wanted to give this one place a go. Knowing it would be busy, I factored that into the ratings.
Upstairs...line to get in (downstairs restaurant could have stayed opened later...they would have filled the place...). Hot and stuffy. Packed with beer geeks, some smelled.
Long, skinny bar, bookended with seating areas. Beers all over the bar back wall. I think 5 double door coolers packed with bottles. Maybe 30 tap handles. Great selection.
Service was slow, but friendly. I didn't envy the waitstaff. Busy busy busy. This is a good place for beer, probably awesome when not this busy
03-31-2013 16:45:15 |
More by Mebuzzard
District of Columbia
vibe: 3.25 | quality: 3.75 | service: 3 | selection: 5 | food: 4 | $$$
UPDATED after a second visit.
Visited Church Key on a Saturday evening 2/2 and the restaurant Birch & Barely on 3/26.
2/2 - Arrived about 6pm looking to have a few beers before we headed down the street for dinner. This was the first time I had visited. ChurchKey had been on my "to visit" list for quite some time and I finally made. Unfortunately I was underwhelmed.
A - When we walked in the first thing we noticed was the stale beer smell. Reminded me of my fraternity bar where I paid $0.25/beer. I can get over the smell, but for paying the prices the least they can do is keep it clean and somewhat fresh smelling. It was crowed (not complaining, popular places get crowded) with a good vibe. Seating is a challenge. And the lighting is quite low, making it difficult to read the beer menu.
Q - No complaints
S - Waiter was friendly and helpful, but the service was very slow. Busy and crowded means slow, but it was almost an hour between my first and second beers.
S - Beer selection is great, both on tap and by the bottle.
3/26 - A Wednesday during the Craft Brewers Conference. Super crowded. A new line up of beers special for the night. Cool stuff.
A - The restaurant is less crowded and has a better atmosphere.
Q - I have to ding them this time. 3 of my 5 tastes had that dishwashing detergent odor. Could not taste, but the odor was clearly evident. Thought it was maybe the beer the first time. Sitting at the bar in the restaurant watching the bartender put glasses through the dishwasher. When she pulled the glasses out she would do a quick rinse on the glass washer before pouring a beer. I mentioned it to the bartender and she agreed. Without my asking she credited two of the beers. She was more attentive to rinsing the glasses before a pour.
S - Service in the restaurant is much better than in the upstairs bar.
S - Unbelieveable. Top notch.
F - Somewhat narrow menu but the food was good. I had the pieroges and the chicken rosemary flatbread. Both were yummy and arrive quickly.
Overall, this place is on my list when I need a special beer. But the bar upstairs tends to be too crowded and service suffers. They REALLY need to resolve the dishwashing detergent odor issue noted above.
02-08-2013 22:05:08 |
More by Sludgeman
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.75 | food: 3.75 | $$
This is in my top 5 taprooms around DC and MD. Servers know the beers and their differences. They seem happy to keep coming back to make more suggestions on short samplers. I've only been upstairs in ChurchKey, where the atmosphere is energetic, but it's still easy to have a good conversation. Flatbreads are a decent value and go nicely with the beers, which is simply helpful because once I sit down here I have no interest in leaving for dinner elsewhere.
02-06-2013 11:30:53 |
More by Shatter
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 3 | selection: 5 | food: 3 | $$$
Loved the selection. Arrived mid-afternoon. Even though not crowed still took awhile to get served. Didn't try the food. Had (2) Two Hearted Ales and (2) Double Jack IPAs which came to about $35 bucks. Would def visit again.
01-09-2013 14:32:01 |
More by Big_V
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 3.5 | $$$
With 55 taps and 5 beer engines of quality beer, what's not to like? I was there on a Thursday afternoon that soon stretched into the night. I was a day late as had had 03-12 Stone verticals the night before. They still had 09 - 12 along with 16 Shmaltz beers on tap. Friendly bartender that was quick to offer up large samples of anything I was considering. Like the 4 oz pour option which lets you try 2-3 times the beer you would normally get to try. Food is like the beer, good, but pricy. Had the fettuccine with spinach, it was more like an appetizer than a meal. Place got really crowded as it went into the night and this was Thursday.
This is a world class beer bar that will not disappoint the most serious beer geek. Definitely worth seeking out if in the NOVA/DC area.
12-16-2012 14:32:14 |
More by FLBeerGuy
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 3.5 | food: 4.5 | $$$
Yes it is a bit pricey. Yes it does get very busy on Friday nights. But is it fucking unbelievable? You better fucking believe it. Churchkey can be surpassed by no other in the area. The food, well I was not there to eat. Just with the intention of drinking some great imperial stouts and anything else that stuck out. Started out with a Great Lakes Blackout stout, 10 oz. pour for $6. A beer I felt would unlikely be readily available in my home area. Especially on tap. I ordered the Butternut Squash Arroncini for $4.50. Then order the 3 Stars Brewing Winter Madness, 10 oz. pour for $8. After the Blackout at 9% and the Winter Madness at 10.6% I knew I had to get going. They also had the stout made with Civet Coffee, which to this day I am kicking myself for not trying. When you go here, just know you are going to spend some money on beer. However the quality is unmatched. I would have gone all the way to pricey with them as their food is a bit expensive, however they also have some affordable brews on tap and bottle. The bartenders are nice and the chairs at the bar are great. It just gets a bit crowed on weekend nights but I've been here during an afternoon, and it was great.
12-10-2012 03:34:00 |
More by waiting4lunch
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5 | $$$
Cabbed it as far as we could before traffic started to stop, and now we’re doing a lot of not moving at all. Screw this, let’s get out and we’ll walk the rest, which we did, leaving the girls the cab for their afternoon play, and away. Not too far to go but had to push through the sidewalks jammed with onlookers. While Ed marched in the pride parade, Mike & I headed in & upstairs and got set up...
Looong straight orangey wood with alt key drawings topped bar with a patterned wallpaper base and foot box, seating 20 on reddish leather swivel chairs, and a 4 seat piece on the end for those who don’t play well with others. A piece of the barback holds a pair of 25 row tap towers, with mostly nondescript handles, and 5 handpumps in between. 2 & 3 door coolers running the length, otherwise. Light wine & booze shelved, and magnums & big big bottles atop over those. 4 flats running the wall over the barback (Oh, so sad, Red Sox, losing to the Nationals), and glassware dangling from the underside of the keg storage cold room piece space above.
White wall of brick over the bar and red wallpaper on the opposite wall, with some space towards the rear holding bottles shelved displaying goods for salesing. Wood plank floors, black ceiling with blended ductwork, large ornate drop lamps to the rear over center, track spots, & wall mounted fixture pieces.
8 booths adjacent to the bar; difficult to navigate by which I mean, get in & out of, due to their weird corners. Rear room loungings back there, with low cushioned benches and moodiness. Up front, a dozen 2-seat tables along the walls on elaborate backed cushiony things, and a pair of long hightops down center. Large circular chandelier overhead, big windows over 14th NW, and red curtained frontings.
50 taps, and just more than ½ of them Shorts beers for the event they’re doing today. I am not listing all this shit, but I will tell you that the draft menu is broken out by ‘character’; malt, roast, smoke, fruit & spice, tart & funky, crisp, hop, & authentic cask ale. You can go full on glassful or sample beers in 4oz tasters, priced between $2 on the low end and $4.50 for the heavy hitters; the exception being the Avery Samael’s Ale 2012, which went for $7 (yeah, fuck that).
We just sampled a whole lot of this and that, 9 of them from Shorts; Sustenance Black Bier, Publican Porter, Bellaire Brown Ale, Thundeur (black ale brewed w/charred pine needles, branches & cones), The Soft Parade (rye w/raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, & blackberries), Pineapple Side-Down (duh), Nicie Spicie (wheat beer w/lemon & orange zest, coriander, & peppercorn), & The Curl (Impy Pils w/Amarillo), Huma-Lupa-Licious IPA (a 140 IBU IPA), and a handful others; Boulevard Saison Brett (Tank 7 on Brett), Bluejacket/Funky Buddha/Cigar City collab Snack Attack! (all salty caramel peanutty), Bluejacket/Devil’s Backbone collab Black Berliner Techno Weisse, & Flying Dog Disobedience (Abbey Dubbel w/maple syrup). The best of ‘em were Shorts Publican Porter & The Curl, and the Boulevard Saison Brett. Mind you, Ed is hating on the place saying he can’t find a beer he wants.
The aforementioned 5 handpumps, if you really must know; Shorts Franken Pils (India Cream Ale) & Anniversary Ale Blood Orange Wheatwine, Flying Dog Disobedience, Founders Red Rye & Centennial IPA.
And a bottle list of holy shit, ‘cause they’ve got one of those, you know, with (like) 500ish entries, including 50 cider, Gluten Free & N/A offerings, and another 56 reserve (vintage) list entries. Some of these are absurdly pricey (Drie Fonteinen Snozberry Kriek for $75, WTF? and the Abbaye Du Saint Bon-Chien 1.5L for $130 is a bit painful, too. My price gauge (lovely) Orval tells the tale at $13, meaning ‘above the norm’.
Checked in on the food menu, and ordered a few snacky snacks, as they be. We split the Arrancini (peas, mint & Manchego risotto balls), Asian wings, and the fire roasted Shishito peppers (with a spicy harissa peanut dippy sauce). This was the Shishito pepper introduction for the boys, they were solid; not up to Anselm snuff, but still really good, as was the Arrancini.
Did I mention the keg storage ev-ery-where? (Including under my seat at the booth). Pretty damn strange. Dug the tunes, although Ed is now hating on the Flaming Lips ‘Yoshimi’. Our server knew a lot about a lot; line cleaning, beer availability, etc. It’s a great house, and filled in real quick behind us, timing being everything, post parade. Excellent selection, good foodings. I was quite pleasantly surprised. Wonder what goes on downstairs?
10-25-2012 02:52:20 |
More by slander
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5 | $$
Finally just getting around to writing a review for Churchkey, although I have visited there a few times. The environment in there is what I would like to consider a beer heaven. Always have a great draft list, the most amazing bottle list I have ever seen(although quite pricey, but that is expected). Every time I have gone I go at lunchtime on Saturdays and hang out for a few hours. I love the option of the 4 oz samplers that are very reasonably priced, and I always try out a ton of different ones. The food is very good, but are not the biggest portions. I have gotten the pork enchiladas because they taste amazing, but just are not that big. Could not rave anymore about this place and although I am sadly moving out of this area, this will be a requirement to stop at whenever I come back. Only gripe with the place is the distance from metro, but taxis as with all of DC are easy to get and a dime a dozen. MUST VISIT.
07-10-2012 01:33:09 |
More by Kmccabe33
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Birch & Barley / ChurchKey in Washington, DC