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Birch & Barley / ChurchKey
Taps: 55 / Bottles: 500
Cask: Y / Beer-to-Go: N
$$$ - a bit pricey
[ Bar, Eatery ]
1337 14th St NW
District of Columbia
phone: (202) 567-2576
(Place added by: drabmuh on 10-27-2009)
Ratings & Reviews
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| Reviews: 92 | Show All Ratings:
Reviews by slander:
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5 | $$$
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 |
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vibe: 3.25 | quality: 4 | service: 3.25 | selection: 5 | food: 4 | $$$
UPDATED after a second visit.
Visited Church Key on a Saturday evening 2/2 and the restaurant Birch & Barely on 3/26/13 and many times afterwards.
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. Sitting at the bar in the Birch & Barley is much prefered. They REALLY need to resolve the dishwashing detergent odor issue noted below.
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.
11-08-2013 13:49:03 |
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Birch & Barley / ChurchKey in Washington, DC
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