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D.C.'s 9 Best Craft Beer Bars

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D.C.'s 9 Best Craft Beer Bars
Washington, D.C. does have a fair number of beer joints where you can pound Bud Lights and attempt to snag date-prospect phone numbers. But a growing number of drinkers are instead looking for a spot that gives them the chance to explore labels they’ve never tried – or even heard of, listen to knowledgeable bartenders and relax while enjoying a hoppy or malty brew. Here are eight nine of the city's best spots for craft beer.

Churchkey: Often credited with jump-starting the city’s craft beer culture, this Logan Circle spot typically carriers 60 brews on taps, as well as a changing selection of cask ales. Choices are grouped by flavor instead of style, giving drinkers new ways to select and analyze their picks.

Birreria Paradisio: Acclaim for first bringing top-notch drafts into the city should really go to the bars of this small, local pizza chain. The best of the three is the underground post in Georgetown. Nearly hidden stairs in the back of the pizzeria lead to an often-empty bar with a rotating selection of excellent taps. Choices span the country’s best breweries, such as San Diego’s Green Flash, Grand Rapids’ Founders and Delaware’s Dogfish Head.

Brasserie Beck: This K Street Europub is far enough east to avoid the hectic crowds and imports almost every single beer brewed in imported from Belgium. The relaxed patio has a pleasantly foreign feel and the beer list numbers in the hundreds. IPA lovers shouldn’t miss the Urthel Hop It, an intensely hoppy beer rarely found stateside.

The Big Hunt: Just a bit north and west of Beck is this classic dive bar. The two-story space on Connecticut Ave (just south of Dupont Circle) can be as packed as popular bars in Georgetown and Adams Morgan, mostly due to the wide selection inexpensive drinks. You can find ales from Bear Republic Brewery in California and Bell’s in Michigan, and at this spot, they’ll never cost you more than $6.

Meridian Pint: Located between Columbia Heights and Petworth, Meridian Pint offers your very own personal taps, available right at the table. Willing patrons can plunk down a credit card and pour to their heart’s content. But an even better attribute is the bartenders’ collective knowledge on which beer to best pair with whatever food you may be craving.

Black Squirrel: On 18th Street in Adams Morgan, this pseudo-dive developed a cult following for being the only spot selling Fat Tire Amber Ale. Every once in a while, the bar would ship in several cases of the caramel-tinted beer, and they’d barely last a day. Don’t miss out on the other 57 beers on tap, however, enjoyed on any of three floors.

Thunder Burger: Though it recently garnered negative press for talk of using exotic animals in  hamburger patties, this M Street spot should be known for the yards-long row of taps behind its large granite bar. Kegs from Heavy Seas in Baltimore, Goose Island in Chicago  and New Belgium from Fort Collins all make regular appearances on the pour list. Thunder Burger offers 4.5 oz. tastings for $2-3, letting drinkers experience a wider range in a single visit.  
 
Smith Commons: The 10 or so taps at this wood-filled tri-level on H Street always sport tasty and hard-to-find selections, including a rotating series of specialty "one and done kegs." Half-a-dozen 750ml and 13 bottles round out the options, which include both local and Belgian bombs. Don't slack on pairing your brew with some of the well-executed elevated pub fare.

RFD: Next to the Verizon Center in Chinatown, Regional Food and Drink probably has one of the most complete beer lists in the city, approaching 350 in number. While the location won’t win prizes for atmosphere or décor, the selection is unassailable. Behind the bar is a massive glass fridge stacked with beverages that would make any beer lover’s jaw drop.
 
Photo via RFD on Facebook

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