It was a totally different beer industry two decades ago.
“Back then, it was hard to find things that weren’t Bud, Coors, Heineken,” explains Mark Kutcher, a longtime manager at Afterwords Cafe. A late-night dining institution since 1976 and located in the back of Dupont Circle’s celebrated Kramerbooks, Afterwords has long been notable for its selection of draft beers served from 18 taps — back when that kind of a setup was considered extravagant or a novelty.
The recent craft beer boom has spurred demand for non-national, local brews, so much so that Afterwords now more frequently rotates and switches out its beers. On Monday, Aug. 10, it will host a local beer tasting event, “An Evening in DelMarVa — A Celebration of Breweries from Delaware, Maryland and Virginia.”
“With all the new craft brewers out there,” Kutcher says, “we thought DelMarVa was a good way to get a lot of variety and feature local breweries.” The tasting comes as part of DC Beer Week, the annual event started seven years ago to celebrate and bolster D.C.’s growing beer community. Afterwords has hosted a tasting the past two years as part of the week-long promotion, which features more than 180 events, from panel discussions to beer dinners to “tap takeovers” at participating bars. This year’s DC Beer Week officially kicks off with a “Brewers on the Block” daytime event near Union Market on Sunday, Aug. 9.
Afterwords occasionally hosts beer- and spirits-focused events that also have a clear literary tie-in, appealing to the venue’s built-in “literate crowd” of drinkers. But the DC Beer Week tasting is strictly about sampling new fermented brews — from Delaware’s Fordham & Dominion Brewing Company, Maryland’s Eastern Shore Brewing and Virginia’s Bold Rock Hard Cider, all offered in 6-oz. servings at $4 each.
“Beer Week is a good way for us to try some brews out,” Kutcher says. “If people really like them we will keep some.” In years past, Afterwords has kept several brews on tap for a year or more after they proved a hit at the tastings. The DC Beer Week event also indirectly helps serve as a reminder to those whom Kutcher jokingly calls “beer geeks” that Afterwords remains as good of a beer spot now as it was all those years ago.
“All the beer geeks are focused on beer for the week,” he says, “so Beer Week is a good way to get some of them in the door.” — Doug Rule
The DelMarVa-focused DC Beer Week tasting is Monday, Aug. 10, from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., at Afterwords Cafe, 1517 Connecticut Ave. NW. Call 202-387-3825 or visit kramers.com.
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