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Tuesday, December 13, 2005
Dogfish Head Alehouse in Gaithersburg, MD
Holy 's' batman! I'm looking back over my reviews and realize that I still haven't posted my thoughts and experience with Dogfish Head Alehouse from our recent trip to Washington D.C. This should not be confused with my work-related trip to D.C. that came only 3 days later from this trip.
Patty and I took the day off from work on a Friday two weeks ago to visit the new panda cub, Tai Shan, at the National Zoo in Washington. After our best zoo experience ever, we headed out of the city and decided to stop at the DFH location for a bit of sustenance to carry us back home ;-)
So, while I still haven't visited the Delaware operations of DFH, we couldn't pass up the opportunity of visiting the new DFH location in Maryland. It's only 10 miles off the D.C. beltway. And, as anyone knows from driving the beltway, any diversion off the beltway is usually a welcome distraction. And, when the distraction is DFH, then it's a no-brainer!
It's an easy location to find just off of route 270, exit 10. For one last landmark, it's directly across from the entrance to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)......creates a lively happy hour crowd ;-)
Where to begin? I suppose I could say that the location had me a bit skeptical at first. It's along a very busy road in suburban D.C. and on the edge of a corporate/retail mall area. I suppose it's kind of like the King of Prussia area along route 202 (for all of my Pennsylvania friends). The parking lot is ample and when you walk inside you instantly feel isolated from all of the craziness of the outdoor environs that you just left behind. It's impressive how quickly they have hung recent press clippings about their new location.
Inside you will find dining room seating scattered around two floors. One unique aspect of the dining operations is a private eight-seat table above the main entrance. I could definitely see spending a few hours eating and drinking in the privacy of this room. Anyone else???
The only bar area is located on the first floor. The area is sufficient, but not ample. But, who cares, we got two seats at the bar. It was only 3 p.m. on a Friday afternoon, so we definitely beat the happy hour crowd. However, we knew for sure that we lost any chance of beating the rush hour traffic north out of D.C. (we won't even discuss the 4 hour trip back to Pennsylvania, ugh!) So, given the time of day, we had the complete attention of the very friendly and talkative bartender.
We ordered some decent sandwiches and appetizers along with a Chicory Stout and Indian Brown Ale for starters. The food menu is quite restaurant-oriented. In other words, they are striving very hard to be recognized as a quality restaurant that also happens to serve Dogfish Head beer. More on that later. The beer is delivered straight from the Delaware operations of DFH and managed tightly under DFH standards. My second beer was the Raison D'etre. These first three beers were all up to expectations. No surprises, fortunately....just great beer.
Then, came the surprise. The person responsible for the beer operations here was trying to get the Pangaea settled down and ready for the weekend. He poured off a couple of glasses for us to try (gratis). This is a beer I've heard of but never before tried. It had just been released a couple of weeks prior in Delaware and is reportedly made with an ingredient from every continent. The name pangaea refers to the.....oh, forget it....just follow the link instead!
It was odd how complex it seemed but how easy it was to drink. I was surprised, though, to see the ABV only around 7%, because I thought that I tasted more alcohol presence than that. Oh well, try it if you get the chance. I'm not sure where you'll find it on tap, but I don't believe that they'll be bottling it.
I mentioned that I discuss more about the food. The only peculiarity that I registered regarding the restaurant was that this was a business owned by a D.C. area restaurateur, with the permission of DFH. I'd suppose that there's some type of ownership by Sam and DFH, however it was obvious from talking with the owner here that his primary background and skills are in food and the restaurant business, sales, and marketing. I don't doubt that he has an interest in beer. And, obviously, Sam and DFH most likely wouldn't make this type of investment if they weren't convinced that it could work under this gentleman's guidance.
Oh, anyway, I'm probably reading too much into it. In any case, it's an interesting story. So, my only recommendation (other than to make sure you visit the new DFH in Gaithersburg when you're in the D.C. area) is that you keep an eye on the clock and rush hour traffic! Otherwise go, drink, and be merry. And, try to stay in a local hotel if possible.
p.s. the Shady Grove Metro stop is close by.....cabs are available.
p.p.s. they also have an outdoor dining/drinking area that is open, weather permitting.
last p.s. I couldn't resist, here's a couple pictures of baby Tai Shan and mother Mei Xiang at the Zoo.