Thursday, October 18, 2007

Of Drinking Beer & Running in Washington, D.C.

In just 10 short days from now, on Sunday October 28, I'll be running in my first hour of the Marine Corps Marathon (MCM) in Washington, D.C. In case you missed it, this was originally written as a guest column for Hop-Talk. With the MCM fast approaching, I thought it would be worth publishing it again here at my site, especially for those who may be in or around D.C. in the near future. Or, if you're planning to be at the MCM, let me know and maybe we can meet up for a post-marathon beer.


There has always been a close relationship between runners and their love for beer. Cyclists too. In fact, it is not unusual for a certain amount of beer to be part of an athlete's diet. Often you will hear of cyclists enjoying a beer or three after a stage of the Tour de France.

Many cyclists also are sporting the team colors of breweries like Sierra Nevada, New Belgium, Iron Hill, and Victory. I (though, I'm certainly not attempting to lump my lumpy self in with these world-class athletes) will occasionally have a beer with a large pasta meal the night before a big run. The other night, it was a German Pilsner from Iron Hill in West Chester, PA with about a 3/4 pound serving of pasta to fuel up for my 18-mile run the following day.

I digress. Let's get this back on track. This article is about the MCM which starts and ends in Arlington, VA. Almost 11 miles of the course takes place in Northern Virginia, while the remainder of the 26.2 mile course meanders through the power streets of downtown Washington, D.C.

Dotting the course along the way are statues, historic sites, and halls of political power that define "inside the beltway" and provide a scenic backdrop for the runners and spectators alike. The METRO train system helps the spectators move around (but, not the runners!) to keep up with the runners. But, to the savvy beer traveller, the MCM course provides easy access to at least a handful of the D.C metro area's better beer scene.

Let's take a tour of the MCM course and see where spectators are able to stop off along the way as they wait for their runner to come by

Miles 0.0-4.5 Arlington Dr. Dremo's Taphouse - 2.25 miles; 1/2 mile south of course
>>This used to be Bardo's in the 90s, right? According to their website, they're closing down in a few months, so I may want to stop in there one more time. Whole Foods Market - 2.75 miles; 1/3 mile south of course
>>In states where they can carry beer, Whole Foods typically does an above average job of getting at least a few quality brews to make it more than respectable for a grocery store chain. Rock Bottom - 3.00 miles; 1 mile south of course
>>Some Rock Bottom's are better than others. I've never been to this particular location.

Miles 4.5-9.5 Georgetown Birreria Paradiso - 9.00 miles; 1/8 mile north of course
>>Number one on my hit list of places that I haven't been to in the D.C. metro area. Check out their site to see why. Very good chance you can find me here at some point during marathon weekend in D.C. Whole Foods Market - 9.00 miles; 1 1/3 miles north of course
>>More from the grocery chain. (If you need more, there's yet another location at 14th/P streets.) Garrett's - 9.25 miles; 1/5 mile north of course
>>I believe that their beer selection has gone downhill over the years, but it's been around for what seems like forever and it was where I had my first Foggy Bottom (RIP). The Brickskeller - 9.50 miles; 7/8 miles northeast of course
>>A D.C. classic and must-stop on any beer-lover itinerary. Michael Jackson's (also, RIP) been here, you should be too.

Miles 9.5-14.0 Downtown, statues, White House, Mall, Capitol Capitol City Brewing - 12.00 miles; 3/8 mile north of course
>>Not a must-stop, but yet a decent place to grab a stylish dinner and some decent least when I was last there 5 or 6 years ago. Gordon Biersch - 12.25 miles; 1/2 mile north of course
>>I haven't been to the D.C. location of this heavyweight (primarily) lager chain. But, the west coast spots turn out some solid pilsners, bocks, marzens, and the like. District ChopHouse & Brewery - 12.50 miles; 3/8 miles north of course
>>Part of the Rock Bottom family. Haven't been to it, but central in D.C. to many tourist locations. Dave's RFD - 12.50 miles; 2/3 mile north of course
>>Sister establishment to The Brickskeller and, likewise, a must-stop. In this outsider's opinion, I like this Chinatown venue better than its crosstown affiliate. Capitol City Brewing - 12.75 miles; 2/3 mile northeast of course
>>Yet another clone of the D.C./Virginia mini-brewpub chain.

Miles 14-20 Tidal Basin; East Potomac Golf Course; 395 bridge to the Pentagon/Crystal City
>>Swinging out through the southside of D.C., there's nothing much beer-y to report.

Miles 20-26 Crystal City; Pentagon; Arlington Cemetery; Iwo Jima Memorial
>>Wrapping back to the cemetery from Crystal City, there's not much to report here, either.

Out of range, but would like to check out one night for jazz and beer is Bohemian Caverns (up at U street/Vermont) I'm not often in the practice of recommending what to avoid, since taste and service (well, definitely taste) can be a matter of highly subjective opinion. But, in this case, I've had enough bad experiences with service, selection, and atmosphere at more than one Elephant & Castle location, that I must advise to avoid the one in downtown D.C....or anywhere for that matter.

The opinions expressed here are solely that of The Brew Lounge and Hop-Talk bears no responsibility for the words or drinking actions of any entity affiliated with The Brew Lounge. Thought Al would appreciate this :)

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