by Andrew Marder for EdibleDC Magazine
I am underdressed. I suspect that I am always underdressed, but in this instant, standing at the bar upstairs at Roofers Union, I feel that I am woefully underdressed. Most of the fifty people here for the 3 Stars, Atlas, DC Brau, and Right Proper collaborative beer dinner have just rolled in from work. I have also just rolled in, but I work in tech, so I'm rocking a bright orange tee shirt and a hoodie.
Yes, I would love an Old Fashioned. Unfortunately, the man behind the bar who I mention this to is not actually the bartender. I'm off to a strong start.
The dinner is a chance for the four breweries to show off a few fun beers and for Roofers Union to celebrate its impressive bar program. It's also a chance for me to drink more beer than is generally considered "prudent" on a Wednesday night.
Eventually I manage to find my table and settle in with the other press types. Dave Delaplaine, Roofers Union Beer Monger and disc golf enthusiast, kicked things off with a round of introductions. Dinner was being prepped in the back by Sarah Biglan from Right Proper and Roofers Union's own chef Marjorie Meek-Bradley.
Biglan supplied the first course, a candied hazelnut-crusted croquette with a coating that shattered like glass and a center that oozed like a perfectly poached egg. The whole thing floated in homemade mustard, created with Right Proper's Baron Corvo. The Baron also accompanied the dish, providing a fruity, dark counterpoint to the bright croquette.
In the downtime between courses, the beer is refilled. The shame of wearing an orange shirt dissipates, though my decision to listen to The Smiths on the walk over remains dubious. "Why pamper life's complexities when the leather runs smooth on the passenger seat?" Why, indeed, Morrissey?
Round two rolls out. Tiger prawns and eggplant, paired with DC Brau's Alpha Domina Mellis III. The prawns are light and lovely, with sweetness and heat provided by a pineapple-jalapeno glaze. The Alpha is an annual release, with this version sporting honey from Burnside Farm in Virginia. Roofers Union has it on nitro, cutting some of the sharp acidity from the hops by replacing the CO2.
The refills come by again, and I'm reminded of a morning spent in sheer agony, as I tried yoga for the first time in ten years. If you're ever faced with a choice -- beer dinner or yoga -- I would go beer dinner. That's just me, though.
The main course appears on the table. Lamb saddle, lamb belly, merguez sausage, polenta and roast carrots. It's a lot of flavor to put on plate, and Atlas provided Town & Country, its wine barrel-aged ale, to help blend all the pieces together.
It smells like a beautiful port, full of dark berries and tobacco. It tastes like a less-sweet port, where the fruit plays a smaller roll, allowing the leafy, tannic nature of the beer to shine. This is a course to match the setting. Low lights and the glow of the street below pressing through glass. The only thing missing is a fireplace and a few flakes of snow drifting down.
The evening ends on a sweet note, with a cremeux -- a creamy, sweet bit of white chocolate and raspberry heaven. This one has chunks of flourless chocolate cake swimming in it. If desserts have a religion, this is the afterlife they promise.
3 Stars has brought Ebony & Ivory to pair, served from a cask. Not only is it lovely, it also tips my nostalgia scale with memories of England and drinking in the damp countryside. It's a great way to finish.
After dinner, the time ticks away as Dave brings out additional bottles. I suppose I'm still underdressed, but I can't imagine caring. Not because it's been a boozy night -- it has been -- but because I'm knee-deep in DC food fun.
The people here care about the local scene. The folks from Roofers Union and the breweries care about building a community. While Morrissey might not go out tonight, for lack of a stitch to wear, District residents don't need to worry.
I really need to get some new shirts.
Roofer's Union is located at at 2446 18th St NW, Washington, DC. roofersuniondc.com
Andrew Marder is a writer living in Hyattsville, MD. He enjoys playing with his son, having dinner with his wife, and sitting quietly with good friends. When he’s not awake, he’s asleep.