Christmas is Coming: Beer or Wine?
Suppose you are in the greater DC area and alone. You'd love to celebrate the Christmas evening with some good strong beer. There is a Rustico Bar in Ballston (and another one in Alexandria): they feature around 400 sorts of beer. If you ask the bartender, he'll advise you for a bottle of Sint Bernardus Christmas Ale. It comes, it seems, from Watou in Belgium, the Brouwerij St. Bernard: it's strong and dark.
To be honest, the beer I enjoy the most is the Samuel Smith Taddy Porter. I had one last year in Philadephia, in the Rouge Café from Rittenhouse Square. It's amazing. I looked for it then in many places in the DC area, without success. I found a Finnish clone in a bar in Brooklyn, and another sort of Porter in the Lexx Restaurant, in Lexington, Massachusetts.
Like the Sint Berndardus, Porter comes from history. George Washington kept an ample supply at his estate in Mount Vernon. Here is what I found about Porter's beginnings:
A mixture of ales from different casks, usually a fresh beer and an older one, was served frequently in early 1700s London pubs. Among them, roasty, smoky, somewhat acidic and bittered Entire combined the flavors of several beers in one brew. By the 1740s, its name had changed to Porter. Another possibility is that the Porter style evolved from a deeper roasted malt version of the brown ales typical of the era.
Now, you'd ask me why to choose beer instead of wine? Well, here is the thing: I love two sorts of Cabernet Sauvignon, and neither one is to be found in the DC area.
There was a Levante's Restaurant in Bethesda, where they had the Kakhetian Mukuzani (which was one of the joys of Stalin). Levante's is no more. There is also a Romanian Cabernet Sauvignon, the Samburesti brand. This is divine. It's not easy to find it around DC. At least I didn't succeed to find it. If you do, please let me know.