Guest post by John Simpson
Named for a monstrous, fabled dragon-like beast that was told to have terrorized the area eras past, Snallygaster’s unprecedented festival of beer was brought to you by DC’s legendary Birch & Barley, ChurchKey, Rustico and the much anticipated Bluejacket brewery. Over 150 beers set up for tastings on the great venue of Southeast DC’s Yard’s Park, the list of brews was mind-boggling and demanded the attention of any Washingtonian that called himself/herself a lover of beer. It’s safe to say that the Snallygaster Beer Jamboree was one of the best, if not the best, beer events that I have been to in DC. Not this year, but EVER.
It is easy to think that with over 150 beers being featured, the managers of this event could have cut some corners and still done a decent job of showcasing the many beers on their list. Instead, the people behind Snallygaster went above and beyond, matching each beer brand and variety being offer with its respective tap handle.
With as many exotic and foreign brews that were offered, the brews that edged out as my favorites were not what I expected when I walked into Yards Park. With many names I couldn’t pronounce and from European towns I could only imagine, plenty members of the staff and volunteer that manned the taps claimed that they keg they offered was the only one available in the U.S. or that even a tasting size of the beer was worth the hefty price of 7 tickets (7 dollars). My favorite beer that demanded such treatment was Meine Hopfen-Iisse: Zymatore (yeah, I know), a beer aged in pinot noir barrels and had the full force of German’s smy and hoppy variety of beers. I made a mental note to visit Germany as soon as possible.
Yet, the other two favorites that I tasted at the festival came from the good ol’ US of A. DC Brau’s (DC) collaboration with Epic Brewing Company (UT) showed off Fermentation without Representation, an imperial spiced porter that could simply be described as the chocolate of beers. The rich, bold flavor brought me back for a second full pour as I made my way around the many beers tents set up. I am determined to find this again in DC. My third favorite was High & Mighty Brewing Company’s (MA) Beer of the Gods, a delicious kölsch full of citrus hops and a crisp finish.
HoIver, Snallygaster was not only about the beer. Much of the proceeds, from the $5 entry fee to a share of the beer profits, went to Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food and Agriculture, a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating a more equitable and sustainable local food system in the Washington, DC area. Most notable is their Mobile Market that distributes fresh, affordable food to under-served DC-area neighborhoods. The event also featured plenty of food, including the future-breIry of Bluejacket serving up a whole rotisserie roasted turkey leg and a Heavenly Meatball Hero from Rustico. Live music also played on the river’s new boardwalk and set a perfect scene for the event, even pushing me to wonder if a manufactured Loch Ness-like float would drift down the Anacostia River before the sun set.
Unfortunately, beyond a guy dressed up in a cloth-Godzilla suit, the beast of legend did not greet us at Yard’s Park. What I did experience was simply one of the best events I’ve attended this year in DC.