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WTF, Commonwealth?

Beer is one of my favorite things, up there with sleep, reading (during which activity I often fall asleep), and watching baseball (basically sleep, too). I love living in DC, a city where beer is taken pretty seriously--we have Birreria Paradiso for any number of interesting brews, Brasserie Beck for Belgians, the Saloon for Germans, and the Brickskeller, with a beer list that is so long, the fact that they're usually out of about 25% isn't too bad. Although we're depressingly short on creative brewpubs, we even have some decent, reasonably local breweries--Dominion in VA, Wild Goose in MD, and Hook and Ladder.

Commonwealth Gastropub claims to fill a pretty big gap in the scene--a British bar with creative food and good UK beers. After several visits in the year or so since they've opened, I don't see it. Commonwealth has the food part mostly right--nice limey snacks like Welsh rarebit and Scotch eggs (not a lot of Scotch eggs on DC menus), tasty trout, and different takes on meat pies. But the beer has not caught up. They have a few nice draughts--Wells Bombardier, for one--and an OK selection of bottles, but for the most part it looks like the import shelf in any American liquor store--Newcastle, Boddington's, Old Speckled Hen, St. Peter's. I was able to buy any of that in my college hicktown, where the #1 sellers were Nattys Boh and Light.

Commonwealth has no Fuller's, one Black Sheep, one Young's (Chocolate Stout, also a liquor store standby), and although they claim to have cask-conditioned ale, on every trip there they've been conveniently out. Where in the name of Ollie Cromwell can a man get a pint of real ale in DC?!

Photo of Commonwealth's patio by flickr user Needlessspaces.

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