6363 Seven Corners Center
Falls Church, VA 22044
CUISINE Beer Joints, American
PRICE $$ ($13-$20)
HOURS Open for lunch and dinner, daily, late-night dining, Monday through Saturday.
NVM AWARDS None
NEARBY METRO None
By Warren Rojas
Dogfish Head—Delaware’s debut microbrewery—has taken our area by storm with its new, full-service Falls Church alehouse. And it seems local craft beer junkies have never been hoppier.
Owner Martin Ryan and company flipped an old Uno’s to make way for their inaugural Virginia location last fall, and the throng of enthusiastic supporters that pile in night after night have made it hard to look back ever since.
The biggest draw, according to Ryan, is obviously their homemade beer selection. At any given time, the restaurant appears to carry about a dozen signature drafts and bottled beer selections, including assorted seasonals, limited releases (typically aged for over a year and then rotated monthly) and some seriously wicked barley wines (the 18 percent, red raspberry-based Fort sounds particularly naughty; too bad it’s only available by the 750-milliliter bottle).
Ryan listed the 60 Minute IPA as their top seller, followed by the Shelter pale ale and their 90 Minute IPA. Likewise, Ryan suggested that their self-styled beer mixes, including a modified black and tan pairing a Chicory stout—a tarry blend of coffee, spice and full-bodied beer goodness—with the 90 Minute IPA (the combo does a splendid dark-light soft-shoe across the palate) and a “75 Minute IPA,” cobbled together by mixing equal parts 60 Minute IPA and 90 Minute IPA, have been equally well received.
And really, what’s not to like?
The potent Midas Touch produces a tawny ale blending barley, muscat grapes and honey (supremely sweet). All the way across the flavor spectrum sits their Indian Brown, a chocolaty porter with coffee flavor to spare. The quirky raison d’etre packs some pungent, dried fruit but remains moderately crisp.
During happy hour, patrons get breaks on beer ($1.50 off all drafts, $1 off bottles), booze ($1 off rail drinks and glasses of wine) and assorted snacks ($2 off appetizers and pizzas). Best of all, the happy hour deals are available throughout the restaurant, rather than benefiting only those seated at the often-crowded bar.
Although certain appetizers are certainly appealing—a terrific bacon-wrapped shrimp special comes to mind, as do the fiery Andouille egg rolls—the outstanding pizzas are the real prizes.
Ryan stressed that their pizzas are grilled on both sides in order to lock in an authentically wood-fired flavor, and the extra attention shows. Each pie comes with your choice of sauce (pesto, marinara and alfredo are the base options) and typically includes a host of well-orchestrated ingredients.
An alfredo Cajun stunner heaps spicy Andouille sausage, red onions, ripe tomatoes, dreamy alfredo sauce and loads of cheese onto well-scorched dough. The Hawaiian pie scatters Canadian bacon, fresh pineapple and a phenomenal mozzarella-parmesan blend over a cracker-thin crust that refuses to buckle beneath the weight of its delicious payload. Meanwhile, the Chesapeake pizza yields glorious hunks of jumbo lump crab, diced asparagus and sliced tomatoes tied together by velvety cheese (outstanding).
Only time will tell if Dogfish can continue to dazzle customers with its exotic brews and creative eats. But the one thing that is clear is that Martin appears determined to build on his early successes. “Northern Virginia has been very kind to us,” he said, “[and] we’re looking to expand.”