That weird winter we had, the late spring and all of that have already yielded to early summer:
This is a feature, not a bug, we earned warmth after so much weirdness. Along with baseball and the sun setting after 8 p.m. for until MID-AUGUST, this is a glorious time of year. Soon, the pools will open as well.
As long time readers, friends and family know, I do enjoy a gin & tonic on a warm evening. After many years of research, I believe I have perfected the gin & tonic. You may be saying, “oh, WFY, gin & tonics are gross, they taste like pine cones” but don’t worry, I won’t jump on you for it. A woman I dated in the previous decade used to say that and said to myself, “don’t hate, educate.” She is now my wife; she enjoys one with me all the time.
So, here’s how to get started. Long-story short dump out all the ice in your freezer as soon as possible, put a bottle of gin in the freezer (I go with Beefeater), put some Schweppes tonic water in the fridge and get some fresh lime. By the next evening, you’ll have plenty of fresh ice, ice cold-syrupy gin, and cold tonic. Since you’ll be outside, you’ll probably want to skip the glass and use plastic. If you are going the disposable route, I recommend Solo brand cups. Anyhow here is how you make the drink:
Cut fresh lime into quarters (limes cost no more than 70¢ so don’t be skimpy)
Squeeze lime juice into the bottom of the cup
Rub the rim of the cup with lime
Place lime in the bottom of but, rind down
Remove gin from freezer and pour directly into lime at the bottom of the cup. Gin should reach the top of the lime.
Add ice, I use 6 cubes from a icemaker or 4 from an ice tray
Pour entire contents of Schweppes tonic water over ice
Stir the drink
See, really easy to have a really refreshing drink which you should enjoy responsibly. You’ll probably be on the patio, sundeck or balcony when you do so you’ll be so relaxed you wouldn’t even think of driving a car of operating heavy machinery. When you’ve had enough, switch to ginger ale and lime for further refreshment without the side effects.
One Eight Distilling is named for Article One Section Eight of the Constitution, which among other things provided for the establishment of a district to serve as the nation’s capital. Our passion to build a distillery came from a desire to produce the finest spirits from grain to glass all within Washington, DC. We seek to continually make connections between people and our spirits, to use locally sourced ingredients, to recycle our spent mash to area farmers, and to pay our respects to the time-honored traditions of distilling while bringing innovation and love to every bottle we fill.
KO Distilling owners Bill Karlson and John O’Mara describe their business as a “artisan distillery” and plan to make and sell bourbon, rye whiskey, corn whiskey, gin, vodka and rum. The business will also feature a visitors’ center and will offer tours, tastings, merchandise sales and space for special events.
We’ll check back in several years to find out if there is a distillery bubble like we think there might be a brewery bubble.
New Columbia and the Ivy City neighborhood was also featured in The Post recently: Street Smart: Ivy City’s Green Hat Gin. New Columbia, which is next to a “medical marijuana cultivation factory” share the neighborhood with One Eight and Atlas Brew Works.
Welcome to the Winter 2015 update of BetlwayLand Beer – a long time coming.
UPDATE: It seems like every time I publish one of these posts, a few items come up not long after. Rather than wait, I’ve added them throughout the post. Prost!
It’s already been four years since Port City Brewing Co. opened (and almost five since we heard about it), returning a production brewery to the immediate Washington, D.C. area – inside the Beltway for the first time since there has been a Beltway. Sure, Loudoun and Frederick counties have had breweries for a while, but this was closer to home. Port City opened on January 30, 2011 as Alexandria’s first brewery in a century and was followed by several more locals, including DC Brau, the first production brewery in the District since Heurich closed in 1956. They seem friendly:
@dcbrau THANKS! We're proud to call y'all friends, too.
I tried two DC Brau special editions, The Tradition which is their DC United themed beer. By the time I found some is not at its freshest and did not provide any luck in the playoffs as the black & red fell to Red Bull New York. A stadium was secured though, so that’s good news. I’ll give the beer another shot next summer if it is still produced.
The Penn Quarter Porter, which I had out at Chadwick’s in Old Town, was a pretty special beer though. The chocolate and coffee flavors are smooth, but not overwhelming. If I see a six pack, I’m buying one to take home.
There is some bad news though —
Anyway, with @dcbrau no longer pouring free 3 oz tasters, it's the end of an era. All DC breweries now charge.
The packaging is a bit much but Bold Rock (Wintergreen, Va.) has a pretty tasty hard cider. I’ve gotten it several times and will continue to do so, especially if I wind up skiing Wintergreen this winter.
WHY ISN’T THERE A VERIZON CENTER BEER GUIDE?
As far as I know, there isn’t a beer map for Verizon Center like there is for Nationals Park. This ought to be rectified; does The Nationals Review like hockey or basketball? Local beers are sold there, but the most recent list is from 2013, so it may be out of date.
The great Vince Guerrieri wrote about a brewery bus in Cleveland recently and I thought, DC needs one of those. Sure enough, I soon learned of DC Brew Tours. Reston Limousine does it too, but not as often. Oh and DC Brew Tours, work on that SEO, it was hard to find you.
I think I mentioned it before, but Old Bust Head doesn’t have a winter seasonal next year called something like “school closed” or something they are doing it wrong because Fauquier is always the first school system to close for winter weather.
Hey, John Taylor’s sharing a byline there.
DC BREWERS BALL
March 7 is the DC Brewers Ball at National Building Museum. Might not be the optimum weekend for touring the local breweries which I was considering. We’ll see.
GREAT AMERICAN BEER FESTIVAL
It would be hard to match last year’s success when DC & VA beers cleaned up, but there were some high achievers in 2014 too:
Hardywood Park Craft Brewery
American-Style Fruit Beer
Devils Backbone Brewing Co. – Outpost
Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant – Annapolis
Amber Waves Ale
Capitol City Brewing Co.
American-Style Amber/Red Ale
Old Virginia Dark
Devils Backbone Brewing Co. – Outpost
American-Style Dark Lager
Devils Backbone Brewing Co. – Outpost
Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant – Rockville
Union Craft Brewing
DC Brau Brewing Co.
Belgian- and French-Style Ale
Devils Backbone Brewing Co. – Basecamp
Three Notch’d Brewing Co.
Irish-Style Red Ale
Sweet Baby Jesus!
DuClaw Brewing Co.
Devils Backbone Brewing Co. – Basecamp
Heavy Seas Beer
Golden or Blonde Ale
I’ll still ask, even at this late date — did everybody have (a) good Oktoberfest(s)? It’s my favorite beer season.
Like the Washington Nationals, the local ones did not last as long into October as I would like. I did not make it out to any events either, but I sampled four regional Oktoberfest beers:
Rhinofest by Lost Rhino – Probably the best, a little sweetness, but not overpowering. My wife liked it the most. It was about $10 for a 30 oz bottle though.
Corcoran Brewery (half-growler) – good, if I lived out in Loudoun County, I’d be inclined to get a half-growler if I were having a few people over.
Port City Brewing Co. – As always, it sold out too soon – I only got one six pack of it. I never saw it in stores, only at the brewery.
DC Brau – I bought a couple at the penultimate Nats game and enjoyed them. Not surprisingly, this was the hoppiest of the four area ‘fests. It paired well with a half-smoke though.
Flying Dog also makes an Oktoberfest, Dogtoberfest, but I didn’t get it this year. There may still be some sixpacks of their Old Bay-infused Dead Rise beer at Van Dorn Safeway and the Vienna Giant, by the way.
Outside of the region, I sampled the following:
Great Lakes Brewing Co. (Cleveland)
Harpoon (New England)
Saranac (New York State)
Great Lakes was my favorite of the four, but Shiner and Leinie are pretty special. Harpoon and Saranac are also solid choices.
I had Samuel Adams Oktoberfest somewhere too, on draft, but can’t remember where. It’s not my favorite and Yuengling Oktoberfest was surprisingly disappointing last year. There may be some sixpacks of Old Dominion, formerly of this region, but now from Delaware, floating around. Leingkugel made it well into the New Year.
Next year, my wife and I will make it to a fest and report back on it.
…Gov. Terry McAuliffe stood in front of a crowd to announce the first commercial hops processing facility would be heading to Black Hops Farm in Lucketts…the same farm was announced as the home to Farmworks, a farm beer operation run by Frederick, Md.-based Flying Dog Brewery.
Coming summer 2015, Farmworks Brewery will take 5 acres of property and is expected to include a 15-barrel brewhouse, cellar, coolshop and tasting room.
The hops processing facility will be located at another location on the farm.
“I’m pretty excited about the fact that there will be more great beer in Virginia,” said Jonathan Staples, the owner of the farm located on the west side of Route 15, north of Lucketts.
Loudoun County has two distillers (which I’ll blog about soon), several breweries and dozens of wineries.
This post has been in the works for months and by the time I get to the next one, it’ll probably be beer & half-smokes at Nationals Park time.
When I was at Penn State, my favorite bar was Tony’s Big Easy. It was an attractive space that served the best cocktails (but they were…SIX DOLLARS) in State College and played swing, salsa, jazz. It was the bar in Happy Valley with the most little black dresses. I loved it.
After graduation though, the music got more generic and it started to sound like every other bar in town. It wasn’t Jock Jams bad, but the product differentiation was lost.
Years later, there was a fatal stabbing outside of it. It eventually lost it’s liquor license.
Now, it’s becoming a 24-hour convenience store. It’s going to be a huge success.
It’s late-September — school is open, the Washington Nationals have won the NL East, football is back and daylight is becoming scarce as it is officially autumn at 10:29 p.m. tonight. Gin and tonic season has gracefully yielded to Oktoberfests and ales made with last year’s pumpkin crop. The same will happen with this year’s apples too.
As much as I like Oktoberfest beers, mid-August is TOO SOON for them to be released. The trouble can be they sell out before the swimming pools all close. Now, though, it’s definitely time to start drinking them. Actually, a few weeks ago…
So far, I have purchased three local Oktoberfests:
Corcoran Brewing Company Corktoberfest (Purcellville, Va.)
Port City – Oktoberfest (Alexandria, Va.)
Lost Rhino – Rhinofest (Ashburn, Va.)
The first two I bought at the breweries, while the third was found at Westover Market in Arlington. They are all really good, though Rhinofest available in 1 pint, 6 oz. bottles is pretty pricey.
“It’s a very traditional Oktoberfest,” explains Jeff Hancock, President & Head Brewer of DC Brau. “In recent years, Oktoberfests from Germany have started getting lighter in color and are closer to resembling Helles lagers than Oktoberfests or Märzens. We think our version will stand out amongst the myriad pumpkin beers and Oktoberfests on the market this season.”
They are only making 60 barrels though, all for draft distribution or growler fills, but including Nationals Park.
Outside of BeltwayLand, Flying Dog of Frederick, Md. makes Dogtoberfest. It’s not my favorite, but it tends to stick around longer than some of the other ones. At least in Northern Virginia. Former Ashburn-based Old Dominion also brews one from Delaware.
I really like the Shiner Oktoberfest as well as Leingkugel’s and Great Lakes. Yuengling’s was disappointing and Samuel Adams is okay and probably the most-heavily distributed.
Just going going to throw this out there for the Ombudsman — how about brewing a märzen next year around this time? No wedding to plan and the house is moved into, so how about it?
Also, I owe you a half-smoke.
FESTIVAL SEASON Drink up: A guide to local fall beer festivals – The Post
There are several beer festivals, mostly celebrating Oktoberfest in the D.C. area plus Annapolis and Baltimore. Snallygaster is already in the past, but there are still others to come. I might check out the Shirlington one hosted by Capital City Brewing Co. since it’s nearby, but we’ll see. Or maybe I’ll stop by my hometown for Vienna Oktoberfest. That one is a bit on the family friendly side which may be a feature, not a bug. #dadlife
When the seasons change, explains DC Brau co-founder Brandon Skall, his brewery’s canning line acts up. In the last week, roughly 65 cases of canned beer were sealed while only half or two-thirds full. “It’s perfect beer, but the cans are just too shallow to go to the market,” Skall says. The brewery staff prepared to get rid of the beer, but “it breaks my heart to just dump it down the drain,” Skall says.
Then he had a brainstorm. “I’d heard about people who distilled with beer, so I called John [Uselton, the owner of New Columbia Distillers] and asked him if we could do something with it.”
Then, news broke late Thursday that Pabst Brewing is being sold to Russian company Oasis Beverages for an undisclosed sum. Oasis is partnering with TSG, an investment firm, to buy Pabst. TSG Consumer Partners will take a minority stake in Pabst.
Oasis describes itself as a “leading independent brewer in Russia with growing soft drink operations.” The company was founded in 2008. It has facilities in Kazakhstan, Belarus and Ukraine.
So, in addition to Pabst, Old Style, Schlitz, Natty Boh, Old Milwaukee, Stroh’s and others are now all Russian owned…
With the sale of PBR to a Russian company, the USA has officially won the Cold War
Remember two years ago when a massive storm that crossed half the continent knocked power out for many of us for several days? Port City responded to the lack of electricity by hastily putting together Derecho Common. Thankfully, Alexandria hasn’t had any extensive power outages since then, but they have made Derecho Common a summer tradition. It turns out they’ll give you taste if you buy one of their cycling jerseys too. That is, if is still available. I have had a couple of Derechos and I’m saving at least two for when a friend returns from overseas. Well, maybe.
MEANWHILE, IN THE DISTRICT
District breweries are now allowed to sell pints thanks to a new law. That’s already legal in Virginia and even the nanny-state of Maryland. Not that Virginia is perfect as we’ll see later.
SPEAKING OF BUYING PINTS AT BREWERIES
The industry’s growth was strengthened by state legislation in 2012, when the state changed a provision governing on-site consumption at brewery tasting rooms, allowing the sale of pints of beer rather than just tasting samples.
That legislation, which D.C. just caught up on, has seen significant impacts across Virginia in Loudoun County in particular:
Since the law was revised, the craft beer industry in Virginia has seen 75 percent growth in the number of breweries, driving a statewide economic impact of $623 million, according to Virginia Craft Brewers Guild, a group composed of small, independent breweries in the commonwealth.
During a recent trip to Nationals Park, I finally got to try some Atlas Brew Works beers. Their anniversary is coming up on September 6, by the way. The first was their common which I liked more than their 1500 South Capitol Street lager, specifically brewed for Nationals Park. It’s good to knock off a few more beers and hopefully, I’ll get to visit their brewery sometime soon.
Fauquier County, best known as the first to close their school system during snow storms, is also home to gentleman hops grower, @thefolkist and now Old Bust Head Brew, on Vint Hill which is sort of an in-joke.
Far away from here both in distance and time is the fall of Stroh’s (Forbes) or as I know it, “the beer a friend’s dad used to drink when he was driving us to the pool.” Ah, the 1980s, such a more innocent time. Aside from being a textbook example of an “old dad beer” Stroh’s is a microcosm of Detroit in general, right? h/t Vince Guerrieri
HOPPILY EVER AFTER
Lastly, congrats to Maryland homebrewer The Ombudsman.
Also, if you plan on serving homebrewed (especially if it’s out of state) beer at a Virginia wedding, don’t bother mentioning it to the ABC if you have to apply for a liquor license. A groomsman had to pass out bottles the morning after since we couldn’t have it at the reception.
Oh and we look forward to a “new home” themed beer too.
Brewer Chris is literally head over heals excited about brewing our first Oktoberfest!! http://t.co/5VHGEcWrgQ
ARLINGTON, Va. — It took four months (I don’t take many lunches) but I finally made it to the newest Ben’s Chili Bowl location at 1725 Wilson Blvd. It’s between the Courthouse and Rosslyn Metro stations. I’d say it’s a 10 minute walk from Courthouse.
I had another customer in front of me, but the wait to order or recieve my order was probably just a little over five minutes. I got my usual, a half-smoke with mustard, onions and chili, plus fries and a Pepsi. It tasted like more or perhaps MOOOAARRRR!
The interior is pleasant and reminiscent of the original location, without being kitschy. One of the walls is a big celebration and timeline of Ben’s. Overall, it’s a pleasant design. They have a big screen on the opposite wall; it was playing a “Nats Classic” when I arrived, probably Stephen Strasburg’s second start (though it was the 9th inning, Tyler Clippard relieved Miguel Batista). Since it was nice day and the patio tables were still in shade, I enjoyed dining al fresco.
Today, Ben’s continues to expand with another Arlington location:
Pssst… Here's a super sneak peek at our new Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport location. See you there… http://t.co/djQQRZdV40
The new location is in the public area of the airport, lower level B/C – no TSA lines necessary. It’s an appropriate addition to one of the gateways to the city. Later this year, the long-planned H Street NE location will open along with Ben’s Next Door.
After I initially became aware of the closure of the 29 Diner (nee 29 Tastee Diner, my photo above is circa 1995), I CC’ed a couple of loval Post columnists about the demise. Both indicated that 29 Diner would return. The Post still hasn’t reported anything, but yesterday I found that Northern Virginia Magazine has details:
New owner and Fairfax native, John Wood hopes to reopen the doors of this iconic establishment in late July. “We just signed the lease,” says Wood. “As soon as we get all of our marching orders from the Virginia Board of Historical Resources we will reopen. It is going to be the same classic diner that it has been for the last 67 years.”
As a much-needed renovation progresses over the summer, the diner’s parking lot will host events, including food truck visits and car shows. They hope the diner itself will reopen by Labor Day.
And when it reopens? There will be diner food, yes, John and Billy said, but also artisanal food served by a rotating cast of acclaimed chefs. There’s likely to be a barbecue component, too. Ambitious.
John said the plan is to work with groups that help veterans and the homeless. He said the Lord inspires him to give back.
There were several comments on Facebook about the closing of the diner. I’ll admit to some nostalgia and will probably take a visit there sometime now. My wife’s never been and I think my six year old may enjoy it too. Adding barbecue makes me want to go back more. And artisanal food, why not? Though I’d just be happy if it’s less greasy than before.
By the way, Wikipedia mentions that the diner has been featured in a few Zippy the Pinhead comic strips over the years, including this one from 2003.
Via my brother, I learned that the 29 Tastee Diner in the city of Fairfax closed in May. The classic diner had been just west of the intersection of VA 123 on US 29 there for 67 years, hence the name though the road scholar in me feels obligated to note that US 50 is also along that stretch and US 211 was as well before being decommissioned east of Warrenton. Here’s a excerpt from the web site:
The Tastes 29 Diner is architecturally significant as one of very few diners left in the United States exhibiting exceptional streamline Moderns design and construction characteristics.
This particular model would have appeared unique in its day and especially unusual in the then rural back drop of the Virginia countryside. Through the 1940a and 1950s, the Mountain View Diner Company custom fit its diners to the level demanded by customers: they manufactured high-quality diners that were “built to last a lifetime.” The Tastes 29 Diner is now surrounded by intense commercial development.
Was it “Tastes” all along? I remembered it as Tastee. Also, Mountain View Diner Company built hundreds of diners and was based in New Jersey (naturally), not far from where my dad grew up.
When I was a teenager working at the Oakton Friendly’s (long-gone too) that was where we’d congregate after work regularly for a late night dinner. It was a time warp to when Fairfax wasn’t part of a major metropolis; just a sleepy county seat of a largely rural Northern Virginia.
The food was greasy; I couldn’t handle it now. The cook smoked while working. There was a neon sign advertising air conditioning. It was the setting of one of the local car dealers commercials (AND A FREE LOH-NAH CAH). There was a sign that said YCJCYADFTJB – Your curiosity just cost you a dime for the juke box.
I had not eaten there since the late 1990s, but I always figured if it made that long, it’d be there forever. I hope diner gets re-opened/re-used somehow either at its present location or elsewhere. It’d be a shame to see that vintage building be destroyed.
It’s time again for my monthly-ish round-up of BeltwayLand and beyond beer news.
WETA has a brief feature on brewing in the D.C. area with Garrett Peck, author of Capital Beer: A Heady History of Brewing in Washington, D.C. (I need to get it) which gives the broad history of beer in the area. Fun fact – Robert Portner developed air conditioning to make lager beer year round at his Alexandria brewery. Two of his great-granddaughters are going to open Portner Brewhouse in Alexandria, details TBD. They are also mentioned in Washingtonian‘s Women in Washington’s Craft Beer Scene. Now, on with our feature presentation:
Devil’s Backbone Vienna Lager won The Post’s Beer Madness, a regional beer tournament (that’s a big region). I’m a fan and have been since I tried it at the behest of Slow States. Once I found it. It’s now my go-to during my now infrequent trips to the Vienna Inn, but I can’t seem to find it in stores of late. Harris Teeter shaved off $2 from the price of a six-pack, so that may be part of the reason. Overall, it seems harder to find local/regional beers in grocery stores of late, is anybody else noticing that?