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.
— Port City Brewing Co (@PortCityBrew) January 30, 2015
There is growth throughout the region that’s hard to keep up with, but now there is contraction as well.
CHOCOLATE CITY BEER AULD LANG SYNE
Back in July, @map408psu and I wondered aloud on Twitter if there was a craft beer bubble.
Since then, t Chocolate City was closed effective December 31. @SeanMMcNally had another take:
@doubleuefwhy No. Beer wasn't that good. That's not a bubble, that's the market.
— Sean McNally (@SeanMMcNally) December 17, 2014
@doubleuefwhy I had it a couple times. Beer was "fine," but being local and "fine" isn't enough with much better offerings around here.
— Sean McNally (@SeanMMcNally) December 17, 2014
Chocolate City becomes the first of the class of 2011 to fold. I never got to try it.
BREAKING: JOHN RIGGINS LIKES BEER, WANTS TO DO A SHOW
Riggo, one of the most beloved DC athletes ever wants to expand his television presence with a show called Brew Stories:
RED BULL VS. OLD OX
Oh look, a multi-national corporation is being obnoxious with a small privately-owned business (WJLA) in another category:
So, I guess I’ll be hating on the Red Bull NY soccer team a little more during D.C. United’s season. Old Ox is named after the road that goes through Loudoun County.
SPEAKING OF DC UNITED & BRAU
Backup goalie, Andrew Dykstra, is a home-brewer and his latest is Achilles Pale Ale (The Post). May none of his bottles rupture like his tendon.
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.
— Jacob Berg (@jacobsberg) February 19, 2015
DC Brau has stopped giving away free samples though, scapegoating bad apples (The Post) abusing the previous system.
Speaking of apples…
IF IT’S TANGY AND BROWN, YOUR IN CIDERTOWN
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.
VIRGINIA EXURBS BEER TOURISM
What’s brewing in Northern Virginia: Old Bust Head, Heritage Brewing and BadWolf Brewing – The Post
How to make a day of visiting breweries in the Western suburbs.
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:
|Raspberry Stout||Hardywood Park Craft Brewery||American-Style Fruit Beer||Richmond, Va.|
|Schwartz Bier||Devils Backbone Brewing Co. – Outpost||German-Style Schwarzbier||Lexington, Va.|
|Rauchbier||Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant – Annapolis||Belgian-Style Witbier||Annapolis, Md.|
|Amber Waves Ale||Capitol City Brewing Co.||American-Style Amber/Red Ale||Arlington, Va.|
|Old Virginia Dark||Devils Backbone Brewing Co. – Outpost||American-Style Dark Lager||Lexington, Va.|
|Turbo Cougar||Devils Backbone Brewing Co. – Outpost||Bock||Lexington, Va.|
|Belgian IPA||Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant – Rockville||American-Belgo-Style Ale||Rockville, Md.|
|Belgian IPA||Union Craft Brewing||American-Belgo-Style Ale||Baltimore, Md.|
|The Citizen||DC Brau Brewing Co.||Belgian- and French-Style Ale||Washington, D.C.|
|Alt Bier||Devils Backbone Brewing Co. – Basecamp||German-Style Altbier||Roseland, Va.|
|Hydraulion Red/td>||Three Notch’d Brewing Co.||Irish-Style Red Ale||Charlottesville, Va.|
|Sweet Baby Jesus!||DuClaw Brewing Co.||Chocolate Beer||Rosedale, Md.|
|Danzig||Devils Backbone Brewing Co. – Basecamp||Baltic-Style Porter|
|Gold||Heavy Seas Beer||Golden or Blonde Ale||Baltimore, Md.|
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.
FLYING DOG PLANTS A FLAG IN LOUDOUN
Frederick’s Flying Dog, which is conspicuously a Maryland beer (well, for a Colorado-owned company), is setting up shop across the Potomac in Lucketts (Loudoun Times):
…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.