Category Archives: Virginia

More distilleries are coming to greater D.C. region

D.C. – it’s more than just a brewery town now as a second distillery has opened. We already know about New Columbia Distillers and Cactocin Creek in Northeast and Loudoun County, respectively. They now have a few competitors.

In the District

Back on January 8, another distillery, One Eight | @OneEightD, arrived in Northeast Washington. From their About Us page:

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.

From last month, just before they opened (NBC Washington):
One Eight Distilling Opens Next Week in Northeast D.C.One Eight Distilling Opens Next Week in Northeast D.C.

They currently produce District Made Vodka, Rock Creek White Whiskey and Ivy City Gin. A rye and bourbon are several years away.

In Manassas

Meanwhile, in Prince William County KO Distilling will be opening its doors this spring (Inside NoVa):

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’s new gin

New Columbia has a new gin – Navy Strength to go along with the flagship Green Hat Gin.

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.

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BeltwayLand Beer 4 years in plus Riggo, Red Bull vs. Old Ox; minus Chocolate City

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:

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:

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:

The pilot was shot at Port City. I posted this on tumblr and twitter and DC Sports Bog’s Scott Allen picked it up. Too bad he had to cram his favorite, DC-hating baseball team into it.

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 —

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.

BEER TOURS

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 BrewingThe 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.

h/t @dcsportschick

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:

GOLD
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.
SILVER
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.
BRONZE
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.

OKTOBERFEST RECAP

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)
Shinerfest (Texas)
Harpoon (New England)
Leingkugel (Wisconsin)
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.

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Gannett thinking of selling Tysons headquarters again

Gannett exploring sale of Tysons headquartersThe Post
My former employer of many years, Gannett Co. Inc. and publisher of USA Today is thinking of selling its Tysons (McLean mailing address) headquarters again. This seems to come up at least once a year, but now it’s official from the CEO’s mouth. They simply do not need all the office space with a very different business model than when the building was designed in the 1990s. The company splitting in two – broadcast/digital and newspapers (with none of the company debt) as well.

The building location could be a bit of a disadvantage — while Tysons is seeing a lot of new construction, most of it is right along the Silver Line and 7950 Jones Branch Drive isn’t within a half-mile of a station. The World Bank was rumored to be interested at one point, but that fizzled. ExxonMobil and SAIC is also looking to unload their Fairfax County campuses. I’m not sure the amenities like a walking path around a large stormwater retention pond are that big of a selling point. I do miss “walk time” with my former colleagues though.

As for a new location, the opportunity to move back to Arlington is there since that office market is depressed right now. For about 19 years, USA Today was headquartered at 1000 Wilson Blvd. in Rosslyn and Gannett spent 15 years next door in the twin tower at 1100. The tallest building in that skyline is vacant (Wash. Biz Journal) and probably wouldn’t mind a big brand name tenant. The current Corporate Executive Board building will also be vacated when that organization moves into a new tower at the site of the old Orleans House.

It seemed like half my colleagues lived in Ashburn so they might have a retention problem with a move like that, though the Silver Line might be finished out that way by then. Of course, selling the current Gannett/USA Today building and then leasing space could be an option. I’m just a spectator on this one, but had I still been with Gannett I’d have been hoping for move.

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VDOT releases 1949 footage of Shirley Highway in Alexandria

va350_old_tinyThe Virginia Department of Transportation has released another Then & Now video, this time of Henry G. Shirley Highway in 1949, then known as Virginia primary route 350 and now Interstate 395. Last time, the video was of US 29 in Arlington. This time VDOT recreated about a 2-mile drive along Shirley Highway and combined it with the 1949 footage (IN COLOR!) of the same stretch of road, though nothing really is the same:

Shirley Highway predates the interstate highway system, having been built to provide access to the Pentagon and the Fairlington development that came out of World War II as well as a bypass of US 1 a bypass of US 1 between the Occoquan and Potomac Rivers. Technically, Shirley Highway did not go over either river, but provided a direct connection between the two of them.

In the original 1956 interstate highway plan, VA 350 was to be part of I-95. The new number may not have been posted as such until massive rebuilding in the early 1970s that included 2 reversible express lanes. The designation was short-lived though as the proposal to build I-95 between New York Ave (US 50) and the Capital Beltway near College Park was cancelled. Shirley Highway was re-designated I-395 in 1977.

The contrast between then and now is striking of course. The video begins near Edsall Road which today is just south of the terminus of the “EZ Pass Express” toll lanes that supplanted the 1971 express lanes. The two lanes in each direction with no shoulders of 1949 is unrecognizable to the 11 lanes over three separated roadways of now. The hills of the Alexandria area are quite visible too — it looks like a rural area then. Because it was.

Concrete arch bridges (similar to the Washington Blvd spans over Columbia Pike that are being replaced now) and sporadic white guide signs have been replaced by steel girders and frequent big green signs. A conspicuous NO THRU TRUCKS signal also makes an appearance.

Rolling along in 1949 Shirley Highway was through untouched country side past the current Landmark Mall (opened as a shopping center in 1956) and the new Mark Center. Van Dorn Street, which parallels Shirley Highway now wasn’t even there yet, nor was it’s residential development. That would come within a decade. The large Mark Center building would only open in the last few years.

This is a fun exercise for me, seeing what the area close to my current home looked like long before I was born. A late former neighbor grew up in Fairlington and told me about how they would ride their bicycles along the grading for an Shirley Highway when it was under construction; I wish I could show him this video.

There is a lot more to learn about Shirley Highway and see maps and photographs and I recommend the following sites:

Adam Froehlig and Mike Roberson’s Virginia Highways Project – VA 350

Scott Kozel’s Roads to the Future – Henry G. Shirley Memorial Highway

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