ALEXANDRIA, Va. — For the third consecutive winter, we’ve had measurable snow fall in March; it’s like I don’t even know you anymore, BeltwayLand. This time, I measured 5 ⅞ inches total. I’m guessing more than that fell, but since it rained since yesterday, a lot of of it probably melted. It may reach 6 inches if it keeps falling for a little longer.
What’s noteworthy about this storm is protests against the U.S. Capitol policy banning sledding. D.C. delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton tried to get the ban lifted, but Capitol police did not do it, so there was a protest, hence the “Sled Free of Die Storm.” That’s a way better name than whatever The Weather Channel used.
After waiting until February 17 for the first snow day of the year, Alexandria City Public Schools are now on their third closing. I think the last one was a “well, we have these snow days just lying around” situation, but today was a valid one. Our family in Fairfax County and Virginia though – whoa, they’ve been hammered with snow days and I feel for them.
ALEXANDRIA, Va. — In 2008, this HAWK signal debuted at the intersection of N. Van Dorn Street and Maris Avenue, yet motorists still seem puzzled by it.
Recently, while waiting for the bus, the HAWK signal (High intensity Activated crossWalK) was activating about every minute without intervention. That gave me a chance to see about 5 cycles and how motorists responded. Some simply blew through it, despite four reds in each direction. Others stopped and remained so until the entire red cycle, including flashing, was completed. Few knew that if the crosswalks were clear, the flashing reds function as a stop sign and it was permissible to proceed after a full stop. That was the norm and only on one occasion did it lead to horns honking.
Given the length of time the HAWK signal has been in service, it’s clear that they are not universally understood. HAWK signals aren’t unique to this Alexandria intersection either — there are some on Eisenhower Ave. as well as installations in Arlington and The District. Is more education needed? Even then, how often are drivers in a position to be educated when licenses only come up for renewal every four years in the commonwealth. The other possibility is to convert HAWKs to standard red-yellow-green signals.
Either way, I believe that having traffic control at this particular intersection is warranted. The busy 8W/8Z Metro bus route as well as a DASH bus route travels along Van Dorn St. daily. The layout of the corridor, residential on the east side and a buffer between Van Dorn & Interstate 395 on the west side limits the HAWK usage to primarily in the evening so that bus riders can cross Van Dorn to get to condos and apartments. I have seen some motorists from Maris Ave. get out of their cars and activate the HAWK so that they can turn left in the morning as well.
ALEXANDRIA, Va. —ALEXANDRIA, Va. — I added this after the fact for posterity. It snowed 2¼ inches and I measured on my patio because it was dry when the storm started — the yard still had leftover snow from the Fat Presidents Storm.
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.
ALEXANDRIA, Va. — It may be #blizzardof2015 (of #BlizzardBust) further up the Northeast Corridor, but here it’s 1 ½ inches of accumulated powder. It took me about 20 minutes to get the car cleared off to an acceptable level. Traffic along Interstate 395 and N. Van Dorn Street is moving well; about 4 Metrobuses and one DASH bus went by as I was clearing.
Alexandria City Public Schools are on a two hour day, as is the Federal Government. The rest of the area – WTOP Closings & Delays
ALEXANDRIA, Va. — For over a year, a broken sewer line closed portions of the Holmes Run Trail west of ParkLawn Swimming pool. There were warnings to stay away from the water and at times, the trail was completely fenced off.
Since mid-September though, the trail has been available if not officially reopened. New asphalt has been laid down between Columbia Pike and Parklawn make the ride much smoother too. Combined with the Eisenhower Ave. Trail, there is a continuous route from Lake Barcroft to the Carlye section of Alexandria, just west of Old Town.
West of Interstate 395 and of Beauregard Street in particular, Holmes Run carves its way out of rock as it descends toward Cameron Run and the tidal Potomac River. It’s beautiful all year long, but particularly as the autumnal color arrives.
The western terminus of the trail is at Columbia Pike near Lake Barcroft. Descending in a generally south-southeast direction through the woods, the trail has four water crossings. The second-most western one tends to be fairly deep, several inches. If you choose to ride through the at-grade water crossings YOU WILL GET WET. The alternative is to carry your bicycle as you walk across stepstones. As of October 25, the water wasn’t too cold yet.
After the fourth water crossing, the new pavement ends in the vicinity of Parklawn Swimming pool. The setting is more open and all there is a brief respite from the leaf covered trail. Near Chambliss Street there is a recently constructed concrete bridge over the Run and then it is back into forest. There is a fork in the trail, but keep right for the main trail. Dora Kelley Park abuts the trail here and there are a few other trails through their to the streets of western Alexandria. The trail surfaces changes along this stretch with old asphalt, concrete and even wooden viaducts to contend with along the way. Traffic also picks up, mostly walkers, many of them with dogs who may or may not be leashed. Give ample warning and be prepared to stop as the level of attentiveness cannot be relied upon. Climbing up to Beauregard Street is a wooden viaduct that can feel quite narrow with others on it. After crossing Beauregard, the trail winds through the woods with poor sightlines. Here it is especially important to be mindful of others and take a leisurely pace.
The trail travels through two tunnels, a long dark one at I-395 and another at Van Dorn Street. Expect to be splashed by the puddles along the way. The final crossing of Homles Run is atop a damn east of Van Dorn Street. From there, the trail footprint is within a long, narrow park, so watch out for families and small children. After the park, it’s back into the woods before an underpass at Duke Street. A sharp turn awaits near another playground and then the final stretch to Eisenhower Avenue under railroad and Metro viaducts — it’s a good spot for railfans. At Eisenhower Avenue, cyclists have the option of choosing the sidewalk on the northside of the roadway to Great Waves water park or continuing under the roadway to a merge onto the Eisenhower Avenue Trail that parallels Cameron Run.
Judging by the weather for this weekend and next week, this may be the last weekend with decent conditions for some time. It’s also a good park to hike through with some scrambling opportunities as well.
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
The one thing that today’s beer businesses have in common with the District’s brewers of old? A regional focus.
The heyday of Washington brewing was probably in the 1850s and 1860s, when tons of breweries sprung up to produce lager for the many Union soldiers stationed around the city. Eventually, the smaller, family-owned breweries closed, leaving about six huge breweries serving the region.
Those breweries were well known and respected businesses, according to Peck. Their founders also owned real estate, started banks and operated rail networks. Robert Portner, whose brewing company sat where Trader Joe’s is now located on Washington Street in Alexandria, distributed his beer by rail throughout the south.
The largest Washington brewer, and the only one that survived Prohibition, was the Christian Heurich Brewing Co. (Heurich sold ice during the 1920s to keep his business solvent.) Booze may have been able to flow freely, but that didn’t mean all was well for the brewer. One side effect of “The Noble Experiment” was the strengthening of huge, national beer companies.
“By the 1930s, there had emerged a national media market for advertising, so the ones who best competed in that were the national brewers, rather than the regional brewers like Heurich,” Peck said. “The smaller brewers couldn’t compete, and the national beer market really consolidated in the years after Prohibition.”
Nationals Park. The home of the Washington Nationals, which first, added local craft beer offerings to its concessions last year with two District Draft carts featuring local brews, is adding two more carts this year. And some local craft beers will be sold on draft and in cans throughout the season at the Red Porch and at other Baseline Brew locations throughout the stadium.
The Nationals expect to increase the amount of craft beer sold at the District Draft carts by 50 percent — from about 40 kegs per home stand last year to at least 60 kegs per home stand this year.
“I don’t expect it to double, but it’s going to be tough to tell,” said Jonathan Stahl, senior director of guest experience and hospitality operations for the Nationals. “What we don’t know right now is are we just spreading the same crowd from last year or are we going to be appealing to a broader audience. I think it’ll be somewhere in between.”
I’ve been working on a story on the local craft brew industry — Shameless plug: The story comes out in our Friday print edition — and the demand from the Nationals repeatedly came up during interviews.
The stadium will feature beer from most of the big names in local brewing: D.C. Brau, 3 Stars Brewing Co., Atlas Brew Works, Port City Brewing Co., Mad Fox Brewing Co. and Flying Dog Brewing Co.
The relatively new Atlas Brew Works might have the biggest presence, with plans for its beers to be featured at both the carts and on draft at the Red Porch during each home stand.
There is even more exciting Nats beer news:
In addition to offering more local craft beer throughout the stadium, the Nats are also launching a new promotion: Firkin Fridays, which will feature two local beers in cask on Fridays of each home stand. First up on opening day, April 4, will be beers from D.C. Brau and Flying Dog, although the exact beers haven’t been finalized yet.
The 1500 South Cap Lager, named after the address of Nationals Park, is a 4.8% Helles lager that will be a great compliment to a sunny day in the stands. “The 1500 is an American spin on a traditional German style pale lager. It features light malt notes and earthy American hops,” said Will Durgin, Atlas’ Head Brewer. The beer will be available at locations throughout the three levels of the ballpark the Red Porch Restaurant in Center Field Plaza.
I am eager to try it, though I wish the press release came out on a day other than April 1.
It’s great to see the Nats are embracing the local brewing scene and probably good business for them too. Given a choice of marked up beers available, I’m inclined to support the local one, even if it’s a dollar or two more.