Tag Archives: Alexandria

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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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BeltwayLand and beyond beer: Oktoberfest!

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.

OKTOBERFESTS
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.

DC Brau is releasing their first Oktoberfest:

“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.

OMBUDTOBERFEST?
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 festivalsThe 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

DC Beer Festival is at Nationals Park on November 8.

Flying Dog keeps a pretty busy events schedule too.

Of course there is a downside to all of these festivals — undesirables from out of state sometimes come down for these things:

OLD BUST HEAD IS OPEN
Just days after the last BeltwayLand and beyond beer update, Old Bust Head opened it’s doors.

Old Bust Head Brewing Co. puts Fauquier beer on mapFauquier Now

By the way, gentleman farmer and the respectable half of Slow States, @thefolkist, grew hops for Old Bust Head’s Harvest Ale.

DISTILLED BEER?
Here’s one I missed from the summer — DC Brau and New Columbia Distillers (makers of Green Hat gin) are collaborating:

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.”

New Columbia Distillers is turning DC Brau into … somethingThe Post

HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE
Virginia Craft Brewers Cup 2014 Winners Announced
Devil’s Backbone, host of the Brewer’s Cup, did very well in the Virginia Craft Brewers Cup, as reported by Virginia Beer Trail.

WHERE TO GET CRAFT BEER AT NATIONALS PARK
The Washington Nationals have one homestand left, so make sure you visit the Nationals Review beer guide one more time before heading to Nationals Park.

VIRGINIA IS FOR BEER LOVERS
The Virginia is for Lovers site, virginia.org, has an extensive section on Virginia Craft Beer & Breweries.

BIKEABLE BREWS
Keeping on the tourism theme, Crooked Run Brewing tweeted out this GitHub map of breweries and brewpubs along the W&OD Trail. No love for the Vienna Inn though? They sell some craft beer now.

Cycling to a brewery sounds fun. Cycling back from one though, that could be another story. Discipline, food, time and a lot of water are probably required for this to work out. Be responsible.

WHY CRAFT BEER COST $12 A SIX PACK
Craft beer costs more than macro beer and Huffington Post is on it.

EVERY BEER LABEL IS APPROVED BY ONE MAN
Meet the Beer Bottle DictatorThe Daily Beast
Somewhere in the DC area, Kevin “Battle” Martin approves every beer label for the Tax and Trade Bureau.

BREAKING “OLD DAD BEER” NEWS
Pabst Brewing Co. sold to Russian firm Oasis Beverages Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel
The Ruskies bought PBR!

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…

Well played, sir.

SIGNING OFF
I’ve already spent 10 days writing this post, so enough is enough.

PROST!

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Port City Brewing Co. cycling jersey and Derecho Common

Summer BeltwayLand and beyond beer update

It’s Craft Beer Month in Virginia. D.C Craft Beer week starts on August 17 (The Post) and the CityPaper has the Beer Issue out. Follow @dcbeerweek for more or visit dcbeerweek.net

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.

The whole story: ‘A rising tide’ of craft breweries in Loudoun and beyondThe Post

Bill Butcher of Port City is quoted in the Virginia Business cover story, The business of beer which also details what 2012 SB 604 has done for beer in the Commonwealth.

A few more details: Virginia’s local craft beer industry on the rise (The Daily Press, Newport News)

This growth can’t be sustainable, but it’ll be fun when it’s going on and hopefully, the good beers will survive through consolidation.

For what it’s worth, I do a fair share of “tourism” in Loudoun County for outdoor activities. It’s beautiful country, once you get past the Sterling/Ashburn sprawl.

Further out, Devil’s Backbone is hosting the 2014 Virginia Craft Brewers Cup on August 23 too.

The last time I was in Vienna, I bought the last six pack of Vienna Lager to leave in my mom’s fridge for future visits.

2 YEARS, 3 STARS

Saturday was the second anniversary party of 3 stars brewing.

ATLAS

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.

ANOTHER NATIONALS PARK BEER RANKING

The Post rated The Best Beer in Baseball this past week. Nationals Park came in 13th overall (21st locality | 8th quality | 8th uniqueness). This took into consideration more than local beers though, unlike the report mentioned in a previous BeltwayLand Brewing update.

OLD BUST HEAD

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.

WESTOVER BEER GARDEN EXPANDING

I normally just focus on packaging breweries, but I like Westover Beer Garden, so I’ll mention their upcoming Clarendon location (ARLnow.com).

ALEX, YOU BETTER BE DRINKING YOUR WATER

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.

NEXT TIME

Stay tuned for the next update for Oktoberfest (TOO SOON) — are you seeing an Oktoberfest beers yet? Let me know when you do.

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District Drafts - Local beers at Nationals Park, Washington, D.C.

Local beer is a part of DC’s past and now it’s present and the Nats are helping

We are three years into the greater Washington D.C. brewing revival and things are going well. The Washington Business Journal covered it in a recent issue.

With craft brewing boom, D.C.’s beer scene returns to its regional roots

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.”

Make sure you read the rest of the story, along with this one, How the Nats are feeding D.C.’s beer industry:

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.

Yesterday, Atlas Brew Works announced that a new beer brewed exclusively for the ballpark – Atlas Brew Works Teams Up with the Washington Nationals to offer The 1500 South Cap Lager Exclusively at Nationals Park:

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.

Nationals Park is said to be the 5th best ballpark for craft breweries (WTOP) and that was before this year’s upgrades. There are new foods available too (DC Sports Bog, The Post), though I’ll stick to Ben’s half-smokes.

It’s a great time to be a beer drinker and baseball fan in BeltwayLand and I think it’s only getting better.

UPDATE

I’ve added DC Sports Bog’s post about the beer in the ballpark: The local craft beer at Nats Park

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