WASHIGNTON, D.C. — After visiting New Columbia Distillery, my friends and I took the several block journey to Atlas Brew Works on West Virginia Ave. Many of the same people we saw at the distillery had also made their way to Atlas.
Atlas was established in 2013. The 2502 West Virginia Ave. NE location is a warehouse that has been converted to a brewery and bar, opposite Mt. Olivet Cemetary. Entering from the loading dock area, we were greeted by a D.C. Slices food truck, a welcome sign. After acquiring pizza and tater tots, we went inside and most of us ordered flight of four beers: La Saison des Fêtes, Rowdy Rye, District Common and Home Rule IPA. As it was crowded on that chilly March Saturday, the picnic tables were all spoken for, so we stood by the end of the bar. I found all of the beers to be agreeable, even the Rowdy Rye as the rye wasn’t overpowering. The Common was smooth, had a nice color. The Saison proved to be my favorite and when it was time to drink my half-pint I selected it, though I would have been happy with the common or the stout. An informal poll showed the Saison was the most popular. We skipped the tour, though with all the kettles right there, it’s easy to see how the beer is brewed.
Atlas is now making its way into stores in cans — I’ve seen it at the NoMa Harris Teeter. They also brew a Nationals Park only beer called 1500 South Capitol which I have had this and last season.
Atlas is open 5-8 p.m. on Fridays and 1-8 on Saturdays and Sundays. It’s served by bus routes D3, D4, E2 and I recommend that or some other form of designated driver. It’s just a short walk from our first destination, New Columbia Distillery.
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.
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
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?
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.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Yesterday was my first Washington Capitals game in person since January 2012, but my son’s first ever. It was a successful debut for the 5½ year old — the Caps beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-2!
I bought tickets for the matinee on Sunday morning for about 33% of their listed price on StubHub. My son was very excited to be going to his first game and I was excited that I got in for the prices I used to pay back during the Dark Years when my wife (then girlfriend) and I would decide at 6:30 to jump on the Yellow Line at Pentagon City and head up to MCI Center to see them in their inexplicably all black uniforms. Our tickets were even in section 409, where we used to sit those many years ago.
On our way into the arena, the couple behind us offered two extra tickets in section 109. We accepted, but I told them I wanted to watch the game upstairs for the first period and we’d see them after intermission.
I made a stop at the local beer stand and purchased a Port City Optimal Wit, a whopping $11 with souvenir cup. Still, I’d rather pay $11 for a beer brewed in my city than $8 or 9 for something bland and mass produced by a multinational conglomerate. So, the lesson is, at least when it comes to appealing to this consumer, supporting local breweries is good for business for Verizon Center. DC Brau is also available.
Our seats were as always great up in 409. Contrary to my typical experience in that section, the Caps kept the action in front of us scoring 3 goals: Troy Brouwer (PPG, 03:34), Jason Chimera (06:57)
and Joel Ward (PPG, 08:44) over 14 shots. The Caps only gave up 2 shots, but Jaroslav Halak let the second one by Troy Bodie through late in the period.
At intermission, we left 409 and made our way down to 109. We also got the chicken fingers & fries basket and a Pepsi (another food service decision I support) for a total of $15. Good thing the tickets were cheap. We greeted the couple that gave us the tickets and thanked them, though an offer to buy the lady a beverage or snack was declined. They were quite pleased to share in my son’s first hockey game. The weather even cooperated with snow flurries not beginning until after the game, giving it an appropriate winter feel, I guess (and now over 7 inches later, we’re all home from school/work today).
The second period was a completely different experience in multiple ways. A dozen or so rows from the Caps shoot twice goal, the Maple Leafs stormed back and shot 20 times. Dion Panueff got one past Halak and tension filled the Phone Booth. The realization that my son’s winter coat was not with us only added to it. So, during intermission we retraced our steps back to 409 and not finding it, looked around. Thankfully, it turned up on the first level in Guest Services. So a BIG THANKS to the person who turned it in and to Guest Services for keeping it for us.
The final period was exciting, but neither goalie was folding under the pressure. The Caps killed off two power plays too. Finally, the Leafs pulled their goalie with about a minute left and I got to explain to my short neighbor why. It worked out for the Caps who added a final goal into the empty net with four seconds left. Brouwer was credited with his second goal of the game, though Nicklas Backstrom could have tapped it in, but declined.
Despite two goals from Brouwer, Ward was the 1st star of the game and deservedly so, having scored a goal and fed Chimera for the deflection shot in the 1st.
We left for the Metro and even ran into the couple from 409 who were also delighted that my son’s first game was a winner. He LOVED the experience and had to be told (but only once or twice) to stop bouncing in his seat from excitement. I think he may be a fan for life, he had so much fun. I am looking forward to taking him to many games in the future.
Washington, DC – Get ready, Maryland, DC Brau is coming! Fans of DC BRAU in Baltimore, Annapolis and even as close to DC as National Harbor won’t have to wait much longer to enjoy the brewery’s offerings at their favorite locals. Starting this week, DC BRAU will begin working with Legends Limited (http://greatbrewers.com/legends-limited) to distribute five of its signature beers in 20 more counties in Maryland, plus Baltimore City.
Fan favorite spot, District Drafts, will have two new locations – creating a total of four locations around the park – and feature local taps from DC Brau, 3 Stars Brewing Company, Port City Brewing Company and more.
Now at least $9 beers will be local!
Savor, The “the benchmark event in craft beer and food pairing”, returns to its Washington, D.C. home, at the National Building Museum, on May 9 and 10, 2014″ features several local & regional breweries according to YOURS FOR GOOD FERMENTABLES.
I think Devil’s Backbone Vienna Lager (Roseland, Va.) is going to become my regular beer after I get through all of my Oktoberfests. It tastes great on draft at the Vienna Inn too. By the way, the 21st was the fifth anniversary of Devil’s Backbone (Blue Ridge Life). That’s an old photo of it from two summers ago.
Though not limited to this region, I sampled several Oktoberfests of various spellings this year.
Shiner Octoberfest (Shiner, Tex.)
Great Lakes (Cleveland, Ohio)
Port City (Alexandria, Va.)
Leingkugel (Chippewa Falls, Wis.)
Dominion (Dover, Del.)
Samuel Adams (Boston, Mass./Trexlertown, Pa.)
Yuengling (Pottsville, Pa/Tampa, Fla.)
Hofbrau (Munich, Germany)
No Flying Dog this year, but that’s okay, I was not a big fan anyway.
Breweries from the Commonwealth of Virginia did very well at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver. My hometown brewer, Port City Brewing Co. here in Alexandria, took home gold for its Optimal Wit. I really enjoy it in late spring and early fall when there is just a sligtht coolness in the air.
Lost Rhino Brewing Co. in Ashburn won for Rhinofest, a märzen beer. I have not tried that yet and probably blew it for this year. It’s a shame, I was out that way twice in the last month or so.
Outside of Northern Virginia, Lexington’s Devil’s Backbone Brewing Company won in the American-Style Dark Lager and Belgian- and French-Style Ale categories with Old Virginia Dark and Azreal, respectively. Additionally:
Just announced: Devils Backbone has just been awarded the 2013 Small Brewery and Small Brewery Brewer of the Year… http://t.co/wxTFPYQrGr
I suppose it is my good fortune that my favorite styles of beer, märzen and Vienna style lager, is brewed so well locally/regionally because Port City took the silver for it’s Oktoberfest, though in the Vienna style. Sadly, they were out of it at the brewery yesterday, next year I’ll get a whole case. Or two. Great American Restaurants (Carlye, Coastal Flats, Mike’s American, among others) earned the silver for Octoberfest in the German-Style Märzen category.
Maryland’s one medal also came in German-Style Märzen with Dogtober by Flying Dog (Frederick, Md.) claiming the bronze. It isn’t my favorite, but I love the Ralph Stedman labels.
Though it did not medal, the Devil’s Backbone Vienna Lager is also very good and at last check, on tap at the Vienna Inn. That’s also available year round.