As the Washington market becomes larger and more sophisticated, new beers are arriving weekly from across the country and around the world. Tap takeovers, beer dinners and brewery-centric events have become more common. We’ve reached a point where almost every week could be DC Beer Week, so why do we need DC Beer Week itself?…
It’s also hard to build excitement when, less than two weeks before DC Beer week begins, several major beer bars either hadn’t announced their schedules or had lineups full of “TBDs.”
To be fair, the organizers of DC Beer Week don’t plan events at individual bars, but that seems to be the crux of the problem: The schedule needs to be curated.
Though not regional, Samuel Adams has produced a Washington Nationals 10th anniversary IPA. It’s undoubtedly a reaction to the perception that Sam Adams is your dad’s craft beer. I can only wonder what I late philosopher I knew growing up would have to say about Sam Adams being at odds with a movement it helped create; he was an early proponent of “old dad” beers like Schlitz and Stroh’s (I think).
Cycling and beer, what could go wrong?
I posted this last fall and I’ll probably post it twice a year — the github map of BikeableBrews along the Washington & Old Dominion Trail. Given that you can know get regional craft beer on tap, I’ll argue the Vienna Inn should be on it. It might be less than 200 feet from the W&OD.
Oh and a new brewery, working name of Metropole, launch name of New District (ARLnow.com), opens near the eastern W&OD terminus around Shirlington soon.
It’s August which means the return of Oktoberfest is imminent, too imminent because of the dreaded seasonal creep of everything. Oktoberfest is my favorite seasonal, but I’m… just not ready. I love summer, if only for the long days. Oktoberfest helps me get over less daylight more reliably than say, sadly the Washington Nationals. Football can help too, though not the burgundy and gold variety of late. I’ve already gotten a promoted tweet about an Oktoberfest, while I was drafting this post which probably means that the twitter data-mining is just getting creepy.
The regional beer scene is getting so big, it’s hard to keep up. If you have gotten out and about a little and want to contribute, let me know! I may have a Richmond-area recap from one twitter follower in the works and would enjoy others. wfyurasko at gmail dot com.
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