Tag Archives: beer

Sometimes I think I might like the culture of beer more than the actual beverage. Mostly news about Washington D.C. area breweries, but Pennsylvania too since that’s where I went to college.

BeltwayLand beer: History, more on Nats Park beer

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:

The beer map! The Annual Nationals Park Beer Guide is up on The Nationals Review. Service blogging!

Beergraphs.com also visited Nationals Park recently and gave it an 86 (B).

Devil's Backbone Vienna Lager

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?

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

Port City turns 3; DC Brau expands distribution; more local stands at Nationals Park

It’s time for yet another round up of the greater Washington D.C. area brewing scene.

Business is BrewingNorthern Virginia Magazine

PORT CITY TURNS 3
Port City bar
January 31 is the third anniversary for Alexandria’s Port City Brewing Co. They are celebrating with COLOSSAL THREE, a Hellerbock. There are several other events going on.

Some bad news if your like oyster beer though:

DC BRAU INCREASES DISTRIBUTION
Sunday's lunch - chili half-smoke with DC Brau
DC BRAU EXPANDS DISTRIBUTION THROUGHOUT MARYLAND
Brewery Teams with Legends Ltd to Distribute Flagship Brews in 20 Counties & Baltimore City

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.

DC Brau launches Eastern Pennsylvania distribution with Bella Vista next week

MORE LOCAL BEER AT NATIONALS PARK THIS SUMMER
District Drafts

In a press release about the Washington Nationals extending their agreement with Levy Restaurants was buried this good news:

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

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.

LAST YEAR IN BEER

2013: The Year in Beer

Best Of 2013: The Year In Beer, Reviewed DCist

VOTE YOUR FAVORITE LOCAL BREWERY
I’ve seen at least two breweries tweet a link to the CityPaper’s Best of D.C. Readers Poll already.

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Another DC, Virginia beer update

When I lasted check in on the local/regional brewery scene, the commonwealth of Virginia had just cleaned up at the Great American Beer Festival. I was also trying, mostly in vain, to get local Oktoberfest. Port City was the only local märzen I got my hands on, though I found some Old Dominion which was originally from Ashburn, but is now brewed in Delaware.

Bluejacket finally opened in D.C. near Nationals Park. I have not been there yet.

The District has a burgeoning beer scene and USA Today is on it:


Sometimes I get the feeling Port City and Bluejacket are racing each other to get the most media coverage.

DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Heavy Seas, a Baltimore brewery, is opening a taproom in Rosslyn (ARLnow.com). I’m a fan of the märzen (a recurring theme in this post), which is sold year round.

MEANWHILE, FURTHER OUT

Leesburg has become a great town to drink beer with lots of brewpubs and other small operations. – The Post

Devil's Backbone Vienna Lager
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.

SEASONAL RECAP

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.)
Gordon Biersch
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.

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Port City Brewing Co., Lost Rhino, Devil’s Backbone medal at Great American Beer Fest

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:

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.

Here are all the beers, sorted by medal:

GOLD
Rhinofest Lost Rhino Brewing Co. German-Style Märzen
Old Virginia Dark Devils Backbone Brewing Co. – Basecamp American-Style Dark Lager
Optimal Wit Port City Brewing Co. Belgian-Style Witbier
Azreal Devils Backbone Brewing Co. – Outpost Belgian- and French-Style Ale
SILVER
Gold Leaf Lager Devils Backbone Brewing Co. – Basecamp American-Style or International-Style Pilsener
Oktoberfest Port City Brewing Co. Vienna-Style Lager
Optimal Wit Great American Restaurants German-Style Märzen
Berliner Metro Weiss Devils Backbone Brewing Co. – Outpost German-Style Sour Ale
BRONZE
Rum Barrel Belgian Dubbel Style Ale Three Brothers Brewing Wood- and Barrel-Aged Beer
COLOSSAL ONE Port City Brewing Co. Aged Beer
COLOSSAL TWO Port City Brewing Co. Smoke Beer
Danzig Devils Backbone Brewing Co. – Basecamp Baltic-Style Porter
Notch 9 Double IPA Smartmouth Brewing Co. Imperial India Pale Ale
Ale of Fergus Devils Backbone Brewing Co. – Outpost English-Style Mild Ale

Cheers!

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Verizon Center now serves DC Brau & Port City beers


Good news for local beer lovers, Verizon Center, home of the Washington Capitals, Wizards and Mystics now serves two local brews, Port City and DC Brau. They haven’t even put out press releases yet. It looks like Port City’s Downright Pilsner and DC Brau’s Citizen (Beglian Style Pale Ale) and Corruption (IPA) are what’s currently available.

I’ve heard the taps as being located behind section 114 or 115. It’s somewhere over there. I have to go see it for myself. This team with “no weaknesses” is 1-3 after last night’s 3-2 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes, so the secondary market should be getting pretty cheap.

Thanks to Frank Chang (@chanuck) for answering some of my questions and Jeff Lucas @jephilip for allowing use of the top photo.

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BeltwayLand brewing update: DC Brau 5th fastest growing; Atlas debuts

First off, it needs to cool down for me to get in the mood for Oktoberfest/Märzen beers – Port City Brewing Co. has one that I’m eager to try.

DC Brau grew 195%, fifth fatest in the nation according to The Street. They are now producing about 5,000 barrels annually. h/t Joe Riley

Port City doubled production in May, expanding their capability to 15,000 barrels.

Is all of this craft beer growth sustainable? The State of the DC Beer Scene: Where We Were, Are, and Need to GoDC Beer

Atlas Brew Works debuted this month @AtlasBrewWorks with a Rowdy, a rye beer and District Common, a California Common beer. DC Beer’s take: Thoughts on the Premier of Atlas Brew Works

The CityPaper had a feature on Heurich Lager, which DC Brau is brewing up and I mentioned previously. I’m told it is quite good.

District Drafts

The final Washington Nationals homestand begins tomorrow, so there are 10 more opportunities to drink local beer in Nationals Park this season. DC Beer has a Q&A with Bill Butcher of Port City about how it came together.

Someday, Bluejacket might even open too!

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DC Brau brings back Heurich Lager

DC Brau, the first brewery in Washington, D.C. to open after Christian Heurich Brewing Company closed in 1956, is bringing back Heurich’s lager. From the DC Brau release – RECREATION OF HEURICH’S LAGER TO LAUNCH IN AUGUST:

Just as most DC residents are closely acquainted with DC Brau today, there was a time in recent history when many Washingtonians knew of Christian Heurich, his successful Foggy Bottom brewery, and his iconic mansion below Dupont Circle. The last time anyone tasted a Heurich beer was 1956, the year his brewery closed and made way for the Kennedy Center. The Chr. Heurich Brewing Co. had been the District’s last production brewery, and no others existed in the city until DC Brau opened in 2011. Heurich’s legacy survives at his former mansion, the Heurich House Museum, which today displays the Heurich family’s original furnishings and decorations, as well as the home’s original state-of-the-art technology.

There is a $150 a ticket launch party (less than 100 remain) at the Heurich House on August 12.

The current celebration of Heurich is a stark contrast to 2006 when Gary Heurich, grandson of brewery founder Christian Heurich, closed his Olde Heurich Brewing Co. From 2006: Foggy Bottom Ale: Olde Heurich Brewing Company closing.

A lack of hometown spirit was one of the things he mentioned at the time. Back then the Heurich House, also known as Brewmaster’s Castle, was in trouble too.

I don’t know if Gary Heurich is involved in this project, so whether the Foggy Bottom or Senate beers which were brewed under contract in Utica, N.Y. for 20 years, will return is unknown. In the short time since his bitter departure, his dream of a brewery in the District has been realized several times, albeit by others.

h/t @BallWonk & @GhostsofDC

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Good problem to have – keeping up with the DC/NOVA brewery growth is difficult

Keeping up with the explosive growth of craft brewing in the greater Washington D.C. region is getting hard. Here is my attempt to summarize what’s going on:

NOVA
The Craft Beer Craze Continues: 8 Breweries Opening in NoVA within a YearNorthern Virginia Magazine
Explosion of beer breweries and brew pubs continues in Northern Virginia – State of NOVA, The Post
That’s right, another EIGHT breweries are coming to greater Northern Virginia area. Most of them are in the outer suburbs.

PORT CITY
My hometown brewery has been added to the Virginia Beer Trail. They are also “The Official Hometown Beer of the Potomac Nationals (DC Sports Bog, The Post” and are trying to get into Nationals Park. That’s good news, because the Nats are behind in embracing locally produced beer, like Port City and DC Brau.

DC BRAU
Speaking of DC BRAU, their DC United themed beer that I previously mentioned will be The Tradition, sorry Ball-Wonk, DC Brew-nited wasn’t picked.

BLUEJACKET WILL OPEN…SOMEDAY
The new Bluejacket Brewery near Nationals Park will open sometime this summer, later than expected though. Washingtonian had another story on them.

CRAFT BEER GUIDE
Washingtonian Magazine published a Craft Beer Guide as well.

NATIONALS PARK BEER GUIDE
For Nats fans, this beer guide by the Nationals Review is an excellent guide to finding something other than macro beers. The Nats are behind on including local, inside the Beltway or from the District, beer.

ARCHIVE
I’ve created a BeltwayLand Beer tag so keeping track of the local suds might be a little easier.

IS THIS PACE SUSTAINABLE?
I wonder how long this can go on, is there really a market for a dozen or so craft breweries around here? I hope so.

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Name the new DC Brau/D.C. United beer contest underway

More good local beer news — DC Brau and DC United are teaming up for a new beer. Here’s the DCU release – D.C. United and DC Brau collaborate to create DC’s only team-specific beer:

D.C. United, in collaboration with DC Brau Brewing Company, LLC, today announced that DC Brau will brew a limited edition D.C. United specific beer – the only one of its kind in the DC sports world. While the beer is currently without a name, the two have partnered to launch a contest giving D.C. United fans the opportunity to name the new brew. Fans can submit their suggestions online.

Here are the prizes:

  • Two (2) field-side seats and field level gameday experience (includes food in the D.C. United Hospitality tent and parking)
  • Your submission will be the official name of the beer
  • D.C. United/DC Brau prize pack

That’s a pretty sweet prize pack, even for a casual soccer fan like myself. I have some United on the tube this season which isn’t going well at all. Perhaps this can be a rally beer that gets them playing respectable soccer again. I hope so, Dan Steinberg of DC Sports Bog, The Post has pointed out over the years that his favorite fan base is DC United. Oh and of course, there is a worthwhile Bog post on the subject: DC United getting a team beer from DC Brau.

I’d love it if other area pro teams could do this, but I suspect national beer contracts with their respective leagues and official team beer sponsors will keep it from happening. Those deals bring in a lot of money for the big 4 teams and are also the same reason why getting local beer into the venues occurs slowly — the macro brewers are losing market share to the craft brewers, so they are just going to go harder on sports sponsorships and pouring rights.

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