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.

northern-virginia-oktoberfest-beers

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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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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