Tag Archives: Va.

VDOT releases 1949 footage of Shirley Highway in Alexandria

va350_old_tinyThe Virginia Department of Transportation has released another Then & Now video, this time of Henry G. Shirley Highway in 1949, then known as Virginia primary route 350 and now Interstate 395. Last time, the video was of US 29 in Arlington. This time VDOT recreated about a 2-mile drive along Shirley Highway and combined it with the 1949 footage (IN COLOR!) of the same stretch of road, though nothing really is the same:

Shirley Highway predates the interstate highway system, having been built to provide access to the Pentagon and the Fairlington development that came out of World War II as well as a bypass of US 1 a bypass of US 1 between the Occoquan and Potomac Rivers. Technically, Shirley Highway did not go over either river, but provided a direct connection between the two of them.

In the original 1956 interstate highway plan, VA 350 was to be part of I-95. The new number may not have been posted as such until massive rebuilding in the early 1970s that included 2 reversible express lanes. The designation was short-lived though as the proposal to build I-95 between New York Ave (US 50) and the Capital Beltway near College Park was cancelled. Shirley Highway was re-designated I-395 in 1977.

The contrast between then and now is striking of course. The video begins near Edsall Road which today is just south of the terminus of the “EZ Pass Express” toll lanes that supplanted the 1971 express lanes. The two lanes in each direction with no shoulders of 1949 is unrecognizable to the 11 lanes over three separated roadways of now. The hills of the Alexandria area are quite visible too — it looks like a rural area then. Because it was.

Concrete arch bridges (similar to the Washington Blvd spans over Columbia Pike that are being replaced now) and sporadic white guide signs have been replaced by steel girders and frequent big green signs. A conspicuous NO THRU TRUCKS signal also makes an appearance.

Rolling along in 1949 Shirley Highway was through untouched country side past the current Landmark Mall (opened as a shopping center in 1956) and the new Mark Center. Van Dorn Street, which parallels Shirley Highway now wasn’t even there yet, nor was it’s residential development. That would come within a decade. The large Mark Center building would only open in the last few years.

This is a fun exercise for me, seeing what the area close to my current home looked like long before I was born. A late former neighbor grew up in Fairlington and told me about how they would ride their bicycles along the grading for an Shirley Highway when it was under construction; I wish I could show him this video.

There is a lot more to learn about Shirley Highway and see maps and photographs and I recommend the following sites:

Adam Froehlig and Mike Roberson’s Virginia Highways Project – VA 350

Scott Kozel’s Roads to the Future – Henry G. Shirley Memorial Highway

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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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29 Tastee Diner, circa 1995

Fairfax’s 29 Diner saved

After I initially became aware of the closure of the 29 Diner (nee 29 Tastee Diner, my photo above is circa 1995), I CC’ed a couple of loval Post columnists about the demise. Both indicated that 29 Diner would return. The Post still hasn’t reported anything, but yesterday I found that Northern Virginia Magazine has details:

New owner and Fairfax native, John Wood hopes to reopen the doors of this iconic establishment in late July. “We just signed the lease,” says Wood. “As soon as we get all of our marching orders from the Virginia Board of Historical Resources we will reopen. It is going to be the same classic diner that it has been for the last 67 years.”

From Iconic 29 Diner in Fairfax Plans to Reopen in Late July Under New Ownership

UPDATED 6.19.2014: John Kelly has a column in today’s PostFairfax City’s 29 Diner is getting a makeover; fans of late night eggs and grits rejoice

As a much-needed renovation progresses over the summer, the diner’s parking lot will host events, including food truck visits and car shows. They hope the diner itself will reopen by Labor Day.

And when it reopens? There will be diner food, yes, John and Billy said, but also artisanal food served by a rotating cast of acclaimed chefs. There’s likely to be a barbecue component, too. Ambitious.

John said the plan is to work with groups that help veterans and the homeless. He said the Lord inspires him to give back.

There were several comments on Facebook about the closing of the diner. I’ll admit to some nostalgia and will probably take a visit there sometime now. My wife’s never been and I think my six year old may enjoy it too. Adding barbecue makes me want to go back more. And artisanal food, why not? Though I’d just be happy if it’s less greasy than before.

By the way, Wikipedia mentions that the diner has been featured in a few Zippy the Pinhead comic strips over the years, including this one from 2003.

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29 Diner by Lou Corsaro, used with permission

Fairfax’s 29 Tastee Diner is closed, but for how long?

29 Diner in Fairfax Has Closed; It Opened in 1947Burke Patch

UPDATED 7:42 PM

Via my brother, I learned that the 29 Tastee Diner in the city of Fairfax closed in May. The classic diner had been just west of the intersection of VA 123 on US 29 there for 67 years, hence the name though the road scholar in me feels obligated to note that US 50 is also along that stretch and US 211 was as well before being decommissioned east of Warrenton. Here’s a excerpt from the web site:

The Tastes 29 Diner is architecturally significant as one of very few diners left in the United States exhibiting exceptional streamline Moderns design and construction characteristics.

This particular model would have appeared unique in its day and especially unusual in the then rural back drop of the Virginia countryside. Through the 1940a and 1950s, the Mountain View Diner Company custom fit its diners to the level demanded by customers: they manufactured high-quality diners that were “built to last a lifetime.” The Tastes 29 Diner is now surrounded by intense commercial development.

Was it “Tastes” all along? I remembered it as Tastee. Also, Mountain View Diner Company built hundreds of diners and was based in New Jersey (naturally), not far from where my dad grew up.

When I was a teenager working at the Oakton Friendly’s (long-gone too) that was where we’d congregate after work regularly for a late night dinner. It was a time warp to when Fairfax wasn’t part of a major metropolis; just a sleepy county seat of a largely rural Northern Virginia.

The food was greasy; I couldn’t handle it now. The cook smoked while working. There was a neon sign advertising air conditioning. It was the setting of one of the local car dealers commercials (AND A FREE LOH-NAH CAH). There was a sign that said YCJCYADFTJB – Your curiosity just cost you a dime for the juke box.

I had not eaten there since the late 1990s, but I always figured if it made that long, it’d be there forever. I hope diner gets re-opened/re-used somehow either at its present location or elsewhere. It’d be a shame to see that vintage building be destroyed.

Photo by Lou Corsaro, used with permission

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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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