A decade into the renaissance in DC area breweries, closings are becoming more frequent.
Loudoun County’s Beltway Brewing Co. announced on January 4, 2023 that it was closing. Originally a “beer incubator” Beltway started production and packaging of its own beers. It was one of my favorites for a few reasons:
- District of Champions – the red lager, originally named Batting 1.000, was renamed to celebrate the 2019 Washington Nationals World Series victory. Who else makes red lager?
- Location – just off of the W&OD Trail in Sterling, Va.. Great to bike too, though buried from main roads in an industrial park.
- Branding – It was named “Beltway” which the road geek in me appreciates. They also played up on being on the W&OD Trail.
- Distribution – Beltway beers have been available in Alexandria grocery stores for over a year.
- Ownership – Sten Seiler was a classmate of mine in elementary school, so I was pulling for him.
DCBeer talked to Sellier about this situation and it’s worth reading. Some excerpts:
Beltway could have entered into negotiations for a short-term lease, but then the “macroeconomic factors facing the brewing industry” came into play. Over the next 24 months, many northern Virginia breweries will be facing lease renewal, which will lead to some hard decisions, including mergers and closures.
With a 30 barrel system, Beltway was “built for distribution, not just taproom sales,” notes Sellier. During the pandemic “the larger craft breweries, the regional craft breweries, and the macros [think Bud, Miller, and Coors, plus seltzer and canned cocktails] squeezed mid-sized breweries like us pretty hard” with regards to distribution and off-premise sales, says Sellier. As the pandemic waned “the opportunities present in the pre-covid environment never came back for breweries of our size.”Beltway Brewing Closing at the End of January – DC Beer
I think 90% of the beer I buy is independent and reading this I’m going to make it a point to get closer to 100%.
PREVIOUSLY: Craft beer isn’t just for Small Brewery Sunday
Rocket Frog closed on December 11. That’s two Sterling breweries gone in two months. Ooof. Are those buildings going to be knocked down for server farms?
Elsewhere in Loudoun in almost West Virginia, B Chord closed without fanfare. The brewery near the Appalachian Trail and Snickers Gap Christmas Tree Farm stopped posting in the spring. The site appears abandoned with B Chord branding still up.
I visited B Chord in 2021 prior to getting a Christmas tree. It was a pleasant enough place, but not somewhere I’d make a special trip. On the foot of the Blue Ridge where VA 7 crosses, it wasn’t in a densely populated area.
DC’s 3 Stars closed last year.
In Arlington, New District Brewing is losing their lease: SCOOP: New District Brewing in Green Valley on tap to close in May, looking for new location (Arlington Now). They found out that an indoor dog park and bar was moving there before they were told they lost their lease. They hope to find a new spot in Arlington.
Located near the eastern terminus of the W&OD Trail, New District started about six years ago. The location is pretty good, but I have only been a couple of times. The last time I got any was in 2021 when I got their Oktoberfest.
Some positive news
Atlas Brew Works is opening their third location in Carlyle, Alexandria.
Atlas Brew Works announces plans for new Carlyle location – Alexandria Now
Many Rivers to Cross: Atlas to Open in Virginia – DC Beer
That will be three production breweries in my city. It’s a pretty bike friendly location too.
The other Atlas locations are the original in Ivy City and another on Half Street near Nationals Park. I’ve visited both.
Alexandria is also home to Port City Brewing Co. and an Aslin location. There is also a cidery, Lost Boy.