Today’s Hops Stories: The Latest News On Local Brews
Nearly a dozen breweries are now operating or planning to open in the D.C. metro area. Let's catch up on what's going on with each one.
On the production brewery front, DC Brau, which you named D.C.'s best local brewery in our 2012 readers poll, celebrated its first anniversary (has it been a year already?) and six-packs of the local brewer's flagship beers are finally available in stores throughout the city. Also, The Public pale ale won over judges for the top hoppy beer seat in this year's Washington Post Beer Madness tournament. Chocolate City continues to put out its small-batch brews, most recently Sakura Washington, a dark cherry Belgian-style ale available this week at select bars along H Street NE. Weekend growler filling hours and tours at both breweries have become popular Saturday afternoon hangs for D.C. craft beer fans.
3 Stars Brewing Company has kept collaboration beers like the B.W. Rye series with Baltimore's Oliver Breweries in the market while putting the finishing touches on its production brewery and tasting room in Takoma. Expect a grand opening soon, as co-founder Dave Coleman left his post at The Big Hunt this week to focus exclusively on the brewery. The Black Squirrel still plans to open a production brewery in the D.C. area and is currently looking for a head brewer after parting ways with Hollie Stephenson, who moved to San Diego last year to work for Stone Brewing Company. Just don't mistake them for this competing venture of the same name in Ohio.
The Neighborhood Restaurant Group's Navy Yard restaurant and brewery project, Bluejacket, is under way and set to open next year. The 47,000-square-foot factory is currently being transformed into a full-scale production brewery, tasting room and 200-seat restaurant. In recent interviews, NRG beer director Greg Engert has said the brewery will be a place for experimentation. The brewery will be headed by Megan Parisi, a decorated brewer who recently moved to the area after several years at Cambridge Brewing Company in Massachusetts. There will be a barrel-aging program with a focus on sour ales, complete with a coolship (like Allagash has) to introduce natural yeast to the brew for spontaneous fermentation.
Also in the works, Hellbender, a brewing project backed by microbiology researcher and D.C. native Ben Evans and congressional staffer Patrick Mullane, will put out beers brewed with all American ingredients, including hops from their own farm in upstate New York. Low Brau founder Steven Sorrell has been testing batches of his easy-drinking German-style beers while looking for a space for his two-barrel nano-brewery in the Fort Totten and Brookland neighborhoods of Northeast D.C. Both ventures were slated to open by this summer but are looking more likely for fall.
As the Post reported earlier this month, Thor Cheston's Shaw venture, Right Proper Brew Pub, is taking shape with local homebrewer Nathan Zeender still on board for the brewing and Rocklands Barbeque and Grilling Company's John Snedden on the team as partner. Right Proper should be open by spring 2013. In the meantime, Cheston has been looking for a chef and leading a crusade to get D.C. laws changed so restaurants and bars (like his) can fill and sell growlers of beer to go.
Capitol City Brewing Company, which produces beer out of the Shirlington facility for 901 Restaurant and its own eponymous location in downtown D.C., is gearing up to celebrate its 20th anniversary (wow!) and a barrel-aged commemorative brew will be out later this year. At the District ChopHouse and Brewery, head brewer Barrett Lauer continues his strong line of fresh brews, including a special new release called Bea's Blend brewed with smoked malt and coffee beans from Qualia Coffee in Petworth.
Out in the 'burbs, Port City in Alexandria, Mad Fox in Falls Church, Baying Hound Aleworks in Rockville and Lost Rhino in Ashburn continue to attract flocks of thirsty drinkers to their growler filling hours and new release tappings. Cabinet Artisanal Brewhouse, an arm of The Farmer's Cabinet in Philadelphia that took over the space that formerly housed Shenandoah Brewing Company last year, is planning to open a tasting room to start sharing is rustic, farmhouse-style ales with locals (instead of shipping it all up to the restaurant in Philadelphia).
Five local(ish) breweries will be participating in Savor, the massive craft beer and food tasting put on in D.C. for the past five years by the Brewers Association. DC Brau, Port City, Capitol City, Vintage 50 of Leesburg, Va., and Flying Dog of Frederick, Md., will join almost 70 other American craft breweries for the June 8 and 9 event at the National Building Museum. Tickets came and went. If you missed out, don't fret. Just like past years, the entire week will be packed with a host of beer and food events at bars and restaurants throughout the metro area.
And that pretty much catches us up. Got more local brewery updates? Hit me in the comments.
Image courtesy of DC Brau