Young and Hungry

D.C.’s Next Brewery: Atlas Brew Works

Two years ago, D.C. didn't have a single production brewery. Now there's a fourth on the way. Homebrewer Justin Cox and commercial brewer Will Durgin are bringing Atlas Brew Works to Ivy City in the first quarter of 2013.

The 20-barrel brewery will be located at 2052 West Virginia Ave. NE and eventually specialize in barrel-aged brews. Cox and Durgin became friends as students at Vanderbilt University, but both got into brewing on their own after college. Durgin, whose background is largely in Belgian-style beers, most recently was a brewer for Pyramid Breweries in Portland, Ore., and was previously head brewer of Telegraph Brewing Company in Santa Barbara, Calif. Cox, on the other hand, has created more than 20 beer recipes during eight years of homebrewing; one of them took first place at a homebrew competition at the 2010 D.C. State Fair .

Atlas Brew Works will start off with two signature brews: Rowdy, which will straddle the line between a pale ale and IPA with 6.2 percent alcohol, Durgin says. "It's going to be very hop-forward, but not at the expense of a little bit of pepper rye character." The other beer will be called District Common, and will be in the style of California common or "steam beer." The 5 percent alcohol beer will be less hoppy and more accessible—"one that will be more appropriate for a keg party," Durgin says.

The brewers hope to eventually have an extensive barrel-aging program. "I want to do a lot of sour beers, which I don't think anybody is doing in D.C. right now," Durgin says. (Well, at least one guy is.) He's also hoping to develop some relationships with local winemakers to age the beer in wine barrels, too.

All of the beers will be specifically designed to be paired with food. Their website will highlight suggested food pairings, and Durgin has plans to collaborate with local chefs on beer dinners.

Atlas Brew Works plans to only distribute to bars and restaurants in the District, at least at first. Durgin and Cox would also like to have a tasting room on site and tours at the brewery.

Photo via Atlas Brew Works

  • Luke T

    I'm always happy to see this sort of development come to the city and I hope these guys are a big success. I really do. And their interests in lambic beers is encouraging. But seriously, another American craft brewer focusing on IPAs and hoppy beers? Is there a more played-out phenomenon than this? The focus and reliance on hops at this point is simply absurd. So sick and tired of it.

  • Kev29

    "another American craft brewer focusing on IPAs and hoppy beers?"

    Standard beer geek reply:

    1. "Hoppy" beers are easier to make for start-up brewers because they require the least amount of equipment (like a cool tank for lagering) and the hops can cover some impurities (or DC's water). You'll notice that their "steam beer" is a lager without that expensive refrigeration tank.

    2. For every potential craft beer consumer voicing their displeasure with IPA's, there seems to be 2 or 3 more wanting them. The backlash doesn't match the demand.

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  • Payton

    I sympathize with Luke -- dagnabbit, enough with the hops, guys! it's not going to put more hair on my chest! -- but the stuff definitely still sells, so evidently there's still much more demand to be sated.

    As for sour beers, that's a niche that Megan at Bluejacket has a background in, and does very well in (given the brews I've tasted at CK). Best of luck, though, in helping to bring together a craft-beer cluster in Northeast DC.

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