Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Where to Find Local Beer in the District

In case you've been hiding under a rock (or a mountain of work), I wanted to remind you that we're smack-dab in the middle of D.C. Beer Week, a celebration of our growing status as a force in the beer world. The best craft brewers and their staff have traveled from all over the country to host beer dinners, rare brew tastings, panel discussions and more ... just for us!

Some brewers had a very short trip to celebrate with D.C. beer lovers. Why? Because they're already here! The district (and surrounding area) is now home to a handful of kick-ass breweries, helping us stretch D.C. Beer Week beyond the seven day boundary.

For a close-to-exhaustive list and a handy map of area breweries and brewpubs, check out The Beer Mapping Project. For the Gamma Girls' recommendations, read on!

DC Brau (3178-B Bladensburg Rd. NE) debuted in early 2011 and has the honor of being the district's first "packaging" brewery since 1956. I remember attending their launch party at Meridian Pint, and that place was mobbed with folks eager to welcome DC Brau to the city. All kegs were killed in record time, and it's been a total love-fest ever since.

Visit the brewery for FREE tours and tastings most Saturdays (call or check social media ahead of time for closings). Got an empty growler? Bring it with you and they'll fill it up.

Chocolate City (2801 8th St. NE) showed up a few months later and will be celebrating their first anniversary THIS FRIDAY, August 17, at Penn Social.

That reminds me...have you RSVP'd for our ONE-at-ONE anniversary party yet?

Back to beer ... once you empty your growler of The Corruption IPA from DC Brau, pick another Saturday and head over to Chocolate City to fill it back up again with some Cornerstone Copper Ale! Or, I suppose I could let y'all pick your own beers... do me proud.

3 Stars (6400 Chillum Place NW) is the most recent addition, officially launching last week - just in time for D.C. Beer Week! There's still time to track them down and try their first three releases - study the calendar and plan accordingly.

Give them some time to settle in, and then keep your eyes and ears open for news about tours, tastings, and growler fills!

When it's released, I have a strong feeling that The Epidemic (a Double IPA) will frequently find its way into my glass. For now, I'm reading great reviews of the Pandemic Porter - ahem, DateMeDC! 

Port City Brewing (3950 Wheeler Ave. Alexandria, VA) isn't in the district itself, but it's just inside the beltway and is definitely worth a mention on this list.

When I was visiting with some Cigar City Brewing guys during a hometown visit in February, their first question to me (after learning that I'm now a Washingtonian) was about Port City's Optimal Wit. A far-reaching reputation!

For $7, you can get a tour of their facility and a tasting of their offerings ... and you get to keep the glass! See their website for available tour times on Friday evenings, Saturday, and Sunday afternoons. If you're just looking to buy or fill a growler or a keg, you're invited to stop by during designated hours Wednesday to Sunday.

The D.C.-area is also home to an impressive number of brewpubs, with many more on the way - because sometimes you need a little food with your drink. My current favorites are Capital City Brewing Company, Mad Fox Brewing, and Sweetwater Tavern.

Touring these quality breweries and tasting what the local brewpubs have to offer should help you plan your upcoming weekends and keep you busy long beyond D.C. Beer Week. Visit, sample the beers, and report back with your favorites!


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