The Washington Post

A beer for those without a political voice

Fermentation Without Representation: A beer with an agenda. (DC Brau)

DC Brau’s CEO Brandon Skall describes the effort as an “imperial pumpkin porter,” weighing in at 8 percent alcohol by volume. According to Skall, brewer Jeff Hancock used 300 pounds of pumpkin per 15-barrel batch, added to the mash tun, the brew kettle and the fermenter. Other ingredients include cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and about 1,000 vanilla beans that the DC Brau crew had to slice open by hand. “This is a very labor-intensive beer,” remarks Skall.

Hancock also threw in 25 pounds of highly roasted black malt, more than Epic’s version. Both variations will be on tap locally, and Epic is producing a 22-ounce bottle that should make an appearance as well.

The name, says Skall, commemorates the fact that D.C. residents have no say in Congress, and Utah beer drinkers feel they have little say in its Mormon-dominated state legislature. (According to Michael Malachowski, Epic’s outside sales manager, the state’s beer tax amounts to a 72 percent markup and “strong” beers — those over 4 percent alcohol by volume — can only be sold through Utah’s state store system.)

DC Brau brewed two 300 15-barrel batches of the imperial pumpkin porter. If that’s not enough to satisfy demand, Skall says his brewery will likely join with Epic to make another batch next year, a little earlier to take advantage of the Halloween hoopla.

Next up for DC Brau: an as-yet-unnamed collaboration with Baltimore’s Stillwater Artisanal Ales that Skall describes as a Belgian-accented porter, incorporating dark rock candy sugar for a molasseslike richness. That beer will premier Nov. 18.

Meanwhile, a trio of West Coast brewers are mixing it up. Stone Brewing Co. in Escondido, Calif., The Bruery in Placentia, Calif., and Elysian Brewing Co. have come up with Bruery/Elysian/Stone La Citrueille Celeste de Citracado, a beer whose ingredients list is as long as its name: pumpkins (grown by Stone), yams, rye, toasted fenugreek, birch bark and lemon verbena. (No cinnamon or nutmeg though.) Look for single 12-ounce bottles to pop up in Northern Virginia, if not also Washington.

We have one final collaboration to report, and it has nothing to do with pumpkins. At the biannual Congressional beer tasting held in the Rayburn building last Wednesday, the rumor reverberated through the hall that New England craft beer titans Jim Koch, chairman of Boston Beer Co., and Alan Newman, founder of Magic Hat Brewing Co., were hatching a joint project for the D.C. area.

The rumor is partly true.

Newman left Magic Hat last year after the business was sold to North American Breweries. (In his recently published book, “High on Business,” Newman describes how two of his financial partners, a venture capitalist and a hedge fund, yanked the rug from under him after the economy turned sour.) A self-described serial entrepreneur, Newman is jumping back into the fray with Alchemy & Science, which will operate as a wholly owned subsidiary of Boston Beer.

What Newman will brew and when he’ll release it remains up in the air. “We have a list of directions we are looking at, but we are far from having a plan yet,” he e-mailed. “The whole deal is too new.”

Also unclear is whether Newman will brew at Boston Beer’s pilot brewery or at a facility of his own. “I am always looking for brewery sites ... and D.C. is on my list, along with nine other opportunities,” maintains Newman, who adds, “I have no idea which will actually come to fruition at this stage.

“Hope that clarifies.”


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