The Heurich House Museum has become the unofficial capital of the Washington beer scene over the past few years, and not just because the D.C. Brewers' Guild has its headquarters there. The home of early 20th century brewer Christian Heurich has hosted beer tastings, brewer meet-and-greets and an annual Oktoberfest party in its garden. And this month, to celebrate a new exhibit about the Christian Heurich Beer Company, the museum will start hosting regular happy hours in its gallery.
It’s a new angle for the museum: While the Heurich Brewing Co. was once the largest nongovernment employer in Washington, the Heurich House’s mission is focused on Heurich’s well-preserved 1894 mansion near Dupont Circle, known as the Brewmaster’s Castle. It includes ornate woodcarvings and much of the original furniture, but there is precious little about the brewery for visitors to see in its collection.
In mid-November, the Heurich House opened an exhibition called “Home/Brewed,” which tells the story of the Heurich Brewing Co. through original bottles and barrels, old black-and-white photos, and colorful advertisements touting the brewery’s sponsorship of the Washington Senators. Visitors can pick up an old phone handset to hear a catchy 1954 radio jingle extolling the virtues of Old Georgetown beer, one of Heurich’s brands. It’s all thanks to Jack Blush, a local beer collector who amassed over 1,000 Heurich-related items over four decades and loaned the treasure trove to the Heurich House. “This is probably what people have been wanting to see from us,” says Kim Bender, the executive director of Heurich House. "[Christian Heurich’s] house is really cool — the woodwork is wonderful — but this is what really connects him to the people of Washington.
“This,” she says, gesturing around the artifacts in glass cases and on the walls, “is the reason we’re talking about him at all.”
Three hundred people RSVP’d for the Nov. 16 opening party, and walk-up visitors were turned away. Over the next three weeks, the exhibition will be open Wednesday through Friday from 6 to 8 p.m. Some of these Home/Brewed happy hours will feature mini tours and Q&A sessions led by Bender, Blush or historian and author Garrett Peck. Beers and snacks are available for purchase.
“We’re not a Smithsonian, where we’re open every day for people to come through,” Bender says. “We need an experience: People can come see all the beer memorabilia while enjoying a modern craft beer.” Admission is $10, which will help Heurich House purchase Blush’s collection. T-shirts, prints and coasters featuring vintage beer labels are also for sale.
“Home/Brewed” at the Heurich House’s Carriage House Gallery: 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from Dec. 5 to Dec. 21. $10.