Nearly a century ago, Prohibition dried up the local brewing scene, and by the time suds were legal again, the beer landscape was mainly dominated by national brands and imports. (Hi, Miller and Coors!)
But the same locovore movement that’s driving restaurants and farmers markets is now extending to beer-making: The District now boasts six breweries and neighboring states have dozens more. In fact, DC Brau, first of the new hoppy powers in 2009, recently reported an increase in production of 195 percent from 2011 to 2012.
“There’s an explosion of interest in craft beer,” says Jeremy Meyers, co-owner of Manassas, Va.’s just-more-than-a-year-old BadWolf Brewing Company. “It started out on the West Coast and it’s finally moving east.” The latest opening, Navy Yard’s much-hyped Blue Jacket, means the capital’s intoxication with beer isn’t slowing down soon.
The best way to enjoy the new beers? Head to one of these new and notable local breweries where you can enjoy a pint and see what the buzz is all about, either by touring the facilities, sampling the suds or both.
Atlas Brew Works
2052 W. Virginia Ave. NE, suite 102; 202-832-0420, Atlasbrewworks.com.(Rhode Island Ave)
“Beer is best when fresh,” says Atlas Brew Works founder and CEO Justin Cox. “The brewery down the street is always going to be your best option.” To help quench a growing thirst for craft beers in the area, he launched Atlas Brew Works in the Ivy City neighborhood in September. Cox’s college buddy and head brewer, Will Durgin, honed his hop chops at Santa Barbara, Calif.’s Telegraph Brewing Company and Pyramid Breweries on the West Coast. Currently, Atlas produces a California common-style, an American rye ale and an imperial black IPA. In the bare-bones, cinder-block-walled tasting room, there’s a small counter for sampling across from gleaming steel brewing vats.
Hours: 1-4 p.m. Saturdays; informal 20-minute tours and tastings available upon request.
Sip This: NSFW. At 9.2 percent alcohol, this beer is black, bold and bitter.
BadWolf Brewing Company
9776 Center St., Manassas, Va.; 571-208-1064, Badwolfbrewingcompany.com.
Following a hazy, beer-heavy trip through Germany, Jeremy Meyers decided to start his own microbrewery (the first in Manassas), which he and wife Sarah opened in 2012. The couple brews four or five times a week at their one-barrel establishment, meaning there’s a high turnover. “Whenever a batch is fresh, we tap it, so we’re putting on new beers almost every day,” says Jeremy. There are usually half a dozen options available at the 300-square-foot space, where patrons can belly up to a bar decorated with beer-bottle lids and snack on free popcorn. Beer is available for drinking in or taking out in growlers.
Hours: 4-9 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, 3-10 p.m. Fridays, 2-10 p.m. Saturdays.
Sip This: Weizenboch. The German dark wheat ale has a creamy texture and clove, banana and malt flavors.
Bluejacket Brewery/The Arsenal
300 Tingey St. SE; 202-524-4862, Bluejacketdc.com. (Navy Yard)
Neighborhood Restaurant Group’s beer director Greg Engert doesn’t do things halfway. When his latest venture, a cavernous brewery-bar-restaurant opened last week (in a converted 1919 structure that looks like a glass-covered barn), it already offered 20 house-made beers on draft and five cask ales created with the assistance of brewer Megan Parisi, chef Kyle Bailey and pastry chef Tiffany MacIsaac. “We cover a wide spread of flavors, from sour to dry and from strong ales to a kolsch with 4 percent alcohol,” Engert says. Brews change seasonally; some will star local fruits and herbs.
Hours: 4 p.m.-1 a.m. Sun.-Thu., 4 p.m.-2 a.m. Fri.-Sat.
Sip This: Suede Imperial Porter. A collaboration with Stone Brewing Company and 10 Barrel yielded this intense beer made for crisp fall days.