The growth of craft beer bars has been followed by a rise in liquor stores offering higher-end IPAs and stouts instead of endless variations on domestic light lagers. (Even convenience stores on H Street NE now boast about their craft beer offerings.) If you're thirsty after reading our summer beer recommendations, head for one of these craft beer stores that will fill your growler with a draft-only brew or let you assemble a six-pack of bottles and cans from around the globe.
Chevy Chase Wine and Spirits
5544 Connecticut Ave. NW. 202-363-4000. www.chevychasewine.com.
The godfather of local beer stores, the walls at Chevy Chase Wine and Spirits are lined with bottles of beer: West Coast IPAs, English bitters, German kellerbiers. You probably won’t have heard of all of them, but if there’s something you’re looking for, Chevy Chase is likely to have it. Beyond the selection, the main advantage here is that all beers are sold as individual bottles or cans.
Gilly's Craft Beer and Fine Wine
2009 Chapman Ave., Rockville. 301-770-5515. www.gillyscbfw.com.
The Rockville deli/wine shop/craft beer heaven frequently stocks brews you won’t find at other Montgomery County stores. In addition to shelves full of limited-release beers from California to Belgium, there's a full bar with 19 taps for pints, half-pints and growler fills. (Outside of happy hour, growler fills are almost always more expensive than six-packs of the same beer, so save the growlers for new or rare products unavailable in other formats.)
Old Line Fine Wines, Spirits and Bistro
11011 Baltimore Ave., Beltsville. 301-937-5999. www.oldlinewine.com.
Go out for a six-pack, stay for dinner and drinks. Old Line has a bar and bistro, with 20 taps for sampling and growler fills. But the selection of large-format Belgian and American craft beers is one of the best in Prince George’s County, and the store regularly hosts tastings with local and regional breweries. (Bonus: Go on Monday and all craft beers are 10 percent off.)
Grape + Bean
2 E. Walnut St., Alexandria. 703-888-0709. www.grapeandbean.com.
The Rosemont outpost of this Alexandria business could seamlessly rebrand as “Grape + Beer,” as the ales and lagers get more attention and real estate than they do at the Old Town location. But it’s a small shop, so smart curation and turnover play a big part in the offerings. Patrons can keep up with what’s new on the shelves — and what’s pouring from the four, most-often local taps — with the store’s informative weekly e-mail newsletter. And when the weather’s right in this walkable, bike-friendly neighborhood, the patio is the place to enjoy a cold beer and a snack from the kitchen.
Eight area locations. www.totalwine.com.
Yes, it’s a big national chain with seven supermarket-sized stores in Northern Virginia and another in Laurel. But Total Wine is perfect for beer tastings and the indecisive: The vast majority of its beers can be purchased as singles as well as in six-packs. Other stores offer similar mix-and-match options, but few have a selection as large as Total Wine’s, and its prices are frequently cheaper than at mom-and-pop stores.
Okay, I bought beer. Now where can I get one of those six-pack holders or growler caddies that attaches to my bike?
One of our designers purchased the growler and six-pack caddies online. They're made by a company called Fyxation out of Milwaukee. (You can also buy wine bottle carriers, if you're so inclined.)