It’s a rough life when you have to “drag” your friends and husband along as you work your way through brewery after brewery, in the name of blog research. I do it all for you people. Seriously, this was a really fun post to put together and thanks to my loved ones for drinking a lot of local beer with me. I kept putting off posting this because every time I was ready to, another media outlet issued another DC brewery round up. However, I realized that just general info about a brewery isn’t all that helpful. Most of them are in remote areas and also very crowded so knowing what to expect before you go can really make or break an experience. So I thought about what I would want to know – obviously location but also what food is there, what beers should I drink and what kind of atmosphere does the brewery offer. I didn’t hit all of the breweries in the District or the surrounding areas but hopefully this will give you a good start when you think about spending a weekend afternoon testing out beer. Oh and don’t worry – research has already begun on distilleries!
3 Stars Brewing Co. – 6400 Chillum Place NW
Best for: Really getting a sense of the DC brewing scene in a bar like setting. Recently 3 Stars built this awesome tasting room/barn thing in the middle of their brewery for tastings which is really nice (especially in the summer when the AC is on full blast in the tasting room). These folks are serious about their beer and there are usually beers on draft here you can’t find anywhere else. There is even a homebrew shop attached the to brewery so you can get inspired and go home and make your own beer.
Food Sitch: They have food trucks outside on Saturdays and you can bring in your own food – a pretty comfortable place to eat if you wanted to bring a spread.
Favorite Beer: Lets go Peppercorn Saison! This beer is delicious and also really easy to find outside the brewery (Costco even sells it in large format bottles). However, make sure to try one of their barrel aged beers or the ones with fresh ingredients like citrus peel when you are there, you aren’t likely to find it at your local bar.
Tours: Free tours are held on Saturday @ 2:00 and 3:00pm. They are first come first serve.
ACC’s Takeaway: This brewery requires a serious Uber commitment unless you happen to live near Fort Totten, but its worth it. The new tasting room is pretty spacious and there are also picnic tables and corn hole out in the rest of the brewery space so enough elbow room for everyone. They are making some of the best beers in DC and are committed to showing you a good time. And since you made it all the way out there head on over to my next stop…
Hellbender Brewing Company – 5788 2nd Street NE
Best for: A quick visit following your trip to 3 Stars or if you are rolling with a large group. There are large circular tables where people can congregate and it’s not as busy as most breweries.
Food Sitch: There wasn’t a food truck posted when we visited but if you follow them on Twitter or Facebook they announce when one will be there. They have Route 11 Chips for sale and I have to say, the crab chips are the perfect pairing to a lot of their beers.
Favorite Beer: North X Northeast Coffee Stout – this is very coffee forward so I could probably only do one but it’s well balanced and I like that it’s brewed with Compass Coffee, a local DC roaster.
Tours: Free tours are held on Saturday @ 2:00, 3:00, 4:00 and 5pm. They are first come first serve.
ACC’s Takeaway: This place is pretty under the radar – actually it’s pretty hard to find and is no frills but that is what makes it fun. Not sure I would head all the way out there just to visit but given its proximity to 3 Stars (we walked and it took 5 minutes) it’s worth stopping by.
Atlas Brew Works – 2052 West Virginia Ave NE Suite 102
Best for: Growler fills or gettin sloppy. Lots of day drinkers here playing cornhole and getting pretty smashed. If you are looking for a party scene this is it.
Food Sitch: There is usually a food truck out front – when we were there it was pretty awful pizza one but they rotate. You can also bring in food from the outside but this is not a ‘have a nice picnic while sipping a beer’ kind of place. Stash some chips in your bag if you really think you are going to need a snack.
Favorite Beer: Hands down the Rowdy, a hop forward rye ale. I almost always order this when I see it on a menu and it makes for a great growler fill.
Tours: Free tours are held on Saturday @2:00, 4:00 and 6:00pm. They are first come first serve.
ACC’s Takeaway: Honestly I did not like my experience at Atlas. I had been drinking their beers for a while but they took the whole industrial scene a bit too far. I can drink beer among kegs standing on a cement floor with the best of them but this place was just plain dirty and with a gross smell that even hops couldn’t cover up. They have recently opened a new tasting room where you can order a drink, do a tasting or have a growler filled which I think will really improve the experience here. Problem being that this place was SLAMMED when it didn’t have the nice tap room so I suspect that place will be at capacity pretty much all the time.
Right Proper Brewing Company – 920 Girard Street NE (brew pub @ 624 T Street NW)
Best for: Beer nerds that want to be close to the action. Right Proper has a proper bar with the tanks in full view – you cannot get much fresher than that! These guys are not afraid of trying some wacky combos with silly names, so its good for small groups (around 4 people) to spend some time comparing all the different beers on tap.
Food Sitch: The time we visited there was a Southern food truck parked right out front. The nice thing is at the brewing facility in NE you can also bring in outside food and several people had picnic baskets with them (some pretty impressive spreads actually). We opted to hit up Menomale, an awesome pizza place around the corner from Right Proper, first and then go have beers. If you wanted to combine the two, order a pizza to go and bring it over. The brewpub in NW has a full menu with lots of good bar food options (and suggested beer pairings) as well as a pretty solid cheese list.
Favorite Beers: The brewing facility has 12 taps going at once and when we were there our favorites was White Bicycles, a witbier, and the Haxan, a robust porter. Pretty much at the opposite ends of the spectrum taste wise but that gives you a sense about how eclectic their selection is. I also liked the Lubitsch, a smoked beer, but my fellow tasters all hated it!
Tours: Free tours are on Saturdays and Sundays @ 2:00, 4:00, and 6:00pm (only in the brewing facility). They are first come, first serve.
ACC’s Takeaway: I had already been to the brew pub several times before the production facility opened up. It really does all come down to personal taste but at a place like Right Proper really behooves you to do a flight so you end up tasting beers outside of your comfort zone. You never know what you might like.
DC Brau – 3178-B Bladensburg Road NE
Best for: Weeknight pit stops or gathering with a small group. The tasting room at DC Brau is pretty small but like most breweries you can spill into any open space in the warehouse. Lots of folks use this place like their own personal fresh beer store, stopping in for growler fills on the way home from work, and I may just become one of those people…
Food Sitch: One or two food trucks are always outside. Special bonus – Harper Macaw, DC’s own chocolate factory is night next to DC Brau so you could load up on chocolate before drinking.
Favorite Beers: On the Wings of Armageddon is my current favorite but be careful. That 9.2% ABV will sneak up on you!
Tours: Free tours are held on Saturday @ 1:00, 2:00, 3:00, and 4:00pm. They are first come first serve and very popular.
ACC’s Takeaway: DC Brau is great – one of the first breweries in DC that has been around long enough to lose some of their growing pains but also still true to DC and the beer lovers that live here. In appreciation they often so specials for people who live in NE DC (woot woot) and Friday is half priced pint nights. A special place that would be great to take people for their first DC brewery experience.