Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Beer Town, Washington, DC

Six micro-brewers are vying to be the first locally-owned brewers in the Nation's Capitol since the old Christian Heurich Brewing Company, 1872-1956. The race is on!

  • Port City Brewing Co. 
  • Washingtonian's Brewing Co.
  • DC Brau Brewing
  • Chocolate City Beer
  • Lost Rhino Brewing Co.
  • 3 Stars Brewing Co.

We have our share of Brew Pub chains in the DC Metro Area: Hops, Rock Bottom, Gordon Biersch, John Harvard, Sweetwater Tavern, and the wonderful Capitol City with 3 locations. New on the scene: Mad Fox Brew Pub in Virginia and 3 Dogfish Head Ale House outlets in VA and MD.

But as for breweries, we are thin. We have the Virginia-based Shenandoah Brewing Co. We still mourn the loss of Old Dominion after they were bought out by AB / Coastal and moved to Delaware. Next closest is Blue and Gray in Fredericksburg.

Here is the issue: when one goes to a tap house or pub in DC looking for a local beer, it's hard to find even a Shenandoah or Blue & Gray brew on tap! You can go to Churchkey or RFD Washington or other places and get 100s of different beers from around the world--we drink a lot of beer and we like variety.  But--there really isn't a local DC beer!

The net effect of big brewers moving out and chain brew pubs and multi-taps moving in is that we have no local brewing identity. We are, at the moment, a collection of transplants who for the most part drink other people's beer. I want a locally made beer, and when I go to Nationals Stadium or the Verizon Center I want to have a selection of local brews that I am proud of from which to choose.

Many brewers apparently saw the market opportunity at the same time and launched simultaneous attempts to produce a true local brew. Whether all 6 of these brewers will succeed remains to be seen, of course, but I am hopeful. Is DC becoming, if not Portland, the Seattle or San Diego of the East?

Read more in Greg Kitsock's article here: Six microbreweries race to open