Caboose Co-owner Jennifer McLaughlin // Photo: Trent Johnson

What’s On Tap: Mosaic District’s Caboose Commons Hopping with Uncommon Flavors

When I first stepped into the cavernous space in NoVa’s Mosaic District, I was met by soft voices, laughter and striking steel structures – quite intimate for a vast brewery. Caboose Brewing Company opened its second location last September, following its original location on the W&OD Trail in Vienna. Caboose Commons, which sits in what was previously a United Rentals warehouse, offers an array of beer – plus food, coffee and even cocktails. I sat down with co-owner Jennifer McLaughlin to chat about why the brewery chose the burgeoning neighborhood and how it has changed their business for the better.

On Tap: How did the name Caboose come about?
Jennifer McLaughlin: Our original location is in Vienna, and it sits right on the W&OD Trail. One of our key focuses has always been building community, so we were looking for a name that also had a subtle shout-out to our community. Caboose being on the W&OD fit into a train theme, and it helped that there was a big red caboose train in Vienna.

OT: Why did you pick Mosaic District for your second location?
JM: We looked into different spaces, but ideally, we wanted a space with a big beer garden. This space provided us with a beautiful warehouse setting – but that was it, an empty space. We had to build out the entire space on our own, but it was our own empty canvas that we could create for the community. On top of that, there were already people here shopping, eating and drinking – a built-in community.

OT: What obstacles have you faced with Caboose Commons? What wins have you had?
JM: In terms of obstacles, building out the location was just quite an expense. There was no drywall whatsoever and no other structures besides the shell of the building. On the other hand, in terms of wins, there have been several. Mosaic has been very inclusive of us within their own marketing and that has been incredibly helpful.

OT: What are your signature drinks for the summer?
JM: We have quite a few! The first and most popular is our summer beer called Bienvenidos, which is a Mexican-inspired lager. After that would be the maibock, also known as To Helles and Bock, which has a sweeter malt flavor. Finally, our Raspberry Lokaal is a Belgian blonde, which came out last Friday and is so light and perfect for summer.

OT: Your Vienna location highlights a lot of farm-to-table options on the food menu. Did you follow that same theme here?
JM: Following farm-to-table can be incredibly expensive and at the other location, we just were not making our margins with the food prices we were offering. In this location, we do have a lot of local purveyors. We also have non-local, but we have kept the high quality still.

OT: Which beer has been your best seller so far this summer? What food item does that pair best with?
JM: Definitely the Bienvenidos. When we first rolled it out, it sold out a lot faster than we had intended and we did not have the ingredients to immediately recreate it. Customers had to wait two weeks for more. In terms of pairings, beer is such an easy thing to pair with food. The half-smoke we have been offering has been pretty solid.

OT: How did you decide on the pup-friendly Ruff Tuesdays?
JM: We’re always looking for interesting ways to engage with our community, and Ruff Tuesdays not only involves having customers bring their pups, but we also invite local vendors. Overall, it is just fun to engage the community and loop in a good cause.

Caboose Commons is open from 7 a.m. – 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 7 p.m. – 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday. Follow them on Instagram @caboosecommons. For more information about the brewery and its locations, visit www.caboosebrewing.com.

Caboose Commons: 2918 Eskridge Rd. Fairfax, VA; 703-663-8833; www.caboosebrewing.com


Greetings, beer nerds! As you know, there are a number of fantastic spots in the DMV where you can grab a pint, and their menus are always evolving and adapting to your tastes. If you’d rather avoid the guessing game, check out what’s up next at a few of these locations.

TUESDAY, AUGUST 6

BYOV (Bring Your Own Vinyl)
Lost Rhino Brewing Company hosts vinyl night every Tuesday evening. This is not a DJ night, because there are no DJ/mixing skills needed. All you need is a love for music and a vinyl collection you are willing to share with everyone. Each week will have a different theme and Lost Rhino will be giving away a weekly gift card to one lucky winner who helps celebrate the chosen theme. 5-9 p.m. Free to attend. Lost Rhino Brewing Co: 21730 Red Rum Dr. Ashburn, VA; www.lostrhino.com

THURSDAY, AUGUST 8

The Brew Gentlemen 5th Anniversary Party
Join ChurchKey as they welcome the fine folks of Brew Gentlemen. On this night, they will celebrate the Pennsylvania brewery’s fifth anniversary by pouring five beers with cofounder Matt Katase. Located in Braddock, Pennsylvania, this exciting young brewery’s product is rarely found outside their home state. Don’t miss your chance to try these out-of-market beers, including standouts Akamai, V and Mise en Rose. 4:30-11:30 p.m. Free to attend. ChurchKey: 1337 14th St. NW, DC; www.churchkeydc.com

SATURDAY, AUGUST 10

Beer Yoga (Cheers & Namah’ste)
Flow through a flight of your brewery favorites during this one-hour power yoga class. By purchasing a yoga class, a three-glass flight is included within the price of the ticket. You must also bring your own mat, as well as anything else you need to have a proper flow. This event is 21-plus. Please make sure you arrive 15 minutes prior to receive your beer flight before the class. Class starts at 12 p.m. Tickets are $15. Right Proper Brewing Company: 920 Girard St. NE, DC; www.rightproperbrewing.com

TUESDAY, AUGUST 13

Drag Bingo with Desiree Dik
Sassy meets fabulous as drag queen sensation Desiree Dik hosts an evening of bingo at Red Bear Brewing. It is free to play and four games will be played in a span of two hours, with prizes each round and a drag show. Event starts at 7 p.m. Free to attend. Red Bear Brewing: 209 M St. NE, DC; www.redbear.beer.com

THURSDAY, AUGUST 15

Trivia Night at CSBC
Think you’re a wiz at trivia? Come and prove it by grabbing a table early for trivia night at Chubby Squirrel Brewing. Wind down the week with a brew and some food and enjoy two hours of free fun and laughs. 6-8 p.m. Chubby Squirrel Brewing Company: 10382 Willard Way, Fairfax, VA; www.chubbysquirrelbrewing.com

SATURDAY, AUGUST 17

DC Brau Oktoberfest Bash
DC Brau is kicking off O’fest season with a Brau-style Oktoberfest celebration at the brewery complete with an Oompah band, brats and of course, beer. In addition to the release of this year’s Oktoberfest, they’ll be pouring Keller Pils, Cha Cha Cha Weisenbock and El Hefe Speaks in the outdoor beer garden all afternoon. 1-6 p.m. Free to attend. DC Brau: 3178 Bladensburg Rd. NE, DC; www.dcbrau.com

TUESDAY, AUGUST 20

Tuesday Trivia at Atlas Brew Works
Every Tuesday night, join Atlas Brew Works for a fantastic night of trivia hosted by the Capital City Showcase’s Christian Hunt. The winning team receives $50 off their tab and second place gets a free six-pack of Atlas beer. Bring your own team or find friends to make a new one. Event starts at 7:30 p.m. Learn more at www.atlasbrewworks.com. Atlas Brew Works: 2052 Virginia Ave. NE, DC; www.atlasbrewworks.com

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 21

Ballroom at the Brewery
Come give your best shot at ballroom dance in a no-judgment zone. The professionals from Mosaic Ballroom are coming by to show everyone what ballroom dance is all about. Join every third Wednesday of the month. There is no cost to dance, plus enjoy an extended happy hour from 4-9 p.m. Dancing starts at 8:30 p.m. Caboose Commons: 2918 Eskridge Rd. Fairfax, VA; www.caboosebrewing.com

THURSDAY, AUGUST 24

5th Annual Crab Feast
From 5-8 p.m., enjoy all-you-can-eat crabs, pit beef, corn on the cob, hush puppies, pasta salad and coleslaw. Wash down all the good food with all-you-can-drink craft brews featuring Special Lady Friend, Feed the Monkey, Czech the Technique and many more. There will be live music from Jordan Sokel, frontman for Pressing Strings, from 5:30-8 p.m. $50-$75. Jailbreak Brewing: 9445 Washington Blvd. North Laurel, MD; www.jailbreakbrewing.com

MONDAY, AUGUST 26

National Dog Yappy Hour
Come out and celebrate National Dog Day with a yappy hour. There will be doggie beer, treats and drink specials for humans, too. Guests can also celebrate by dressing up their pup in a dapper attire. You won’t want to miss this chance for you and your pup to enjoy a night out on the town together. 5:30-7:30 p.m. Free admission. Bluejacket: 300 Tingey St. SE, DC; www.bluejacketdc.com

Take a Day Trip to O’Connor Brewing Co.

SATURDAY, AUGUST 10

Poochella Continues: Pints, Pups, and Snips
PETA’s multishelter dog adoption event is back, but this time there will be endless amounts of cuteness at O’Connor Brewing. There will be music, crafts vendors, delicious food and best of all adorable pups looking for a loving home. You can also get your dog or cat fixed since PETA’s mobile spay/neuter clinics will be working that day. $25 for dogs and FREE for companion cats. Appointments are required and can be made by calling 757-622-7382, option 3. 12-6 p.m. O’Connor Brewing Co.: 211 W 24th St. Norfolk, VA; www.oconnorbrewing.com

THURSDAY, AUGUST 15

Supreme Effect TIPA Brewery Pre-Release Bundle
New beer alert! O’Connor presents the Supreme Effect TIPA (10.3 percent ABV). Grab it as part of the very limited stock pre release, which features a bundle including an exclusive O’Connor Brewing Co. t-shirt and a four pack of 16 oz. cans. First come, first serve, while supplies last. A Saturday brewery official release will also be held on August 17 from 12-9 p.m. with 30 cases available. O’Connor Brewing Co.: 211 W 24th St. Norfolk, VA; www.oconnorbrewing.com

Bartender Ashley McPherson // Photos: M.K. Koszycki

Behind the Bar: Cane Brings Island Life to the District

Intimate, colorful Trinidadian restaurant Cane popped up on H Street just three months ago, and everything about it will instantly transport you to the islands. The restaurant, co-owned by chef Peter Prime and his sister Jeanine Prime, pays homage to their experiences growing up in Trinidad.

The restaurant is small, but its vivid colors make for a unique and welcoming experience. From the yellow wall decorated with beachy shutters to oil paintings (one even capturing former President Barack Obama in Trinidad) to the textured feature near the bar made of recycled sugar cane, everything about the restaurant is intentional and well thought out to make for a one-of-a-kind dining experience.

While the cuisine and ambiance may be the primary allure of this brand-new spot, the well-rounded cocktail program has become more than an added bonus.

“It’s just like the cherry on top,” says Cane’s bartender Ashley McPherson. “The food is already amazing and then you get a nice, refreshing cocktail that brings out the flavor of the food.”


Carnival
Real McCoy 5-year rum and white rums
Pineapple shrub
Coconut orgeat syrup
Angostura bitters


Nestled by the small bar are shelves stacked high with a wide array of Caribbean rum hand-selected by Peter. Selections include standouts like El Dorado, Scarlet Ibis Trinidadian rum and more. Each cocktail is made to perfection with a different type of rum in each glass adding its own flair to the menu.

“It was a lot of fun to play with these drinks,” McPherson continues. “As we got more rums and more cocktails, we thought, ‘Let’s educate more people on rum.’”

Cane’s drink menu was originally only going to include four cocktails. But because of its growing collection and the menu’s success, they saw it as an opportunity to bring more Caribbean rum into their collection and educate DC foodies on how rum has played a significant role in Trinidadian culture.

The District is no stranger to rum bars, and the steady influx of these locations can partially be associated with the start of Rum Day DC in 2011. However, Cane takes a different approach, highlighting the cultural aspects of the spirit.

Whether it’s the food or drinks, everyone is bound to experience the sweet and spicy kick of flavor found in Trinidad while at Cane – from the Cane Fever, which includes a pineapple-habanero shrub that soaks for a week to bring out the best flavor, to the Carnival containing coconut orgeat syrup and the Indian spice garam masala complemented by Cane’s West Indian and Caribbean style.


Cane Fever
Scarlet Ibis Trinidadian rum
Pineapple-habanero shrub
Lime
Sparking water


McPherson also recommends the Irie Old Fashioned. It’s a particularly great option for those that aren’t as keen on rum, as its ingredients of sugar cane and house-made vanilla bitters have a sweet flavor comparable to a traditional old fashioned.

Although the cocktails tend to take center stage at Cane’s bar, they pair well with appetizers like doubles – a popular Trinidadian street food that consists of two pieces of flat, fried dough filled with curried chickpeas – and the jerk wings.

As for entrées, the tiffin box is a popular option for a party of two or more, depending on your appetite. The four-level pyramid is a traditional dish in Trinidad and India, served with Indian bread and an assortment of chutney and curry samplings.

Cane’s sous chef Kyle Burnett says servers break down the shareable entrée, showing diners what the assortment consists of and the variety of sauces that can be paired with them. Needless to say, the dish will leave you full enough to need a to-go box. The team at Cane plans to continue highlighting their variety of rum cocktails through late summer and fall.

“It’s a pretty intimate space and we are packed out every day, so we are just riding that wave,” McPherson says. “We’ll come up with even more fun cocktails for the fall season.”

Cane: 403 H St. NE, DC; 202-675-2011; www.cane-dc.com

Photo: Trent Johnson

Hi, Felicia! Wine Director Felicia Colbert Shakes Up Industry Standards

Felicia Colbert is a woman on a mission and she’s not letting anyone stand in her way. She has worked her way through the food service industry for the past 17 years, and her determination is paying off. After attending the Culinary Institute of America, Colbert returned home to Maryland where she got a bachelor’s degree in sociology from University of Maryland while helping raise her niece. Six transformative weeks in Spain made her pump the brakes on law school, put her life in storage and say, “I’m going to be a somm.” With help from some “amazing, powerful women in the industry,” Colbert set out to be not just a sommelier, but the sommelier. Now, as wine director at A Rake’s Progress in AdMo’s LINE Hotel – which is holding strong to the title of one of the city’s hottest restaurants – she is shaking up industry standards one Burgundy at a time.

On Tap: Were you always drawn by wine? What was it about the food service industry that attracted you?
Felicia Colbert: I feel like I was always in food. My first job was when I was 14 at Outback Steakhouse as a hostess, and I actually stayed at that job for almost five years because I worked at such a dynamic restaurant that really believed in ownership.

OT: You are a young black woman in a white male-dominated industry. What unique challenges have you faced in your burgeoning career?
FC: It’s no secret to anybody that there’s not a lot of ladies over here in somm land. It’s definitely a challenge. But I think everything is an intersection so it’s hard for me to talk about my life as a lady somm and say I’m not only a woman, but I’m a woman of color. People think I’m either the hostess or maybe the maître d’ or some other job, and I’m like, “Oh, I’m here to sell you wine.” It’s watching people rectify their cognitive dissonance in real time. But like, the reason that a company has decided that I get to be in charge of millions and millions of dollars of someone else’s money and wine is because I’m more qualified than anyone else who works here. If I wasn’t, I wouldn’t be here. There is no privilege that I get to sit back on. I’m here because I’m literally more qualified than any other person.

OT: How do these experiences inform the way you run your program and manage staff?
FC: You have to find a way to build productivity into every single thing that you do. I hold myself and people around me to the highest standard, and sometimes it makes them uncomfortable. There is literally nothing that I love more than perfect service. Service is everything. It’s the reason why we do this, because otherwise you would eat at home. It’s about someone being so skilled at their job they can anticipate things you didn’t even know you needed.

OT: What is exciting to you right now about being in DC and having this job?
FC: I think it’s exciting that DC is open to new things right now. Millennials, 30-somethings, have real jobs now. They have money – they want to come out and drink good wine and spend money on wine. On a deeper level, the fact that people are entertaining the idea that women of color can run programs, I think that’s great. I think there are a lot of challenges that still come with that from a consumer basis, but also from an organizational standpoint. You can’t have qualified people and then not have the systems in place to keep them. I do think that change is exciting, but it’s also like, who wants to be the person who has to do all of the emotional work for people who aren’t ready to put in the emotional work for the change that they want to see?

OT: Do you personally enjoy educating people about wine?
FC: Yes and no. How do I nicely tell someone you’re asking for something that you don’t want? Some people are open to it, but the reason that [many people] continue to get wines that they don’t like is because you’re going into a dealership and asking for a Ferrari but you’re describing a Honda, or vice versa. It’s hard to educate people. I try to use words that are descriptors as opposed to buzzwords – people words. I think that a way I try to educate my guests is by saying, “Hey, the next time you’re looking for a wine, you can mention that you really like wines that have X flavor.” Or not. Because you know what? I’m not here to do the emotional work for that either. If you don’t know how to ask for what you want, there’s not enough Burgundy for all of us to drink it, so you can keep on saying, “bone dry.”

OT: The DMV has received some notoriety in recent years for progress in growing and vinting. What about our region particularly excites you from the wine industry perspective?
FC: DC is getting a lot more fun, interesting wine shops. I always tell people first and foremost: retail, that is your place. In DC, there are no restrictions. The wine shop can be the importer, the distributor, the purchaser. Domestique is a great example of that. Weygandt Wines is amazing. Go prepared with at least $50 more than what you plan on spending because you’re going to find some stuff that’s just crazy and amazing.

OT: You have your exam to be a master sommelier this fall. What’s the next challenge? What’s on the vine for future Felicia?
FC: I have a dream jar. I am always thinking about what’s next. I am a planner. What’s next for me is I need to be in a place where what I have to give and offer is fully recognized and I don’t have to fight to do my job, and I think that’s only working for myself. I just dream up this utopian restaurant because you know what? Someone is going to come along and be like, “Hey Felicia.” They will. I believe that – truly. I bring value to our program by making sure that we get the wine that other people can’t get by building relationships because that’s what it is always: your people. Your people are what matter. My people have gotten me here. My people will continue to get me here.

Check out Colbert’s carefully curated wine menu at A Rake’s Progress, and learn more about the AdMo spot at www.thelinehotel.com/dc/venues.

A Rake’s Progress at LINE Hotel: 1770 Euclid St. NW, DC; 202-588-0525; www.thelinehotel.com/dc/venues

Rosslyn Putt-Putt and Candy Bar

Rosslyn’s Putt-Putt and Candy Bar  features a nine-hole mini golf course outdoors and an adjoining candy bar with refreshing craft beer and sangria, penny candy and a variety of popsicles. Plus indoor carnival games and classic, full-sized video games. Photos: Kimchi Photography

Bump, Set, Splash! Water Volley Tournament at The Liaison Hotel

The Liaison Hotel pool hosted #FrayLife’s summer water volleyball tournament on July 14. Players and guests enjoyed the rooftop pool and lounge, exclusive drink specials, games, raffles, a DJ and more. Photos: Kimchi Photography

Seoulspice's No Kings Mural // Photo: M.K. Koszycki

Real-Time Change for NoMa’s New Identity

In her office situated among the packed NoMa neighborhood, NoMa Business Improvement District (BID) President Robin-Eve Jasper recalls how about 12 years ago, nothing much was built north of K Street. Looking out over the packed neighborhood now, it’s hard to imagine anything else in this evolving spot.

“BIDs in neighborhoods that are a little bit neglected are established by property owners to do a better job keeping it clean and well-marketed,” Jasper says. “In this case, it was a place where a lot of different owners could say, ‘We are all competitors, but we can also collaborate to make this neighborhood really exciting.’”

Exciting might be an understatement. Since its establishment in 2007, the BID has seen the neighborhood experience rapid growth that skyrocketed once-vacant lots into a dense hub for business, retail, food and drink. A hallmark of the neighborhood’s ability to foster businesses and establish a sense of identity in a location that once had virtually none is a fierce emphasis on community and mutually beneficial relationships.

“I think we looked for opportunities that felt authentic,” Jasper says of the businesses that now call NoMa home. “People came to us with ideas. Wunder Garten is a great example. One of the people who started it is Bavarian by birth. He was an employee at NPR and he said, ‘We have no place like a beer garden to go hang out. We should have a beer garden.’ We listened to that and thought, ‘You know, that really does sound right to us.’”

NoMa’s recent notoriety in the food and drink world is all the more interesting given that when development of the area started, the focus was almost solely on office space. As the area evolved and people created homes instead of just workplaces, the turn to retail, food and drink space grew at lightning speed.

“We’ve got a whole lot more coming,” Jasper says. “I think what’s going to ultimately be a hallmark in the neighborhood [is] that there’s this great, nontraditional mosaic of retail.”

This progress can perhaps account for why some of the hottest and newest names in dining have taken up NoMa as their home. Breweries like Red Bear Brewing Co., game bar The Eleanor, sunny and spicy Laos in Town, and fast-casual fun Seoulspice – to name just a few – add to the mosaic Jasper speaks of. As the BID continues to grow and more people find themselves living, working and playing in NoMa, a strong sense of community and willingness to adapt to change will make this neighborhood even more dynamic.

Community Corner

We took an inside look at the community aspect of the neighborhood that’s been instrumental in incubating food, drink and reciprocal relationships among business owners.

Seoulspice

This spot for fast-casual Korean food uses fresh, local ingredients that call back to founder Eric Shim’s heritage and family recipes. Now with three locations, the restaurant differentiates itself from a sea of local fast-casual concepts by “always trying to improve so that the customer experience [is] one they can’t find anywhere else,” general manager Danielle Wilt says.

“We want people to want to come here because they feel like they are loved and appreciated.”

Beyond providing quality Korean food to residents and visitors, the spot has been able to foster a similar sense of community among other area businesses.

“The [BID] provides us with so many opportunities to make those connections and [is] willing to go out of their way to make a more close-knit community,” Wilt continues.

You can now find Seoulspice in Tenleytown and College Park, but Wilt says their home base of NoMa was instrumental in giving them a platform to perfect their business model and community aspect before spreading their wings locally.

“As the BID began to expand and the residential buildings began to pop up and really develop, we have been able to gain a following with residents – people that call this place home as opposed to just calling it their place of work. We’ve been able to really grow. We’ve gotten a lot of feedback from the community in the past three years and really taken that to help us with our quality of service and quality of food.”

145 N St. NE, DC; www.seoulspice.com

Laos in Town

Laos in Town opened its doors merely months ago but is already making a splash by bringing the cuisine of Laos – along with an excellent bar program and thoughtful décor – to NoMa. When owner Nick Ongsangkoon and chef Ben Tiatasin set out to create a new destination for Laotian food in the District, they took a handful of different trips touring Laos to get a true, authentic feel for the food and the community they wanted to take home and share with diners. Upon returning home, Ongsangkoon looked for a place to set up shop and NoMa quickly became an obvious fit for all he wanted to accomplish.

“A couple of years ago when we started to launch this concept, we would go around eating and looking at other restaurants,” he says. “We fell in love with this particular neighborhood.”

He speaks of seeing restaurants, bars and beer gardens throughout the easily walkable, tree-lined area. The sense of community found throughout NoMa is a great platform for Ongsangkoon’s ultimate goal: to familiarize visitors of Laos in Town with the food and the culture of Laos that inspired him to open this spot in the first place.

“I would like to showcase the culture,” he says as he lovingly recalling his travels throughout Laos and all the cooking techniques his team has brought back to DC. “I believe that if Washingtonians would at least open up, they’ll fall in love as I fell in love. I want them to step into the restaurant and feel like they’re in Laos.”

250 K St. NE, DC; www.laosintown.com

Wunder Garten

Born out of a desire for a Bavarian-style beer garden and a way to fill a vacant lot in the middle of the neighborhood, Wunder Garten has become a go-to outdoor watering hole since its evolution as a pop-up in 2015 to its current location on First Street. Co-owner Biva Ranjeet says that although their transition from pop-up to permanent locale was not unlike other businesses that have made that jump, they “focused on the location, the neighborhood and our unique event programming.”

The space is open year-round and provides a whole host of unique programming along with a robust beer, wine and drink program. The CaliBurger food truck can be found for those wishing to snack, and the large space is conducive to intimate conversations or large groups wishing to catch up.

“We’ve built a dedicated, hardworking team that has become like a second family and cultivated a community both within NoMa and the region as a welcoming backyard in the heart of NoMa,” Ranjeet says of Wunder Garten’s unique digs. “We recognize that we’re not just another bar but a place where people can enjoy some great drinks, food and music in the midst of a carefully curated backdrop of flora – and from time to time, also some great programming. It’s a relatively simple formula but it takes a lot to get it right.”

She also notes that outside of the community it has curated within neighborhood walls, Wunder Garten has become “one of the large attractions to the neighborhood.” The spot draws both locals and visitors to their urban oasis, especially around Oktoberfest and other beer-driven Bavarian celebrations. NoMa resident or not, the once-vacant lot provides something special for all who visit to partake or imbibe in.

1101 1st St. NE, DC; www.wundergartendc.com

Notable NoMa

Carving Room NoMa
Known for:
A second location of Carving Room, featured on the Guy Fieri-led Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, popped up in NoMa this spring. The spot brings an array of gourmet sandwiches, small plates and burgers along with an open-air watering hole to the neighborhood. 140 M St. NE, DC; www.carvingroom.com

The Eleanor
Known for:
This spot features two mini-bowling lanes (pro tip: reserve your lanes online before you and your friends venture out), an inventive food and drink program, and perhaps the most DC namesake of a restaurant to date (its name is a shout-out to Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton). 100 Florida Ave. NE, DC; www.eleanordc.com

Lily and the Cactus
Known for:
An innovative blend of cuisines from the Southwestern U.S. and Africa, this restaurant offers classics and combinations of flavors you won’t find anywhere else – NoMa or otherwise. 1225 1st St. NE, DC; www.lilyandthecactus.com

Menomale
Known for:
Another beloved spot that decided to bring their offerings to NoMa, the pizza and salumi restaurant set up shop in the bottom of The Belgard apartments this summer. Residents and visitors alike can indulge in the Neapolitan-style pizza that’s made it a mainstay at the original Brookland location, which will open soon in NoMa. 2711 12th St. NE, DC; www.fb.com/menomaledc

Red Bear Brewing Co.
Known for:
Creative brews that are fun to drink and even more fun to order (think the Dom Peri-yaaaas!, a brut kölsch made with hops and full of floral, wine-adjacent flavors), lots of board games, and a fun, inclusive environment for all beer drinkers who walk through their doors. 209 M St. NE, DC; www.redbear.beer

Streets Market
Known for:
Providing visitors and residents of the AVA NoMa apartment building in which it’s situated with a one-stop food shop, plus 30 draft lines and a killer happy hour. 51 M St. NE, DC; www.streetsmarket.com

Free for All

As another way to foster community, the NoMa BID offers all its programming – often involving local businesses – as free to all who wish to attend.

“We make all of our events free so we never exclude anybody,” Jasper says. “It’s another dimension of welcoming people. It’s part of the DNA here and I think it’s had an impact on how people feel about being in the neighborhood.”

Catch some of the following programming throughout the summer. For more information on year-round events, visit www.nomabid.org.

THROUGH SUNDAY, AUGUST 4

FRESHFARM NoMa Farmers Market
Every Sunday this summer, you’ll find purveyors of the best local goods take to the streets of NoMa to share all they have to offer with the community. Find coffee, produce, prepared foods, flowers and more for sale. Visit the NoMa BID’s website for a full list of vendors and special events. FRESHFARM NoMa Market also accepts and matches SNAP, WIC and SFMNP benefits, and is family- and dog-friendly. Located at the corner of 2nd and L Streets in NE, DC

WEDNESDAYS THROUGH AUGUST

NoMa Summer Screen
Back for its 12th year, NoMa Summer Screen’s 2019 theme is “Who’s Got Game?” Don’t miss sports films new and old such as Bend it Like Beckham, Remember the Titans and She’s the Man. Every movie is subtitled, dogs are allowed on leashes and you can indulge in fine food truck cuisine. Visit www.nomabid.org/summerscreen for a full list of films and food trucks. Begins at sunset. Lot on 1st and Pierce: 1150 1st St. NE, DC

FRIDAYS THROUGH SEPTEMBER

Feel Good Fridays
Kick off your weekends every first Friday this summer with a visit to the NoMa-Gallaudet Metro Stop or CNN Plaza for free treats from NoMa vendors Galley Foods, Streets Market and Sweet Science Coffee. You’ll find coffee, breakfast food, friendly neighbors and a much brighter Friday await you. 7:30-9:30 a.m. NoMa-Gallaudet Metro: N Street in NE, DC // CNN Plaza: 840 1st St. NE, DC

THURSDAY, JULY 4

July 4 Bash
This family-friendly celebration of all things patriotic is the perfect way to spend your Independence Day. Come for the cookout and stay for face painting, moon bounces, live music and more. 12-3 p.m. Lot on 1st and Pierce: 1150 1st St. NE, DC

Photo: Vita Images

Diner en…Pick Your Color

“I have to buy a ticket and preorder my drinks – then pack food, table, chairs, flatware and decorations and drag them on foot, dressed entirely in white, across the city to a mystery location?”

My friend usually loves my party invites, but she was struggling with Diner en Blanc.

“In August in the swamp – are you serious?”

But she accepted. And she loved it.

From a spontaneous picnic three decades ago in Paris, Diner en Blanc has evolved into a yearly multicity extravaganza complete with waitlists, hashtags and FOMO.

“It’s the allure of the unknown,” says Bryer Davis, cohost of DC’s Diner en Blanc. “Everything is a mystery until the day of: the location, who you’ll sit next to, the spectacle, the weather.”

And the finished product is genuinely magnificent: a diverse gathering of thousands of Washingtonians clad in white, eating dinner, making friends, waving sparklers and framed by a DC landmark.

But what if your sartorial preferences forbid white? You’re in luck: the last three years, DC has also embraced Diner en Noir (DEN), an evening of feasting and celebration while clad in…all black. But these are not dueling events.

“While there may be similarities, DEN is a community-based event that aims to promote the local arts and business community,” says founder Howard N. Cromwell, who has also attended Diner en Blanc and encourages others to do so.

“It’s a magical, one-of-a-kind experience,” he says of Diner en Blanc.

While Diner en Blanc events around the world feature local artists, the global umbrella organization imposes more restrictions in terms of local charity and small business involvement, which DEN does not have. This year, DEN will make donations to the Northeast Performing Arts Group and the Congress Heights Community Training and Development Corporation.

As for its part, Diner en Blanc offers a global experience with a deep history. Friendships have been formed through the years as enthusiasts travel the world to participate in other cities. Of course, the Holy Grail is Paris, where it all started.

“Diner en Blanc brings people together who want to experience it in as many places – with as many people – as possible,” Davis observes. “Everyone makes the evening uniquely theirs.”

Both Davis and Cromwell attended this year’s Diner en Blanc in Paris on June 6. The evening was also an opportunity to celebrate the 75th birthday of its founder, François Pasquier.

“The night was nothing short of spectacular,” Cromwell says. “We learned a great deal from some of the event’s original European organizers.”

David says he was blown away by the pop-ups, local artists and activations in Paris.

“It gave me so much inspiration for DC,” Davis adds.

I asked both Diner wizards for advice for participants.

“Preparation is always key,” replies Cromwell. “Great preparation prevents poor performance.”

“Pack your patience!” Davis exclaims. “Ultimately, the event is what you make of it.”

Diner en Noir will be held Saturday, July 20; more information available at www.dinerennoir.com/dc. Diner en Blanc is on Saturday, August 24; more information available at https://washington.dinerenblanc.com.

Photo: Hayley Olivenbaum

Behind the Bar: Staycation Edition

Vacations, no matter how lovely, are never quite long enough. You deserve more than a weeklong romp on the beach and there are ways to recreate that magic without straying far from home. Enter Coconut Club, located catty-corner to Union Market, and The Wharf’s Tiki TNT: two places that can help you recreate vacation vibes while whipping up drinks that are tasty and tropical. While I fully encourage taking as many trips as you can fathom, you can make any day a little sunnier when you walk through the doors and up to the bars at both of these locations.

Coconut Club’s Chris Chapman, Tina Hatano and Adam Greenberg // Photo: Aliviah Jones

Coconut Club

Four months ago, a brightly colored storefront popped up near Union Market on Penn Street – a quickly expanding destination for food and drink in the District. It belongs to Coconut Club, the creation of Chopped and Beat Bobby Flay champion Adam Greenberg.

It’s an airy oasis in a neighborhood that still feels charmingly industrial – think an open-air door, bright murals, tropical flavors and plenty of plants. Greenberg drew from his travels to warmer climates in places like California, Cuba, Hawaii and Miami.

“The idea is that you are on vacation,” Greenberg explains. “You’re at the beach so it should be carefree, whimsical, a little bit fun. It shouldn’t be so serious.”

Chris Chapman, who manages the bar along with Tina Hatano, echoes that the laidback sentiment plays into all they do. The bar anchors everything from its location in the middle of the space, and is slightly reminiscent of a swim-up bar at a destination beach club.

“We wanted to be approachable and not overwhelming,” he says. “There are not a lot of decisions to make – just fun. We try to keep that rolling and stick with that vibe on both sides, from the bar and the kitchen.”

Not one to skew tropical, beachy or sunny when you order a drink? Coconut Club still has you covered.

“There’s something for everyone,” Hatano adds.  “If you want wine, it’s not going to be something that requires a 20-minute description. It’s going to be something like a really nice, classic sauvignon blanc. If you want a cocktail, you can get something spirit-forward. You can get something fruity.”

In the four months since they’ve opened their doors, the team has kept a pulse on what everyone who’s taken a mini-vacation at Coconut Club has had to say, and looks for ways to conduct their brand of fun in an even more effective manner.

While wildly Instagrammable drinks like the “That Thing’s On Fire” will stay on the menu, Chapman notes they’ve got some changes up the sleeves of their tropical shirts. “A classic cocktail list with Coconut Club’s variations [and] classic tiki and beach drinks that everyone wants to have and everyone loves” are all slated to make appearances on the menu.

The Rum Manhattan exemplifies this ethos – a smooth but not saccharine twist on the classic dark drink that uses toasted coconut, fat-washed rum for a cocktail that’s approachable but distinctly Coconut Club. The foodie destination recently introduced brunch, and plans to roll out a happy hour later this summer.

Coconut Club’s Rum Manhattan // Photo: Aliviah Jones

“Be on the lookout,” Greenberg says. “Even though [people] like what we’re doing, we’re only going to get better at what we do, which is great.”

It’s evident that even though the dedicated team desires to improve whenever possible, they’ve already tapped into a desire for whimsy paired with quality food and drink.

“We get people that come in dressed up for Coconut Club in Aloha shirts,” Chapman says. “It’s a thing! It’s like, ‘This is what we’re doing Saturday. Everybody get on Amazon and buy your stuff.’”

Hatano agrees.

“And that’s the whole point: just come here and have fun.”

540 Penn St. NE, DC; www.hellococonutclub.com

Tiki TNT’s Todd Thrasher // Photo: Hayley Olivenbaum

Tiki TNT

Tiki TNT’s giant smokestack can’t be missed by anyone entering the city via 395. Proclaiming the motto “Make rum not war,” the distillery and bar helmed by Todd Thrasher lets patrons know it’s a place to abandon personal and political troubles before crossing the Virginia state line and entering the three-story haven.

“We have a president that we all want to forget about – at least that most of us want to forget about,” Thrasher says as he explains the concept behind his latest creation, the potent TNT Problem Forgetter. “So, this was the kind of cocktail where you can come in and forget about everything that went bad during a bad day. You can have one, and you start feeling good right away.”

Much like the motto on the smokestack, it captures the essence of the spot, shaken into a colorful zombie glass.

“Every tiki bar seems like they have their one cocktail that represents who they are,” he continues.

For years, Thrasher has been known for his careful craft, making bitters and other cocktail ingredients around the DMV while also running the Eat Good Food Group (speakeasy PX, Kaliwa, and Virtue Feed & Grain, to name a few). With Tiki TNT, he’s able to enact a new level of craftsmanship with every drink as Thrasher’s Rum is distilled onsite.

“I make the rum how I want the rum to taste,” he explains. “I’ve been making cocktails and ingredients for years and years and years now. It just gives something extra. Now I can make ingredients. I can make bitters and the base spirit, too.”

In the case of the signature TNT Problem Forgetter, there’s a two-drink limit. But the boozy offering will certainly make you forget your problems as the name suggests, as will the vibrant atmosphere Thrasher and his team work tirelessly to cultivate. While there are plenty of structural details that delineate Tiki TNT from the norm, he says it’s the “spirit of Aloha” that truly makes the whole experience come together every day.

TNT Problem Forgetter // Photo: Hayley Olivenbaum

“You have to live Aloha – live nice and live friendly. We tell the staff, ‘You have to have that Aloha spirit. You have to be warm. You have to be welcoming. You have to be fun because we live in DC, which is a high-stress place.’  Last night, everyone that came in here was like,  ‘Oh, this is like a vacation.’”

With Tiki TNT’s third-level rooftop now open, providing a stunning view of The Wharf and across the Potomac, it’s easy to forget you’re not in the tropics with locally crafted rum in hand and a holiday-esque feeling surrounding you.

1130 Maine Ave. SW, DC; www.tikitnt.com

Photo: Trent Johnson

What’s On Tap: Denizens’ New Riverdale Location Offers Customers A Wide Variety of Drinking Options

There is no better way to kick off the summer season than checking out Denizens Brewing Co.’s new location in Maryland’s Riverdale Park Station. The 12,000-square-foot production facility and taproom, which opened on May 25, is nestled between Whole Foods, District Taco and several other restaurants. The array of beer, cocktails and food options allows for any customer to come in and find something to enjoy, no matter their preferences. We caught up with the new spot’s general manager Coleene Rosenbach to talk about how the Riverdale location is different from Silver Spring’s and what customers can expect this summer.

On Tap: How did you decide on the Riverdale location versus other locations in the DMV?
Coleene Rosenbach:
This is a really great area. Lots of different types of neighborhoods intersect here. We’re always looking for areas where we can really be a part of a growing neighborhood. When we initially opened in Silver Spring five years ago, what we saw was an area that was just starting to become a lot more popular with the young professional groups, as well as already having an established familial suburban feel.

OT: What are some differences with the new Riverdale location compared to that Silver Spring location?
CR:
The focus at this production facility will be on our main sellers. As far as what we have to offer in the taproom, a lot of it is the same. We have far more taps here than over at Silver Spring, so we will be able to provide a larger seasonal selection once we get going.

OT: Do you think you will expand to other locations in Virginia in the future?
CR:
Opening this location was a two-year process, so we’ll probably take a little bit of a break before we open anything else. Right now we’re working with a couple of distribution companies to start being able to distribute into Northern Virginia.

OT: How do you plan to sell more beer to establishments in Northern Virginia, Maryland and DC? How much will the distribution increase?
CR:
We are hoping once we get the full production line going, it’ll probably quadruple the amount of beer we produce in a year, so we’re really trying to get ourselves out there.

OT: Which craft beer flavor is your best seller so far this summer? What are the best beer and food pairings?
CR:
From what I’ve observed, IPAs are just always going to be a thing. They’re always popular regardless. You’ll notice the trends, a lot of people are trying to focus on, like the hazy New England-style IPAs. We like to focus on lagers and more traditional takes on traditional styles of beer. As of right now, one of our more popular beers is actually a peach berliner weisse, the Georgia Ave., and it’s really light, low ABV.

OT: What are your recommendations for customers who come into Denizens and don’t love craft beer, but still want to try it out?
CR:
So one of our biggest things here is obviously we want to make beer approachable to everyone. We understand that not everyone is a beer snob and craft beer is definitely something that can be
intimidating to enter, but of course, we like to focus on what kinds of drinks people like in general.

OT: Beer marketed to women is often described as being fruity and low calorie. That being said, what tactics do you use to appeal to every customer?
CR:
We are the only fully female and minority-owned brewery, and again, as I said, we want beer for everyone. Regardless of if you’re the standard flannel wearing bearded beer aficionado or someone who really hasn’t had much of a foray into craft beers, we think we have something for everyone.

OT: There is a summer concert series at the River Park Station through August. How does that impact Denizens?
CR:
It’s been pretty great. We’ve definitely have had people hang out on our patio and hear [the concert]. I think it’s just been a really great kind of crossover. We definitely plan on being heavily involved in any kind of events that are being held in the shopping center [or] gathering area in general. Any kind of event that the Riverdale Association plans, we always try to be a part of it.

Denizens’ Riverdale Park Taproom is open from 11 a.m. – 11 p.m. from Sunday to Thursday and 12 p.m. – 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. For more information on the brewery, visit www.denizensbrewingco.com.

Denizens Brewing Co. Riverdale Park: 4550 Van Buren St. Riverdale Park, MD; 240-582-6817; www.denizensbrewingco.com


What’s On Tap July Listings

Greetings, beer nerds! As you likely know, there are a number of fantastic spots in the DMV where you can grab a pint, and their menus are always evolving and adapting to your tastes. If you’d rather avoid the guessing game, check out what’s coming up at a few of these fine establishments.

TUESDAY, JULY 2

Tuesday Brewsday
For the entire month of July, Kramerbooks and Afterwords café will be offering 18 varieties of half price pints and $1 wings. The 18 half price pints will include new limited and specialty run drafts and cans along with $1 wings. 7 p.m. – 1 a.m. Free admission. Kramerbooks & Afterwords Café: 1517 Connecticut Ave. NW, DC; www.kramers.com

THURSDAY, JULY 4

Mussels, Burgers & Beer: Fourth of July at the Sovereign
Celebrate Independence Day with your friends from The Sovereign. Come out and enjoy their signature 4×4 happy hour, which includes four different draft beers, cocktails and wines at $4 each. In addition, there will be two very special Independence Day-only deals, including $15 for a burger and beer or $20 for mussels and a beer. 12-8 p.m. Free admission. The Sovereign: 1206 Wisconsin Ave. NW, DC; www.thesovereigndc.com

FRIDAY, JULY 5 – SUNDAY, JULY 7

Waterfront Beer Garden by Port City Brewing Company
Kick off summer at the Waterfront Beer Garden by Port City Brewing Company. Over two weekends, enjoy award-winning craft beer plus local food and entertainment, including live music and DJs. In addition to classics like Optimal Wit, Port City will highlight different beers during the weekend. Over Fourth of July weekend, attendees can enjoy beer with barbecue from Chadwicks on Friday and Saturday, Rocklands Barbeque’s food truck on Saturday and Smoking Kow BBQ’s food truck on Sunday. Cool off with treats from Dolci Gelati. Attendees can also enjoy lawn games, live music and DJs throughout. 5-8 p.m. on Friday, 12-8 p.m. on Saturday and 12-4 p.m. on Sunday. Free to attend. Waterfront Park:1 King St. Alexandria, VA; www.visitalexandriava.com

FRIDAY, JULY 5

DC Brau Half Price Pint Night
Enjoy cheap beer, tasty food pop-ups, board games and more at DC Brau’s Half-Price Pint Night. All flagship beers are 50 percent off all night. 3-11 p.m. Free admission. DC Brau Brewing Company: 3178 Bladensburg Rd. NE, DC; www.dcbrau.com

Tour de Pour Friday Night Happy Hour Rides
Come out and experience this happy hour series hosted by Bike Lane Brewing and Lake Anne Brew House. Park and gear up at Bike Lane Brewing, then take a fun group ride to Lake Anne Brew House for a beer and pretzel pit stop before returning to Bike Lane for another. Don’t have a bike? Contact Bike Lane about a test ride on one of theirs. Valet racks are provided at Lake Anne for parking. Rides are led by a Bike Lane employee. All skill levels and speeds are welcome for this casual, fun spin between Reston’s two breweries. Riders will depart promptly at 6 p.m. from The Bike Lane. Free admission. Bike Lane Brewing: 11150 Sunset Hills Rd. Reston, VA; www.thebikelane.com

SUNDAY, JULY 7

The Schneeeule Brauerei Showcase
Join ChurchKey as they feature the unparalleled beers of Schneeeule Brauerei. They will pour five of their exciting sour German brews alongside co-founder Andreas Bogk. Don’t miss the chance to try these old world and modern takes on Berliner Weisse which includes Marlene, Imgard, Kennedy and Yasmin. Not to be outdone, ChurchKey will also pour the incredibly rare August, the only U.S. keg of this one-of-a-kind sour Bock. All Schneeeule drafts are priced individually by the glass and 4-oz. tasting pours. 12-11:30 p.m. Free admission. ChurchKey: 1337 14th St. NW, DC; www.churchkeydc.com

WEDNESDAY, JULY 10

Belgium National Day Beer Dinner
Join Granville Moore’s for a four-course sumptuous dinner with Ommegang and La Chouffe inspired beer pairings. The dinner will consist of cuisines ranging from shucked PEI mussels, pan seared scallops to pan-seared lamb tenderloin, as well as Belgian chocolate and cherry tart for desert. 7-10 p.m. Tickets $60. Granville Moore’s: 1238 H St. NE, DC; www.granvillemoores.com

Summer Of Sour Series: The Classics of Cantillon
All summer long, The Sovereign is rolling out a slew of rare sour beers every week. Join as they showcase some of their favorite producers of Belgian-inspired sour beers from across the globe. The series is set to showcase the Classics of Cantillon, the legendary Lambic producer of Brussels. On this night, The Sovereign will pour four of Cantillon’s most iconic blends, including rare kegs of Fou’Foune and Kriek alongside bottles of Rosé de Gambrinus and Classic Gueuze. All Cantillon beers will be priced individually by the glass and in 4-oz. tasting pours. 5-11:30 p.m. Free admission. The Sovereign: 1206 Wisconsin Ave. NW, DC; www.thesovereigndc.com

Yoga & Beer at Fair Winds
Fill your sails with this monthly mindful movement and drinking experience. Attendees will enjoy a fun hour-long yoga class and then toast to the good life with a tasty Fair Winds craft beer. The brewery and yoga studio gets warm in the summer without AC; be prepared for warm yoga, hydrate well before class. All levels are welcome, no experience needed. Bring your own mat. 7-8:30 p.m. Free admission. Fair Winds Brewing Company: 7000 Newington Rd. Lorton, VA; www.eatyogadrink.com

THURSDAY, JULY 11

Civic Circle Happy Hour
Celebrate democracy and register to vote with bingo to benefit The Civic Circle at Denizens. Participants will have the chance to win patriotic prizes. The event also featurs voter registration by HeadCount and a non-partisan group that works with musicians to promote participation in democracy. 7-9 p.m. Free admission.Denizens Brewing Co.: 1115 East-West Hwy. Silver Spring, MD; www.denizensbrewingco.com

SATURDAY, JULY 13

6th Annual Port City Old Town Pub Crawl
Port City’s annual Pub Crawl returns for the sixth time on the streets of Old Town Alexandria. The brewing company will be at local restaurants near the Alexandria waterfront, stamping pub crawl passes and handing out swag. From 1:30-2:30 p.m. attendees will go to any of the participating locations to grab their pass. From 1:30-6 p.m.  stop at all locations, look for the PCBC team and get a stamp. Participants can stay and enjoy some brews and food specials at their favorite spots. Finally, stop by the Port City Tent from 5-6 p.m. with your completed pass and get a limited edition pint glass. 1:30-6 p.m. Free admission. Port City Brewing Company: 3950 Wheeler Ave. Alexandria, VA; www.portcitybrewing.com

Denizens Brewing Co.’s 5th Anniversary
Join Denizens in celebrating their fifth anniversary with a spectacular line up of music and dancing performances. Attendees don’t forget to dress in your best Mardi Gras outfit for a chance to win a free beer. The brewery will also have a bead contest. Don’t miss out on the fun, as this popular brewery celebrates five years in the biz. As they say in New Orleans, let the good times roll. 5 p.m. -12 a.m. Free admission. Denizens Brewing Co.: 1115 East-West Hwy. Silver Spring, MD; www.denizensbrewingco.com

Jailbreak Brewery Tour
Come take a tour with Jailbreak Brewing Company to see where the magic happens. The tour includes four beer samples and a pint to take home. 1-4 p.m. Tickets $10. Jailbreak Brewing Company: 9445 Washington Blvd. North Laurel, MD; www.jailbreakbrewing.com

Yoga & Beer at New District Brewing
Roll out your yoga mat at New District Brewing Company for a luscious, hour-long vinyasa flow led by a talented, registered yoga instructor. After class, stay for a refreshing craft beer and great company. This mindful movement experience is accessible to all levels, beginners to advanced. Bring your own mat. 10:30 a.m. – 12 p.m. $20 online tickets include yoga and a beer ticket; $25 for walk-in tickets if space is available. New District Brewing Company: 2709 South Oakland St. Arlington, VA; www.newdistrictbrewing.com

THURSDAY, JULY 18

Brew at the Zoo
Hold onto your brews. This year the friends of the National Zoo are turning DC’s best beer festival into a prehistoric party. Attendees will journey to the Smithsonian’s National Zoo for unlimited beer tastings from 70-plus breweries, live music, food truck fare and much more. It’s three fantastic hours of dino drafts and fossil food. Guests can show their support for Friends of the National Zoo (FONZ) and the Zoo’s shared species-saving mission at Brew at the Zoo, where beer finds a way. 6-9 p.m. Tickets start at $30. Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute: 3001 Connecticut Ave. NW, DC; www.nationalzoo.si.edu

FRIDAY, JULY 19

Beer Garden Bass
Enjoy music and food at Denizens Brewing Co.’s Silver Spring location for a night of bass and beer on the patio. DJ InnoVadar will be behind the decks, so mark your calendars because you don’t want to miss it. 8 p.m. – 12 a.m. Free admission. Denizens Brewing Co.: 1115 East-West Hwy. Silver Spring, MD; www.denizensbrewingco.com

SATURDAY, JULY 20

America’s Best Brew Fest
America’s Best Brew Fest is a celebration of the very best craft beer. Guests will enjoy live music, outdoor games, amazing food vendors, arts and more. The festival features more than 80 different brews and amazing selections of wine, including a huge rosé garden, delicious varieties of cider, hard sodas, gluten-free options and much more. Tickets grant attendees with unlimited tastes of hand-picked beers, wines  and ciders. 12:30-8 p.m. Tickets begin at $17. The Bullpen: 1299 Half St. SE, DC; www.brewfestdc.com

Jazz at The Beer Garden
Enjoy the Jazz Trotters at this super beer garden. The beer garden is connected to a butcher shop, so guests can partake in quality dining alongside some outdoor fun. They are also a local, independent market who prides themselves on the fact that their focus is on quality, local products. 5-9p.m. Free admission. Westover Market: 5863 Washington Blvd. Arlington, VA; www.westovermarketbeergarden.com

SUNDAY, JULY 21

Belgian Independence Day Celebration
This Belgian Independence Day, The Sovereign is celebrating in style by popping some of their favorite bottles. The brewery will offer 21 of director Greg Engert’s personal picks at truly unbelievable prices. Highlights include some classic Belgian Gueuzes from Cantillon, Drie Fonteinen, Girardin and Tilquin, and some stunning beers from American stalwarts Oxbow, Jester King and Crooked Stave. 12-11:30 p.m. Free admission. The Sovereign: 1206 Wisconsin Ave. NW, DC; www.thesovereigndc.com

Pints and Paws
Studies have shown that pet ownership and beer drinking may contribute to a longer life. In that spirit, DC Brau Brewing Company will be hosting the Humane Rescue Alliance for a meet and greet of some of DC’s most eligible kitties and canines. DC Brau will donate $1 per pint to the Humane Rescue Alliance throughout. Guests can shop for the newest pet gear and treats from The Big Bad Woof, and you may even go home with your new best friend. 12-3 p.m. Free to attend. DC Brau Brewing Company: 3178 Bladensburg Rd. NE, DC; www.dcbrau.com

MONDAY, JULY 22

Port City Joggers & Lagers
Start your week off with a Monday evening run from Port City Brewing Company. First, meet at the brewery tasting room before heading out for a one, three or five-mile run. Participants should expect a fun crowd, support from Pacers Running staff and occasionally vendors provide shoes to try out. 7-9 p.m. Free admission. Port City Brewing Company: 3950 Wheeler Ave. Alexandria, VA; www.portcitybrewing.com

WEDNESDAY, JULY 24

Pickleball & Beer Party
Get ready for some pickleball – this new sport is making a big wave! It’s super fun and easy to learn. Come out to play while having a couple of beverages and snacks on the tennis courts. This event is BYOB. 5:30-7:30p.m. Free admission. McLean Swim and Tennis Association: 1700 Margie Dr. McLean, VA; www.mcleanswimandtennis.org

 

Founder Tristan Wright // Photo: Misha Enriquez for Visit Alexandria

Lost Boy Cider Plants Itself in Alexandria

When former banker Tristan Wright was diagnosed with a severe soy allergy a few years ago, he realized he wanted to make some changes in his life.

“I had spent 16 years in the industry,” he says. “And one day when looking in the mirror, I realized I was doing something that I didn’t love and wasn’t passionate about any longer. A lot of that had to do with that diagnosis. As you get older, you begin to hear that ticking clock and think more about your mortality. I didn’t want to wake up in a hospital room one day and not be able to say I had done something in life that was worth the risk.”

Wright had recently started drinking cider because he needed to give up whiskey and beer. He researched what was out there, and couldn’t find too many ciders that he wanted to drink. Like kismet, he was sitting on the couch one day watching a ballgame when a commercial for Angry Orchard cider came on, and he had a light bulb moment.

“It was almost like someone was telling me I should start a cider company. I was looking for something to do, and here was an opportunity to do something really cool.”

A month later, he found himself at Widmer Brothers Brewery in Portland, Oregon sitting in a cider production class led by cider professionals from the Pacific Northwest.

“I immediately connected with those in the room and spent a couple of weeks out there going through 19 different cideries,” he says. “From there, I enrolled in Cornell’s viticulture and enology [the study of grape cultivation and the study of wines, respectively] program, studying yeast cultures they use in wine and the science behind the craft.”

His business plan was finally on its way. On June 8, Wright opened Lost Boy Cider – the first cidery in Northern Virginia – in Alexandria’s Carlyle neighborhood. His cidery produces a variety of traditional and innovative hard ciders, with almost 100 percent of their sourced apples grown in Virginia.

“Our ciders are all bone-dry with no residual sugars. They are in the 6.9 percent range. Our belief is you can go and source very good apples, hand ferment them and introduce dry cider the way it should be.”

For now, the cider is coming from trees on Glaize Apples’ properties in the Shenandoah Valley. The process involves Lost Boy fermenting the squeezed apple juice and then crafting the liquid into one of the cidery’s signature ciders. The menu features Bottle Rocket, made with jalapeños; Spicoli, made with pineapple; and Slasher, made with raspberries.

Lost Boy Cider has an apple orchard onsite adjacent to its tasting room with semi-Dwarf Golden Delicious varieties from Stark Bro’s, a Mississippi Delta-based company. Once fully grown to roughly nine feet, the apple trees will produce nearly 80 gallons of juice. The first harvest is planned for fall of 2020.

“We are licensed in the state as a farm winery and you cannot do that in the state without controlling land where 65 percent of your product comes from,” Wright explains. “You must control an orchard in continuous or adjacent space to where your tasting room operates from.”
Lost Boy Cider will also receive a $60,000 Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development (AFID) program grant.

“We’re incredibly grateful for it, and we’ll use that money to build out and deepen our laboratory area so we can continue to understand what type of ciders we are making. The money comes in waves and it requires me to utilize Virginia resources, which we planned on doing anyway. It’s a win-win for everyone.”

The theme of the Lost Boy logo is to motivate people to explore the opportunities they are presented with.

“It’s not about being lost, but really about being found.”

Lost Boy’s instant popularity at the grand opening last month proved to Wright this is a place people wanted to see.

“I knew our cider was good and we worked very, very hard on it, but I had no idea that the community would support us in the way that they did. I opened the doors at noon and by 12:04, we had exceeded our occupancy load. There was a line of 80 people outside and throughout the day, people were waiting up to 45 minutes in line to get in.”

About 1,400 people came through the doors by day’s end, and cider was flying off the shelves.

“It was just incredible and we’re looking forward to more. It feels really good to know the hard work we have put in the last couple of years is hopefully going to pay off.”

Lost Boy Cider: 317 Hooffs Run Dr. Alexandria, VA; 703-868-4865; www.lostboycider.com