If you wanted to get your hands on the highly sought-after cans of beer from Aslin Brewing Company prior to this summer, you had to get in the car and make the pilgrimage to a humble strip mall in Herndon, Virginia. Beer aficionados have been camping out in line outside Aslin in the hopes of snagging a few cans since 2015, like New York City tourists waiting for a cronut outside of Dominique Ansel Bakery. Coming up on their fourth anniversary, it seems Aslin’s brews have earned a reputation as the cronut of the beer industry.
This July, beer drinkers across the DMV welcomed Aslin’s long-awaited new outpost in Alexandria with open arms and empty growlers. Gone are the days of trekking out to Herndon solely for beer to-go.
“[Because] people [can] come in and drink a few beers and get their cans, there’s rarely much of a line,” says Aslin Brand Manager Erik Raines.
The “real test,” he says, will be what the wait is like on the day of a major stout release. Though enjoying a beer onsite in the Herndon space is not allowed, Aslin has an extremely committed following. On one particular beer release day, Alexandria resident Justin Booth got in line two hours before they opened.
“People will post pictures on social media with line updates,” Booth says. “I waited for about 30 minutes after they opened, so it was about two-and-a-half hours.”
Raines says being go-to for the last few years created quite a trek for some Aslin fans.
“I get it,” he says. “I get having to schlep all the way out [to Herndon] just to get some cans and get right back into your car and get back on 66. We’ve gotten feedback from guests who are so pumped to have us five or 10 minutes from their house now.”
When Alexandria city planners reached out to Aslin about coming to their neck of the woods, the company found the 25,000-square-foot warehouse space was more than big enough to offer them the growth they needed. One of the hardest parts, Raines mentions, was trying to decide how to utilize all that wall space with four years’ worth of beer can art by artist Mike Van Hall, who has been instrumental in helping to define their brand.
“It’s just such a luxury to have someone like [Van Hall] that you can give minimal direction to and just know that he’s going to completely knock it out of the park,” Raines notes.
With endless wall space to fill, the team at Aslin set out looking for someone to incorporate Van Hall’s art into the taproom. They enlisted their new neighbors across the street, CSI Printing & Graphics, to make his beer can art come to life – literally from floor-to-ceiling.
“We got so lucky,” Raines says.
The resulting partnership brought colorful, minimalistic wall designs practically begging to be posted on Instagram. While art is a core component of their brand, Aslin’s focus continues to be on making beer people are willing to wait for – even if the waiting part isn’t as much of a commitment as it once was.
Aslin plans to make its beer even more accessible in the near future. They are expanding their reach beyond Alexandria and Herndon and recently signed with DC-based distributor Hop & Wine Beverage. They expect to begin distributing Aslin beer across the wider Northern Virginia area this fall. In the meantime, Aslin’s new Alexandria taproom is open daily and family-friendly until 7 p.m.
“After 7 p.m., ‘Adult Swim’ is in effect and patrons must be 21 and over,” states their website.
Purchase tickets to Aslin’s four-year anniversary party on Saturday, September 14 on Eventbrite; tickets start at $65. For more information about Aslin’s new Alexandria space, visit www.aslinbeer.com.
Aslin Brewing Company: 847 South Pickett St. Alexandria, VA; 703-787-5766; www.aslinbeer.com