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Photos: Courtesy of Wolf Trap

Caboose Brewing Company’s Wolf Trap Summer Ale Makes Its Return

There is something about seeing a concert in the outdoors that makes a show so much more enjoyable. Maybe it’s because there’s more room to breathe and dance around, or perhaps it’s because an open-air show is a sure sign that summer has arrived. Whatever it is that draws you to an outdoor gig, the promise of new drinking options makes Wolf Trap the place to go this summer.

The music venue is prepping the rollout of the newly updated Wolf Trap Summer Ale, a fairly light pale ale made for easy summertime drinking in collaboration with nearby Caboose Brewing Company. The partnership has been going strong since early 2016, not long after Caboose first opened its doors in Vienna.

In search of a middle-of-the-road beer that wasn’t like anything else they offered, Wolf Trap Director of Food & Beverage TJ Pluck worked with Caboose’s co-owner Matt Greer to create a brew that used the venue’s outdoor elements to inspire the Summer Ale’s flavor profile. In early discussions, Pluck, Greer and Wolf Trap Executive Chef Chris Faessen would talk “about the Wolf Trap experience and what’s unique here.”

“You’re sitting in this oasis of trees in nature in the middle of the city,” Pluck says of the venue.

With the abundance of cedar trees, pines and Faessen’s bee apiaries in mind, the brew was born. As for changes to the batch available for the 2019 season, Pluck and Greer agreed to tone down the bitterness of last year’s recipe.

“We typically bitter with Warrior [hops], but we’ve reduced that quite a bit and introduced some Falconer’s Flight into the mix, which is another kind of aromatic hop,” Greer says. “But other than that, the base malt build has pretty much stayed the same.”

He adds that these changes will make the 2019 batch an ale that is more with the times but anticipates that the team will continue to tweak the ale as they go. While Pluck had long envisioned serving a proprietary beer at Wolf Trap, it was not until Caboose opened its flagship location that he felt he had found the right brewery to work with.

The timing was perfect as Wolf Trap was looking to focus their beer program on local brews, now including Starr Hill and Devils Backbone. Greer adds that a collaboration with Wolf Trap made perfect sense on Caboose’s end – as soon as he and Pluck’s team sat down to talk, the two groups just clicked. Since then, the national park and brewery have only grown closer.

“They are literally a mile-and-a-half down the street from us,” Greer says. “We talk all the time and I’m constantly going to shows. TJ [Pluck] could call me tomorrow and say ‘Matt, I love this beer I had a dream about and I need to make it,’ and of course I would make it for him. It’s become more of a friendship than a business situation.”

Not to mention that as a brewer, Greer is always looking for new projects to work on with local groups.

“Honestly, we live for collaborations. It’s a lot of fun.”

With the summer ale collaboration going so well, Greer and Pluck both mention there’s a good chance the collaboration could grow in the future. While nothing is set in stone, Pluck says the two groups have started talking about potential projects down the line – including adding more Caboose beer at Wolf Trap as the brewery has recently started canning their beer and using the honey produced by Wolf Trap’s bees.

“We’re all hyperlocal, we like participating in each other’s events and we’re just really blessed with having so many like-minded people in the area,” Greer says.

The revamped summer ale isn’t the only drinking option to look forward to at the park this year. Wolf Trap will also be offering Richmond-based Väsen Brewing Company’s Guava Otter Gose.

“[Väsen’s] beers are all named after animals because they’re all about the outdoors, which fits in with us being a national park,” Pluck says. “We’ll actually be one of the very few places in Northern Virginia to have it in cans.”

Devils Backbone’s new Hibiscus Hard Lemonade will be offered, as well as two new cocktails created by Wolf Trap – vodka-and-orange puree concoction the Blood Orange Breeze, and cucumber and Spindrift cucumber sparkling water combo the Cucumber Refresh. On the nonalcoholic side, the national park struck up a collaboration with Caffe Amouri in Vienna to create the Wolf Trap coffee blend – a mix of artisan coffee beans from Papua New Guinea and Guatemala – served hot or iced and sold in to-go bags in the gift shop.

Whatever you’re looking for in an outdoor concert venue, Wolf Trap has something for everyone with their numerous local drink options, natural beauty, and stellar lineup of bands and performances.

“There’s nothing better than great music [and] beer together in one place,” Greer says. “I’m just excited that we’ve got this national resource right next to us.”

Wolf Trap’s summer season kicks off on Thursday, May 23 with a three-night lineup of The Avett Brothers, coinciding with the release date of the revamped Wolf Trap Summer Ale. For more information about the venue’s summer season, visit www.wolftrap.org. For more on Caboose, go to www.caboosebrewing.com.

Caboose Commons: 2918 Eskridge Rd. Fairfax, VA; www.caboosebrewing.com
Caboose Tavern: 520 Mill St. NE, Vienna, VA; www.caboosebrewing.com
Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts: 1645 Trap Rd. Vienna, VA; www.wolftrap.org


Artist Picks

Concertgoers aren’t the only ones who like to enjoy a beer during – or before or after – a show. Check out what a few artists coming to Wolf Trap this summer like to sip on during a performance and how they celebrate post-show.

Lake Street Dive
Drummer Mike Calabrese

Favorite pre-show drink:

Honestly, water. Pee clear, sing clear, drink after.

Go-to beer on tour:

Some [members of the band] are IPA people, or NEIPA people. Others prefer something yellow, like a classic German lager or pilsner.

Post-show spot:

The bus! The venue usually hooks up the local stuff for us backstage and then we go into the lounge and ask the bigger questions about life, love and Game of Thrones.

Lake Street Dive plays Wolf Trap Saturday, June 8. Gates open at 6 p.m. Tickets start at $35. Learn more about the band at www.lakestreetdive.com.

Toad the Wet Sprocket
Bassist Dean Dinning

Go-to beer on tour:

I enjoy a Toad the Wet Hop Ale from Green Man Brewery. Either that or a nice, light Mexican beer like Modelo with a squeeze of lime.

Favorite pre-show drink:

I enjoy a shot of decent tequila like Maestro Dobel or Casamigos with a squeeze of lime – never heavy, always refreshing.

Post-show spot:

I always go to [U Street soul food spot] Oohh’s & Aahh’s when I’m in DC. Never miss the opportunity!

Catch the band at Wolf Trap on Sunday, June 30. Gates open at 5:30 p.m. Tickets start at $25. Learn more at www.toadthewetsprocket.com.

What’s On Tap: May 2019

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.

THURSDAY, MAY 2

Caboose’s Fourth Anniversary Beer Dinner
Don’t miss this spring beer dinner in honor of Caboose Brewing Company’s fourth anniversary. The evening will include a five-course meal and beer pairing created by executive chef David Rabin and Caboose’s wonderful brewing team. 7:30 p.m. Tickets $75. Caboose Brewing: 520 Mill St. NE, DC; www.caboosebrewing.com

The Kapittel Farewell Party
Join The Sovereign as they bid a fond farewell to the beers of Kapittel. On this day, they will feature five classic ales from Watou, Belgium. All Kapittel beers will be priced individually by the glass and in 4-oz. tasting pours. 5-11:30 p.m. Free to attend.The Sovereign: 1206 Wisconsin Ave. NW, DC; www.thesovereigndc.com

FRIDAY, MAY 3

Slaters Lane Socials: Spanish Tapas
Join Rustico Alexandria for their next installment of the Slaters Lane Socials series. On the first weekend of each month, the restaurant will showcase a few fun and exciting food specials paired with one of their favorite craft brewers. This month, Rustico is celebrating the cuisine of Spain with executive chef Stephen McRae’s delicious tapas menu. 5-11:30 p.m. Free to attend. Rustico Restaurant and Bar: 827 Slaters Ln. Alexandria, VA; www.rusticorestaurant.com

SATURDAY, MAY 4

Dawn Patrol Release Party on the Patio
Join Lost Rhino Retreat for a party on the patio for the release of Lost Rhino’s Dawn Patrol Session IPA. Taps open at 2 p.m. and the event will feature live music, barbecue, seafood boil, beer bucket specials and more. Join for a great opportunity to bring in the summer a little early with the release of this new brew. 2-10 p.m. Free to attend.Lost Rhino Retreat: 22885 Brambleton Plz. Ashburn, VA; www.lostrhino.com

The First Annual Brewer Spring Art and Culture Crawl
Enjoy a beverage from each of Silver Spring’s three breweries while slurping up new knowledge about the art, architecture and culture of Silver Spring’s blossoming urban community. The ticket price includes a pint of your choice at each brewery, a T-shirt and a chance to win some prizes along the way. 1-4 p.m. Tickets $50. The Rotary Club of Downtown Silver Spring: 923 Ellsworth Dr. Silver Spring, MD; www.silverspringrotary.org

Rocket Frog 1st Anniversary Party
It’s been one year since Rocket Frog opened its doors to the public. This will be a festival-style event inside the brewery. The festival features their 12 taps behind the main bar, an additional 10 taps in the brewing area, and one firkin (TBD), all with your favorite Rocket Frog beer. There will be several variations from beers served throughout the first brewery’s first year. 12-6 p.m. Tickets $30-$48. Rocket Frog Brewing Company: 22560 Glenn Dr. #103, Sterling, VA; www.rocketfrogbeer.com

WEDNESDAY, MAY 8

Calvert Woodley’s DMV Brewery Night
Join for a walk-around tasting featuring breweries from DC, Maryland and Virginia, who will be showcasing their favorite brews. Come sample their flagship offerings as well as some seasonal specials. As an added bonus, all the brews will be available for purchase at specially discounted prices. You’ll also receive a complimentary glass for the tasting. 6 p.m. Tickets $25. University of the District of Columbia Heritage Hall: 4200 Connecticut Ave. NW, DC; www.calvertwoodley.com

SATURDAY, MAY 11

Cheers for Babies
Join Sauf Haus in Dupont Circle for a happy hour fundraiser supporting the Maternity Home and Pregnancy Center programs of The Northwest Center. Since 1981, The Northwest Center has served over 57,300 women and babies in the DC area. With your help they can continue in their mission of empowering women and strengthening families. 6-9 p.m. Free to attend. Sauf Haus Bier Hall: 1216 18th St. NW, DC; www.saufhausdc.com

WEDNESDAY, MAY 15

Horizontal Tasting: Cider, Beer and Wine
Celebrate spring by exploring cider, beer and wine together! Your ticket includes a guided, five-part horizontal tasting. For each course, Capitol Cider House will pair a different cider with a similar beer or wine. To sweeten the night, the fifth and final course will pair a dessert wine with Capitol Cider’s house made North Columbia – essentially, the apple version of port wine. Capitol Cider House: 3930 Georgia Avenue NW, DC; www.capitolciderhouse.com

FRIDAY, MAY 17

SAVOR: An American Craft Beer & Food Experience
What happens when celebrated chefs team up with some of America’s finest craft breweries? The answer: an unforgettable night of sensory delight. Set amidst the grandeur of the National Building Museum, SAVOR is the premier beer and food pairing event in the country. Discover your new favorite craft beers and pairings and meet the people behind the beer, including owners and brewers, who will be personally serving their beer. Starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets $135. National Building Museum: 401 F St. NW, DC; www.savorcraftbeer.com

SATURDAY, MAY 18

Sour Mania!
Pucker up and join Mad Fox for their 2nd Annual Sour Beer Festival. Sample special and limited-edition sour ales from around the region and across the country at this indoor event. Enjoy live music and fantastic food while sipping some truly tart ales. Admission to the brewpub is free and space is available on a first come, first served basis. Please call the restaurant for table reservations. Tasting begins at 11 a.m. on Saturday. Check out the samtpler package offer available online only. 11 a.m. – 11:30 p.m. Tickets start at $20. Mad Fox Brewing Company: 444 W. Broad St. Falls Church, VA; www.madfoxbrewing.com

The Ultimate Beer Pong Tournament
Are you the master of beer pong? Do you want to help a good cause while also consuming libations? Well, this is the perfect event for you. Join Town Tavern with your best beer pong partner and drink and play for a cause. The bar is hosting a beer pong tournament to raise money and awareness for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. 6:30 p.m. Tickets $5-$25. Town Tavern DC: 2323 18th St. NW, DC; www.towntaverndc.com

SUNDAY, MAY 19

Bingo with the DC Sisters
Come to the DC Sisters’ monthly bingo night. They will be at Red Bear Brewing with games, raffle tickets for the 50/50 raffle, extra game books, and food and beverages will also be available for purchase. 1-4 p.m. $20 will get you six rounds of bingo, each with a $100 cash prize and potentially a door prize. Red Bear Brewing: 209 M St. NE, DC; www.dcsisters.org

Pups N’ Pints
Join Fairfax Dogfish Head Alehouse for a fundraiser in an effort to raise money for the HART Organization. Kick off the day with the annual 5K run and then enjoy the outdoor bar and grill. 10 a.m. – 10 p.m. 5K registration is $40. Dogfish Head Alehouse: 13041 Lee Jackson Memorial Hwy. Fairfax, VA; www.dogfishalehouse.com

SATURDAY, MAY 25

Rivershed Run
Kick off your long weekend with a fast and flat run that starts in urban Alexandria, cools down through beautiful Cameron Run Park and finishes at the Port City Brewery. After the 5K, you will have earned your fair share of calories.  So, plan to stay for the ultimate Virginia Memorial Day BBQ. Live bluegrass all afternoon, All American food trucks with a pig roast, burgers and apple pie. All that and the release of Port City’s new Rivershed Ale. 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.5K registration is $45. Port City Brewing Company: 3950 Wheeler Ave. Alexandria, VA; www.portcitybrewing.com

Stone Carving at the Brewery
New District Brewing Company has had paint nights and food pairings, but now it’s time for stone carving. Come in empty handed and walk out with a small stone creation made with your own two hands. The instructor will guide you through a class to give you the basics of stone carving while the brewery will provide plenty of beer to coax out your muse. 2 p.m. Tickets $30. New District Brewing Company: 2709 South Oakland St. Arlington, VA; www.newdistrictbrewing.com

Woodbridge Beer Fest
This beer event is taking over the main drag of Woodbridge for the second year, filling it with beer, food and even wine. There will be 12 breweries providing the best of local and regional craft breweries, food vendors, live music and other entertainment. Want to stay late? The Brew Republic taproom will host an after party. Festivities begin at 11 a.m. Tickets start at $39. Brew Republic Bierwerks: 15201 Potomac Town Pl. Woodbridge, VA; www.brewrepublic.beer

Photos: Courtesy of SweetWater

SweetWater’s New Guide Beer: New Four Percent Lager Gives Back to Nature’s Best Stewards

Freddy Bensch first rolled through Atlanta in the summer of 1996 to find the city at a vibrant peak while hosting the Olympic Games. With a freshly inked environmental sciences degree in his pocket, Bensch embarked upon a cross-country road trip, leaving University of Colorado Boulder with his friend Kevin McNerney and dog Badger. When their truck broke down in Atlanta, the crew decided to stay and play.

Enamored with Atlanta’s glittery city appeal and Southern downhome charm, their stay kept getting extended. The one thing lacking? A great craft beer scene. Bensch and McNerney had worked in breweries while in college in Colorado and saw an opportunity to introduce Atlanta to the tasty West Coast-style ales they loved. One small business loan later, and SweetWater Brewing Company was born.   

Craft enthusiasts are likely familiar with SweetWater’s 420 Extra Pale Ale – the first batch was brewed 22 years ago on April 20 – and their heady, hoppy portfolio of IPAs. This year, the Atlanta-based brewery introduced a lighter lager to the mix: Guide Beer. At 4 percent, it’s a crisp and refreshing cooler-filler, with all the robust flavors you’d expect from a craft.

But it’s more than just a great liquid: Guide Beer has a greater mission. Of Guide Beer’s profits, 11 percent will be given back to nature guides in need, whether they’ve suffered devastation from a hurricane, a broken limb, an illness or anything that keeps them from working. Why guides? 

“SweetWater has always been about creating a company and brand that exudes the same core values we hold as individuals, and that includes a deep love of all things outdoors,” Bensch says. “Whether it was water conservation, habitat protection or just straight-up stocking streams, this was who we were and this was what we were going to support. Guide Beer has become a natural extension of this philosophy: a light, easy drinking lager specifically designed for days in the outdoors that also gives back to the best stewards of the great outdoors – guides.”

Bensch says he and McNerney developed a great sense of gratitude for the guides they befriended along the way.

“Always taking a sliver of information or heightened respect from each experience, we came to understand that these guys and gals are the true stewards of nature. Guides are the keys that unlock outdoor experiences for the greater masses.”

He points out that the past several years have seen devastation to the guide community from Hurricanes Irma, Florence and Michael.

“It hit me that we as a company need to step up and formally give back to guides who’ve impacted so much of who we are as a company and frankly, who I am as a person and outdoorsman,” he says. “That’s what Guide Beer is: in honor and support of those who show us the way.”

In order to make Guide Beer an authentic representation of the folks it’s meant to honor, SweetWater worked with guides from all over the nation to develop it.

“We reached out to some of the nation’s most well-known and revered guides and started asking them, ‘What kind of beer do you like to drink after a long day out guiding?’” says Guide Beer Brand Director Tucker Berta Sarkisian. “The answer was nearly unanimous: a crisp, light, easy drinking, low-ABV beer.  We continued to work with the guides to develop the liquid and the concept around it – getting their input on everything from cans versus bottles to artwork to a philanthropic program that would be authentic to SweetWater and this new beer.”  

What guides told SweetWater they wanted aligned with industry stats: a shift toward a lighter profile among craft drinkers and proven success in the top 10 drinkable styles. It also brings to the table new consumers: craft enthusiasts looking for a crisp 4 percenter, plus a new base of lighter profile beer consumers who may be new to SweetWater but appreciate the outdoors and aspirational nature of the guide lifestyle. Men’s Journal recently named Guide Beer one of the “Five Best Lagers for Day Drinking.” 

“Our hope all along was that Guide Beer would spark conversation and inspire people to get outside and enjoy all that nature has to offer,” Sarkisian says. “And we’re seeing that, from consumers talking about the maps on the cans and the locations they’ve visited or want to visit to planning an excursion with a guide.”   

Check out videos from guides, booking links and more at www.guidebeer.com and follow Guide Beer on Instagram @guidebeer. Find out where to pick up the brew in the DMV at www.sweetwaterbrew.com/find-sweetwater.

This article is sponsored by Virginia Eagle Distributing Company.

What’s On Tap: April 2019 Beer 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.

THURSDAY, APRIL 4

Beer Tasting at the GAHM
Enjoy a taste of Germany with different kinds of German beer, including limited seasonal specialties, German sausage, potato salad and pretzels. In the mood for something different? Try a Bavarian biergarten specialty called obatzda. In addition, learn about the long history of Germans in the United States, their surprising contributions which go well beyond beer and bratwurst, and the strong connection that exists still today between the two countries. 6:30-9 p.m. $30-$55. German-American Heritage Museum: 719 6th St. NW, DC; www.gahmusa.org

Flying Dog Presents Unfiltered for Your Pleasure
Join ChurchKey as they celebrate all things IPA with their friends from Flying Dog. This night features seven beers from the brewery, including three unfiltered twists on Flying Dog’s flagship IPAs. Whether you love them or hate them, unfiltered hazy IPAs are here to stay. Try Snake Dog, Double Dog and The Truth side-by-side and decide which you like best. 4-7:30 p.m. Free to attend. ChurchKey: 1337 14th St. NW, DC; www.churchkeydc.com

Ithaca Beer’s 20th Anniversary Party
Rustico Ballston is set to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Ithaca Beer Company. In honor of this momentous occasion, the restaurant will pour 10 exciting beers from the New York brewery, including rare kegs of Anniversary 20 and Anniversary 20/20: Hindsight. The team at Ithaca Beer Co. is bringing a remarkable lineup for the event, headlined by the two aforementioned brews. 5-11:30 p.m. Free to attend. Rustico Ballston: 4075 Wilson Blvd. Arlington, VA; www.rusticorestaurant.com

FRIDAY, APRIL 5

Port City’s Ideaal Tripel Release Party
Join Port City Brewing as they tap the Ideaal Tripel. From the Flemish term meaning “quintessential or exemplary,” Ideaal is a classic Belgian-style tripel. Honey gold with a thick cap of mousse-like foam, Ideaal Tripel’s deceptively dry body provides a perfect playground for a spicy Belgian yeast character, marrying complexity and approachability. Ideaal is the perfect companion for spring in the DC area and a must have for patio season. 3-10 p.m. Free to attend. Port City Brewing: 3950 Wheeler Ave. Alexandria, VA; www.portcitybrewing.com

SATURDAY, APRIL 6

Capital BrewFest: Blossom Bash Beer
DC’s outdoor festival season is set to kick off with Blossom Bash. Your ticket to Blossom Bash gets you three hours of unlimited tastes of more than 65 delicious craft beers, 10-plus tasty ciders and more. You’ll also enjoy the best of DC’s food trucks, live music and fun games. 12:30-8 p.m. $30-$60. The Bullpen: 1299 Half St. SE, DC; www.brewfestdc.com

New Beer’s Eve
Celebrate your new favorite holiday: New Beer’s Eve. On April 7, 1933, beer production was once again made legal in the U.S., marking the imminent end of prohibition. Join at the Dumbarton House with local beer historians in tasting a wide variety of local beers, ciders and snacks. This is the day to honor your right to pursue happiness and a refreshing cold one. 3-7 p.m. $35-$40. Dumbarton House: 2715 Q St. NW, DC; www.dumbartonhouse.org

The Sovereign’s Third Anniversary Celebration
The Sovereign is celebrating its third anniversary with a huge selection of 25 world-renowned beers including favorites from Cantillon, Hill Farmstead, Allagash and more. The day brings three extremely rare Cantillon kegs, including the DC debut of Carignan.  In addition, Hill Farmstead and Allagash sent an amazing collection such as Hill Farmstead’s Convivial Suarez and Clara, as well as Allagash’s Coolship Red and Coolship Resurgam. In addition, there will also be a spontaneous collection of fermented beers. 11 a.m. – 11:30 p.m. Free to attend. The Sovereign: 1206 Wisconsin Ave. NW, DC; www.thesovereigndc.com

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 10

Zlaty Rhino Beer Release
Lost Rhino Brewing Company is bringing this back for a release in April. Zlatý Rhino (pronounced “zlah-tee”) is a classic Bohemian-style pale lager and takes its name from the Czech word for “golden.” This beer balances the delicate bitterness of 100 percent Czech Saaz hops against a sweet malty backbone, thanks to the use of a painstaking traditional decoction mash and long kettle boil. Zlatý Rhino is equally at home alongside a hearty meal or fueling a long night at the pub with friends. The tap opens at 11:30 a.m. Free to attend. Lost Rhino Brewing Company: 21730 Red Rum Dr. #142, Ashburn, VA; www.lostrhino.com

THURSDAY, APRIL 11 – SUNDAY, APRIL 14

The DC Easter Keg Hunt 2019
Celebrate Easter early this year with the first ever DC Easter Keg Hunt. Join ChurchKey, Bluejacket, The Sovereign and The Partisan for a craft beer-themed scavenger hunt across the District. The hoppy hunt is on. Each location will have a different clue hinting at a special beer on the draft list. Find the secret beer at all four locations by Sunday and win a free limited-edition commemorative DC Easter Keg Hunt 2019 hooded sweatshirt (retail value $45). Winners are automatically entered into a drawing for one of the five grand prizes. Various times. Free to participate. DC Easter Keg Hunt: Various locations in DC; www.dcbeer.net

SUNDAY, APRIL 14

The Stillwater Preternatural Cuvée Tasting w/ Brian Strumke
The Sovereign is welcoming Brian Strumke of Stillwater Artisanal Ales to host an intimate tasting of all five beers from the Preternatural Cuvée Project, a series of his most intriguing and special barrel-aged beer-wine hybrids. In 2014, Stillwater Artisanal procured a truckload of freshly emptied California wine barrels and filled them with a mix of blond and dark saisons. After three years in oak barrels, roughly two years of bottle conditioning, and many blending and tasting sessions, Stillwater is finally ready to release these five beautiful beer-wine hybrids. 12-2 p.m. Free to attend. The Sovereign: 1206 Wisconsin Ave. NW, DC; www.thesovereigndc.com

THURSDAY, APRIL 18

Profs & Pints: Founding Fathers in the “Friend Zone”
Presented with Cassandra Good, assistant professor of history at Marymount University, this discussion focuses on several of America’s earliest leaders and how they formed close, egalitarian relationships with women. Among them, Thomas Jefferson had warm ties with Abigail Adams, and she called him “one of the choice ones on Earth.” George Washington found a home away from home with Philadelphia’s Elizabeth Powel. These weren’t romantic love affairs. They were friendships built on emergent ideas of women as the spiritual and intellectual equals of men. 6-9 p.m. $15. Bier Baron Tavern: 1523 22nd St. NW, DC; www.inlovewithbier.com/tavern

SATURDAY, APRIL 20

DC Beer Fest
The DC Beer Festival returns to Nationals Park, bringing together dozens of craft breweries and featuring spring seasonal beers. Taking place throughout the stadium’s concourse including Centerfield Plaza, Budweiser Brew House, Bud Light Loft and Budweiser Terrace, the DC Beer Fest will have over a dozen food trucks throughout as well as lawn games, DJs and more. 12-8 p.m. $45-$75. Nationals Park: 1500 S. Capitol St. SE, DC; www.dcbeerfestival.com

Ocelot 4th Year Anniversary Party and Spring Market
After the success at Ocelot’s Oktoberfest Flea Market, the brewery decided to bring back a bunch of vendors for their 4th anniversary. So we’ll be setup out back again with tables and a cash bar, a slew of great local vendors, music by Mobius Records, food trucks and more. 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. Free to attend. Ocelot Brewing Company: 23600 Overland Dr. Sterling, VA; www.ocelotbrewing.com

THURSDAY, APRIL 25

Diamondback Brewing Co. Tap Takeover
Join Lost & Found in celebrating Baltimore’s Diamondback Brewing Co. with a 10-tap takeover of old favorites and new releases. Diamondback was established in 2016 brewing small batch beer skewed towards one-off styles in the Baltimore metropolitan area. In the past two years, Diamondback Beer has started to mature and develop a firmer grip its core offerings, monthly one-offs and barrel aging experiments. 4-11 p.m. Free to attend. Lost & Found: 1240 9th St. NW, DC; www.lostandfounddc.com

Photo: Nicco Page

Red Bear Brewing Co. Open To All

At the grand opening of Red Bear Brewing Co. last month, patrons exploring the space echoed the same sentiment: NoMa’s new brewery has a philosophy of being open to all.

“It’s a place that really has something for everyone,” says Liz Cox, Red Bear’s taproom manager and veteran manager of the DC restaurant and bar landscape. “[Red Bear] erases that stigma of brewery culture.”

In other words, this isn’t just a bunch of white bearded guys sitting around drinking micro brews. This is an environment for people of all races, genders and sexual orientations.

Red Bear is the brainchild of three friends who were living in Seattle – Bryan Van Den Oever, Cameron Raspet and Simon Bee – all looking to change careers. Van Den Oever came from the healthcare world, Raspet has a military background and was a flight test engineer for Boeing, and Bee worked in property management.

“They wanted to do a nano-brewery but knew they shouldn’t in Seattle because it had the most brewpubs per capita,” Cox says. “They felt bringing the West Coast style to the East Coast would work and chose DC to get it started.”

Although all three owners are gay, they decided early on that Red Bear wasn’t going to be “a gay bar” but rather ultra-inclusive, encompassing more than just the LGBTQ community.

“We try to be disability-friendly, accessibly friendly, a safe space for women [and] people of color,” Cox says. “We even have a bartender who is an ASL interpreter and we are all trying to learn from him as well [to welcome the deaf community and students from nearby Gallaudet University]. The idea was to create a safe space for everyone.”

The trio also wants the establishment to embrace the outdoors and adventure, hence the brewery’s name. The bear is a central theme of the space, and the logo features an ursine figure and Washington state’s Mount Rainier in front of DC’s stars and stripes.

“Visually, our bar is very appealing, and we stick to the theme of bringing outdoors inside,” Cox says. “We have patio string lights out. Simon built a mountain range that lines the bar. The bar is very large and creates two zones; we call one the front yard and the other the back patio.”

Red Bear serves predominantly West Coast-style ales and beers from 24 tap lines in a 7,000-square-foot space.

“Simon is our brewmaster and classifies offerings in three styles,” Cox explains. “[There’s] the old, nostalgic-style beers such as an ESB, which you don’t find a lot of in DC as it’s a very West Coast, Pacific Northwest-style beer. There’s the beers you should enjoy drinking and then experimental beers.”

For example, the pub will be introducing a brut kölsch later this summer. Current on tap offerings include a Belgian wit called Marmalade Skies, Cammy Cam-Cam’s ESB, American porter DC Dirt, the pale ale Polar Bear, American amber Skookum Red Ale, American IPA Mystic Storm and American double IPA Twinsies. Seasonal offerings include Cupid’s Black Heart, a chocolate-strawberry bock, and Swampoodle, an imperial oatmeal Irish stout. In the months ahead, the bar will offer a hibiscus American wheat (Delicate Prissy Flower), cherry almond sour (Manhattan Project), rosemary saison (Something About Rosemary) and a NoMa-based SMaSH (Single Malt and Single Hops) brew.

As a brewpub, Red Bear is licensed to sell food and has a small kitchen that is currently being readied to open sometime this summer. In the meantime, the owners are bringing in pop-up food places such as Roaming Rooster and D’s Fish Truck to offer visitors some menu items.

“We also have a stage for live performances and a patio that will be up and going once it gets warmer,” Cox says. “And we’ll be building out our drop lines. We opened with eight beers and have 15 beer lines and two nitro beer lines.”

Red Bear also offers cider, cocktails, wine and a full liquor menu. At the grand opening, all three owners got their pick of one special element for the night, so the party included a drag queen (Kitti Chanel Fairfield), an ice sculpture and live music.

“We’re all about having a good time and everyone here is excited about what’s to come,” Cox says. “NoMa has a ton of people but not a lot of bars, and we want people to feel comfortable here.”

Learn more about Red Bear at www.redbear.beer and follow the brewery @redbearbrewing.

Red Bear Brewing Co.: 209 M St. NE, DC; 202-849-6130; www.redbear.beer

Photo: Courtesy of Chrystalle Ball

Leading Ladies of DC’s Beer Scene: Deep Roots Gain New Ground

The world of craft beer is dramatically different than it was even a few years ago. Quality beer is more readily available than ever and thanks to social media, it’s easy to keep up with new beers and breweries. Here in DC, women have a prominent place in the beer scene.

Chrystalle Ball is the founder of DC Metro Girls Pint Out, the local chapter of a national craft beer organization for women to enjoy happy hours, tastings and other events that build community around a love of beer. She joined the Arizona chapter originally, but after moving to the DMV, she found there were no chapters here. She got to work, and DMV Girls Pint Out had its first event in 2013.

“There is a stereotype that women don’t drink beer,” Ball says. “People come to our events for the first time and they’ll say, ‘Oh, I didn’t know there were so many women that drink beer in this area.’ There are, you just have to look.”

Ball says that over the past five-plus years of involvement in the DC beer community, a lot more women are beginning to actually work in beer. She notes Lake Anne Brew House in Reston, Virginia, which is women-owned and has many women brewers, and says that DC also has plenty of women industry veterans like Kristi Mathews Griner of Beltway Brewing Company in Sterling, Virginia.

“Women are popping up all over the area in brewing roles, and it needs to keep happening,” she says, noting that the Pink Boots Society, which helps women advance their careers in the beer industry, is an important resource. “Women are pigeonholed toward wine, but women love beer – and women were the first brewers of beer.”

Sara Bondioli, president of the DC Homebrewers Club, says that the long tradition of women brewers also helped inspire her to try it herself.

“I was reading a book that had a section on the history of brewing, and for most of history, women were the main brewers,” Bondioli says. “It’s only more recently that it’s been seen as a male profession. It hadn’t occurred to me that homebrewing was even an option until then, but I did a lot of baking from scratch and I thought I would try making beer from scratch.”

Fast forward to about seven years later, and she’s now running the club and helping other women get into homebrewing, too. Women club members started the Homebrewing Outreach and Participation Sisterhood (HOPS), which has women-focused brew days, happy hours and speaking events. Bondioli says that through homebrewing, women and men alike have freedom to create funky combinations while enhancing their appreciation of the brewing process.

“I’ve had some really creative beers through the homebrew. Someone made a pickleback beer, but they did it in a very restrained way that worked out really well. Especially with the club, you get to see what other people create and it gives you ides of things to try as well.”

Her signature beer? A strawberry rhubarb saison. This creative spirit is everywhere in the beer world, from the beers themselves to their labels. Chelsea Bailey, who runs the @21stamendmentgirl beer Instagram account and works in DC Brau’s tasting room, says she originally started the account to highlight the beauty of beer design.

“Honestly, I started drinking craft beer because I love the labels,” she says. “I challenged myself to drink a whole bottle of whatever I chose [to feature], I developed a palate and it grew into this whole other world.”

Bailey landed her job at DC Brau thanks in part to her social media presence, and it’s given her “a chance to meet other people who are like-minded and passionate.”

“There are people who have heard about my Instagram account, and I’m excited to go in and talk about beer with them.”

All three women say that there’s a number of things happening in the DC beer world to look forward to this spring. This month, ANXO Cidery & Pintxos Bar is exclusively pouring ciders, wines, beers and cocktails from female-owned and operated businesses. On the homebrewing front, the DC Homebrewers Club is now accepting entries for its annual homebrewing competition, the Cherry Blossom Challenge. And DMV Girls Pint Out will soon host its fifth annual Girl Scout Cookie and beer pairing event; check website for updates.

“If someone wants to get into beer and has experienced that whole beer snobbery thing, I would love for them to come to our events and just try things,” Ball says.

That’s the main theme that seems to unite area breweries and beer enthusiasts: condescension and pretentiousness are out, and inclusiveness and community are in.

“Overall, the DC beer scene is supportive of having women involved, active and part of the group,” Bondioli says. “Most of the places out here seem to understand that they don’t have to market beer to women differently. They can just make a good beer and women and men will drink it – and everyone out here can appreciate that.” Bailey echoes that sentiment.

“Beer isn’t a man’s drink. It’s everybody’s drink.”

Follow Bailey on Instagram @21stamendmentgirl and learn more about DMV Girls Pint Out at www.girlspintout.org or on Twitter @dmvgirlspintout. Check out the DC Homebrewers Club at www.dchomebrewers.com, the club’s Cherry Blossom Challenge at www.dchbcompetition.com and the Pink Boots Society at www.pinkbootssociety.org. More on the breweries and cideries below.

ANXO Cidery & Pinxtos Bar: 300 Florida Ave. NW, DC; www.anxodc.com
Beltway Brewing Company: 22620 Davis Dr. Ste 110, Sterling, VA; www.beltwaybrewco.com
DC Brau: 3178 Bladensburg Rd. Suite B, NE, DC;www.dcbrau.com
Lake Anne Brew House: 4310, 11424 Washington Plaza W.Reston, VA; www.lakeannbrewhouse.com

Photo: Daniel Lempres

What’s On Tap: ANXO cidery & PintXos Bar’s Rachel Fitz Celebrates Women in Food and Drink

When ANXO Cidery & Pintxos Bar opened in Truxton Circle, they were the only sit-down restaurant in the neighborhood. Co-owner Rachel Fitz says the grid couldn’t handle a business of ANXO’s size – her team had to increase power and water for the entire neighborhood – but it was important for them to operate in the District and support the local community. A former social worker, Fitz’s commitment to community engagement has translated to her role at ANXO. After the resounding success of the cidery’s collaboration with Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington on International Women’s Day last year, Fitz decided to extend and expand ANXO’s celebration of women. For Women’s Month 2019, ANXO is featuring women in the industry throughout March at special events, and everything poured at the cidery is provided by women-owned or women-run breweries. Plus, happy hour profits for the entire month are going to DC’s Planned Parenthood office.

On Tap: Tell me about your introduction to cider, and your path to opening ANXO.
Rachel Fitz:
My business partners and I traveled around Spain and fell in love with cider. I thought, “Who knew there was all this cider in the world that’s not sweet and is interesting?” We all come from a beer background and really fell in love with cider. The idea when we opened was to start as a cider bar and do a small amount of production, mostly what comes out of the barrel downstairs – that’s our sidra. [Cider] is the original beverage of the United States. We’re really just getting back to our roots, no pun intended.

OT: What exactly did ANXO do last year for International Women’s Day?
RF:
We decided to highlight female producers. We thought it was going to be a small-scale fundraiser [for Planned Parenthood], but we were blown away by the positive support from attendees and those featured. We had no idea these companies had women running or owning them. It got us thinking about how many other women there are doing amazing things, and how women are rarely in the spotlight.

OT: What inspired the longer celebration this year?
RF:
[Last year] was a huge success. We raised over $2,600 in one night and wanted to grow it, so we decided, “Why not do an entire month of celebrating?” We decided to pour only products made or owned by women. With 36 draft lines, plus liquor, wine and nonalcoholic beverages, we went into it thinking it would be challenging. Turns out, there are a ton of female producers. Every day, we come across new options.

OT: Are you doing collaborations with other brewers as well?
RF:
We did two collaborations: a brut IPA with Denizens and a cider with Eden out of Vermont called Nevertheless We Persisted. [The cider] will be released on International Women’s Day. This is the first year of doing a month-long collaboration, and we hope to do it again next year and get other places doing this. It would be great if in the District, everybody was highlighting amazing women in the industry.

OT: Why do you think it’s important to not only highlight women in the industry, but also create a space for them to connect?
RF:
I think a lot of the time there is not a comfortable space to ask questions that would really help you as a young professional. It’s hard to go up to somebody who is very established in the industry and say, “I want to make more money” or ask, “How do I get to where you are?” I wanted to create an environment where people are comfortable [doing] that, and to learn from people who have already been through that.

OT: What would you say to women interested in the cider industry who worry it’s a boys’ club?

RF: Tom Oliver, a famous U.K. cidermaker, says he firmly believes that women are going to be the future of cider. A lot of people think cider is a female beverage – it’s certainly not. But women have a lot of say in the market: in the products that are being produced, in the way that they’re presented. Women have a very powerful voice, and it’s great to see women who are growing trees, orcharding and also making cider. There are no limitations.

ANXO is exclusively pouring products from women-owned or operated breweries and distilleries for the entire month of March at their Truxton Circle location. Specifics on their other Women’s Month events are available at www.anxodc.com/womensmonth

ANXO Cidery & Pintxos Bar: 300 Florida Ave. NW, DC; 202-986-3795; www.anxodc.com


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.

SUNDAY, MARCH 4

Women’s Month Collaboration Dinner
A group of female chefs will be taking over ANXO’s kitchen including award-winning women like Ilma Lopez, Cagla Onal and Amy Morgan. The four-course menu will be paired with ciders and wines made by women in the industry. 7 p.m. Tickets $97.50. ANXO Cidery & Pintxos Bar: 300 Florida Ave. NW, DC; www.anxodc.com

THURSDAY, MARCH 7

Beer & Donuts
With three taps, board games and donuts, Arlington’s Sugar Shack is the place to be on Thursday nights. Taps will pour the latest offerings from Right Proper Brewing Company; tap takeover nights always feature local craft brewers, donuts and a variety of board games. 4-9 p.m. Admission is free. Sugar Shack Donuts & Coffee: 1014 South Glebe Rd. Arlington, VA; www.sugarshackdonuts.com

FRIDAY, MARCH 8

ANXO’s International Women’s Day Celebration
For the entire month of March, ANXO will donate happy hour profits to the local Planned Parenthood. On Women’s Day, Elanor Leger of Eden Specialty Ciders will be at ANXO, women’s month T-shirts will be available and ANXO’s newest collaboration with Eden will be available in cans. 5 p.m. Admission is free. ANXO Cidery & Pintxos Bar: 300 Florida Ave. NW, DC; www.anxodc.com

SATURDAY, MARCH 9

Cheers & Namaste
There’s no better way to spend a Saturday morning than enjoying a flight of local beer and doing some yoga. Classes at Right Proper’s Brookland location include a flight of house favorites and an hour of yoga suitable for any experience level. Don’t forget your mat. 12-1 p.m. Tickets $15.  Right Proper Brewing Company Production House and Tasting Room: 920 Girard St. NE, DC; www.rightproperbrewing.com

DC Brewers’ Guild HopFest
The DC Brewers’ Guild is throwing its ninth annual HopFest hosted by DC Brau. The event is an opportunity to sample some of the hoppiest brews from the area’s best brewers. Beer offerings will include community favorites alongside unique HopFest creations and rare brews. Tickets include a special DC Brewers’ Guild glass and unlimited pours. 1-5 p.m. Tickets start at $35. DC Brau: 3178 Bladensburg Rd. NE, DC; www.dcbg.org

SUNDAY, MARCH 10

Records, Beer and BBQ
The only thing better than crate-digging is doing so with a fresh pint in hand. Join Hellbender Brewing for a record swap/sale in the tasting room featuring barbecue courtesy of Smoke and Ember BBQ. 12-5 p.m. Admission is free. Hellbender Brewing Company Tasting Room: 5788 2nd St. NE, DC; www.hellbenderbeer.com

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 13

De Dolle Vintage Flight Night
De Dolle’s Belgian strong ales are world-renowned for their bold flavors. Many of De Dolle’s offerings age exceptionally well and thrive when barreled, though the brewery is also known for blending maltiness and acidity in its pale ales and sours. The Sovereign will offer 15 different De Dolle beers and four different vintage flights. 5-11:30 p.m. Admission is free. The Sovereign DC: 1206 Wisconsin Ave. NW, DC; www.thesovereigndc.com

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 20

D&V International Beer Dinner
Enjoy fine dining and European beer pairings in the style of the Trappist monks of Belgium. Learn about featured breweries from a Belgian beer expert and taste a variety of beers in the style, many imported specifically for this event, after dinner. 7-10 p.m. Tickets $60. Granville Moore’s: 1238 H St. NE, DC; www.granvillemoores.com    

Visiting Cidery: Wild Hare Ciders
Brewed in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains with heritage apples grown in the Shenandoah Valley, Wild Hare Cidery excels at apple-only as well as botanical and other fruit-infused ciders. Tickets include a guided tasting of several Wild Hare offerings including limited releases. 7-10 p.m. Tickets $10. Capitol Cider House: 3930 Georgia Ave. NW, DC; www.capitolciderhouse.com

THURSDAY, MARCH 21

Southwest Neighborhood Happy Hour
The tap room at Union Stage invites locals to enjoy happy hour specials and mingle with other folks from the neighborhood. Union Stage features an extensive liquor list, 16 taps and house-made pizzas. 5 p.m. Admission is free. Union Stage: 740 Water St. SW, DC; www.unionstage.com

SATURDAY, MARCH 23

Peche Mortel Day
Shipped from Montreal’s Dieu Du Ciel brewpub, Peche Mortel is a standout imperial coffee stout known the world over. To celebrate their 2019 releases, Dieu Du Ciel shares special variants of its famous stout with brewpubs all around the world, including ChurchKey. This year’s offerings include seven variants of the imperial stout, some of which are aged in bourbon or whiskey barrels and finished with an array of ingredients including cherries, coffee and toasted coconut. 12 p.m. Admission is free. ChurchKey: 1337 14th St. NW, DC; www.churchkeydc.com

SATURDAY, MARCH 30

ANXO’s Women’s Month Close-Out Party
Join ANXO in celebrating the end of a successful Women’s Month. The closeout is a comedy brunch, marking the first time a comedian has performed in ANXO’s dining room. Tickets are available both with and without drink pairings. Showings at 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Tickets $40-$65. ANXO Cidery & Pintxos Bar: 300 Florida Ave. NW, DC; www.anxodc.com

Spring BrewFest
BrewFest promises a day of craft beer, live music, food and more. The event will feature a variety of popular local craft beers, as well as a preview of local 2019 offerings. Virginia wineries and distilleries will also be pouring. 11-5 p.m. Tickets $10-$50. Fredericksburg Fairgrounds: 2400 Airport Ave. Fredericksburg, VA; www.fredbrewfest.com

Dr. J. Nikol Jackson-Beckham // Photo: Courtesy of the Rosen Group

Brewing Diversity: Supporting DC’s Black Beer Culture

One way to celebrate Black History Month is with beer. Whether you consider yourself a conscious consumer or not, this vital celebration is also an opportunity to support small businesses. You don’t even have to spend money to follow those raising the bar for black beer culture – you can simply follow them on social media, and answer calls for inclusion.

Dr. J. Nikol Jackson-Beckham wears many hats. She’s an academic, a homebrewer and most recently, the first-ever Brewers Association diversity ambassador. She is also the chair of the Communications Studies department at Randolph College in Lynchburg. While she holds many titles, in the beer world, she’s known as “J,” “‘Dr. J” or simply “Doc.”

“I am absolutely an advocate of visibility,” she says. “Shining a light on people who don’t have light shined on them very often is inherently valuable.”

Mike Potter, founder of online magazine Black Brew Culture, estimates that there are 50 black-owned breweries across the nation. Jackson-Beckham agrees with this number, which seems staggeringly low when compared with a Brewers Association’s statistic indicating more than 7,000 craft breweries in the U.S.

She recognizes positive trends and sees craft brewing in general “as a kind of center of small business and entrepreneurship.”

“When we look at trends of brewery locations and where they’re going, there’s opportunity for people of color and black people in particular,” Jackson-Beckham continues.

Port City Brewing Company’s brewer Leon Harris delivers excellence in beer production. Every time you enjoy one of the Alexandria-based brewery’s drafts, there’s a chance he had his hands in the creation of that batch.

Harris got his start as assistant brewer at District ChopHouse downtown and Shirlington’s now-shuttered Capital City Brewing Company before opening – and literally building – Heroic Aleworks in Woodbridge. He was cutting concrete and installing fermenters that held 465 gallons of liquid, and jokes that his blood, sweat and tears were in the place. Next, he became brewer at Caboose Brewing Company’s flagship location in Vienna before joining the Port City production team.

“I would love to see more black people in the [beer] industry,” he says. “I think it’s a thriving industry. It’s a welcoming and accepting industry in every sense of the word.”

He’d also love to see “more black-owned businesses that cater to the community, cater to veterans like myself or cater to trying to better those around them.”

Service Bar in Shaw is another black-owned establishment improving beer culture in the DC area. A few months ago, the cocktail bar partnered with Capitol Riverfront brewery Bluejacket to create Hurricane Alley – a sour ale with passion fruit and sweet cherries. The brew mimics the flavor of fruity cocktails like the Hurricane but is imminently more drinkable at 4 percent alcohol by volume.

DC Brau Assistant Manager Myesha Cheatham’s beer journey began by chance.

“I fell into the beer world by accident,” she says. “I used to be a teacher, but I got a homebrewing kit and thought, ‘Oh, I should work in a brewery!’”

Like all good educators, she progressed via communication and critical thinking.

“I’m lucky that at DC Brau, I have people who are willing to share knowledge. Just not being afraid to ask questions has been very helpful.”

Cheatham has worked at high-volume places like MGM National Harbor, the Willard InterContinental’s Round Robin Bar and the Café Du Parc, and at some of them, she’s had to do her own beer training.

“I brought some awesome beer-related ideas to [the table], like ‘This is how we change a keg’ and ‘This is what to do with an old keg’ and ‘We need to plug our lines every night to make sure we don’t have fruit flies in the beer.’”

The knowledge she’s gained as a protector of black beer culture has enabled her to be a positive force in driving it locally. She offers up examples of people to follow online.

“Social media is taking off and they’re a lot of people on Twitter, as well as bloggers like Ale Sharpton, Beer Kutlure and Afro.Beer.Chick, who are bringing black beer culture to the mainstream.”

Follow Cheatham’s recommendations on Twitter @alesharpton, @beerkulture and @afrobeerchick. Check out Potter’s magazine at www.blackbrewculture.com and follow Jackson-Beckham on Twitter @jnikolbeckham.

Learn more about these breweries and bars below.

DC Brau: 3178 Bladensburg Rd. Suite B, NE, DC; www.dcbrau.com
Port City: 3950 Wheeler Ave. Alexandria, VA; www.portcitybrewing.com
Service Bar: 926-928 U St. NW, DC; www.servicebardc.com

Photo: Travis Vaughn Photography

What’s On Tap: The Berliner

While you were away on vacation or bundled up in your homes over the holidays, you may have missed the opening of Georgetown’s newest beer hall The Berliner. The 4,200-square-foot establishment was inspired by modern Berlin, Germany, offering comfort food, a spacious venue and, of course, delicious brews. To get an inside look at the selection process for beers and better understand the vibe of DC’s newest German-themed beer spot, On Tap spoke with operating partner Mike O’Brien, who also serves as The Berliner’s chef and beverage director.

On Tap: What did you find alluring about The Berliner?
Mike O’Brien:
I wanted to get away from the high cost of living [in the San Francisco Bay Area]. I first became involved with The Berliner in June 2018. I’ve been making sausage for 10 years, and a lot of those are German-style because it’s such an integral part of the culture and cuisine. As far as German beer, I really have a passion for it.

OT: You feature a myriad of German-style beers. How did you settle on the final list?
MO:
I wanted to include smaller producers that I knew about and had tried. The list was constantly changing, but some of the smaller German beers were directly imported. I’m very happy with the Kulmbacher’s EKU Pils – those are exemplary German pilsners.

OT: How often will you change up the beer menu?
MO:
Ideally, the menu changes pretty much daily. They’re small changes, but I’m not going to have dedicated lines. It’ll change organically, and I’ll start to bring in larger German producers like Hofbräu. The local beers will rotate. We reprint our menu maybe once a week, but we expect changes to pick up in the summer. The one I’m most excited about is just solid lagers. For a place concentrating on German styles, [solid lagers are] great for us. And [lagers are great] for me personally, because those are the kinds of beers I like to drink.

OT: How do you think the décor adds to the modern, industrial vibe of The Berliner?
MO:
We wanted to have more of a modern German feel. My business partners have a lot of family in and around Berlin and are in the know as far as the trends there. We wanted to be different. We didn’t want it to feel like a typical German bar. We wanted it to feel like something special. The space isn’t dark. It has high ceilings, [is] airy and the wood is a lighter shade.

OT: What sets the two dining areas apart from one another? 
MO: They definitely have different, unique feels to them because the downstairs color is white and natural light comes through, while the upstairs is darker green and the ceiling is dark. It provides a different feel. Once the weather clears up, then it’ll be emphasized even more.

OT: How important is it to you that the food menu complements the beers you offer?
MO:
One of the great things about beer is there’s so many varieties and it lends itself to food really well. We have 24 taps and you can vary the flavor profiles enough that something will pair up. I’ve kept the food menu pretty tight, which lends [itself] to pairing.

The Berliner: 3401 Water St. NW, DC; 202-621-7000; www.theberlinerdc.com


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.

MONDAY, JANUARY 28

Bend & Brew at Mad Fox
Do you love yoga? Do you love beer? Regardless of your answers, why not combine the two? In this 60-minute introductory class, the group will flow while sipping on flights of delicious Mad Fox brews made in the very same building. The best news? Happy hour goes until 7 p.m., so you’ll have time to hang out and grab a pint of your favorite beer. 5-6 p.m. Tickets $25, bring your own mat. Mad Fox Brewing Company: 444 W. Broad St. Falls Church, VA; www.madfoxbrewing.com

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 30

Cidermaking Workshop
Join Capitol Cider House Cidermaker Jared Fackrell for a 90-minute, hands-on, interactive workshop and learn how to make cider from the comfort of your own home. Not only will guests enjoy a sampler flight of Mid-Atlantic ciders during the workshop, they’ll also receive a cidermaking starter kit. 7:30-9 p.m. Tickets $39. Capitol Cider House: 3930 Georgia Ave. NW, DC; www.capitolciderhouse.com

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 1

Après Ski at The Sovereign: Colorado Beers & Spirits
Join The Sovereign as they feature some of their favorite beer and spirits producers from the Rocky Mountains. On this night, they will showcase wonderful wares from Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project, Casey Brewing and Blending, Breckenridge Distillery, and Leopold Bros. Whether you are a lover of beer, cocktails or both, this event is for you. 4-10 p.m. Free to attend. The Sovereign: 1206 Wisconsin Ave. NW, DC; www.thesovereigndc.com

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 7

Fair Winds Beer and Dessert Pairing
Throw away your resolutions and come join Fair Winds for the ultimate beer and dessert pairing. No one does it better than Out of the Bubble Bakery in Springfield, Virginia, with goods baked 100 percent nut- and dairy-free. This event sold out last year, so don’t hesitate to capitalize on the amazing desserts. 6-9 p.m. Tickets $30. Fair Winds Brewing Company: 7000 Newington Rd. Lorton, VA; www.fairwindsbrewing.com

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 9

DC Homebrewers: February JamBEERee Meeting
The DC Homebrewers Association’s February meeting will once again be a joint meeting with other area homebrew clubs. The association will be debuting the latest SMaSH beer experiment at this meeting, plus there’s an IPA competition and a food pairing competition sponsored by various clubs. You’re also welcome to bring other food to share and, of course, bring homebrew to share. 1-5 p.m. DC Brau Lodge: 3178 Bladensburg Rd. NE, DC; www.dcbrau.com

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 14

Valentine’s Beer Dinner
True Respite Brewing Company and Say Cheese! are bringing you a Valentine’s Beer Dinner for craft beer and grilled cheese lovers alike. The dinner will include four pairings and a bag of chips to use as a palate cleanser. Each pairing will consist of an 8-oz. beer and one-quarter of a specialty sandwich from Say Cheese! There are four options to choose from. 6-8 p.m. Tickets $28-$53. True Respite Brewing Company: 7301 Calhoun Pl. Suite 600, Rockville, MD;
www.truerespite.com

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 15

Love Thy Beer Winter Warmer Showcase
Join the Brewers Association of Maryland at Love Thy Beer, the signature event of FeBREWary: Maryland Craft Beer Lovers Month. This must-attend event for the craft beer enthusiast features exclusive beer releases you won’t find at your local craft beer store and a selection of specialty beers brewed specifically for FeBREWary. Brewers are being challenged to come up with their own individual “Cupid’s Curse” brew for you to taste and vote on your favorite. 6-10 p.m. Tickets $50-$75. Silver Spring Civic Building: 1 Veterans Pl. Silver Spring, MD; www.visitmaryland.org/article/febrewary-maryland

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 16

Cupcake and Beer Pairing
For the love of friends, family and that someone special, head to Tucked Away Brewing. Indulge in some delicious cupcakes from The Lemonade Bakery while enjoying a flight of beer, perfectly paired to complement one another. The bakery will also be onsite selling other tasty treats. 1-4 p.m. Tickets $16-$20. Tucked Away Brewing: 8420 Kao Cir. Manassas, VA; www.tuckedawaybrew.com

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 21

Southwest Neighborhood Happy Hour
Join the tap room at Union Stage for a neighborhood happy hour featuring 16 taps of local and national craft beers, handcrafted pizzas, and an extensive liquor list. Happy hour specials include $1 off select drafts and $10 for a pint and half pizza. Event starts at 5 p.m. Free to attend. Union Stage: 740 Water St. SW, DC; www.unionstage.com

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 23

Battle of the Barrels
Passing from hand to hand, liquid to liquid, season to season, the complexities of barrel aging can be endless. Want to see who does it best? Dive into a battle of the barrel with 3 Stars Brewing, Charm City Meadworks, Don Ciccio & Figli, Oliver Brewing Co., One Eight Distilling and Supreme Core Cider where you’ll taste a collection of barrel-aged beer, mead, cider and amaro, each finished in a District Made Straight Rye Whiskey barrel. 1-6 p.m. Tickets $25. One Eight Distilling: 1135 Okie St. NE, DC; www.oneeightdistilling.com

Winter Fest
Celebrate winter at part four of Pizzeria Paradiso’s Four Seasons Beer Festival at its Georgetown location. This festival will feature seasonal drafts, beer slushies, snow cones, popcorn, and games including skee-ball, pinball, darts and more. 1-5 p.m. Tickets $15. Pizzeria Paradiso Georgetown: 3238 M St. NW, DC; www.eatyourpizza.com

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 23 – SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 24

9th Annual Barleywine Festival
Don’t miss the largest barleywine festival in the Mid-Atlantic. Mad Fox will showcase more than 30 barleywines from around the region and across the county, with multiple sessions on Saturday and a single session on Sunday. 11 a.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. on Sunday. Free to attend. Mad Fox Brewing Company: 444 W. Broad St. Falls Church, VA; www.madfoxbrewing.com

MONDAY, FEBRUARY 25

The Paradiso Blackboard: Pizza and Beer Class
Learn about the intricacies of matching the right beer with your food or the right food with your beer, then try your hand at creating the perfect pairing. 6-7:30 p.m. Tickets $30. Pizzeria Paradiso Spring Valley: 4850 Massachusetts Ave. NW, DC; www.eatyourpizza.com

Glasses with different sorts of craft beer, wooden barrel and barley. Retro stylization

What’s On Tap: December 2018

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.

MONDAY, DECEMBER 3

Profs & Pints: Nightmares Before Christmas
Profs and Pints presents: “Nightmares Before Christmas,” a discussion of Krampus and other dark holiday lore, with William Egginton, professor of humanities and director of the Alexander Grass Humanities Institute at Johns Hopkins University. The star of the talk will be Krampus, the hairy, horned, demon who accompanies Saint Nicholas in visiting homes in Germany, Austria and other Central European nations every December 6. 6-9 p.m. $12-$15. The Bier Baron Tavern: 1523 22nd St. NW, DC; www.bierbarondc.com

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 5

Lost Rhino Beer Release
This First Wednesday release is the last of 2018 and Lost Rhino is ending on a high note with Pynk Skyes at Night – Sour Blonde Hybiscus. The brewery will also have two holiday events throughout the day including Christmas tree decorating and cookie decorating. Guests will be able to use their creativity to help dress both. Lost Rhino Brewing Co: 21730 Red Rum Dr. #142, Ashburn, VA; www.lostrhino.com

Holiday Beer Tasting
Join Mad Fox Brewing for a festive holiday sit-down beer tasting where you can meet the brewers and brewery/brewpub owners from across the region and taste their wonderful winter selections. Cost is $55 per person with the evening hosted by Bob Tupper. Each brewer/owner will discuss their beer and answer any questions that you have. Don’t miss the rare opportunity to meet and talk to key individuals in the brewing industry. 7-10:30 p.m. $55. Mad Fox Brewing Company: 444 West Broad St. Falls Church, VA; www.madfoxbrewing.com

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 6

Rocket Frog Beer Showcase
Join Rocket Frog and DCBeer.com at Meridian Pint for the release of Snark Infested Waters, a schwarzbier and the first beer the local beer news and events website has collaborated on its nearly 10-year history. Sterling, Virginia’s Rocket Frog opened in May and has already, impressively, picked up a Great American Beer Festival Medal. Meridian Pint, the Columbia Heights restaurant and bar notable for discovering and promoting up-and-coming DC area breweries, will also showcase eight other beers from Rocket Frog. 5-9 p.m. Free to attend. Meridian Pint: 3400 11th St. NW, DC; www.meridianpint.com

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 7

Barrel-Aged Flight Night
Join this winter at Denizens Brewing Co. as they begin a series of special tastings of their barrel-aged beers. Each night they’ll feature special flights of beer from their reserves to showcase the flavor profiles and complexities that barrel-aging can offer. A member of the brewing team will be on hand to answer questions and lead discussion about these rare offerings. Flights are priced individually and there is no ticket or cover charge for this event. 6-9 p.m. Free to attend. Denizens Brewing Co.: 1115 East West Hwy. Silver Spring, MD; www.denizensbrewingco.com

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 8

Ugly Sweater Party
It’s fun being tacky…jump into your Mom’s jumper and come dance your holiday stress off. Marshalls and TJ Maxx gift cards awarded for top three ugliest outfits. Holiday onesies also welcome at the year-round climate controlled beer garden.  7 p.m. – 2 a.m. Free to attend. Wunder Garten: 1101 First St. NE, DC; www.wundergartendc.com

SUNDAY, DECEMBER 9

7th Annual Holiday Party
For the 7th year in a row, 3 Stars Brewing is hosting their massive Holiday Extravaganza at the brewery. As always, they will have a ton of rare and limited releases on draft, specialty can offerings, guest taps and a few surprises. Also joining the festivities will be food trucks, DJs, live performances, face painting, photo booth, games and more. 1-6 p.m. Tickets $10. 3 Stars Brewing Company: 6400 Chillum Pl. NW, DC; www.3starsbrewing.com

Santa Comes to Atlas Brew Works
Santa is heading down from the North Pole and stopping in the Atlas Tap Room. Whether naughty or nice, bring the family (including well-behaved dogs) for a fun day of pictures on Santa’s lap and delicious solar powered craft beer of course. Pictures are gratis (please bring your own camera) but Santa is accepting donations to go towards his fundraising efforts for the Saint Baldrick’s Foundation. 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Free to attend. Atlas Brew Works: 2502 West Virginia Ave. NE, DC; www.atlasbrewworks.com

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 13

Cellar Series: Maker’s Mark Barrel Aged Tidings
Join as Port City Brewing rolls out their second barrel aged collaboration with their good friends over at Rebellion in DC. Last time they used Rebellion’s barrel for a delicious hopped up Double Wit, and this time around they used the barrel from Rebellion’s Maker’s Mark Private Select and aged their winter seasonal, Tidings Ale. 5-11 p.m. Free to attend. Rebellion DC: 1836 18th St. NW, DC; www.portcitybrewing.com

Rustico Ballston Toys for Tots
Rustico Ballston will host the 3rd Annual Toys for Tots Holiday Party, featuring the United States Marine Corp. Since no party is complete without food and drink, you can expect no less than 20 hard-to-find winter ales on draft, alongside a special holiday-themed menu from the kitchen. For the third straight year, this event will serve as an official Toys for Tots charity drive. 5-11 p.m. Free to attend. Rustico Ballston: 4075 Wilson Blvd. Arlington, VA; www.rusticorestaurant.com

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 15

DC’s 8th Annual Snow Day Bar Crawl
As the days get colder and the nights get longer, we all could use a day off. Wouldn’t it be nice to re-live the feeling of getting a surprise day off from school due to that lovely wintry mix? This event is giving you an adult snow day. Whether or not there’s actual snow, there will be drinks, festive music and a fun crowd to help you just let it go. Tickets get you a color-changing snow day cup, a souvenir koozie, drink specials and more. 3-10 p.m. Tickets $30-$40. Registration at Blackfinn Ameripub: 1620 I St. NW, DC; www.snowdaybarcrawl.com

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 15 – SUNDAY, DECEMBER 16

Night of 1,000 Santas
This is DC’s largest SANTACON party. Calling all Santas, Ms. Clauses, perverted elves, grinches and naughty-listed adults. Santa’s favorite beer garden becomes a hedonistic holiday-themed adult costume dance party at this second annual holiday event. Whether you are naughty or nice, this is the event where it is certainly nice to be naughty, as you get a chance to throw brews back with several different Santas. 7 p.m. – 2 a.m. Free to attend. Wunder Garten: 1101 First St. NE, DC; www.wundergartendc.com

SUNDAY, DECEMBER 16

Wetten Winter Beer Dinner
Enjoy a four-course beer dinner with Wetten Beer pairings. The beers are sourced by local guru Dean Myers and rarely found in the US or not yet released, this beer dinner is the perfect holiday date night or group get-together. 7-10 p.m. $60. Granville Moore: 1238 H St. NE, DC; www.granvillemoores.com

MONDAY, DECEMBER 17

Painting & Pints: Winter Birch
Join in the Fairwinds taproom for the monthly paint night. Sessions run approximately 90 minutes and the tickets include your first pint. Painting begins at 6 p.m., so be sure to arrive early to grab a great seat and great beer. 6-7:30 p.m. Tickets $30. Fairwinds Brewing Company: 7000 Newington Rd. Lorton, VA; www.fairwindsbrewing.com

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 21

The Longest Night of the Year
This winter solstice, Port City isn’t going to think about the shortest day of the year. Rather, they’ll celebrate the longest night of the year at headquarters with the return of three beers, live music and extended hours. Join for the return of Rauch Märzen, Long Black Veil and Barrel-Aged Porter for your winter solstice. 12-11 p.m. Free to attend. Port City Brewery: 3950 Wheeler Ave. Alexandria, VA; www.portcitybrewing.com

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 27

Blackwall Hitch Devils Backbone Beer Dinner
Enjoy Devils Backbone craft beers paired with Blackwall Hitch coastal cuisine. Event to be charged at the restaurant. Call to reserve a spot today. 7-10 p.m. Must register. Blackwall Hitch: 5 Cameron St. Alexandria, VA; www.blackwallhitch.com