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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

Graphic: Smithsonian American History Museum

American History Museum Highlights Regional Impact on Beers

How do brewers incorporate local flavors in their products, and how does that impact their profitability and overall image for the American consumer?

This question was discussed this past weekend at the Smithsonian’s Last Call event on November 3, which included an evening of conversation, craft beer tastings and historic artifacts. The event was part of the fourth annual Food History Weekend, held at the National Museum of American History. Each year offers a different theme, and this year’s theme was “Regions Reimagined.”

In a panel moderated by Theresa McCulla, historian of the Smithsonian’s American Brewing History Initiative, four American brewers spoke about the sourcing of their ingredients, what inspired them to dive into the beer industry and more. The panelists included Shyla Sheppard from Bow and Arrow Brewing Company in New Mexico, Jon Renthrope from Cajun Fire Brewing Company in New Orleans, Deb Carey from New Glarus Brewing Company in Wisconsin and Marika Josephson from Scratch Brewing Company in Illinois.

Before the panel commenced, guests were able to view a myriad objects on display related to brewing history in America. There were publications from the Smithsonian Dibner Library that ranged from beer histories to instructional books, some dating as far back as the 1890s.

One was a journal from 1988 by Jeff Lebesch, New Belgium Brewing Company founder and Fat Tire creator. Also on display were vintage posters, photos and business ephemera from the 1870s through 1905, as well as Buffalo Bill’s Brewpub tap handles from the 1980s.

During the panel, each of the guest brewers spoke about their emphasis local ingredients.

“It feels great to be able to highlight some of the special aspects of the culture of the area and the native people in a really authentic way,” Shyla Sheppard said. 

“We get all of our malt from a local maltster,” Marika Josephson said. “We get our hops now all from Illinois, and we hired farmers almost three years ago to help us with our farm, and we were able to give them jobs.”

With this, Josephson added, “I think breweries have a lot of power.”

While guests of the Smithsonian’s Last Call event listened to the panel, they were also able to enjoy samples from each brewery as well as appetizers from the museum’s chef, Stephen Kerschner.

Some of the highlights from each brewery included the tart, fairly floral Blueberry Lavender beer from Scratch Brewing Company; the bright and refreshing Denim Tux Blue Corn Lager from Born and Arrow Brewing; the Big Chief Crème Stout from Cajun Fire Brewing Company, which offered soothing French Vanilla and coffee notes; and the Wisconsin Belgian Red, a very cherry-focused beer from New Glarus Brewing Company whose taste resembled a Jolly Rancher.

“I’m always so grateful for public enthusiasm for beer through the lens of history,” McCulla said. “My job is much easier and fun because the public has a sense of investment in the topic.”

For the future, at some point in 2019, McCulla said the public should expect a refreshed food exhibition on the first floor of the museum in the east wing with a new installation that will focus on brewing history. Some of the items that were displayed in Last Call will be incorporated into the exhibit.

For more information about the Museum’s American Brewing History Initiative, click here

Photos: Lizzie Sorkin

Crafting Community at Streetcar 82

The genesis of Streetcar 82 Brewing Co. is not unlike many other microbreweries that now heavily populate the DMV. What was born of a humble homebrewing project among a group of friends and Gallaudet graduates evolved into a brick-and-mortar brewery in the heart of downtown Hyattsville.

Streetcar 82, newly opened in July, is named for an actual streetcar that connected bustling neighborhoods through DC and Maryland during its 70-year run. While the streetcar itself is now defunct, the brewery’s namesake serves as a fitting metaphor for its ability to connect multiple communities in one place – over delicious beer, of course.

The space aims to create connections among Gallaudet grads, the larger deaf community, Hyattsville residents and craft beer enthusiasts, to name a few. But  what really sets co-owners Mark Burke, Jon Cetrano and Sam Costner apart is the fact that they place as much emphasis on creating a welcoming space for people from different communities as they do on their carefully crafted beers.

“The sense of community that we hope to foster has been a driving factor in the creation of Streetcar 82,” Cetrano says. “Having a sense of place is very important. Gallaudet University is the only university in the world for deaf people, and the sense of community and bond that one gets there is very powerful. As a deaf person, it is an instant connection. Whether you attend there – or are just visiting campus to see and be in a place that welcomes you – [it’s] powerful.”

Their communities were integral in the actual creation of the brewery. The co-owners explain they were encouraged by a professor in Gallaudet’s Department of Business to open their own brewery, and even went on to win a fan favorite award at a university-hosted business pitch competition.

Social media also proved to be an important aspect of the launch. They posted updates on the brewery’s progress via their Instagram account while preparing to open, including ways for thirsty future patrons to contribute to their launch through a Kickstarter page. That alone was indicative of the area’s desire for a space like this. Streetcar 82 raised over $25,000, surpassing their goal before the campaign even closed.

Burke says they also received an outpouring of support from the Hyattsville community, including Kickstarter contributions and help from the Hyattsville Community Development Corporation to get the business up and running. He describes Hyattsville as a place where “we felt comfortable starting a business because we knew the community there would help us thrive.”

Still, the support they received didn’t make them immune to the growing pains many new businesses face and the challenge of a more limited budget than they had hoped for. Costner explains that while they obtained loans in addition to the funding from their supporters, they still had to dramatically readjust their expectations.

“We had to plan on doing a lot of the work ourselves to save money,” Costner says. “We did all the demolition work, a lot of physical labor and all the cosmetic work.”

Their efforts included painting, building the bar and installing the walk-in refrigerator, all as a way to conserve funds.

“In the end, this turned out to be a boon because we moved along a lot faster than if we waited for contractors to do the work. So not having all the money we wanted turned out to be a blessing in disguise.”

Streetcar 82 has felt support from other local breweries and members of the DMV beer community. The teams at Shaw’s Right Proper Brewing Company and Baltimore-based Suspended Brewing, and local brewer Matt Humbard (formerly of Handsome Brewing Company), have offered their professional opinions and even lent equipment when needed. Streetcar’s brewers have also forged a friendship with their neighbors at Pizzeria Paradiso and are currently planning the release of a coffee stout with Hyattsville roasters Vigilante Coffee Company.

As for beer options, the co-founders consider Streetcar to be Belgian-inspired due to the prevalence of Belgian yeasts in their brews. While you can find those varieties shining in their interpretations of New England and farmhouse IPAs and a Belgian dark strong ale, don’t expect only one style from Streetcar 82. The trio is plotting to add Märzens and Oktoberfest-style beers to their roster this month and aim to have at least half a dozen beers on tap on any given day.

And while their ties to the deaf community are strong and the presence of American Sign Language is apparent, Streetcar 82 is a place for everyone to call their own.

“We worked hard to develop a place that is diverse, neighborly and intimate,” Cetrano says. “Our brewery is a place where people can really chat with each other and see people with their kids and dogs. When you’re there, you feel like you belong.”

Check www.streetcar82brewing.com for more information about Streetcar 82. Follow them on Instagram at @streetcar82brewingco and Facebook at @Streetcar82 for the brewery’s most updated hours.

Streetcar 82 Brewing Co.: 4824 Rhode Island Ave. Hyattsville, MD; www.streetcar82brewing.com

Streetcar 82 2 (Photo - Lizzie Sorkin)