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What’s On Tap: June 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, JUNE 6

#PridePils Launch
DC Brau and The Washington Blade are thrilled to announce this year’s winner of the third annual Pride Pils Can Design competition: local DC artist Maggie Dougherty. Her vibrant and inspiring label depicting notable LGBTQ activist and prominent Stonewall figure Marsha P. Johnson, best known for her tireless work on behalf of the homeless and transgender communities in NYC, will appear on approximately 28,000 cans of specially packaged Brau Pils this summer. Head to Dacha Beer Garden to celebrate the release. 6-9 p.m. Free to attend. Dacha Beer Garden: 1600 7th St. NW, DC; www.dcbrau.com

FRIDAY, JUNE 7

Art on Tap 2019
Craft beers from local breweries have been artfully paired with selected artwork. Local restaurants have chosen a brew-and-artwork coupling to serve as their muse to create the perfect complimentary appetizer. Sample the creative combinations while drinking from a take-home Art on Tap beer tasting glass and then vote for your favorite at the end of the event. 7-9:30 p.m. Tickets $45. The Art League: 105 N Union St. Alexandria, VA; www.theartleague.org

FRIDAYS, JUNE 7, 14, 21 and 28

Tour de Pour
Friday nights just got way more fun. Join us for a weekly happy hour ride series between Bike Lane Brewing and Lake Anne Brew House. Park and gear up at Bike Lane Brewing then take a short, fun group ride to Lake Anne Brew House for a beer and pretzel pitstop before returning to Bike Lane for another. Don’t have a bike? Contact Bike Lane about a test ride on one of theirs. 6-8 p.m. Bike Lane Brewing: 11150 Sunset Hills Rd. Reston, VA; www.thebikelane.com

SATURDAY, JUNE 8

Rooftop Pride Kickoff Party
Help Red Bear Brewing kick off their very first Pride festival with an open bar and all-inclusive party on the roof of the historic Uline Arena, directly above the brewery. Drag yourself up to the roof for open-bar brews, Stoli cocktails and delicious bites. Hosted by Desiree Dik and blasting the sounds of DJ Nico DiMarco, you might feel guilty enjoying so much fun in one afternoon if you didn’t know the proceeds were going to help fund SMYAL’s work to empower LGBTQ youth and educate their local community. 4-8 p.m. Tickets $65-$95. Uline Arena: 1140 3rd St. NE, DC; www.redbear.beer

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 12

Chef Egg Live: Cooking with Astro Lab Brewing
Join Chef Egg at Astro Lab Brewing for an out-of-this-world, live cooking show. The chef will set up shop in the brewery and show you how to pair vibrant recipes with Astro Lab’s craft brews. Chef Egg will cook sweet and savory recipes while giving you the culinary skills you need to succeed in the kitchen. 7-9:30 p.m. $25. Astro Lab Brewing: 8216 Georgia Ave. Silver Spring, MD; www.astrolabbrewing.com

FRIDAY, JUNE 14

Four-Course Beer Dinner
Pinstripes is bringing craft beer lovers a taste of their chef’s culinary expertise with a special dinner inspired by and paired with selections from Heavy Seas Beer. A rep from Heavy Seas and Pinstripes’ chef will lead guests through a deliciously fun four-course dinner. 7-9 p.m. $60. Pinstripes: 1064 Wisconsin Ave. NW, DC; www.pinstripes.com

SATURDAY, JUNE 15

Old Ox & Friends
Old Ox turns five this June and they’re throwing a party. Come celebrate with new beer releases, old beer revivals, two awesome bands and delicious food all day long (did someone say free cake?) Plus, this provides the chance to be one of the first to see (and drink in) the new Middleburg location. 12-9 p.m. Tickets for a bus tour from the Ashburn location to Middleburg are $50. Old Ox Brewery: 44652 Guilford Dr. Ashburn, VA; www.oldoxbrewery.com

SATURDAY, JUNE 22

Silver Spring Block Party
Mark your calendars and join as Silver Branch Brewing Company releases their Gold Line Classic American Pilsner. Hill Country Barbecue Market will be on hand to serve delicious barbecue, and Hill Country LIVE will be producing live music on the plaza with The Dirty Grass Players. 12 p.m. – 12 a.m. Silver Branch Brewing Company: 8401 Colesville Rd. Silver Spring, MD; www.silverbranchbrewing.com

SUNDAY, JUNE 23

Pints and Paws
Studies have shown that pet ownership and beer drinking may contribute to a longer life. In that spirit, DC Brau will be hosting the Humane Rescue Alliance (HRA) for a meet and greet of some of DC’s most eligible kitties and canines. Join for a dog and cat adoption event. Enjoy a brew ($1 per pint will be donated to the HRA) while shopping the newest pet gear and treats from The Big Bad Woof, and maybe even go home with your new best friend. 12-3 p.m. DC Brau: 3178 Bladensburg Rd. NE, DC; www.dcbrau.com

TUESDAY, JUNE 25

Profs and Pints: The Real Game of Thrones
Game of Thrones is one of the most popular in television history. Come learn the history from which the show draws. It might not feature real dragons or Khaleesi, but it does have nearly all the violence, treachery and strange family relationships. It was called the Wars of the Roses because it involved a protracted fight for England’s throne between two branches of its royal family: one represented by a red rose and the other by a white one. 6-9 p.m. Tickets $12-$15. The Bier Baron Tavern and Comedy Loft: 1523 22nd St. NW, DC; www.bierbarondc.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: 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

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

Photo: The Bruery

Hoppy Holidays: A Beer Lover’s Gift Guide

‘Tis the season of giving, at least that’s what you’re supposed to do. But you know what you’re not supposed to do? Give crappy gifts. We’ve all heard people say, “It’s the thought that counts,” to mask their disappointment after getting a tacky tie or coffee mug.

It’s always a safe bet to put a little extra thought into your gifts, and to really know your audience. If you’re shopping for a beer lover this holiday season, we have you covered. From local options to items you can have delivered to your doorstep in time for an exchange, the beer-themed gift ideas below will have you looking like a thoughtful giver, and that’s what it’s all about, right?

Beer Memberships

“The Bruery’s societies (our beer clubs) are the heart of our business,” says Ethen Adams, The Bruery Store’s area manager. “We love to experiment with flavors and aromas in our beers, and push brewing to new levels.”

Instead of giving someone a six-pack you picked out, why not let the brewers do it? With a beer membership from The Bruery, new experimental beers will be sent several times a year, giving your favorite beer fan an excuse to try variations outside of their comfort zone.

“While many of us have tried and trusted brands, I dare say that a true beer lover is always on the lookout for the next beer that will wow them,” Adams says. “We’re taking this beer journey alongside our members and as such, we try to treat them like a part of the family.”

The Union Market-based shop is also offering a 10 percent discount on their last quarterly installment of the 2018  Preservation Society, bringing the total to $70. Readers of On Tap can sign up online at The Bruery’s website with the discount code OnTapPS18. Each quarterly package comes with three bottles, including a barrel-aged strong ale, a sour ale and a limited experimental beer.

Other memberships on our radar include the DC Brewers’ Guild membership and the international Microbrewed Beer of the Month Club. Learn more about the latter at www.beermonthclub.com.

The Bruery Store at Union Market: 513 Morse St. NE, DC; www.thebruery.com

Beer Gear

This one might seem obvious, but let us preface that not all merch is the same. A few breweries in the area are extremely meticulous, setting an extremely high standard for others to keep up with.

“There’s a deep connection between a community and its local breweries, and we’re forever grateful for the passion that people feel for our business,” says Chris Van Orden, Port City Brewery’s manager of marketing and beer strategy.  “We spend a ton of effort making the best beer possible for them, so we want to make sure everything else we offer all meets the high standard.”

Merch is a regular discussion topic at the brewery’s weekly meetings, where the team always tries to plan two seasons in advance. While a ton of places only offer shirts and hats, Port City sells socks, hoodies, dog collars and other unique items.

“We’ve found a few designs with a broad appeal that we keep in stock, but we’re constantly looking for new items that set us apart,” Van Orden says. “So there’s always something new on offer: lapel pins, bike jerseys, socks. We’re delighted each and every time a person decides that they enjoy Port City enough to wear our name on their back or carry our logo on their growler.”

With a strong brand backed by great beer, Port City gear will allow you to represent a local spot with strong ties to the community.

Other spots we recommend for merch include DC Brau and ANXO Cidery & Pintxos Bar.

Port City Brewing: 3950 Wheeler Ave. Alexandria, VA; www.portcitybrewing.com

Walking Tours

There are a number of breweries to tour in the DMV, but for a next-level experience, organize a walk through the famed Heurich House Museum for the beer head in your life.

The Dupont Circle mansion was built in the 1890s by German immigrant and local brewer Christian Heurich. His family lived there until 1956, and the house still includes all original interiors and a number of family collections.

Though the Christian Heurich Brewing Co. location was torn down in 1962, the museum features a rotating exhibition of more than 1,000 items including bottles, cans, signs and other branded objects from the old DC brewery. The collection is on loan from local collector Jack Blush, but the museum is currently fundraising to acquire and display it permanently.

Patrons can tour the museum for free (donations are welcome), but you can also treat your beer-crazy friends and family to an hour-long brewmaster tour that concludes with a beer tasting. Groups of 10 to 20 can enjoy the tours for $30-$40. For specifics, email [email protected]

Other places to tour include the Flying Dog “Beer Geek” iteration in Frederick, Maryland or Brookland’s Right Proper Brewing Company.

Heurich House Museum: 1307 New Hampshire Ave. NW, DC; www.heurichhouse.org

Beer-Focused Dinners

“Wait a second, Trent. Didn’t you say that played-out gifts weren’t what we were talking about here?” Yes, but you have to stick with me on this one as there’s a method to the beer-crazed madness here.
DC has welcomed a litany of terrific eateries over the past few years, and some of them include some particulary intriguing beer menus.

Chief among them is Tiger Fork, a Hong Kong-inspired restaurant in Blagden Alley featuring numerous Asian beers on the menu.
Think of this as tackling two problems at once: you want to get a gift for a brew head, but you also want to eat delicious Asian food.

Another restaurant with an eclectic selection is Capitol Riverfront’s The Salt Line, whose beer selection pulls from all over the country. Not to mention, they have a delectable menu with dishes that pair fantastically with just about every brew you can think to order.

So yes, we’ll admit dinner isn’t super high on the creative side, but you can’t forget to eat when you’re drinking a well-crafted beverage.

We also highly recommend the buzzworthy Bad Saint in Columbia Heights and Himitsu in Petworth for their eclectic beer and food selections.

The Salt Line: 79 Potomac Ave. SE, DC; www.thesaltline.com
Tiger Fork: 922 N St. NW, DC; www.tigerforkdc.com

Ask The Expert

We asked Theresa McCulla, historian for the American Brewing History Initiative at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, for a few beer-themed gift recommendations.

“Be a better enthusiast through books,” McCulla advises. “The past few years have seen a bumper crop of books about beer: brewing manuals, books about important historical events like Prohibition and the craft beer revolution, and brewers’ memoirs.”

Beyond books, McCulla recommends some of the things we’ve already talked about including places that can pair food with beer, eclectic merchandise and tours. One suggestion involves helping to make the brewer happy.

“Bottles are classic, [and] cans and crowlers are handy, but brewers prefer when you drink their beer out of the proper glassware. Research the correct glassware for your favorite kinds of beer and make sure you have them on hand when happy hour rolls around.”

Lastly, McCulla says to look up anything philanthropic your favorite brewery may be involved with that you can contribute to.

For more information about the American Brewing History Initiative, visit www.americanhistory.si.edu.

Photo: SweetWater Brewing Company

Green Brewing Options

With thousands of options out there, make your choice matter by opting for a brew from one of these eco-friendly and sustainable breweries. From clean water initiatives to preserving the Appalachian Trail, these 11 breweries each have their own approach to doing what they can for the environment. Check out our list below to find a brewery with a cause that speaks to you. And who knows, maybe you’ll even find your new favorite beer while you’re at it.

Abita Brewing Company

As the first brewery in North America to install an energy-efficient Merlin Brewhouse system, Abita has a long history of protecting the environment and serving the surrounding New Orleans community. The Merlin, which reduces boiling time and carbon dioxide emissions, uses 70 percent less energy than traditional brewing methods. Plus, Abita’s glass bottles are endlessly recyclable, their trucks run on emission-decreasing accelerated processing units (APUs) and their used grains find their final resting place in the troughs of local farms. From beginning to end, Abita is brewing green. Try their seasonal Mardi Gras Bock or one of their many year-round mainstays – the Purple Haze never disappoints. www.abita.com

Atlas Brew Works

DC’s own Atlas Brew Works won the 2016 Department of Energy & Environment Sustainability Award for claiming the title of the District’s first and only solar-powered craft brewery. In addition to their massive 67.5-kilowatt solar array, Atlas also tries to recycle as much as possible during the brewing process by recapturing water for reuse and donating saturated grain as feed to local farms. If you’re into sours, check out their seasonal Blood Orange Gose – it’s to die for. www.atlasbrewworks.com

Deschutes Brewery

Lovers of this Oregonian brew are in luck; Deschutes recently opened a tasting room in downtown Roanoke with a brewery to follow suit in the next few years. In 2016, the Business Intelligence Group awarded Deschutes with a sustainability award for renewable energy usage and their partnership with Deschutes River Conservancy to restore a billion gallons of water to the Deschutes River each year. Try their year-round Fresh Squeezed IPA or their seasonal Red Chair NWPA. www.deschutesbrewery.com

Devils Backbone

Appalachian Trail hikers call them “trail angels” for a reason. Ever since Devils Backbone Basecamp Brewpub & Meadows settled into the valley only a few miles from the Appalachian Trail’s Reed’s Gap trailhead, they’ve been a welcoming spot for hikers and adventurers alike. In 2018, Devils Backbone became an official sponsor of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) in order to help preserve and maintain the trail. With every purchase of Trail Angel Weiss, their award-winning, Bavarian-style Hefeweizen brew, Devils Backbone donates to the ATC. www.dbbrewingcompany.com

Great Lakes Brewing Company

In February of last year, this Cleveland-based brewery installed a 62-panel photovoltaic array to soak up the sun for some sweet solar energy. These panels offset 13 tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year, which is like planting 200 trees. Great Lakes also created the Burning River Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to improving, maintaining and celebrating Cleveland’s freshwater resources. Together, they host Burning River Fest, an annual summertime celebration to spread awareness about the importance of keeping our freshwater resources clean. With crisp, bright flavors and a hint of citrus and pine, the Burning River Pale Ale is the perfect way to toast the Great Lakes. www.greatlakesbrewing.com

Hardywood Park Craft Brewery

After a decade of brewing experience, lifelong friends Eric McKay and Patrick Murtaugh came together with a mission to brew with purpose by minimizing environmental impact and giving back to the community. Their vision came to life in 2011 when they founded Hardywood Park Craft Brewery, Virginia’s first brewery to use 100 percent renewable power. Take a day trip to the Richmond-based taproom to try their flagship pilsner – and check out their gorgeous tap handles crafted from fallen trees while you’re at it. www.hardywood.com

Milkhouse Brewery at Stillpoint Farm

Milkhouse Brewery is the pinnacle of local sustainability, with an onsite supply of Maryland hops from its family-owned and operated farm in Mount Airy that visitors are welcome to explore. Pick a warm spring afternoon to drive out to the countryside and enjoy a picnic at Stillpoint Farm with a pint of Milkhouse’s Homestead Hefeweizen. www.milkhousebrewery.com

New Belgium

They aren’t trying to fool anyone. They know they pollute; they even admit it on their own website. But that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t do anything about it. New Belgium tackles this reality head on by diverting 99 percent of their waste, using solar thermal and solar photovoltaic energies, reducing their carbon footprint and conserving water. With their profound self-awareness, New Belgium has perfected the most efficient way to make a damn good beer. Try their year-round, Belgian-style Fat Tire or opt for a special seasonal brew like the Tartastic Raspberry Lime Ale. www.newbelgium.com

Sierra Nevada

With their local landscapes in mind, Sierra Nevada takes great care to reduce the amount of waste and pollution their brewery emits by recovering 99 percent of their total solid waste through reusing, recycling and composting. When they opened their Mills River brewery in North Carolina, their first move was to restore the surrounding forest to its former glory by hiring a team of natural resource specialists. This proactive approach to saving the environment one step at a time is admirable – and so is Sierra Nevada’s newest beer: the hop-heavy Hazy Little Thing IPA, brewed with hops grown onsite at their brewery in Chico, California. www.sierranevada.com

SweetWater

During their annual Save Our Water campaign, SweetWater donates $100,000 to five nonprofit organizations dedicated to maintaining, improving and cleaning freshwater resources. This year, SweetWater fans can even lend a hand by picking up a Protect Natural Habitats Variety 12-pack, which features favorites like 420 Extra Pale Ale, Goin’ Coastal IPA with pineapple, TripleTail tropical IPA and their brand new summer seasonal, Tropical Lover Berliner Weisse. A portion of sales from this variety pack will go toward the campaign, so you can feel good about contributing to a great cause while cracking open a summer seasonal beer. www.sweetwaterbrew.com

Wild Wolf

For the third consecutive year, Wild Wolf Brewing Company earned the Virginia Green Travel Alliance’s Green Brewery of the Year Award for their top-to-bottom environmentally conscious practices, including water and energy conservation, recycling and composting. They also grow their own hops in an onsite, chemical-free hopyard where free-range chickens and ducks roam around to their heart’s content. And by packaging their beer in the lighter option of cans rather than bottles, they use less fuel when shipping specialty brews like Blonde Hunny, a refreshing, Belgian-style blonde ale. www.wildwolfbeer.com

collaboration brews
Photo: Courtesy of Port City Brewery

Collaboration Brews: Matches Made by Beer Cupid

February houses Valentine’s Day, the 24-hour period where folks are expected to drop their normal routines in favor of either pleasing, or chasing, a significant other with extravagant gifts and grandiose gestures of kindness. Apart from people celebrating the idealism centered on the pairing of two individuals, breweries have also been dipping their toes in these gleaming waters through various collaborations. These combos are birthed from neighboring businesses, and sometimes national competitors. Typically, the concoctions are well-received and delicious.

“We like to reach out to other breweries,” Devils Backbone Brewmaster Jason Oliver says. “Each collaboration is different because you’re either working with an individual or a group. One cool thing is there’s no set formula. Sometimes it’s complimentary and sometimes it’s contrasting. It’s a cool way to step out of our comfort zone.”

This trend isn’t likely to be a fleeting infatuation either, as more and more craft breweries plunge headfirst into the rapidly burgeoning industry. The ever-increasing number of businesses creates a plethora of opportunities for brewmasters to put their heads together. This is true whether the beermakers are similar or vastly different. Often, the unions create beverages for events or simply because they’re big fans of one another.

“Collaborations get started in a number of different ways,” says Jeff Hancock, president, cofounder and head brewer at DC Brau. “It normally happens when sharing the same space or a cobranded event with another brewery. It’s kind of like a ‘I dig what you do’ and ‘I dig what you do as well’ type of conversation.”

In Denver, these idea exchanges have earned their own festival with Collaboration Fest. Organizer PJ Hoberman says the nationally recognized celebration of these unique brews is always a sellout. Though it started as an idea for Colorado Craft Beer Week, it is now a gathering where breweries from across the country flock.

“I don’t think you’ll start seeing collaboration-only beer bars anytime soon,” Hoberman says. “But collaborations have been a part and will continue to be a part of this incredible industry. It’s a way for brewers to work with and learn from those they respect.”

Though the most common collaboration involves two companies actually in the business of producing beers, that’s not necessarily a prerequisite. DC Brau has been known to collaborate with bands, and a number of national breweries have joined forces with artists, nonprofits and other various organizations. While this isn’t a traditional beer merger, it’s still an exchange of ideas.

“I’d love to work on a beer with a well-known English metal band called Orange Goblin,” Hancock says. “Following in the same trend, I’d love to work with local metal outfit Clutch on a brew as well. I’ve been a fan of Clutch since I was in high school, and they all grew up locally.”

While patrons reap the rewards most, other entities enjoy the unions as well. The DC Brewer’s Ball on March 4 offers DMV breweries a ripe opportunity to connect with one another, and the organizers of the ball themselves in an effort to produce things folks in the area have yet to taste. Not to mention, it provides a chance to build camaraderie to raise awareness for a stellar cause, such as last year’s creation from Belly Love Brewing Company and Adroit Theory – the first ever Brewer’s Ball collaborative beer.

“We’re excited to announce that Belly Love and Adroit Theory will be at it again for this year’s event, brewing up something special,” says Erin Leahey, a Brewer’s Ball organizer and the senior developmental director of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. “Their collaboration is a true testament to the generosity of the craft beer community at large, and that is what collaboration is all about.”

However, it’s still important to find the right dance partner. When making any product in tandem, the breweries must be on the same wavelength; not necessarily in practice, but in the vision of their coopted creation.

“[Last year], we did our first two collaborations ever,” says Chris Van Orden, Port City Brewing Manager of Marketing and Outreach. “It’s important to come up with something that shows everyone who both brewers are. With our collaboration with Schlafly Beer, we were going to do something that both of our respective fan bases would appreciate.”

The actual workflow varies tremendously, with each brewery visiting one another at separate times, or doing one big batch at a singular location.

“Another collaboration we did was with DC Brau, and we went out for a couple of visits,” Van Orden says. “We’ve been growing together, and we know each other very well.”

The fusion of ideas isn’t limited to proximity however, as Devils Backbone’s Oliver cites a collaboration effort with the nationally prominent Sierra Nevada Brewing Company based out of Chico, Calif.

Devils Backbone is currently in the midst of a collaboration adventure pack, working with Virginia breweries Parkway Brewing Company, Ocelot Brewing Company, Mad Fox Brewing Company, O’Connor Brewing Company and Three Notch’d Brewing Company. The pack is set to be available in early April.

“It gives you inspiration to do beers you normally wouldn’t do, or it gives you an excuse to do a beer that you’ve wanted to do for awhile, but couldn’t find a justification [for],” Oliver says.

DC Brau is working on a few collaborations this year as well, including a project with local black metal band Darkest Hour titled Savor the Swill, a Belgian Farmhouse IPA with Union Craft and an imperial Pilsner called Conflict of Interest.

If I were to attempt to write every collaboration due for 2017, the enormous list would probably be longer than an issue of On Tap, but the ones above and the DC Brewer’s Ball in March provide a glimpse of what happens when breweries sit in a room together and create. And why wouldn’t they? Artists in all mediums routinely combine knowledge, and the craft beer industry is ultimately no different.

“Everybody gets to learn how other folks do it, and it’s really helpful,” Van Orden says.

For more information on Brewer’s Ball, go to www.dcbrewersball.org. To stay up-to-date on new collaborations, visit www.dcbrau.com, www.dbbrewingcompany.com and www.portcitybrewing.com.

Brewers Ball
Photos: Mark Raker

Brewer’s Ball 2017 Serving Up Hops & Hope

For over a decade, the Metropolitan Washington, DC chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation has been serving up hope, one pint at a time. The gala event returns for its 13th year on March 4 at the National Building Museum, and this year promises to be the best and biggest edition yet. Tickets are on sale now and cost $150, of which $80 is tax-deductible.

The 13th Annual Beer Institute Brewer’s Ball will continue to feature more than 35 of the very best local and regional craft breweries, as well as some national players. Beyond the beers, over 25 great restaurants will keep attendees well-fed while the VIPs keep the crowd moving with live music and dancing.

“Brewer’s Ball is a highlight annually for those that love great beers and better causes,” says Dennis O’Leary, one of three co-chairs of the committee that coordinates Brewer’s Ball each year. O’Leary’s desire to help find a cure for cystic fibrosis (CF) is deeply personal; his son, Casey, was born with the disease. “This event raises funds that have contributed greatly toward research for new treatments, programs and care for those with CF.”

CF is a genetic, life-threatening disease that affects about 30,000 people in the United States. Approximately 10 million additional people are carriers of the gene that causes CF. In people with CF, a defective gene causes a thick buildup of mucus in the lungs, pancreas and other organs, which clogs the airways and traps bacteria leading to infections, extensive lung damage and eventually, respiratory failure.

A few decades ago, most people with CF didn’t live long enough to attend elementary school. Through the efforts of the CF Foundation, the life expectancy of a person with CF has doubled in the last 30 years. Today, many people with CF are living into their 30s, 40s and beyond. Recent drug discovery and development programs have yielded drugs that have changed the course of CF. For the first time, two FDA-approved therapy (Kalydeco and Orkambi) treat not just the symptoms of the disease but the underlying genetic defect for a small percentage of the population. Recent research shows great potential for additional treatments that will similarly affect a larger percentage of people with CF. Although great progress has been made, there’s still a lot of work to do to put a cure in the hands of every person with CF.

Brewer’s Ball has grown immensely along with the DC area’s craft beer scene. When the event started, there were no production breweries in DC or Northern Virginia. Now, over a decade later, the event features multiple breweries from the DMV. Local favorites like Port City, Flying Dog and Manor Hill will rub elbows with nationally renowned brands like Dogfish Head, Allagash and Boulevard.

The event, which has become well-liked among breweries as well, gives attendees the chance to chat with brewery representatives, and gives lovers of fine ales and lagers plenty of chances to ask questions and find out more about their favorite suds. (Don’t worry, wine, cider and mead fans, there’s something here for you, too). Area restaurants like Ted’s Bulletin, Hill Country Barbecue Market, Matchbox, Hank’s Oyster Bar and Dino’s Grotto in Shaw pull out the culinary stops, often pairing their dishes with the breweries at the event.

Once the well-dressed attendees are fed and watered (or beered, as the case may be), they can bid on silent auction items ranging from brewery tours, to weekend getaways, to themed baskets. Using their smart phones, guests can check back periodically to make sure they haven’t been outbid on that bourbon basket they’re itching to bring home. During the live auction, guests go head to head for one-of-a-kind experiences, which in the past have included a “custom cask build experience” at Heavy Seas, a trip to Hollywood to see The Ellen DeGeneres Show and a week-long trip to Palm Springs.

Brewer’s Ball, which raised $420,000 last year, has grown from more modest roots (it raised $40,000 in its first year) and has now raised close to $3.5 million for the CF Foundation. With the help of the local craft beer community, area restaurants, and attendees and sponsors, the event will hopefully grow even more this year as it taps into the continued push for a cure.

For more information about the event, visit www.dcbrewersball.org


For details regarding sponsorship or to be a brewery and restaurant tasting station, please contact Erin Leahey, Senior Development Director at the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation at [email protected] or 303-657-8444.  On Tap is a proud supporter of the DC Brewer’s Ball.