Posts

Photo: SweetWater Brewing Company
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 eleahey@cff.org or 303-657-8444.  On Tap is a proud supporter of the DC Brewer’s Ball.

hot beer spots dc
Photo: Trent Johnson

What’s On Tap

Greetings, beer nerds! As you likely know, there are a number of wonderful establishments 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 some of what’s coming up On Tap at these beer hot spots.

Red Derby
Beverage Manager Nick Schiever

On Tap: What new beers are you guys carrying in February?
Nick Schiever: A couple of new things that we’ll be bringing on are ANXO Cidery cans and Republic Restoratives Borough Bourbon, and we’ll be pairing that with Atlas Brew Works District Common Beer.

OT: What’s exciting about them?
NS: They’re both local, and we’re supporting local businesses. A lot of people want it, and it’s a trend that I’m seeing. I think a lot of other places are keeping it local as well.

Red Derby: 3718 14th St. NW, DC; www.redderby.com


ChurchKey
General Manager Kevin Ramsey

On Tap: What new things do you have coming up in February?
Kevin Ramsey: Probably the thing we’re most excited about is the Melvin 2×4 on February 4. Melvin Brewing Company is from Wyoming, and this is a double IPA from them. It’s won a number of awards, including the Alpha King championship, and it’s citrusy and hazy.

OT: What about this is exciting?
KR: For the event, Melvin is encouraging bars around the country to make it ninja/Wu-Tang Clan style.

ChurchKey: 1337 14th St. NW, DC; www.churchkeydc.com


Jack Rose Dining Saloon
Beer Director Nahem Simon

On Tap: What new beers are you guys carrying in February?
Nahem Simon: I’m excited to get the Off Color Dino S’mores. It’s one of those rare beers that isn’t produced in massive quantities, and it’s incredibly tasty and sought after. It’s the perfect beer for chilly February days.

OT: Any brews you’re bringing back from last year?
NS: We are going to carry a special batch of Space Reaper 2.0 from DC Brau, where they aged it in one of our cask barrels. It ended up amazingly. They’re almost done with the final carving of the keg, and it’s really fantastic. It takes all of the elements of the beer, but it kind of imparts this deep, dark wood character. It’s almost as if sequoia had a flavor. One of the beers that I’m really enjoying right now is the Van Steenberge Gulden Draak Nitro Ale.

Jack Rose Dining Saloon: 2007 18th St. NW, DC; www.jackrosediningsaloon.com


Kingfisher
General Manager Sam Buis

On Tap: How do you guys select beers?
Sam Buis: I definitely try to acquire the more unique, interesting beers that I think people will really enjoy. I come from 10 years of working in craft beer bars. I’m fully aware of what good beer is, and what beer nerds like, so I try to achieve what they want. We’re all cans here, so that limits our ability to get certain beers, but it also helps us get others that aren’t as common.

OT: How often do you reach out to distributors to get new stuff in?
SB: Constantly. I only get a few cases of any beer I choose, so I’m always on the lookout for new beers. I’m always pestering my reps to find new things, and they put their weight on breweries to find out what they have in cans. If enough people request a can of a certain beer, they’ll make it.

OT: What are some beers you’re looking forward to carrying in February?
SB: Union Rye Baby IPA because Union always makes great beers, and this one has a great peppery resin quality with a super smooth mouth feel. Another is Evil Twin Mission Gose – it’s salty, sour and funky. Always happy to see good sours in cans, and so will my regulars. And last is Old Ox Black Ox Porter. I love me some dark beer, doesn’t matter what time of year, but it’s even better when it’s a cold day in February. Plus, it has great malty, roasty flavors balanced with some rye to give it a crisp finish.

Kingfisher: 1414 14th St. NW, DC; www.kingfisherdc.com


Smoke & Barrel
Beverage Director Jace Gonnerman

On Tap: What new beers do you have coming up in February?
Jace Gonnerman: We will have year two of our Triple IPA with Ocelot Brewing Co. called Talking Backward. It’s a collaboration with our three restaurants, and it’s an 11 percent IPA with citrus and mosaic hops. On February 7 at Meridian Pint, we’ll be hosting Firestone Walker, and it’ll be a bunch of rare beers that they have. We’re also revamping our cocktail and liquor list, which will be inspired by Frank Mills. He’s made a big name [for himself] in the city. That will be released on February 6.

Smoke & Barrel: 2471 18th St. NW, DC; www.smokeandbarreldc.com

Brew Republic Bierwerks
Photos: Nick Hardt

Brew Break in Woodbridge: The Bierdo Works Some Xmas Beer Magic!

Hoppy Holidays, Bierdos! Here’s a little present from me to all of you. As you know, I’ve been beer traveling for over a decade, so for me to find a local diamond in the rough that makes my eyes sparkle is often a rare thing. I’ve seen it all. However, when you stumble into a brand new place and the beer, atmosphere, food, staff and location are amazing, you have to give credit where credit is due (especially when you accidentally stumbled upon it Christmas shopping at IKEA in Woodbridge). But I digress.

Brew Republic Bierwerks is my humble gift to you, Bierdos. You won’t find it on your Untapped app or in BeerAdvocate, as it’s brand new and no one’s wanted to spill the beans on Woodbridge’s best kept secret until now. However, it feels like they’ve always been there, and their tasting room is fantastic! Story has it that ex-local politician and co-owner Jeff Frederick traded passing bills for pouring beers, and with the help of the amazingly talented brewer Darcy Heisey, this brewery will be turning a lot of heads and filling tons of growlers. There’s also live music on Saturdays, trivia on Tuesdays, Randall Night on Mondays (Google it, non-Bierdos), yoga twice a month and other great monthly events if you need another excuse (you won’t) between beers and tasty bites. Simply put though, they had ME at the BEER! Here are the offerings that made my oh-so-naughty list. Indulge responsibly!

The Night Mare Oatmeal Stout Float, 5 percent: I’ll admit it. It’s a gimmick. But not all gimmicks have made me drink two of them. This dark, grainy, chocolate, creamy oatmeal stout (also excellent by itself) topped with pumpkin-spiced vanilla ice cream might be the tastiest winter drink you’ll ever have this season, or the only thing you can’t buy seasonally at Starbucks. Rating: I will never NOT buy this at Brew Republic.  In a world full of tragedies, this beer float makes me still believe we all have a fighting chance and there is still hope in the universe. So yummy!

Mockingbird Rye IPA, 6.5 percent: Robust malts and citrusy hops dominate this copper-colored rye IPA. This is my go-to (non-dessert) beer here. It’s one of those beers that’s fun to drink, and has a great mouthfeel and texture from the of rye malts. Rating: Mock. ING! Bird. YEAH! So good.

Wayward Wit, 4.7 percent: There is only one word that comes to my mind with this Belgian-style wheat beer: bright. The Wayward Wit features citrusy zest with coriander, hoppy earthy spice and a unique bright sweetness. It’s extremely drinkable! Rating: This beer has zing and pizazz!

Beer Water, 0 percent: Ask them about their on-premise, filtered, high quality H20! Rating: Mama says, mama says…it’s better than Fiji water. Yup!

Brew Republic Bierwerks: 15201 Potomac Town Pl. Woodbridge, VA; 703-594-7950; www.brewrepublic.beer               

Have a beer for the Bierdo to try? Drop him a line at beer@ontaponline.com.