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Breweries to Check Out In & Around Washington, DC
The local craft beer scene is bubbling up
When you’re looking for a cold one, look beyond the big beer producers and taste something distinctly DC. Frosty, frothy, heady, hoppy, sour – whatever your preference, you can find it at any of these local breweries.
It all began with a homebrew kit from his girlfriend. Now, Mike McGarvey and his business partner Dave Coleman have taken their passion for brewing to the big leagues with 3 Stars Brewing Company. Officially launched in 2012 with the release of its Pandemic Porter, 3 Stars has dozens of beers on tap throughout the DC region (including Nationals Park).
Where to sip it: Sip a 3 Stars brew at ChurchKey, City Tap House and Founding Farmers, among others. If you’d prefer it straight from the source, visit the brewery for a tour on Saturdays at 2 p.m. and 3 p.m.; or, go for a growler Thursday through Sunday.
6400 Chillum Place NW, Washington, DC 20012
Founders Jeff Hancock and Brandon Skall took the DC craft beer game to the top shelf by opening DC’s first packaging brewery since 1956. Brewing and canning in Northeast since 2011 with brews such as The Public (American Pale Ale), The Corruption (a take on Pacific Northwest IPAs) and The Citizen (Belgian Ale), DC Brau is one of the fastest-growing breweries in the U.S. And even though the brewery may be busy, it takes a breather every Saturday afternoon from 2-4 p.m. to offer beer lovers free tours (closed-toe shoes required).
Where to sip it: Use the brewery’s Brau Finder to check out the plethora of places in and around DC serving their brews on draft and/or selling by can. The brewery is open Wednesday through Sunday and offers pints and growlers for sale.
3178-B Bladensburg Road NE, Washington, DC 20018
As the brewing brainchild of Neighborhood Restaurant Group, famed beer director Greg Engert conceptualized Bluejacket to provide beer lovers with an expansive range of lagers and ales. Bluejacket’s impressive list of 20 original beers and five cask brews (think: sours, saisons, blondes and more) are on full display in the 5,600 square-foot building that once operated as a boilermaker. The offerings there buck the macrobrew trend and are innovative, full-flavored and sometimes the result of collaboration with brewers from around the country.
Where to sip it: You’ll find the full selection of Bluejacket brews at its location in Capitol Riverfront, either on draft or in bottles to-go. But you’re also bound to see selections pop up on various menus across the NRG board, such as Birch & Barley and ChurchKey.
300 Tingey Street SE, Washington, DC 20003
Located a stone’s throw from the Howard Theatre in the historic Shaw neighborhood, Right Proper is all about creating a cozy brewpub for locals. Three friends conjured up the brewery/restaurant and they claim to be a brewery first, but you’d be fooled by its food menu, flush with coveted (and affordable) eats. That’s right, the brewery wanted to make sure dining out and drinking in wouldn’t break the bank, and they’ve succeeded. And don’t miss out on the group’s newest creation, the Brookland Production House & Tasting Room. Try beers and feel free to bring your own food!
Where to sip it: At the Shaw location, wash down a Southern-style fried chicken sandwich on brioche ($12!) with suds from any of the eight rotating in-house taps. Unlike the other brews on this list, Right Proper’s concoctions are currently only available in the brewpub itself.
624 T Street NW, Washington, DC 20001
A favorite pre-game and post-game spot for Washington Capitals and Wizards games, District ChopHouse is more steakhouse than brewery. Order up its signature stack of huge onion rings, and keep a heady brew at hand, from the crisp light lager to the dry-hopped IPA or the caramel-y nut brown ale.
Where to Sip It: Since you can only sip it at the steakhouse proper, we should rephrase the question as “when to sip it?” Answer: during happy hour, weekdays from 4-7 p.m., when it costs $3.50 for a handcrafted brew (may include seasonals).
509 7th Street NW, Washington, DC 20004
The story of Hellbender is a story about two home brewers who could. Co-founder Patrick Mullane, a former Hill politico, and head brewer Ben Evans, a neuroscience geek, teamed up to take their side alley brewing project mainstream. Hellbender focuses on environmentally friendly pours. Its flagship beers include the German-style Bäre Bönes Kölsch and the floral Red Line Ale.
Where to sip it: Hit up Hellbender’s finest at such taprooms as the Iron Horse, Glen’s Garden Market and Meridian Pint. Brewery tours run from 2-5 p.m. on Saturdays, and check the brewery’s hours if you want to stop by during the week.
5788 2nd Street NE, Washington, DC 20011
Operating just outside of DC, Port City Brewery is the first production brewery to open in Alexandria, Va. since Prohibition. The brewery tapped its first keg in 2011 and has been busy reviving the DC area’s craft brew scene and peppering its trophy case with top medals (including the Beverage Tasting Institute’s 2013 World Beer Championships gold medal for Optimal Wit and silver medal for Porter).
Where to sip it: Port City beers are sold throughout the DC region, and the brewery also offers tours and tastings from Thursday through Sunday for $12. Growlers are at the ready – buy one there or bring your own to fill up with your favorite Port City brew.
3950 Wheeler Avenue, Alexandria, VA 22304
Justin Cox and Will Durgin met at Vanderbilt University as two thirsty engineering scholars with a discerning taste for beer. Years later, the duo formed Atlas Brew Works to bring beer back to the neighborhood. They’ve succeeded with their popular growlers to-go set-up and an ever-changing stable of boutique brews you’ll find nowhere else.
Where to sip it: The brewery offers up flights and pints Friday through Sunday and tours are available on Saturdays on the even-numbered hours from 2-6 p.m. You can find it in the city on taps at such establishments like Roofers Union, Old Ebbitt Grill and Capitol Lounge.
2052 West Virginia Avenue NE #102, Washington, DC 20002
For a taste of history, step inside Capitol City Brewing Co., the first brew pub in the nation’s capital. Classically honed since 1992, the core signature brews include the Prohibition Porter to the Pale Ride Ale, or try the Capitol Kolsch and the Amber Waves Ale. But be on the lookout for seasonal offerings, too.
Where to Sip It: Post up at the massive round bar at the Penn Quarter outpost, hallowed brewing ground as it serves as the site where the brewery first opened. You can also visit the Arlington location in Virginia.
1100 New York Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20005
4001 Campbell Avenue, Arlington, VA 22206
We’ve given you the lay of the land, but one of the best ways to get around to many of the breweries in one day is if you book a DC Brew Tour. Either go by day or after-hours, and taste as many as 12 (or more) beers at three breweries in five hours, all while being shuttled around the city. The experience comes complete with a food pairing and easy pick-up and drop-off. Note: wear closed-toe shoes, not sandals.
Now that you have explored DC’s awesome brewery scene, it’s time to start picking out some awesome restaurants. Check out some of our favorites.