The 2020 Virginia and DC Best in Beer features a community surviving and even thriving in this most unusual year. It was a time of coming together where local breweries invented new ways to reach their loyal customers, and those customers took their “drink local” mantra to new heights. Together, the local craft beer community weathered the storm with remarkably few breweries closing, and even a few new ones opening.
Local breweries continued to put out some wildly creative and delicious beers and perhaps more than ever proved their worth as creators and sustainers of social bonds. The Virginia and Washington, DC craft beer communities look forward to a more “normal” 2021 while taking pride in their remarkable resiliency throughout the unprecedented global challenges of 2020.
One of the greatest things about the craft beer community is the community itself. Without a large group of like-minded individuals drinking it and bonding over it, craft beer would simply be a liquid with a curious chemical composition. And when tragedy strikes, breweries are often among the first to rally support, most often with a collaboration release.
On the cusp of Thanksgiving 2020 after an incredibly stressful year; we all deserve a moment to indulge. Though as you can only fill your stomach so much or tolerate a certain amount of beer; what do you choose? Well, there’s no better option to treat your senses than to enjoy a beer that comes with its own recipe card!
Wheatland Spring Farm + Brewery in Waterford, VA sits on 30 acres of rolling Virginia farmland approximately 50 miles west of the urban bustle of Washington, DC. This working farm is a beautiful spot to enjoy a pint in the repurposed, 200-year-old tasting room and century-old brewhouse barns nestled amidst the charming bucolic countryside. These are the parts of Wheatland Spring most guests experience, but they only hint at the revolutionary approach to brewing that is blossoming within these unassuming rustic walls.
The culture of craft beer has always had a strong connection to the communities in which it thrives. For many of us, our neighborhood brewery is far more than merely a place that produces the things we enjoy drinking–it is a community center, a gathering place, and an intrinsic part of our daily lives, not to mention a foundational element for hobbies, relationships, and fostering a sense of place. Enter Cheers, Yinz!, a beer festival built to help beloved local breweries weather the economic (and emotional) effects of decreased sales and temporary closures.
Other Half Brewing Company is opening its next location in Washington, DC and PorchDrinking was given a sneak preview of the new space this month as the brewery aims for an end-of-year opening. Other Half (OH), known for weekly can releases and huge events, is bringing its talents to the nation’s capital and has already started brewing and selling beer on-site. Four-packs are available for pickup at the Ivy City location by ordering online and then walking or driving up to grab them.
What do you think of when you think about the D.C. beer scene? The answer may be drastically different for everybody based on their tenure in our Nation’s Capitol. You see, it wasn’t until 2009 that DC gained a true brewery since the last one closed in 1956. That’s one BIG gap in time.
Flying Dog Brewery is celebrating its 30th anniversary with a new Double IPA called Great Job!, tongue-in-cheek self-congratulation for 30 years of, as its own press release puts it, “Good Beer, No Shit.”
The Maryland brewery is the 35th largest in the country by volume and continues to be the biggest player in the state. Flying Dog’s 20th-anniversary beer, Raging Bitch, quickly became the best-selling beer for the brewery where it remained for nearly a decade.
Dogfish Head Craft Brewery is on a mission to fight climate change, one beer at a time. On September 19, Dogfish Head and Indigo Agriculture, a company intent on “harnessing nature to help farmers sustainably feed the planet,” released an Earth-friendly Re-Gen-Ale to its local beer fans. As explained by Dogfish Head, the beer serves as the first traceably-sourced beer to address climate change through agriculture using Indigo Carbon, a program that provides growers with a financial incentive to store carbon in their soils.” The beer release arrives in time for Climate Week (Sept 21 – 27).
For many German beer fans, late September doesn’t just mark the onset of autumn or the beginning of a new school year. It’s the only time of year for eating too many brats, listening to polka music of questionable quality and drinking delicious beer. It’s Oktoberfest! During any other year, many would be dusting off their lederhosen and making pretzel necklaces, while visions of frothy overflowing beer steins danced in their heads.
Yet, even though COVID-19 is, sadly, torpedoing our hopes of having in-person Oktoberfest events this year, never fear. There’s still plenty of first-rate Oktoberfest beers to be had. Here in the Washington, D.C., Beltway area, those mourning the cancellation of this year’s festivities are finding solace in Port City Brewing’s exceptional take on the classic Oktoberfest Märzen Lager. Despite only being distributed in D.C., Virginia, Maryland, and some select areas of New York and North Carolina, this beer has gained international renown. It took home the gold medal at the 2014 World Beer Championships, silver at the 2013 Great American Beer Festival and is currently ranked the 27th best Oktoberfest/Märzen style beer in the world by reviewers on Beer Advocate.
Deschutes’ Black Butte Porter has been the brewery’s flagship beer since its first year of its existence, and to celebrate the 32nd anniversary of this amazing beer, the brewery released its 2020 anniversary Black Butte XXXII Imperial Porter.
Inspired by an annual pilgrimage from Pennsylvania to the Pacific Northwest to pick fresh hops in the Yakima Valley, Tröegs Independent Brewing’s Lucky Holler Hazy IPA fall release is packed with so much citrusy, hoppy aroma it’ll have you hollerin’ for more. By heading straight to the source to walk through rows of bines and crush plump, fresh hops cones in their hands to release the oils and heady aroma, Tröegs’ brewers were able to hand-select the perfect hops for Lucky Holler Hazy IPA.
Calm winds, the rising sun and a glass like ocean…this is the allure of being part of the Dawn Patrol. For surfers, the attraction is undeniable. They forego the extra sleep while others lay tucked in their beds knowing that getting the goods early is an opportunity too good to pass up. For these dedicated few, the day’s first waves are worth it. They’re exhilarating!
Other Half Brewing today announced the upcoming October opening of its new taproom and production facility in Washington, DC. The New York-based brewery has been long-rumored among beer lovers in the Nation’s Capital, so today’s news is a welcome addition to DC’s burgeoning craft beer scene. Other Half has been shipping beer weekly to Maryland’s Downtown Crown in nearby Gaithersburg for several months, but it is rarely found inside the District. The new brewery will be the 12th brewery located in the city limits.
Evil Twin Brewing began as a “nomadic brewery” in 2010, but found a permanent home in New York City in 2016, when Evil Twin Brewing NYC launched in Queens, New York. Their portfolio features a massive variety of beers and hard seltzers with many unique names and ingredients.
In keeping with its esoteric approach to brewing, WHAT EVEN IS PINK PINEAPPLE ANYWAYS? (WEIPPA) is yet another unique showstopper from Evil Twin.
There are quite a few craft brewing OG’s that continue to shine decades later. Originators who are still more than relevant and living legends among the beer industry. Since 1995, Lancaster Brewing Company in Lancaster, Pennsylvania has been brewing extraordinary beers. In particular their flagship Milk Stout is one such living legend.
In a world in which the Hazy IPA has taken over, there are still some of us who remember a time when IPA was brewed to be as bitter as possible. West Coast IPA ruled the land and they were crystal clear and sharp on the tongue. While almost every brewery nowadays brews a hazy IPA, Flying Dog Brewery has The Truth.
Think back to those lazy days of summer, when it’s so hot and humid that moving seems like a chore. However, the sound of the Mister Softee truck is like a siren’s call. There’s the rush of the song, the scrambling and the truck-chasing, even as an adult. When you reach the truck, then comes the tough decision of what comes next. An all-ages favorite (and mine as well) is the creamsicle, a sweet and chilly treat that’s typically orange but really can be any fruit flavor on the outside with a vanilla center. Decadent Ales from Mamaroneck, NY, which has made a name for itself brewing “desserty” beers, seems to share my love of them as well. The proof? Take a look at the cream pop series of beers and, more specifically, Blueberry Cream Pop.
Sometimes, no matter the weather or season, a brewery can score major brownie points if it offers a comforting brew that provides all-around enjoyment. Be it hiking, playing cards, attending a barbecue or perhaps sitting around a bonfire — a beer for seemingly all occasions, especially one that won’t particularly floor you after a few. One such beer is an Abbey Dubbel brewed by Flying Fish Brewing Company, located in Somerdale, New Jersey.
Philadelphia: The city of brotherly and sisterly love. Whether you live in Philadelphia, the surrounding area that wishes it was Philly, or are just visiting, the significance of the history of the eastern Pennsylvania city is undeniable. From statues of individuals such as William Penn, John Barry and George Washington, to the bricked neighborhood of Old City and an almost deity like appreciation of Benjamin Franklin, the 300+ years of history are sure to include beer as well. Yards Brewing Company, in the city’s Northern Liberties neighborhood, thrives off the old world tradition of beer styles with Jefferson’s Golden Ale, formerly called Thomas Jefferson’s Tavern Ale.