The District Brews Again

The Heurich House, also known as the Brewmaster's Castle, in Washington DC's Foggy Bottom neighborhood

In future years, local drinkers will mark 2011 as the year beer brewing returned to the District.  After more than a half century of absence, several small breweries will begin production inside DC’s borders, and a few more have set up shop in close-in suburbs.  In just a short few months, these new breweries will be producing a variety of beers inside the beltway.

Brewing was not always absent in the nation’s capital.  DC brewing history largely focuses on a German immigrant named Christian Heurich, who began brewing in a Foggy Bottom neighborhood mansion in 1873.  Although Prohibition forced him to temporarily halt operations, Heurich brewed beer for much of his life; following his death his son continued production as the Old Heurich Brewing Company.  “Christian Heurich, Jr. operated the brewery until industry consolidation and competition led him to cease brewing operations in January 1956.”

Since that year, DC beer production has been limited to brewpubs such as Capitol City Brewing Company.  But this year a number of craft breweries are slated to open.  DC Brau Brewing, Three Stars Brewing Company, Chocolate City Brewing, and Lost Rhino Brewing Company will make their home in DC; just outside the District are Washingtonian’s Brewing Company in Fort Washington, Maryland and Port City Brewing Company in Alexandria, Virginia.

While these brewing operations are small – a few are considered microbreweries – new breweries producing new brews are always welcome, both for the new flavors to taste as well as the opportunity to tour the facilities.  After speaking with representatives of Port City Brewing, their facility’s tasting room admittedly sounded enticing.  These additions will no doubt be excellent additions to other, more established Mid-Atlantic craft brewers like Flying Dog, Star Hill, and my favorite, Shenandoah Brewing Company.

After so many years without truly local beer, DC residents will now have several from which to choose.  Between breweries in the city, the suburbs, and those outliers hiding in the region’s Piedmont, I foresee many weekend excursions in the near future.

Published in: on February 15, 2011 at 11:29 pm  Comments (3)  
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