By DCBeer Contributor Elizabeth Hartman
With clear evening skies, a soft breeze, and mild spring temperatures, it was a beautiful evening to enjoy the spring blooms of a Victorian garden and the floral bouquet of a well-crafted India pale ale. While others in the Dupont Circle neighborhood flocked to patios and roof bars, nearly 120 attendees turned out to the fourth History and Hops event at the Heurich House Museum to sample three beers from the much-anticipated local brewery/brewpub from the Neighborhood Restaurant Group, Bluejacket.
Head brewer Megan Parisi and her assistant brewer, Bobby Bump, came out to pour and talk about three collaborative ales – a bold American IPA brewed with Indiana's Three Floyds and Chicago's Half Acre and Revolution; a traditional Bavarian doppelbock brewed with Mad Fox in Falls Church; and a saffron saison brewed with Mystic Brewery in Chelsea, Massachusetts. The event attracted history buffs, craft beer enthusiasts, and some familiar faces from the local brewing scene. While this may have been a sneak peek into the quality of beer you can expect from the Bluejacket name, don't think it's a sneak peek into their lineup. Parisi explained that when the brewery opens near Yards Park later this summer, they will rotate their 15 taps to showcase a diverse range of smaller-batch beers rather than establishing flagship brands.
The Heurich House began hosting these beer events in February as a way to promote knowledge about preeminent brewer Christian Heurich and his role within the history of the brewing industry while simultaneously demonstrating support for the growing craft beer scene. The museum's beer ambassador, Maurice Maloney, believes the House is able to offer something special because of this juxtaposition between the historical and the modern. "The events offer a unique way for people to interact with the history of DC through beer," he explains.
Walking into the elaborate front hall, it's difficult not to become enchanted with the house. Docent-lead tours are adapted to highlight information about the Heurich Brewery, which shut in 1956, and the history of the local brewing industry. The domestic setting also creates an intimate environment in which museum volunteers, brewery staff, and attendees can freely mingle.
The History and Hops program, combined with other marketing efforts, seems to be working for the Heurich House. Not only are many beer-night attendees first-timers to the museum, staff have also noticed increased interest from the public. The revenue generated from events and tours goes towards restoration and preservation.
Since the program started four months ago, all of the guest breweries have been from the DC area. But the events will not be limited to local partnerships. "Mostly, we are seeking to focus on breweries/brewers in the DC-metro area, but we are willing to work with people with whom we develop a good relationship and who understand what we are trying to do," said Maloney. Heavy Seas from Halethorpe, Maryland will be featured on June 20 and New Hampshire's Smuttynose will pour in July. When asked about Smuttynose, Maloney explained, "Although the brewery is 500 miles away, during initial discussions with them about our ideas for the History and Hops events, the Smuttynose representatives saw the potential, were very enthusiastic about the Heurich House and what it means to US brewing history, and agreed to support an event." The house will also be involved in DC Beer Week in August, although the details are still being finalized.
Maloney is optimistic about the future of beer-themed programs and what the house can offer to the local brewing scene. Not only is he approaching professional breweries, he has also reached out to the homebrewing community to discuss a possible collaboration. "I see the Heurich House remaining engaged with the DC-area brewing scene by continuing to support area breweries / brewers through its events," he says. "Hopefully, we get to a point where people view the house as some kind of central meeting place for the scene." One can imagine that Heurich himself would approve of this new role for his home and raise a toast to a new generation of beer in DC.
The History and Hops series occur every third Thursday of the month. Visit the Heurich House website for details on these and other events at the museum. To learn more about Heurich Brewery beers, read Homebrewing Heurich's Lager.