Last Friday, a bunch of brewers from DC, Maryland, and Virginia gathered at DC Brau to brew this year's Solidarity Ale for DC Beer Week. I had the opportunity to head up to the Brau brewery on Bladensburg Road and check out how things were going.
First thng I was struck by was how many people were in the tasting room. Unlike in previous years, this year's DC Beer Week committee has had a strong focus on being more inclusive. Production breweries and brewpubs from all three local jurisdictions were well represented, including spots like the multiple Gordon Biersch brewpubs in the area (Chinatown, Navy Yard, Rockville), Rock Bottom Bethesda brewpub in Bethesda, and even Atlas Brew Works, which isn't even open and producing beer yet. Of course spots like 3 Stars Brewing Company, District Chophouse, Mad Fox Brewing Company, Capital City Brewing Company, Lost Rhino Brewing Company and Port City Brewing Company were all also on-hand. Hell, even Volker Stewart of Baltimore's Brewer's Art was on-hand to offer his support.
The next thing that really struck me was the wall of freaking heat that I slammed into when I went back into the brewery. Friday, as you might remember, still had our area smack in the middle of a heat wave spawned by the devil himself to give us all irritability and swamp ass. It was delightful to step from outside into the air conditioned tasting room at DC Brau. It was a narrow stretch of paradise sandwiched between the (not-so-) great outdoors and the hot and humid interior of the brewery itself. It certainly gave me all new appreciation for our local brewers (and brewers everywhere) who get little respite from the heat, no matter the season.
Finally, it had (admittedly) been a while since I had been up to DC Brau. I was stunned to see how the operation has grown, and suddenly all the fanfare about the rapid expansion of Brau as a brand made a lot of sense. Tons of cans ready to be filled, lots of fermenters, and a recently installed massive walk-in for keg and hop storage all point to a brand that has the infrastructure to keep on rolling.
More details on the brew itself (grain bill, etc.) will be forthcoming in the lead-up to DC Beer Week, but this is likely going to wind up a pretty sessionable pale ale. Each of the brewers involved brought water from their breweries that they used to brew the beer in yet another show of solidarity. They brewed a double batch of this, which should make for a pretty decent number of Solidarity Ale kegs for DC Beer Week. These kegs will be allocated to DCBW sponsors; keep your eyes peeled on a list of where you can find it. Until then, enjoy some pics from the brew day.
Overhead shot of the DC Brau tasting room where local brewers try to beat the heat during the brew day.
DC Brau head brewer Jeff Hancock adds another brewery's water to the mash in a show of solidarity.
From left to right, Mad Fox Brewing Company's Bill Madden, District Chophouse's Barrett Lauer, and Port City Brewing Company's Jason Camsky chat beer, Russian history, lawn darts, etc.
The Chophouse's Barrett Lauer brings in water hauled all the way from Chinatown.
Rock Bottom Bethesda's Geoff Lively lending a hand during the brewing process.
DC Brau brewer Chris checks the gravity on the Solidarity Ale.
These are the dreamers of dreams and the brewers of your local beers, folks.