Last week, brewers from all over the D.C. metro area gathered at Hellbender Brewing Company to continue an annual tradition: the brewing of a Solidarity Beer to be released during DC Beer Week. This year’s brew, “Red, White, and Gluten” is a wheat-heavy Belgian-style saison with lemon juice added to emphasize a tart, refreshing finish, perfect for D.C. summer. The first keg of the Solidarity Beer will be tapped at the Official DC Beer Week kick-off event: the 2nd Annual Brewers on the Block at Suburbia. DC Beer Week runs from August 9-16.

The Solidarity Beer is an important symbol of the collaboration and camaraderie that area brewers show during the rest of the year. The brew comes together with donations from various breweries, and the recipe and beer style are decided upon mutually.

Barrett Lauer, Head Brewer at the District Chophouse and member of the DC Beer Week planning committee, has coordinated the Solidarity Beer since its inception. He notes that the beer hearkens back to a short time ago when the local beer scene was still fledgling: “When we first started the collaboration, there were three breweries in DC. Even with just 3 breweries participating, the Solidarity Beer helped solidify local breweries as an important component to DC Beer Week. It exhibited camaraderie and a focus that we were stronger together, with a larger vision that craft beer is awesome.”


This year, with over 20 breweries participating in the recipe formulation and the brew day, Lauer notes that, “We have all developed friendships over the years, and at the end of the day, we all want to make the best beer we possibly can. These friendships are extremely important throughout the brewing community in DC.  If a brewery needs malt, hops, yeast, recipe advice, processing techniques, etc., we reach out to each other.  This is what makes a brewing community strong.”

This year, the brewers decided to take advantage of Hellbender Beer’s mash filter system. This high efficiency system uses a system of screens to squeeze the wort from the grain rather than (as is more common) filter it through the grain bed in a lauter tun. Because of the mash filter system, the glutens that typically make brewing a wheat-heavy beer more difficult become much less of a problem. To see a mash filter in action, watch the video below.

And here’s video specifically from the Solidarity Beer brew day:

The beer itself combines five different kinds of wheat malt with lemony Sorachi Ace and citrusy Mandarina Bavaria hops. It is then fermented with both a Belgian yeast strain blend and Saccharomyces Trois.

Lauer notes that, “Getting together every year, I have no idea what style of beer the Solidarity Beer is going to be. This year was no exception. If you would have told me that we would be brewing a wheat ale using 75 percent wheat malt, Citra, Sorachi, and Mandarina Bavaria, using a blend of yeasts, and adding lemon juice, I would have laughed.  But that is how things come together when you get a lot of great brewers in a room. We get creative, learn, drink some beer, and have fun, and that is what DC Beer Week is all about!”

Ingredient donations this year included pilsner malt (The Brewer’s Art), unmalted wheat (Port City Brewing Company), wheat malt (Lost Rhino Brewing Company), Citra hops (DC Brau Brewing Company), Mandarina Bavaria hops (Hardywood Brewing Company), Sorachi Ace hops, lemons, and saison yeast (3 Stars Brewing Company), and juicing services (Gouter). Many other breweries and brewers contributed their time and expertise to the brew day.

Ben Evans, founder and head brewer of Hellbender, noted, "The solidarity brew was a way to get creative with a new recipe that showcased the ability of us as brewers, our brewing system and the talent of all of the brewers in the area. Because we had so many resources in all of these great breweries, we were able to put together a very interesting recipe with many local and hard to find ingredients in a relatively short amount of time."

Area homebrewers who would like to take a stab at making their own version of this year’s Solidarity Beer can do so with the clone recipe that appears below, which is scaled to five gallons (courtesy of co-editor Chris Van Orden, with help from Hellbender co-founder Ben Evans).

Red, White, & Gluten Clone

This is a riff on the DC Beer Week 2015 Solidarity Beer: Red, White, and Gluten, which was brewed at Hellbender Brewing Company.  The wheat was dialed down, since most homebrew set-ups don't have advanced filtration systems.  Still, you should take some steps to avoid chill haze and a stuck mash.  Don't skip the rice hulls.  Use a strike water calculator to determine the volume and temps needed to hit your protein and sacch rests outlined below – just check for conversion.  And remember that wheat will absorb more water than barley, so adjust your strike water volumes accordingly.  Happy brewing!

5 gallon batch / 60 minute boil / 70% efficiency

OG: 1.053 (13 Plato) / FG: 1.008 (2 Plato)


5.9% ABV / 22 IBUs / 3 SRM

Grain Bill


Mash Schedule