Welcome to Small steins with Stein.
For years I wrote a column for the Washington City Paper called “What’s in Stein’s Stein?” I introduced beers and ciders made by women and brewers of color, who are underrepresented in the brewing industry. (Sidenote: DC Beer is seeking women, people of color, and others who are underrepresented in craft beer who are interested in contributing to the site. If that’s you, contact us.) Now I’m focusing on another less represented class: Smaller beers.
“Small steins with Stein” will focus on beers brewed in and around the District of Columbia that are 5% alcohol by volume or less. We’ll begin with beers made in the District, brewed by DC Brewers Guild members, and branch out to the greater metropolitan area. These profiles tell you what you might enjoy drinking and why. The common thread? All of these beers are smaller: 5% ABV or under.
Why 5% and under? When my grandma was born in Vienna in the Austro-Hungarian empire in 1904, 5% abv beer was considered strong. It’s a modest strength for a beer, and I like that. You can drink more of a smaller beer before you start feeling light-headed, so they can be great when you have a long night planned. Let’s get started!
District ChopHouse – Light Lager
Technically the oldest continually operating brewery in DC, District ChopHouse has been cranking out quality ales and lagers since 1996. While “light” is an often maligned term in brewing, there’s something pleasant about beers that don’t make you want to nap after 16 ounces. And there’s something glorious about smaller beers that are infinitely crushable.
Shockingly brewed without corn and rice, ChopHouse’s Light Lager is a beer with no room for error as there is no dry hop, barrel aging, or strong yeast character to hide behind. What is present is a combination of tapered bitterness, muffin-like doughy malt character, and a pleasant minerality akin to that found in austere white wines. It’s like the lingering scent of a wet sidewalk after it rains… but way better because it’s beer and not a sidewalk. At 4.6% alcohol by volume, this beer is ridiculously easy-drinking and is as welcoming as ChopHouse’s complimentary cornbread.
Light Lager is available for $5.25 a pint and is a steal at $3.25 for happy hour. You can also take a growler of it home for $13.