Let’s be frank, you’re tired of reading umpteen variations of the same lede about living in our new reality and the importance of adaptation and blah, blah, blah from every single source of the content you spend entirely too much time burning your retinas out on every day. I’ll spare you.
Here’s the deal, COVID-19 sucks from every conceivable angle; I don’t need to list them here (though I will add, sincerely, that if you or someone you love has been affected directly by this physically or economically, you have my condolences and good thoughts). One angle you may not have considered, though, is that this whole mess is making you miss out on new, tasty, fresh, locally-brewed beers. There are a lot of cool beers that launched or became available locally right before self-isolation ramped up.
A lot of these beers are available for pickup or delivery from the breweries themselves or for off-premise consumption from retailers (maintain good social distancing if you go to pick up!).
I’ve been doing my part and trying to, um, spur the local economy by, um, depleting my strategic beer reserves. Some of what’s below I’m talking about firsthand, but a number of the below came up when I solicited suggestions from Twitter on Sunday. Without further ado and in alphabetical order by brewery are some DC area beers to look out for that you may not have had a chance to try yet.
3 Stars Brewing Company – Low Hanging Fruit: Cherry and Lime – Sour Fruited Ale (5%). DC is one of two cities with an official cocktail, and that’s the Rickey (Wassup, New Orleans?). Springtime is the start of Rickey season here and what better way to celebrate with the beer version, part of 3 Stars’ kettle sour series? This one features cherry and lime and while you’re ordering from the brewery you might as well grab some limited releases from the Illuminati and Funkerdome Reserve Societies, which are now up for sale as well. Available via delivery and curbside pick-up.$16/4-pack tallboys. – Jake Berg
Bluejacket – In Droves (collaboration with Great Raft Brewing Company and Perennial Artisan Ales) – Session Dark Lager (3.7%). I originally intended to write up Art of Almost, a 3.7% English mild using floor-malted Marris Otter and brewed with EKG and Fuggles, but it appears from the can list that they’ve run out. That’s a shame because that beer was a joy to drink with a mouthfeel fuller than its ABV and a beautiful blend of chocolate and bread with just a touch of fruit on the end. Fear not, dark session beer fans, I have it on good authority that this week the Bluejacket team will be packaging In Droves, a session schwarzbier collaboration with Shreveport’s Great Raft Brewing and St. Louis’ Perennial Artisan Ales. Lots of chocolate and roast with that classic noble hop profile will scratch the lager itch for you, dear shut-in. If you order all of this before I get mine, I will not socially distance when I come after you. Available to-go or for delivery (but not until later this week), presumably this will be $12/4-pack tallboys.
DC Brau Brewing Company – In Session (Session IPA / 4.5%) & Continuing Resolution (Hazy IPA / 7%). DC Brau will begin delivery in DC this Wednesday, but is taking pre-orders now. While you’re loading up, you should give In Session a look. Not hazy, and more in the vein of an American Pale Ale than a full-on session IPA, this is a beer perfectly in balance between a light caramel malt note and some grapefruit and pine. The definition of a session beer: this is lighter ABV and not overpowering, and because it’s fairly new chances are you haven’t come across it yet. Brau is also jumping in with a rotating hazy IPA series called Continuing Resolution, the current release has Idaho, Azacca, and Citra hops. Available via delivery (in DC) starting April 8 and in for no contact pick-up starting April 15. In Session ($17.99/12 pack), Continuing Resolution ($11.99 / 4-pack tallboys).
Denizens – Animal – Hazy IPA (6% ABV). Animal is a long-time top seller in Denizens’ taprooms, but a recent decision to package it came at the right time for consumers who can’t get to said tap rooms. Denizens describes Animal as “light and hazy in appearance, highly aromatic, and packed full of juicy hop flavor. It strikes a balance between the notes of tropical flesh fruit, citrus rind, and pine sap showcased in American grown hops.” Sounds like a lot of other DDH IPAs, but when someone like Brightest Young Thing beer writer Phil Runco writes, “Animal immediately enters the conversation of best readily available hazy IPA in the area,” you know you’ve got something special. Available via delivery in Montgomery and Prince Georges Counties, and in DC via Craft Beer Cellar. $16/64oz growler.
Hellbender Brewing Company – Serves You Rice (collaboration with Black Narrows Brewing Company and USA Rice) – Saison with 35% Louisiana purple rice (5%). Last fall you may have seen an odd sight at your local brewery: a truck wrapped in rice grain logos, and a buffet table next to it handing out two-pound bags of rice, and, occasionally, rice makers. For free. USA Rice Federation, which promotes US-grown rice at home and abroad, hit Atlas, Right Proper, and Hellbender, and ended up collaborating with the latter of these, lending Louisiana-grown purple rice to Serves You Rice, to the tune of 35% of the grain bill. Black Narrows on Virginia’s eastern shore contributed their house saison yeast, which was cultivated from, in part, oyster shells. “Let’s get weird,” you’d think, but the result is a 5% ABV well-attenuated saison, with a reddish hue from the rice and banana-ey esters from the yeast. Plus puns! Want something a little stronger? The two breweries also collaborated on a 6.2% saison called Doomsday Whistle, available in crowlers. Available for taproom pick-up and in off-premise stores in the area. – Jake Berg
Port City Brewing Company – Star Sailor – White IPA (5.7%). I had the chance to check this out over the weekend, and wow am I glad I did. Star Sailor ostensibly combines the best parts of witbier and IPA together into one package, but this is a place where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Fruity esters from the witbier yeast and fruit notes from the hops come together for a serious fruit punch profile (sorry, Jonathan Reeves, I know fruit punch isn’t something you ever want associated with your beer). Just bitter enough to keep things interesting and weighing in at 5.7%, this is wildly refreshing, and I really enjoyed it. Plus it’s brewed with 100% Virginia wheat so that’s an added bonus on the economic development side. Available for curbside pick-up and delivery within a 5 mile Virginia radius of the brewery and in off-premise stores around the DC metro area.$11.75/6-pack, other formats available.
Right Proper Brewing Company – Li’l Wit – Witbier (5%) and Proper Friend Blend – Barrel-aged Farmhouse Ale (5%). I was going to write about the newest addition to Right Proper’s packaged lineup, Li’l Wit, which was “brewed with an abundance of Red Wheat, White Wheat, Torrified Wheat, and Oats. The beer was gently hopped with Tettnang and Perle. Then, finished it with the classic spices Coriander and Orange Peel.” This is one head brewer Bobby Bump hopes you’ll try even though its launch was stymied by stay-at-home orders: “I’ve brewed A LOT of beers over the past 10 plus years, but this one might be the most special,” he said via Twitter. Big statement. But then–gestures at everything–all this happened, so Lil’ Wit hasn’t been canned yet. What is new and available from this brewery? How about a collab? “A special blend of gin barrel-aged Astral Weeks, red wine barrel-aged White Bicycles, and fresh unfiltered White Bicycles, all hand-picked by our friends at Pizzeria Paradiso.” That sounds like it’d be pretty cool. Available at both Right Proper locations for pick-up, delivery via the Shaw brewpub. Also available via Craft Beer Cellar and maybe selection Pizzeria Paradiso locations.
I’m also legally obligated to bemoan the delay of the Beered in DC collaboration between @BarredinDC, Lost Lagers, and Right Proper. This rye saison-style beer with old world hops is tasty, according to those privileged who’ve had a chance to try it. Looking forward to the party when the world re-opens. (Call off your lawyers, Raman, I don’t have the deep pockets to fight you in court anymore.)
Silver Branch Brewing Company / Right Proper Brewing Company – Electric Goat Helles-Bock (6.5%). Silver Branch’s Christian Layke and Brett Robison teamed up with Right Proper’s Bobby Bump for a springtime collaboration that got name checked multiple times when I put out the call for beer fans’ current favorites. Here’s the description from Silver Branch: “Brewed with Pilsner, Vienna, and pale caramel malts and all Tettnang hops, this malty spring lager is brewed to celebrate the lengthening days and the emergence of all your favorite springtime flowers,” and when this one is gone, it’s gone.
Not enough beers for you to check out? Here’s even more courtesy of BYT’s Phil Runco, and don’t forget that somewhere in Baltimore there are cases upon cases of Guinness Crosslands Honey Clover Ale that now might never see the light of day.
Surely there will be more good beers continuing to leave area fermenters and available for purchase, so stay tuned to DCBeer and we’ll keep you posted on what’s new and now available.