A courtyard divides 1401 Okie St NE in Ivy City, just south of New York Avenue. Brooklyn-based Other Half Brewing Company is building out both sides of it, with a bar and to-go sales on the western side, closer to Fenwick and New Columbia Distilling, and canning and production on the eastern. The property has housed canning equipment before; it used to be the Pappas Tomato Factory.
The courtyard dead-ends at an old train car, incongruously sporting a green roof. At some point in the near future, Other Half is going to outfit this into a “lager bar.”
Lagers, on average, take longer to make than ales like the hazy IPAs Other Half is known for. They’re more than up to the challenge, with enough tank space to nearly double the amount of beer all of DC brewed in 2019.
Yes, you read that correctly. The sum total of all beer brewed in the District last year was just under 36,000 barrels, per the Brewers Association. At full capacity, which admittedly will take some time, Other Half can brew 30,000 barrels, which would make them by far the largest brewer in DC.
A massive basement is below the brewhouse, awaiting bourbon barrels, many from the coveted Buffalo Trace Antique Collection. For now, it’s storage for bags of malted barley. Above the brewing rig, there are plans for a rooftop bar, with partial views of the Capitol Building and windows into brewing operations.
All District breweries have battled the infamous DC water, and Other Half hails from New York City, where the water is apocryphally famed for producing stellar pizza dough and bagels. They’ve come prepared with a reverse osmosis treatment system that will strip DC’s finest down to the basics and recreate the New York experience.
By the time this article goes live, Other Half will have brewed their first beer in DC, which is, of course, an IPA. Interestingly, Other Half does not have a pilot brewing system to test out their new system. Indeed, per co-founder Matt Monahan, they’ve never piloted a beer, ever. So they’re diving right in with a large batch, the far majority of which will be canned.
Due to the pandemic, on-premise consumption will have to wait, but the brewery is eyeing an early October opening for to-go sales, perhaps the first week of the month if all goes well. The bar in the photo below is opposite multiple garage doors, allowing for an indoor/outdoor space that may prove useful.
In the coming months, look for collaborations with DC Brau and their Ivy City neighbors Atlas. Monahan also mentions using their space to host festivals like Green City and Pastrytown when feasible. Marylanders, worry not: drops from Other Half’s Brooklyn location will continue at Downtown Crown Wine and Beer. Don’t want to drive up 270? The Craft Beer Cellar’s Other Half online sale starts on Tuesday, September 22. As always, we’ll keep you updated, and please welcome Other Half to DC!
Want to discuss this article? DC Beer has a Discord Server. Join now and help us build a great beer community!