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DC Statehood: The Movement, the Beers

The morning of Wednesday, January 6, our DCBeer group text read ”Also, DC Statehood beer?” in response to news that the Democratic Party would control the House of Representatives, Senate, and Presidency later this month. And it wasn’t long before Brandy responded with “Red Bear” and Jake responded with “Also the text on Brau’s cans.”

Mayor Muriel Bowser’s language from her press conference on Wednesday, January 6, calling the attempted coup “textbook terrorism” came in addition to her demands that “We must get DC statehood on the President’s desk within the first 100 days of the 117th Congress.”

So while we at DCBeer want a DC statehood beer (lager please!) it turns there kind of already is one. Well, two, from DC Brau Brewing Company and Red Bear Brewing Company. DC Brau’s The Public Pale Ale has had DC statehood facts on it since 2011. Red Bear has had 51st State IPA since 2019.

The Public Pale Ale had a factoid about DC statehood when it was first released in 2011. It stated that if DC was to be named the 51st state, the state’s name would be “New Columbia,” per legislation offered in the 98th Congress in 1983.

According to Jeff Hancock, President, Brewmaster, QA/QC Lead & Co-founder of DC Brau, “For me, if DC was granted statehood, it would be a game changer on so many levels. First and foremost, it would be the ability to decide how and where we spend our tax revenue and then the ability to govern ourselves with minimal oversight from the [federal] government like all the other states in the union are afforded.”


Bryan Van Den Oever, Owner, and Director of Business Development & Marketing at Red Bear notes that the brewery is “Proudly DC made, LGBTQ owned, Veteran owned, and Independent craft beer.” He says that Red Bear brewed 51st State IPA “to promote the idea of DC Statehood as well as bring attention to the unjust lack of representation for the people who live in DC including the majority of the Red Bear staff and executive team. Red Bear Brewing supports the efforts of the DC Statehood Initiative and keeps in contact with their organizers. We’ve been brewing it since July of 2019 and have had it as one of our mainstays since then. We even had Mayor Muriel Bowser and Eleanor Holmes Norton visit our taproom for two separate pro-statehood events.” 

The can art for 51st State IPA was created by Alice Packard, Red Bear’s contracted brand designer and illustrator. The artwork shows Ursula, Red Bear’s mascot, on the steps of the Capitol Building, wreathed in cherry blossoms, and the Red Line metro stop in the background showing where Red Bear is located.

So who will be the next to make a statehood beer? Could it be the forthcoming City-State? Time will tell.

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Jerry Boesen February 2, 2021 at 12:58 pm

It is unfortunate to see the love of beer being mixed up in politics. As for DC Statehood; this would require an amendment to the Constitution, and not a simple vote from Congress.

Jacob Berg April 12, 2021 at 10:53 am

Thanks for reading, Jerry, but Congress has ultimate authority over the District of Columbia, per the constitution. Congress could shrink the boundaries of the federal enclave and then admit DC as a state, as Congress has done for many other states.


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