Richard Fawal, Publisher:
For me it’s all about the chance to travel to some new places and places I love.
I’m definitely going to check out the Bearded Iris offerings. On my recent trip to Nashville I discovered their Homestyle IPA and was very impressed. I go to Nashville semi-regularly so I’m looking to see if they can be my Music City home brewery. Will also try to get to Southern Grist since I didn’t get to have any last time I was there.
Tilquin will be my go-to for Lambic, fruit beer, and Belgian representation, but Jester King, too, because I love them and Austin will always be where my heart is. And, of course, Schlenkerla, because Bamberg and Rauchbier. Amiright? I’ll also try to hit Human Robot just to compare their German and Italian Pilsners.
Greg Parnas, Staff writer, in no particular order:
- Perennial – 10th Year Anniversary Blend: If you know about Abraxas, then you already know why this is a must try. For those that don’t, Perennial pioneered what we now refer to as the “pastry stout” way back in 2014 with their Abraxas. Since then the style has trended more sweet, thick, and adjunct laden; but Perennial has kept their offering more balanced, drinkable, and, to my taste, enjoyable. These folks know how to make a great heavy stout. Any time they’re blending a barrel aged version, you want it.
- Pen Druid: The beer is brewed outside, in wood-fired copper vessels, in the middle of gorgeous Virginia farmland. It’s usually step (and turbid) mashed and always wild or spontaneously fermented. Any added fruits either come from the Pen Druid farm or nearby in Rappahannock County. It’s the closest you’re going to get to a traditional Belgian brewery in America and without even needing to take the long drive out to Sperryville. Try any of the beers, be happy, play some Pontiak tunes.
- Cantillion Gueze 2017: Yes, it’s Canty. Yes, it will be a long ass line. Yes, it is worth the wait to try this lambic blend. The hype is real, but you’re not being gouged by any beer traders.
- Casita – This is Not a Smoked Corn Lager: No reverse psychology or Jedi mind tricks should be required to get folks to try more smoked beers. They’re delicious. Praise any brewery willing to bring some smoked goodness to Snally.
- Keeping Together – I am Because We Are: It’s a mixed fermentation beer that incorporates “lavender-smoked barley.” I have no idea what that is going to taste like, but my spidey taste buds are tingling with temptation. Yours should be too.
- Schilling – Harmony Park: This beer is (1) from Schilling, one of the best lager producers in America; (2) a collaboration with Oxbow, hands down one of the best breweries in America; and (3) a smoked bock beer. Any one of those should be reason enough to make this a priority tasting, but all three together make it a must try.
- Wayfinder (collab with Bierstadt Lagerhouse) – Golden Tiger Polotmavý 13°: Every year, in normal times, the American beer industry converges on Denver for the Great American Beer Festival. Every year, the brewers whose work you love and admire make their pilgrimage to Bierstadt Lagerhaus as a first stop. You should follow their lead.
- The Bruery – Tart of Darkness 2021 (raspberries): True story, back in 2013 this is the beer that changed my perception of what a “sour” beer could be and got me hooked ever since. It’s excellent, always has been, and with the addition of raspberries is probably even more delicious.
- Ocelot: Fresh off their 5th year anniversary, Ocelot is bringing you a 10.2% hazy triple IPA and a 4.7% American light lager. Both are exceptional beers and it is a testament to their HDIC (head dude in charge), Adrien Widman, that the brewery puts out such a diverse range of beers, each one excellent in its own way.
- Rothaus – Eiszäpfle: Everyone in the DC Beer crew that has tried this beer agrees that it is one of the single best beers they’ve had in 2021. Not saying you have to take that as gospel, but we’re a pretty dedicated group of drinkers.
- TRVE – Tunnel of Trees: This IPA features the old school, West coast bitterness of Chinook and Centennial, rounded out with Citra. It’s an interesting approach and a refreshing beer.
- Jester King – 2020 SPON: Shisho & Fuyu Persimmon: Founded in 2010, Jester King has been known nationally for their wild and mixed fermentation beers for longer than most American breweries have been around. You get to try one of their iconic annual offerings, this time with “Red Shisho Leaves & Fuyu Persimmons.” I have no idea what those ingredients are, but if Jester King is putting them in a barrel there’s got to be a very good reason why.
- Magnify – DDH Rock Me Dr. ‘Saic with Incognito: I have to admit (begrudgingly) that for much of my life I grew up in New Jersey. There’s not much I’m proud about from the state aside from the Boss, but Magnify Brewing is one of those things. Also, Mosaic is a dope ass and complex hop. Enjoy.
- Elder Pine – Who is making enough dark lager to be able to barrel age multiple versions of them for a blend? Who’s rocking oats in their rice saison? Elder Pine, that’s who. Arguably one of the most eclectic breweries in the DMV, Elder Pine rarely misses.
Jacob Berg, Editor, offers up a top 15:
- Because with 450 to choose from, a top 10 just isn’t fair! Alphabetical order (Brewery, Beer Name, Beer Style, ABV, Festival Location, Sublocation)
- 3 Fonteinen, Zenne Y Frontera Batch 5, Sherry Barrel-Aged Lambic, 6.9%, Drogon, 1: This could be Intense Rood, too, but that beer isn’t particularly subtle and I’m guessing, hoping, that this one is.
- Bierstadt Lagerhaus, Oktoberfest Märzen, 6.2%, Medusa, 2: The line for their Slow Pour Pils will be long. Hopefully there’s a separate one for this beer. Get yourself a pour and then queue up.
- Burnish, I’m Back, IPA w/ Citra, Motueka, & Nelson Sauvin, 6.5%, Drogon, 3: Yeah, it’s “just” another hazy, but it comes from the former head brewer of RAR on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, who gave us the recipes for Nanticoke Nectar, Pulp, and more. I want this one before palate fatigue sets in.
- Cantillon, Rose de Gambrinus 2017, Lambic w/ Raspberries, 5.0%, Drogon, 4: I assume there will be a line for this one, and that’s fine. Grab yourself a Taras Boulba and wait it out.
- Casita, This Is Not A Smoked Corn Lager, Pale Lager w/ Hickory-Smoked Corn, 4.7%, Poseidon, 2: We love us some smoked beers. This one looks to be particularly subtle and delicate.
- Floodland, Seekers After Light 2019, Oak Barrel-Aged Mixed Fermentation Ale w/ Nectarines + Roussanne & Sauvignon Blanc Wine Grapes, 7.6%, Gamera, 8: I’ve heard nothing but good things about Seattle’s Floodland.
- Fox Farm, Avalonia, Red Wine Barrel-Aged Mixed Fermentation Ale w/ Cherry & Raspberry, 5.6%, Rodan, 5: Anxo’s been doing an excellent job of bringing Fox Farm’s lagers to DC, but the CT brewery is on an actual farm and this is my first chance to try their funky stuff.
- Garden Path, The Spontaneous Ferment, 3 Year Blend Barrel-Aged Wild Ale (Spontaneous), 6.0%, Drogon, 7: We’re into the “Jake drinks wild and mixed-fermentation beers” portion of the list. We may see a few stray bottles from Garden Path later this year. Try before you buy.
- Homes, Coolship Framboise, Oak Barrel-Aged Wild Ale w/ Raspberries (Spontaneous), 7.1%, Kraken, 5: Move over, Jolly Pumpkin, Ann Arbor has another brewery with a coolship. The terrior of I-94!
- Keeping Together, From the Outer Edge of Inner Space, Mixed Fermentation Ale w/ Honey & Galaxy Hops, 6.5%, Leviathan, 6: Avery Swanson used to run Jester King’s wild and mixed yeast program. Now she brews out of Off Color in Chicago and you could treat this particular selection as a stand-in for any of her beers.
- Mindful, imagine?, Barrel-Aged Mixed Fermentation Ale w/ Nelson Sauvin, 6.1%, Drogon, 9: Jersey strong! Yes, I will be hanging out at Drogon, come say hi.
- Scratch, Strawberry & Sumac, Mixed Fermentation Ale w/ Strawberries & Sumac, 5.5%, Kraken, 9: Scratch is one of the most interesting breweries in the States, and possibly the world. A true farm brewery that uses foraged ingredients. This is the one that really caught my eye, but I’ll be trying them all.
- Strangebird, Petit Colosse, Table Beer, 5.7%, Drogon, 9: This is a homecoming of sorts for brewer Micah Krichinsky, who was at Capitol City, DC Brau, and Dogfish before opening this Rochester brewery. Very curious to check it out.
- Traunstein, 1612er, Zwickl Zwickelbier, 5.3%, Jabberwock 10: The gravity kegs won’t make it this year, but there won’t be a line for one of the best lagers you’ll ever have.
- Triple Crossing, Czech Dark Lager, Tmavý, 5.2%, Cyclops, 8: People know them more for IPAs, but their lager game is sneaky good.
Sarah Jane Curran, Beer Me! Host, comes through with a top 27, because why not?
- Rothaus, Eiszäpfle, Märzen, 5.60%, Jabberwock, 7
- Schlenkerla, Rauchbier, Urbock Rauchbier, 6.50%, Jabberwock, 8
- Union, Older Pro Mezcal, Mezcal Barrel-Aged Gose, 7.00%. Jabberwock, 10
- The Answer, MarzAn, Foeder-Conditioned Märzen, 5.00%, Nessie, 7
- 3 Fonteinen, Intense Rood PX 2019/2020, Peated Sherry Barrel-Aged Lambic w/ Cherries, 7.10%, Drogon, 1
- Off Color, Pear Reine des Renards, Mixed Fermentation Ale w/ Pear Cider, 7.80%, Gargoyle, 6
- Scratch, Beet Gose, Gose w/ Beets, 4.50%, Kraken, 8
- Bierstadt Lagerhaus, Slow Pour Pils, German Pilsner, 5.10%, Medusa, 2
- Black Narrows, How Bout It, Pale Lager w/ Corn, 4.20%, Medusa, 2
- Creature Comforts, Same Page, Italian Pilsner, 5.20%, Kraken, 1
- Great Raft, Old Mad Joy: Smoked & Oaked, Oak Barrel-Aged Smoked Baltic Porter, 10.00%, Gamera, 10
- Jester King, Atrial Rubicite: Blend 11, Barrel-Aged Wild Ale w/ Raspberries, 5.10%, Nessie, 4
- Pen Druid, Spontaneous Vidal, Oak Barrel-Aged Wild Ale w/ Vidal Blanc Wine Grapes (Spontaneous), 7.50%, Leviathan, 7
- Rockwell, Foeder Fest, Foeder-Conditioned Festbier, 5.70%, Poseidon, 7
- Schilling, Harmony Park, Smoked Bock (Oxbow Collab.), 7.00%, Poseidon, 8
- Scratch, Basil Ale, Spiced Beer w/ Lemon Basil, Sweet Basil & Holy Basil, 6.70%, Kraken, 8
- TRVE, Spirit Ritual, Mixed Fermentation Ale w/ Colorado Plums, 6.00%, Gamera, 25
- Väsen, Aegir, Hazy IPA w/ Sabro, Vic Secret & Mosaic Hops + Kviek Yeast, 6.30%, Medusa, 9
- Victory, Braumeister Pils: Tettnanger-Tettnanger, Unfiltered Pilsner w/ Tettnanger Hops, 4.70%, Cyclops, 7
- Wayfinder, Golden Tiger, Polotmavý 13° Amber Lager (Bierstadt & Heater Allen Collab.), 5.50%, Poseidon, 10
- Wolves & People, Oude Vat, Oak-Aged Mixed Fermentation Ale w/ Galaxy Hops, 6.80%, Poseidon, 10
- Wolves & People, Talusman, White Wine Barrel-Aged Hazy Pale Ale w/ Talus Hops, 5.50%, Poseidon, 10
- Urban Farm, Super Dry Cidah, Wild-Fermented Dry Cider, 6.50%, Demogorgon, 5
- Traunstein,1612er, Zwickl Zwickelbie,r 5.30%, Jabberwock, 10
- Strangebird, Petit Colosse, Table Beer, 5.70%, Drogon, 9
Stay tuned, because tomorrow we release the power rankings! Want more lists? We got you.