When I first saw that Live Oak Brewing Company’s lager was being sold at the Brew Shop, I nearly spit out my coffee. For years I’ve been messaging Live Oak to try to get them to sell beer in the DC metro region and finally, on July 18, I saw my dream come true.

Admittedly, that dream was pretty achievable. Get Live Oak beer from Texas sold in DC. Fairly regularly, Texas beer is sold in DC, notably from massive producers available in your grocery store like Shiner. Ten years ago, DC had to have special events like 2013’s Craft Brewer Conference and its ancillary tap takeovers to see Jester King in the District. Today, special interest is often given to the beers from the Jester King brewery (and rightfully so) as they’re being sold in DC and Northern Virginia. Jester King’s Le Petit Prince is sold on draft at Rustico and in cans (cans!) at the Brew Shop in Arlington. While Jester King beers are difficult to find in DC proper outside of the Neighborhood Restaurant Group, it’s been available at better beer shops in northern Virginia like Brew Shop, and Arrowine, for some time now.

Jester King Le Petite Prince at Rustico and Mike Stein

Similarly, now Live Oak beers, like its Hefeweizen–which is the vast majority of Live Oak’s production–are on sale at Planet Wine in Alexandria and the Brew Shop in Arlington. And today, for what I believe is the first time ever, Live Oak and Jester King beers will be offered on draft at Shelter.

The draft for “Taste of Texas” is as follows:

Live Oak Pre-War Pils (Pilsner w/ Corn Grits)


Live Oak Big Bark (Vienna Lager)

Live Oak HefeWeizen (Hefeweizen)
Live Oak Pilz (Czech Pilsner)

Jester King Pilsner (German Pilsner)
Jester King Provenance: Lemon & Lime (Mixed Fermentation Ale w/ Lemon & Lime)
Jester King RU55 (Flanders Red Ale)
Jester King Queen’s Order (Mixed Fermentation Ale w/ Honey & Lemon)

What was unique about my dream of purchasing Live Oak’s Pre War Pils is that this beer was originally born in an early 20th century notebook. The recipe’s ur-source comes from a Master Brewer’s notebook as “Draught beer 1912.” Today we’ll be able to try the beer on draft or “draught,” as it was written 111 years ago. Here’s how Live Oak’s Pre-War Pils came to be.

In 2017, my beverage research firm, Lost Lagers–which provided and consulted on the recipes for DC Brau’s Heurich’s Lager and Right Proper and the Heurich House Museum’s Senate beer amongst dozens of others–invited brewers to a showcase of lost lagers and extinct ales. It was there that we served Praize the Maize, a beer brewed with Reston’s Lake Anne Brew House. The two-barrel batch of Praize the Maize had historic Cluster hops from California and New York, which tasted quite different during a sensory trial we did before brewing the beer.

Live Oak founder Chip McElroy and head brewer Dusan Kwiatkowski were in DC for the event. They tried Praize the Maize and enjoyed it. Having the inclination to begin brewing some early American lager, we passed along the 1912 recipe to the Live Oak team.

As Kwiatkowski told Craft Beer & Brewing:

It was CBC [Craft Brewer Conference] in DC… the Lost Lagers… we got kind of a recipe, very simplified recipe ratio talking about using 40% corn grits in an American pilsner and we’re like ‘whoa that a lot of corn grits… well that’s basically a recipe let’s see what it tastes like.’ So we made a batch and we’re using a little less than that like 35-36% and we’re calling it Pre-War Pils because in Texas that was a term that you were until recently not allowed to put on a label because it referred to pre war strength [which] was higher alcohol beer and there’s words that the alcohol authorities crossed out… but Chip [McElroy] really wanted to take advantage of that term, using that term… beer-wise you think pre-prohibition but life-wise the war was a bigger deal to a a lot of people and so it was pre-war strength and so that’s why we decided to go with pre-war it’s a little more encapsulating not just [the] beer industry.

For more on that beer and the early-lager landscape, you can read on here. And so my dream to see a 1912 beer brewed at multiple breweries, in Virginia, and Texas, came to be. I can now pull a “Pre War Pils” from my fridge, which is an amazing thing. I feel incredibly guilty drinking it from a can, because it’s been filtered so clear and is so beautiful; it feels wasteful drinking from the can and not from a glass!

Cans of Live Oak at Arlington Brew Shop
Cans of Live Oak at Arlington Brew Shop

For the event, “Taste of Texas,” you can expect wonderfully clean, malty, bitter, and aromatic lagers and a hefeweizen from Live Oak. From Jester King, you can expect the beautifully funky, tart, and unique fruited and honeyed mixed fermentation beers the brewery has built a world-renowned following with.

For those of us who have been dreaming of Live Oak on draft in DC our dreams have come to the District. Our only feedback for the 26 year old Live Oak? Next time send Grodziskie!