“Beer, if drunk in moderation, softens the temper, cheers the spirit and promotes health.” – Thomas Jefferson
If that’s what beer can do in moderation…imagine what it could do if you drank more of it! Kidding, of course – I’m not here to promote the “dad bod” or encourage the silent destruction of livers. But is there anything better than a good beer at the end of a long, hard day? Not many things can compete. And while summer is prime beer-drinking season, beer’s most redeeming quality is that it can be enjoyed year round. So, as we bid summer adieu, I think it’s okay to drink our summertime-is-gone-sadness away, don’t you? And if you’re going to drink, it might as well be local.
Thankfully, it’s getting easier and easier to look at the DC beer scene with a glass half-full mentality. There are more and more local breweries to choose from and consequentially, lots of locally brewed variety. I’ve rounded up some drinks worth sipping on (in no particular order):
The Peppercorn Saison from 3 Stars Brewing
3 Stars Brewing was founded by Dave Coleman and Mike McGarvey, two beer-loving friends who are passionate about putting DC on the craft beer map. Like many house brewers turned beer industry professionals, this duo is dedicated to crafting unique, complex and innovative beers. They have been named ‘DC’s Best Local Brewery’ two years in a row by the Washington City Paper and also were named as ‘Rising Stars’ in 2014 by Star Chefs Magazine.
The Peppercorn Saison is a great drink in any season, pairing easily with light or heavy food. It smells subtly of lemon and peppercorn and tastes as one beer advocate describes it like “sweet fruits balanced by light spice finished with a nice funky yeast character.” This beer’s bitterness keeps sweetness in check, making it a great medium-bodied choice for local drinking.
On The Wings of Armageddon by DC Brau
DC Brau was born with help from adult beverage oriented dreamers Brandon Skall and Jeff Hancock who describe themselves as “music fans, avid bar goers, and enthusiastic men-about-town.” They have gained public admiration as one of 2014’s “Best Local Breweries” in DC, awarded by the Washington City Paper.
This Imperial IPA was named after the Mayan and Hopi calendars’ marked event for the “transition from one world age to another”, which was supposed to happen in December of 2012. It features a Falconer’s Flight hop blend that doesn’t disappoint in terms of hoppiness. The flavor profile combines citrusy elements with malt and bitterness for an easy drinking IPA that packs a powerful punch of 9.2% ABV.
Southern Torrent Saison by Hellbender Brewing Company
Hellbender Brewing Company has one of those slogans that sums it up perfectly – “Born of love. Perfected by science.” This beer company was created at the hands of beer aficionados and long-time District residents Ben Evans and Patrick Mullane. In true funkadelic brewery form, the brewery is named after a salamander – the Eastern Hellbender. According to the company’s website, the one-of-a-kind species is endangered or threatened in many states. The company intentionally runs an environmentally safe brewing environment and is dedicated to raising awareness about the Hellbender.
This is Hellbender’s seasonal summer beer, so drink up – and do it soon! Their own website describes the beer as finishing “crisp and dry with hints of pear, citrus and apple in the aroma.” They also follow up with the typical taste profile, making bold claims that it is a custom beer made to specifically satisfy during hot DC summers. Beer connoisseurs seem to conclude that it is an easy-to-drink beer with some funky notes and subtle tartness. Not intensely flavorful, but perhaps just as they intended – perfect for cooling off on a hot summer’s day.
Rowdy by Atlas Brew Works
Atlas in located in Northeast DC and was founded by two men who met at Vanderbilt. CEO Justin Cox and Head Brewer Will Durgin finally came together after initially going their separate ways after school to ultimately open a diverse brewery that matches a nice beer selection with some games and a laid-back, chill atmosphere.
Rowdy is a rye-based beer with some spice. It packs flavor and a whole lot of “umph”, which is probably why it can frequently be found around town and not just at the brewery itself. It is filled with three varieties of hops and sneaks in some citrus among peppery flavors. Garret Peck, author of Capital Beer: A Heady History of Brewing in Washington, DC sees it as a beer that pairs perfectly with a chili dog and Good Humor ice cream. Sounds like a plan to me! Plus, it has adopted the hashtag #GetRowdy…which I think we can all get behind.