Washington, DC went decades without a brewery within its borders. That changed in 2009, when DC Brau opened for production in the Northeast part of town. Many more breweries have opened since then – including Atlas Brew Works, 3 Stars Brewing, Right Proper Brewing Company and others.
Thanks to that growth, it’s easier than ever to grab a tasty pint of fresh, local beer at your favorite neighborhood bar. The best part is that the local beer boom is still going strong, with new options on the horizon.
Handsome Brewing Company is the latest brewery to enter the area market. Co-founders Matt Humbard and Graham MacDonald official launched in late September out of their Northern Virginia space. Handsome currently features three flagship beers: Galaxy Saison, Medium and Message and Strange Charm.
The beers strike a nice balance between heavy and light beers and would be good drinking by themselves or paired with a meal. They each share a cloudy and nicely carbonated medium-dry body.
In addition, each beer is ingredient-driven, MacDonald says. This means that ideas come from a desire to highlight a specific flavor or hop profile, not just simply out of a craving or responsibility to create a certain style. For example, instead of brewing an IPA out of habit, Handsome was inspired to brew a beer that accentuates the great characteristics of Galaxy Hops.
The concept – and name – might sound fancy, but the guys behind Handsome Beer aren’t lifelong brewing professionals. MacDonald previously worked as the beer director at the popular 2 Amy’s pizzeria in DC and helped manage the opening of Right Proper. Humbard, also a local resident, has been home brewing for a decade and has a Ph.D. in Microbiology.
MacDonald says the goal of the brand is to create a tasty product that appeals to all levels of beer drinkers.
“While we’re definitely beer geeks, we’re not making beers that you need a Ph.D. to appreciate,” he says. “It’s really important to us that all of our beers be not only interesting and purposeful, but also approachable, and I think we’ve achieved that.”
The Galaxy Saison is arguably the standout of three currently available brews. It’s billed as a tropical Belgian-style saison and uses galaxy hops from Australia. That brings warm-weather flavors like citrus, white peach and passionfruit. At 5.9% alcohol by volume, it’s super drinkable on hot days, or as crisp, fruity and not-too-filling meal companion.
Medium and message is described as a reinvented brown ale. Those familiar with the style will find the traditional roasted malt and chocolate flavors to be muted in favor of more carbonation and a slightly lighter body with a Belgian tinge.
There are four other beers in the works – including an IPA brewed with brettanomyces; a hoppy saison; a creative pale ale; and a tart saison. They’ll be rolled out as they’re ready, hopefully starting around the end of the year.
Anyone who wants to try some Handsome beer will have to find it at their local bar or restaurant, MacDonald says. A few good bets in DC include Glen’s Garden Market, Meridian Pint, Pizzeria Paradiso and the Black Squirrel. The hope is to start bottling beer in early 2016.
Handsome Beer doesn’t offer brewery tours, but you can check out information and happenings online or on social media.