Yeah, yeah, DC is a beer town. That reputation came on fast – though Capital City and Gordon Biersch have been brewing in DC for years, it wasn't until 2009, which heralded the opening of DC Brau, that small-scale craft beer took hold- but the city has settled into it easily. There's a regular Saturday pilgrimage between growler hours at Three Stars in Takoma, DC Brau on Bladensburg Road, Chocolate City Beer in Eckington and now Atlas Brew Works in Ivy City.
Atlas snuck up on the D.C. beer scene: Owner Justin Cox, an award-wining homebrewer, deliberately avoided any kind of press or publicity until he signed a lease. Brewers Will Durgin and Dan Bedford bring varied experience to the upstart venture, including formal study in brewing and time at Maryland's Flying Dog.
So it's no surprise that Atlas' brews successfully combine the upscale plebeian nature of DC Brau's best and most widely distributed beers and the funky, sour experiments of Three Stars. The District Common is a smooth, drinkable California common ale that nicely balances malt and hop, while the Rowdy rye ale is aggressive and peppery. And Atlas' limited releases are both solid bets. Fans of black IPAs will find nothing to quibble with in the heady, rich NSFW, and the La Saison des Fêtes nails the classic taste of a light, spicy Belgian farmhouse ale.
Atlas' cavernous brewing space at 2052 West Virginia Avenue NE is open for tastings and tours from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays. Atlas beers have made their way to menus across the city, including those of Meridian Pint and Boundary Stone.