It shouldn’t come as a surprise to you, dear reader, that the District is undergoing a bit of a craft beer renaissance. In 2011 there were no breweries operating in the city… since then, four production breweries and several brewpubs have opened in the District, and even more have sprung up in Virginia and Maryland. Even better, a new law allows breweries to sling suds by the pint on the premises, which opens up new worlds of imbibing. With so many breweries, beer bars, and brewpubs, where does a thirsty traveler go to enjoy a local pint? Here are five of our faves.
3178-B Bladensburg Rd., NE
DC Brau was the first craft brewery to open in DC since the Christian Heurich Brewing Company shut down in 1956, and it’s by far largest. The sprawling facility is open Saturday afternoon (1 p.m. – 5 p.m.) for tours, tastings, growler fills, and now pints. The flagship brau is The Citizen, a bright, hoppy pale ale. It’s a favorite around the District and we love it. And look for limited releases like the famous On the Wings of Armageddon IPA, the Penn Quarter Porter, and their first-ever Oktoberfest, coming in September.
Atlas Brew Works
2052 West Virginia Ave., NE
DC’s newest production brewery, Atlas Brew Works has some of the best and most creative brews you can find. Their mainstays, the Rowdy Rye ale and the District Common lager, are bright, crisp, and refreshing, but we’re partial to their more unique offerings, like the NSFW black IPA and the La Saison des Fetes. The Ivy City brewery is open Friday – Sunday for tours, tastings, and pints. Keep an eye on the Atlas website, too, as they’re known to host special events.
1200-1216 Bladensburg Rd., NE
Bardo originally opened 20 years ago in Arlington’s Clarendon neighborhood. The beloved brewpub closed its doors before the current craft beer craze was a glimmer in anyone’s eye, but it’s reopened in a big way near the trendy H Street corridor. The 15,000 square foot beer garden has plenty of room for cornhole, dogs, outdoor movies, and of course some of the best beers around. Right now, Bardo is celebrating its return to the scene by selling beer at 1994 prices. Until “at least September,” we’re told, pints are $3.45, pitchers or $9.91, and growler fills are $14.11.
Denizens Brewing Co.
1115 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD
Denizens Brewing Co. opened up their upstairs taproom and beer garden just a few minutes from the Metro in Silver Spring this summer. Right now they’re offering two brews (the Southside Rye IPA and Lowest Lord Extra Special Bitter) and a small menu of food from the pitmasters at BBQ Bus (think one the best pulled pork sandwiches around). When their ground floor opens up in mid-September, they’ll have a full lineup of five regular beers and five rotating seasonal offerings, as well as an expanded food menu. Outside, the beer garden boasts cornhole (we’re sensing a theme here) and lots of seating.
Right Proper Brewing Company
624 T St., NW
This Shaw brewpub is less than a year old and it’s already a neighborhood institution. Where most breweries tend to focus on hops and malt, Right Proper brewer Nathan Zeender loves playing around with different techniques, fermentation methods, and especially yeasts—yielding a unique lineup of fresh, funky, fruity suds. You’d be wise not to overlook the food here, either. We love the southern fried chick-filet, the lamb French dip, and yes, the fried chicken livers. Don’t knock ‘em ‘til you’ve tried ‘em.