The Most Essential Craft Breweries Around Washington DC
Incredibles pours are brewed in your backyard.
Unlike in decades past, breweries are no longer a novelty in DC. Modern trailblazers like DC Brau and Port City continue to crank out batches of the brews that put the city on the craft beer map, while the addition of relative newcomers like City-State mean there’s more variety than ever. There’s something for every mood, whether you are craving a juicy IPA, a delicate saison, or a warming porter.
Now that Washington’s bars and restaurants are fully open, breweries are back to welcoming visitors for pints and flights fresh from the tap, but curbside pickup and delivery remain great options to keep your fridge stocked. Here are the best area breweries that are open for business, and some of the best beers to drink from each.
City-State Brewing Co.
This brewery’s location just off the Metropolitan Branch Trail makes it an ideal pitstop for walkers and bikers in the Edgewood neighborhood. Metro’s red line is also a manageable walk away. A rotating lineup of local food trucks provides on-site food, and the space hosts regular events like comedy nights and family-friendly story hours.
Beers to try: The 8 Wards independent pale ale is named—surprise—after DC’s eight wards, and lands with the style’s classic flavor profile of American hops, citrus, and pine. Those who are looking for something low key will appreciate the Trainspotter Green Bullet pub ale and its 4.5% ABV.
Other Half Brewing Co.
New to Ivy City, Other Half Brewing opened in 2020 to much fanfare among local beer fans. The Brooklyn-based brewery outpost is home to more than a dozen drafts at the taproom and a huge selection of cans and bottles are also available to take home. Off-site food is permitted, as snacks here are light and limited.
Beers to try: Any of the IPAs will set you off on the right path, whether it’s the smooth, New England-style Cream Get The Honey or a pour of Flat Dayz, an imperial variation weighing in at 8.2% ABV.
DC Brau Brewing Co
The District’s modern beer boom can be traced to DC Brau, which opened in 2009 as the city’s first packaging brewery since 1956. The brewery gained a following for its hoppy ales and has since expanded operations to cover store shelves and bars of all types, from upscale dining rooms to neighborhood dives. The production warehouse and tap room sits off an industrial stretch of Bladensburg Road in Northeast DC. The tasting room and outdoor beer garden are open to visitors.
Beers to try: Get familiar with Joint Resolution, DC Brau’s hazy and crushable New England IPA. The year-round offering pairs well with just about anything. The brewery also offers several fruity flavors of Full Transparency, its line of hard seltzer.
Atlas Brew Works
Beers here are produced in 20-barrel batches in a 100% solar-powered Ivy City facility. That means you can expect fresh product and a good deal of variety, from the citra and mosaic Dance of Days pale ale to the crushable District Common lager. Visitors can enjoy Atlas brews at either the original Ivy City brewery or the second location, located just steps from Nationals Park that has Andy’s Pizza on the menu, too.
Beers to try: After a run through the flagship offerings, turn your attention to one of the seasonal offerings on tap, such as their interpretation of a classic German “Festbier,” offered during fall months. On warmer days, the Bullpen Pilsner is exceptionally crushable.
3 Stars Brewing Company
Bold ingredients and funky flavor profiles like peppercorns and pecans are the calling card at 3 Stars Brewing. The beers here are simultaneously full-bodied and nuanced, making them great for sipping solo or pairing with food. The Takoma headquarters has a variety of seating options, along with curbside pickup and delivery to all DC addresses (including same-day when ordered before noon).
Beers to try: Pass the time with a pint of Ghost IPA, a white ale with Amarillo, Citra Columbus, and Simcoe hops. It’s bright and light while still giving a hoppy kick. For something adventurous, be sure to browse the draft list for any limited or barrel-aged options.
Denizens Brewing Co.
There are many reasons to make a trip to this woman-owned brewery located just across the DC line. The core lineup sticks to tried-and-true styles, including a hazy IPA and a Czech-style pilsner. Both its Silver Spring and Riverdale Park (near Hyattsville) beer gardens have plenty of room to hang out over a pint or flight of beer while enjoying pub grub like pretzel bread with dipping cheese or a plate of fish and chips.
Beers to try: As the name suggests, Denizen’s Third Party Belgian-style tripel is a strong, slightly sweet take on a classic that’s sure to please any beer lover. Denizens also makes MoCo hard seltzer, which comes in vacation-y flavors like pina colada, key lime, and strawberry cucumber.
Port City Brewing Company
Port City features a year-round lineup with something for all tastes, ranging from a copper-hued IPA to a Belgian-style witbier. The tasting room is open for both indoor and outdoor seating. Beer can also be ordered in cans, growlers, or six-pack bottles via curbside pickup and local delivery within a 5-mile radius. Port City has been releasing limited-release lagers, and the fall months offer a window to enjoy an amber-hued Oktoberfest.
Beers to try: The robust porter is the best in DC, no matter what time of year. It’s well-balanced with roasty and bittersweet notes of chocolate and coffee. Careful though—its 7.2% ABV sneaks up on you after a couple of rounds. The Beach Drive golden ale is a lighter pick that pairs well with relaxing afternoons.
Bluejacket was born with the goal of pushing the boundaries of craft beer across styles and flavors, from strong ales and IPAs to dark stouts. Beer director Greg Engert is a household name in the DC bar community, having worked at Churchkey, The Sovereign, and other serious beer bars. Its on-site restaurant, The Arsenal, offers upscale American bar fare from sandwiches to steaks and seafood. You can also order beer for delivery through its parent company service, Neighborhood Provisions.
Beers to try: Lost Weekend sits on top of the draft list for a reason. The mainstay IPA exclusively uses citra hops for a bright and juicy flavor profile. When it’s around, Mexican Radio is popular for its use of spices, milk, and sugar to create a sweet and silky roasted stout profile.
Right Proper Brewing Company
What started in 2013 as a craft brew pub in Shaw has since expanded to include a dedicated production facility in Brookland and distribution throughout DC bars. A visit to Right Proper is hardly ever the same, whether you make a reservation for indoor dining or walk up to a patio table. Its selection of wild yeast ales rotate frequently and are brewed in small batches, so you never know what may be next on tap. The Shaw location offers a full restaurant with sandwiches, entrees, and comfort food (delivery, too), and the Brookland production house is pouring brews during the week.
Beers to try: The dry-hopped Raised by Wolves pale ale is the most recognizable around the city and a good place to start. For something stronger, be on the lookout for some Baron Corvo, a farmhouse “biere de garde” full of funk, fruit, and spice.
Hellbender Brewing Company
It’s hard not to love a brewery named after a big, gnarly salamander. Hellbender also scores points for its sustainable mash press filter brewing system—which reduces water, grain, and energy use. A handful of rotating selections are usually on tap with its core trio. Swing by for a visit Wednesday through Sunday, and check the brewery’s social media pages for schedule updates on entertainment like live music and food trucks.
Beers to try: Even the biggest hop hunters will appreciate the clean, refreshing Bare Bones Kolsch. It’s among the best of its kind in the city and is crisp and drinkable while still being complex and well-balanced in its hop and malt profiles.
Red Bear is an anchor of Northeast DC’s NoMa neighborhood. The beer here has a bit of a West Coast flare, thanks to the Seattle roots of its co-founders.The space is open and inviting, with shelves of free board games, indoor and outdoor seating, and weekday happy hour from noon to 6 pm Monday through Thursday. Expect a lot of variety on the draft list as the brewers experiment across styles and flavor profiles.
Beers to try: The seasonal Gourd Riddance pumpkin brown ale is sweater weather in a glass, packed with warming spices and roasted notes. After that, fire up the grunge albums and sip some Skookum, Red Bear’s Pacific Northwest-style red ale. It combines a malty backbone with grapefruit and piney hops in a way that’s bitter, dank, and balanced.