The Most Essential Craft Breweries Around Washington DC
You’ve got your work cut out for you.
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 relative newcomers like Red Bear mean more variety than ever. There’s something for every mood, whether you are craving a juicy IPA, a delicate saison, or a warming porter. As COVID-19 restrictions loosen, breweries have begun welcoming back visitors for physically distant pints, fresh from the tap. Curbside pickup and delivery options remain safe bets, too. Here are the best area breweries that are open for business, and some of the best beers to drink from each.
DC Brau Brewing Co
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 Oktoberfest is an easy-going lager for autumn afternoons.
Atlas Brew Works
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. When available, the Rowdy Rye ale is a hoppy, peppery sipper.
3 Stars Brewing Company
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 hop kick. For something darker and sweeter, try a pour of the Southern Belle -- the silky and boozy imperial brown ale with pecans.
Denizens Brewing Co.
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. In the cooler months, seek out Big Red Norm, a seasonal ale with generous amounts of American hops.
Port City Brewing Company
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.
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
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, reach for some Baron Corvo, a farmhouse “biere de garde” full of funk, fruit, and spice.
Hellbender Brewing Company
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.
Beers to try: The new 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.
Silver Branch Brewing Co
Beers to try: Quantum Shift IPA is made with a revolving recipe of hops, meaning each batch takes on a different character. It’s East Coast-style balance of malt backbone and hop bitterness is a welcome reprieve from the world of juice-bomb, hazy IPAs.