All the Best Brews to Sample at DC’s Biggest Beer Festival This Weekend
Snallygaster is back and better than ever.
After a year off, the Snallygaster beer festival returns to Pennsylvania Avenue this Saturday. Organized by the team behind Bluejacket Brewery, Churchkey, and The Sovereign, the massive event brings together 450 draft beers sourced from hundreds of producers across the US and the globe. It truly is a beer geek’s paradise, showcasing flagship IPAs and lagers alongside unique and rare pours like barrel-aged stouts and fruited sours.
Each admission pass includes unlimited sample pours, and the options can feel overwhelming even to the most knowledgeable beer drinker. Luckily, the vast roster of expected beers and brewers means you really can’t go wrong, and we’ve scouted a handful of pours to get your must-try list started.
Lambic is one of the oldest styles of beer, dating back to the 13th century. So it’s worth visiting 3 Fonteinen on Saturday to experience its traditional Belgian brewing. Selections include a lambic with raspberries and a variation using cherries that is aged in peated sherry barrels.
Each Alesong beer gets barrel aged before distribution, making for a complex and nuanced finished product. Save room for a pour of Double Barrel Maple Rhino Suit, a luscious stout aged for 18 months inside both bourbon and maple syrup barrels. Be warned: Its ABV is a lofty 13.9%.
Classic American IPAs seem to be harder to find these days, crowded out by their hazier cousins. For fans of the former, seek out some Mai Tai P.A., a three-time Great American Beer Festival award winner. The beer pours a golden color with tropical and hop aromas along with balanced bitterness.
While a majority of craft brewers focus on hoppy ales, this Colorado brewery taps into the tradition of classic German lagers. Bierstadt’s amber-hued Oktoberfest marzen is fall feels in a glass. For something unique, go for the Golden Tiger Polotmavý 13° zoigl, a Czech-inspired collaboration with Heater Allen Brewing out of Oregon.
Celebrate the season with an authentic lager from this historic German brewery. Given that it was founded in 1617, it’s a safe bet to nail the style. Swing by for samples of its Heller Weizenbock or the darker Dunkler Weizenbock.
Snallygaster’s menu is flush with New England-style IPAs, and Bissell Brothers makes some of the best around. Go big with Nothing Gold, a hazy double IPA brewed with Eukanot, Citra, Sultana, and Amarillo hops.
Washingtonians are likely familiar with Hellbender’s core lineup of beers, including its well-made Kolsch and IPA. But Snallygaster provides a good opportunity to try its lesser-known Social Rice-Olation, a farmhouse beer made by fermenting purple rice wort with Trappist yeast and Brettanomyces.
For something adventurous, visit this Pennsylvania brewery for three riffs on its Schmoojee fruited sour. Flavors include peach popsicle cotton candy, pumpkin roll s’mores, and strawberry fudge sundae.
Hailing from Miami’s colorful Wynwood neighborhood, J. Wakefield marries traditional styles with new ingredients and flavors. That’s what you’ll get with Sneaker Sharks, a Russian imperial stout brewed with banana, almond, and vanilla and aged in rye whiskey barrels. If the 14% ABV seems too high, the brewery will also be pouring a few other selections, including an easy-drinking German pilsner.
Take a break from beer and grab a fill up of pear cider (traditionally called “perry”) from this British producer. Fruit is sourced from its local county of Herefordshire and surroundings—certainly a long way from D.C. It’ll also have some Lubrication, the shop’s traditional apple-based cider.
Union excels in making everyday beers, but this workhouse brewery has some tricks up its sleeve, too. Visit its Snallygaster booth for a sip of its Older Pro Mezcal, an amped-up version of its easy-drinking Old Pro gose. Aged in mezcal barrels, its raised ABV sits at 7.0%.
This Loudoun County brewery is a product of local agriculture, growing its own grains (a portion are sourced from elsewhere in Virginia) and using estate spring well water in its beers. It’ll be pouring a pair of beers this weekend, including its Merveille du Terroire, a farmhouse saison made with estate-captured wild yeast, 100% regional grains, and Old World hops. The beer was open fermented before being barrel and bottle conditioned for a total of four months.