When MayorMuriel Bowser’s stay-at-home order took effect, ending on-premise alcohol sales, D.C.’s beer and cider makers were forced to close their taprooms and try to recoup lost revenue that would have come from bars, restaurants, concert venues, and stadiums serving their products.
The creative ways in which these producers have continued to operate support D.C.’s hyperlocal economy and small businesses from Maryland to Maine.
Here’s a sampling of their latest offerings you can sip at home:
3 Stars Brewing Company6400 Chillum Place NW; (202) 847-3755; 3starsbrewing.com
An offshoot of the CSA model is CSB—Community Supported Beer—which 3 Stars is now offering. Tipplers can choose between three tiers: the Weekender for $32, the Enthusiast at $70, and the Get It Poppin’ for $90.
The Weekender gets you a gallon and a quart of beer, the Enthusiast buys you more than two gallons and a quart, and the Get it Poppin’ buys you just under two and a half gallons and includes a bottle of the sought-after Illuminati or Funkerdome beers.
To meet the demand for fresh new beers, 3 Stars staff members are exercising their creativity. “We’re pulling some beer off and doing different conditions and also brewing small batch stuff for it, too,” says brewerMeth Gunasinghe.
If the CSB is too much of a commitment, you can still buy smaller quantities of the brewery’s flagship and experimental beers. Peppercorn Saison is $12 for a six-pack and Citra Lemon Saison is $14 for a four-pack of 16-ounce cans. Vintage bottles like Funkerdome 2018 #4, an American wild ale from chardonnay barrels costs $25. 3 Stars offers pick-up and delivery.
Bluejacket300 Tingey St. SE; (202) 524-4862; bluejacketdc.com
Bluejacket has been canning more beer than ever before during the pandemic. Neighborhood Restaurant Group has been selling Bluejacket beer through its new venture, Neighborhood Provisions, an online marketplace featuring everything from meals to cocktails to pantry items.
While a complete shift in business models is never easy, Bluejacket has done it with grace. Breweries all over the country have had to dump draft beer due to a lack of packaging materials, but Bluejacket was able to successfully can the beer that was earmarked for drinking on site before and after Nationals games. Look forward to barrel-aged beers that are currently being prepped for sale from the brewery. Bluejacket beers range from $12 to $18 per four-pack. They’re available via Neighborhood Provisions or for pick up at the brewery.
ANXO Cidery711 Kennedy St. NW; (202) 722-2696; anxodc.com
A combination of CSA memberships has turned this cidery and restaurant into an agriculture and beverage broker. They offer a biweekly War Shore Seafood Box for $50 and a Smithfield meat box, which now has a waiting list. If customers don’t want to commit to a box they can buy a la carte provisions such as baguettes from Bakery de France in Rockville for $4.49, Spanish olives for $5.99, and a pound of Maine mussels for $6.99. ANXO selling raw seafood directly to customers would have been unthinkable three months ago, when the only way to eat their Maine mussels was at their restaurant in Truxton Circle.
You can also order cider from Spain and perry (pear cider) from France directly from ANXO’s cellar to your door. A fancy French bottle of Eric Bordelet Poire Authentique runs $15.99 and a bottle from Spanish cider maker Trabanco’s Cosecha Propia costs $10.99; both can be delivered directly to your curb. A four-pack of 12-ounce cans of ANXO’s flagship Cidre Blanc costs $11.99.
ANXO’s beer selection includes an impressive range of regional American craft (Aslin and Union Craft Brewing), American sours (Referend, Oxbow, and Wooden Robot) and Belgian Lambic beers (Oud Beersel and Drie Fonteinen).
Beer, wine, spirits, and cider are all available for pickup or delivery within the District, but delivery requires a $35 minimum. Beer and spirits orders must be accompanied by a food purchase.
Hellbender Brewing Company5788 2nd St. NE; (202) 827-8768; hellbenderbeer.com
Hellbender debuted an innovative ale that’s been popular during the pandemic. Serves You Rice, a purple rice saison, is a collaboration beer brewed with Chincoteague, Virginia’s Black Narrows Brewing Company and USA Rice. Last year, USA Rice included the Hellbender tasting room in their Think Rice Truck Tour and the brewery hosted a rice-themed trivia night.
Josh Chapman, a former Bluejacket brewer who was once a chef at Evening Star Cafe in Alexandria, owns and operates Black Narrows. His brewery champions local ingredients and uses a proprietary strain of yeast collected from Chincoteague oysters. The oyster yeast was cultured and grown by Jasper Yeast lab in northern Virginia. The purple rice saison uses Blanca Isabel, a variety of purple rice grown exclusively in Rayne, Louisiana.
USA Rice is a global advocate for the U.S. rice industry, and while rice has famously been in Budweiser since the 1800s, this kind of beer, purple rice saison, is as new as it is popular. It’s not, however, gluten free. A 32-ounce crowler of Serves You Rice is available for takeout for $11 at the brewery.
“We sold out of six packs in the first four days, but we have plenty of kegs to fill crowlers for at least a few weeks” says head brewer and co-owner Ben Evans.
So far this month, Hellbender has had Swizzler and Timber Pizza Co. pop up for to-go sales outside of the brewery and they recently teamed up with Sapidus Farms for ongoing sales of “Happy Oysters” using Hellbender as a pick-up point. Place orders on the Sapidus website by Tuesday night for Thursday pick-up.
When Soul Mega started selling their World Wide Pale Ale in 2019, they became the third black-owned brewery in the history of D.C. Run by Howard University graduates Elliott Johnson and Jahi Wartts, Soul Mega does not own a taproom or production facility. All the would-be pints at The Pub & The Peopleor Present Company aren’t being poured. Soul Mega launched at the Trill Grill, a music and food truck festival headlined by Rick Ross held at the St. Elizabeths campus’ Gateway Pavilion.
The future of festivals with flowing beer is unknown, but you can support Soul Mega and other local businesses at the same time. Order a sandwich, fries, and Soul Mega’s pale ale from Mr. Braxton Bar & Kitchen in Park View for $17.95. HalfSmoke in Shaw also sells cans of World Wide Pale Ale for $1 with any wing purchase. Johnson says he’s been beta testing delivery and estimates that in a week or two they could be in a position to launch. Check their website for updates.