The Bruery, one of California’s most sought-after breweries, is opening a retail store in D.C. and they’re bringing beers that have never been sold in the District with them. The rare and hard-to-find beers will include cans from their Off Shoot Beer Co., previously only available in the Golden State.
The store, which could open sometime in November, is located at 513 Morse St. NE, across the street from Union Market and next door to A. Litteri. No on-premise consumption is allowed; sales of beers in bottles, cans, and potentially eight taps for growler fills, will be to-go only. Visitors can also buy merchandise and gifts.
“We can’t serve beer so it’s not a tasting room,” says founder and CEO Patrick Rue. “It’s off-premise sales, so if we can have a nice beer bar next door it makes a lot of sense.” He says he’s currently evaluating five different restaurant groups that focus on craft beer to select the ideal partner.
The Bruery, as well as its spin-off brand, Offshoot Beer Co., operates in Placentia, Calif. Its third brand, Bruery Terreux, offers sour and wild beers a few miles away from the main brewery, in Anaheim.
So why D.C.? Rue says the D.C. region is one of the biggest markets outside California. And he’s a fan of the city’s legal landscape. “The legal framework for alcohol licensing works for us and there’s a lot of states where this concept doesn’t work legally so we’re thankful for that,” he says. D.C.’s central location on the East Coast also made it appealing.
Drinkers who belong to the Bruery’s Hoarders, Reserve, or Preservation beer societies will be able to pick up their beers at the shop. Before this, society members were only able to pick up their bottles or have some bottles mailed within California.
While these societies may be cost prohibitive to the average drinker (the Reserve Society membership requires a $295 commitment), the Brueury will also offer more affordable beers at the store. “We’re reevaluating our bottle size but how it is right now, our lowest price is $8 for a 750 ml bottle or an Off Shoot 4-pack for $15,” Rue says. The price can creep up to $40 for a single 750 ml bottle of what Rue describes as a beer aged in French oak barrels.
The Bruery is recognized for its creative take on Belgian-style beer, wild and funky ales, and massive stouts, some approaching the strength of a digestif. Their beer is often compared to wine because so many of their offerings are considered “cellar-worthy” by beer geeks and often improve with age. Take for example, this year’s Black Tuesday imperial stout, which sits at about 20 percent alcohol by volume.
The model the Bruery is creating is unique. While other West Coast breweries have opened satellite brewing facilities elsewhere, like San Diego’s Green Flash, which operates an outpost in Virginia Beach, few have opened retail taprooms in other states.
When asked if he plans to work with local breweries, Rue responded affirmatively. He’s already done a collaboration with Hardywood in Richmond and says he’d love to work with more craft brewers in D.C. and Virginia.
The Bruery, 513 Morse St. NE; thebruery.com