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Anytime DC Brau‘s canning line gets stopped and starts up again, the machine will short-fill a bunch of cans. In the past, the brewery would just dump this beer down the drain.
“It was just killing me,” says co-owner Brandon Skall. “I was like, ‘There’s got to be something we can do that’s more creative.'”
His idea? Distill the beer. So, Skall reached out to Green Hat Gin producer New Columbia Distillers. The distiller’s co-founder John Uselton had heard of distilled beer being produced in Germany, and he’d tried some that was pretty good. He was in.
Skall and his team brought hundreds of cases of beer—mostly The Corruption IPA plus The Public pale ale and El Hefe Speaks hefeweizen over to the distillery. The group spent hours popping open cans before they eventually started slashing them open with knives.
The result is Eau de Brau. “Think of it as a beer that’s been concentrated,” Uselton says. “You’re going to get a lot of that malty component from that malt base, but then that floral component from the hops really comes through also.”
The limited-release spirit will be unveiled at its Ivy City distillery Saturday, Aug. 8, from 1 to 4 p.m. Also expect to find it at ChurchKey‘s D.C. total tap takeover on Aug. 13 during D.C. Beer Week.
In a more typical collaboration, Uselton points out, the two groups would come together to brainstorm before producing something together. But Eau de Brau is different: “They have a finished product that they made and then we take it and we make another finished product out of it,” Uselton says.
Uselton is also still playing with the spirit: He plans to put some of it in rum barrels from Maryland’s Lyon Distilling Co. to see how it ages.
Meanwhile, New Columbia has also distilled a small batch of black IPA from Bardo Brewpub. The beer had gotten a little bit over-watered, and the alcohol content was lower than brewers wanted. “We’re trying to take something not so good and try and fix it,” Uselton says. Stay tuned for when and where the very limited supply will be available. Also watch out for more collaborations: Uselton says they’d like to work with other breweries as well.
At the same time, DC Brau plans to continue distilling its beer with other partners. The brewery is currently collaborating with One Eight Distilling to create a spirit out of its Stone of Arbroath Scotch ale. The beer will be aged in barrels that the distiller emptied.
UPDATE: DC Brau and New Columbia are also hosting an Eau de Brau beer dinner at 1905 Bistro & Bar on Aug. 27. Tickets are available here.
Photo via DC Brau