Local breweries have been working to create special releases for this year’s D.C. Beer Week. The innovative brews here show an impressive range of what Washington’s zymurgists have to offer—from low-alcohol near-beers to highly rare and heady big brews, and even some recipes recreated from the early 19th century. These are the most interesting ones you should seek out.
51 Statehood Radler
3 Stars, D.C.
Saison with Grapefruit Soda, 2.5 percent alcohol by volume
This blend of 3 Stars’ Session Saison beer and house-made grapefruit soda is a nod to the Radler (German for “biker”), a refreshing half-Pilsener, half-lemonade summer drink that originates in Bavaria. Plenty of limes, lemons, and 200 pounds of grapefruit were used to create a not overly sweet soda for the barely alcoholic (read: safe for drinking and cycling) brew.
You Made Me Realise
Oliver Ales, Baltimore
British Table Beer, 2.8 percent a.b.v.
One of seven re-created 19th century brews to be featured at an Aug. 25 1814-themed dinner at Right Proper. Head brewer Steve Jones brewed the 1804 recipe from London’s Barclay Perkins & Co. with a blend of traditional British malts. The name illustrates his hope that drinkers appreciate the beauty of this mild-flavored, low-alcohol brew.
Bunbaberg Ginger Beer
Bardo Brewpub, D.C.
Summer Ale, 4.5 percent a.b.v.
Bladensburg Road NE’s new Bardo Brewpub, from the owners of the defunct Bardo Rodeo in Arlington, is reviving recipes from the mid-’90s for its first house-brewed releases. Bunbaberg, which won a Gold Medal at the 1996 Great American Beer Festival, is an Australian-style summer ale packed with fresh ginger for a unique aroma and bite.
All These Dreams
Chocolate City Beer, D.C.
Belgian Blonde, 4.5 percent a.b.v.
Former Meridian Pint cellerman Tim Prendergast assisted with developing Park View bar DC Reynolds’ new house beer. A yeast strain from Brasserie D’Chouffe provides a delicate Belgian character, while European Noble hops impart floral and herbal flavors. The clean, refreshing brew is designed to be “poundable yet flavorful.” You be the judge.
DC Beer Week Solidarity Ale
Various local breweries
Session IPA, 4.5 percent a.b.v.
DC Brau’s version of this year’s Solidarity Ale, a low-alcohol India pale ale, has a mix of pale malt, wheat, and oats. More than eight different hops, donated by participating local breweries, were used to dry-hop this aggressively bitter beer. Up to 10 different versions from other breweries around the area will be showcased at Gordon Biersch’s Gallery Place location on Aug. 21.
Right Proper, D.C.
Wermutbier, 4.5 percent a.b.v.
The Shaw brewpub’s second collaboration with Baltimore’s The Brewer’s Art is made with fresh cropped mugwort, yarrow, and anise hyssop to mimic the flavors of a dry vermouth. Nelson Sauvin hops add a vinous, white grape character, while the house yeast and bacteria culture imparts earthy, slightly funky notes. Krautrock fans should recognize the name as a song on Neu!’s debut album.
Washington Brewery Historical Series: Strong Ale
English Strong Ale, 6.7 percent a.b.v.
Also available at the 1814 dinner at Right Proper, Strong Ale is part of the Navy Yard brewery’s project with local historical beer enthusiast Michael Stein, inspired by the first brewery established in D.C. It’s made with molasses, amber malt, and Cluster hops, the oldest American-grown varietal. Wild yeast instills funky flavors, which conveniently are both historically accurate and currently en vogue.
Native Son Virginia Ale
Lost Rhino Brewing Company, Ashburn, Va.
Amber Ale, 6.7 percent a.b.v.
This “all-Virginia” brew, part of Lost Rhino’s Genius Loci series, is made with 100 percent locally sourced ingredients: Wheat and barley from Bays Best Feed malted by Copper Fox Distillery, hops from Sage Hill Farms, harvested yeast from a field in Ashburn, and water from the brewery. The brew is sweet with a touch of smoke, and should be smooth after six months of conditioning.
District ChopHouse & Brewery, D.C.
Imperial IPA, 8.3 percent a.b.v.
Named for a rare misprinted airmail stamp sold from the building the brewery now occupies, this Imperial India Pale Ale is brewed with six top-secret hops. The result is a juicy, full-bodied brew that packs an alcoholic punch. The only remaining pints, in a cask dry-hopped with Nelson Sauvin, Mosaic, and Citra, will be poured at District ChopHouse’s Cask Night on Aug. 15.
Beyond the Pale, Everything Is Black
Adroit Theory, Purcellville, Va.
Double Stout, 12 percent a.b.v.
This dark, devilish brew is part of a series of beers named after Marilyn Manson songs and packaged in a faux human skin–covered case inspired by the movie Evil Dead. The “Book of the Bad,” produced in a limited run of 100 copies, also contains a Smoked Porter and Double IPA, and can be ordered online and delivered to your home. Perhaps the only truly evil thing about it: a price tag of $169.