D.C.’s beer culture is growing stronger all the time, and over the last month we have seen significant proof of it in our neighborhood grocery store.
Sure, D.C. has seen a steady increase in the number of beer-centric bars and restaurants opening, as well as wine and cocktail-focused places adding more craft and imported beer to their lists. But the beering up of the shelves in our neighborhood corner and liquor stores, and especially our grocery store, is a tell-tale sign of how well our fair city is trending in the craft beer arena.
For years, The Lagerheads have scanned the beer aisle of the Adams Morgan Safeway with the hope that a six-pack of something we would actually buy would show up. We have always seen the mainstream stuff from the big guys, Sierra Nevada and Samuel Adams, which we are happy to drink but do not seek out. Over the last few years we have noticed the same types of accessible beers and mix-packs from Flying Dog and Magic Hat. But in the past month we have seen a notable change.
First a couple six-packs of Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA appeared, and then last week Leffe Blonde (which is in the AB-InBev owned family of brands, but hey, it’s a good beer) became available. Corporate grocery chains like Safeway seem to no longer regard it a risk to stock more “niche-market” craft and imported beers. And the numbers show they shouldn’t. We heard recently that the market share of craft beer, which means beer made by breweries that distribute less than 2 million barrels a year, in the District is around 9%, compared with a national average of 6%, and both volumes have been steadily increasing each year.
So now instead of the disappointment (bordering on snobbery, we’ll admit) that we usually feel as we come to the mass-marketed cases of Miller-Coors and Anheuser-Busch/InBev products in the beer aisle we now scan the shelves eagerly, wondering what new craft gem will be available next. Newbies often ask us where to go to buy “good” beer, and we tell them to try their neighborhood corner store because you can find great beer almost anywhere in the city. It seems that fact is even truer now.
Have you noticed any similar changes in your regular old neighborhood shops and markets? What evidence have you seen that craft beer is thriving in D.C.?