2009 was an exciting beer for year in D.C., and not just because of the opening of Churchkey/Birch & Barley and the mega-improvement of Pizzeria Paradiso Dupont Circle — you already know all about that. No, what marked 2009 was the enormous influx of breweries expanding their distribution to D.C. If the lack of local breweries is our city’s worst beer weakness, the variety on our shelves is its greatest strength. Here’s a look at the world-class breweries that came to D.C. this year, helping us continue to be one of America’s best beer towns.
- Founders – Founders are masters of dark beer, rivaled perhaps only by fellow Michiganders Bell’s. They swept through D.C. this year, nabbing tap handles all over town with their Porter, Dirty Bastard Scotch Ale, and Breakfast Stout — the latter of which is made with coffee, chocolate, and oats, and is pretty much perfect.
- Goose Island – Yet another benefit of electing our new president was the arrival of this Chicago brewery. Technically they got here in 2008, but 2009 brought a slew of nuanced, Belgian-style beers like Matilda, Pere Jacques, and the wine barrel-aged Sofie.
- 21st Amendment – The words “watermelon wheat” had me skeptical about this hyped California brewery, but a sip — nay, a whiff — of their Brew Free or Die IPA turned me around. With the Belgian quad Monk’s Blood newly released and their hop-chocolate Back in Black IPA on tap seasonally, we’ll keep seeing good things from them in 2010.
- Duck Rabbit – From Farmville, N.C., this brewery makes an outstanding autumn seasonal schwarzbier — it’s a chocolaty black lager that tastes like it’s been charred with a blowtorch. Year-round, we’re treated to their milk stout, which is brewed with lactose (aka milk sugar) for a creamy mouthfeel.
- Terrapin – Technically, this one’s NoVa only, but their Rye Pale Ale is one of my all-time favorite beers — and all of a sudden Virginia doesn’t seem so far anymore.
- Bruery – Bruery was one of the year’s most buzzed-about breweries, and rightfully so; the two young brothers have kept their homebrewers’ mentality, using playful ingredients such as yams, basil, and chamomile. Their new dark rye beer, Rugbrød, is in stores now (as well as in my fridge), and 2010 should be good to them as well.
- Honorable mentions – Also new to the area were Boulder Brewing, Cisco, Coronado, Climax, and Butternuts — for an unofficial total of, like, 10ish.
So what were your favorites, Twitter co-beerspotters? Did I miss any? Let me know quick; my Beers of the Year list for 2009 will be up soon!