At the P Street NW Whole Foods, wedged between circa-$10 relatives from the Belgian white and Maibock families, you’ll find a display touting a “quenching, unpretentious nectar” that’s a “local throwback to be proud of.”
Wait—Foggy Bottom’s back?
Nope. Those words hawk $4.99 sixers of National Bohemian, Baltimore’s contribution to the ranks of all-but-dead macrobrews. Of course, if it were canned, like all the other Natty Boh in D.C., shoppers might just think it suitable only for fueling a 20-second belch on an ex-girlfriend’s voice mail.
But it’s not canned—it’s in glass—and that’s the stroke of brilliance on the part of Whole Foods beer specialist Noah Watkins, who wrote the description. The 23-year-old spent six months persuading a distributor to transport bottles of the brew from the Land of Pleasant Living (since relocated to Wilkes-Barre, Pa.) to the Land of Quirky Interior Design Shops. “It’s a simple beer…and it needs to be enjoyed out of the bottle,” he says.
The first shipment finally arrived in March, and Watkins says he sold 12 cases during last week alone. “As far as I know,” he says, “we’re the only store that sells it, because [the distributor is] up my ass to keep on ordering more, because they got a pallet of it just for us.”
His distributor, Premium Distributors of Washington, backs up that claim—and the intended upscale audience. “[Pabst Blue Ribbon] was the hot beer about a year or two ago. It’s lost a little bit of its steam, but we see Natty Boh picking it up,” says Premium’s business development manager, Jessica Muskey.
“It’s funny. They have disposable income, but they’re drinking pretty [honest description removed] beer,” she says, right before asking that a belittling adjective not be quoted. “I can’t be calling my products cheap.”
Photograph by Pete Morelewicz