The Beer in Review
Philip Runco | Dec 20, 2016 | 1:00PM |

Compiled and edited by Philip Runco.

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What beers did you love drinking in 2016?

That’s what I wanted to ask the people who make, sell, or write about my own favorite beers.

So, I reached out to over 25 brewers, beer directors, and industry folks around D.C., Maryland, and Virginia, and I asked them some questions.

For starters, what were the local beers they tried for the first time in 2016 that impressed them most? “Local” can be defined a lot of ways, so I didn’t really limit them. It could be anywhere from Loudon County to Baltimore – and if they wanted to include Richmond, sure, go for it. These beers could be brand new or just new to them. We’re not going to split hairs.

Another question: Outside of the DMV (or perhaps just further outside the Beltway), what beers did they fall in love with? These could be beers they tried while visiting other cities, or beers that are distributed locally (but produced elsewhere).

And since a lot of these people brewed their own beers (or collaborated with breweries), it was only fair to ask them what new or improved beers they were most proud of. Who else knows those beers better?

Of course, we all need to drink beer somewhere, so I asked them where their favorite places to drink were this year. It could be a local bar, an out-of-town establishment, a brewery taproom, or even a festival. Or, as I found it, it could be their very own living rooms.

Lastly, I posed three big picture level questions: What were some encouraging beer trends they noticed taking shape this year? What were some less desirable trends? And what do they hope to do or see in 2017?

What emerges from these answers is a great snapshot of where the DC-area beer scene finds itself at the end of 2016.

They also features some fantastic recommendations for beers to seek out, places to visit, and styles to reconsider.

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Kevin Blodger

Co-Founder and Head Brewer at UNION Craft Brewing

BEST NEW LOCAL BEERS

So, this is tough for me, because there is so much great beer being produced locally, but here are a few.

Burley Oak’s Savage IPA. I love Bryan and his team at Burley. They killed with this one. This is their take on a NE IPA, and what I love is that while it’s hazy, it’s not a crazy haze yeast bomb (but it still has all the “juice” the kids are looking for these days). Great fruit-forward nose and flavor to match a really great beer.

Olivers’ Creator/Destroyer. Steve Jones does nothing but crank out solid, delicious, drinkable beers, and this one is no exception. It’s a coffee nut brown with tons of flavor from the malt and coffee. It just works so well.  I really enjoy this beer every time I have it. So good.

Everything at Manor Hill. Ben Little is making some super delicious beers out on the farm! He’s the making the super hazy beers the kids want, but he gives them such nuance and flavor variations that each one is special and distinct. His Hidden Hopyard series is so good, and one of the few beers I’ve had this year that lives up to all the (much-deserved) hype it gets.

BEST NEW NON-LOCAL BEERS

I went to Seattle in September before heading to Yakima for the hop harvest, and I had beers from two breweries that blew me away: Holy Mountain and Cloudburst.

Holy Mountain is focused on, in their words, “exploring the relationship between hops, oak, and mixed fermentation.” They’re making such interesting beers that can be super funky, while also brewing really traditional English ales and German lagers. Every beer I had there was great

Cloudburst I loved because they reminded me a lot of Union. They make really solid beers, but being so close to Yakima, there is a great emphasis on hops and hoppy beers. Everything there was so tasty. They’re packed into the basement of an old building with a great open taproom so close to the brewhouse that I felt like there might have been hoses under my feet. They’re a hop, skip, and a jump from Pike Place Market and shouldn’t be missed.

FAVORITE NEW UNION BEERS

For our anniversary party, we didn’t have fresh Double Duckpin, so we made a new DIPA called Chubbler that turned out really well. We just hopped the fuck out of it, and it was a really fruit-forward beer. I really enjoyed drinking it.

We also made Pink Flamingos for the anniversary. It was a grapefruit ginger sour that drinks so well and was a personal favorite.

FAVORITE PLACES TO DRINK

In town, of course, Max’s. They have always looked out for us and have such an amazing selection.

Fraizers in Hampden is a “dive bar” up on 36th street (the Ave), and they’re a cool family run spot that keeps four lines of Union on all the time. It’s a great place to catch lunch or dinner, shoot some pool, and hang out.  It’s a spot to see familiar faces and relax

POSITIVE 2016 TREND

Lagers. It seems that the craft crowd is finally appreciating a well-made lager, from Pivo Pils to the tons of great Märzens and Helles I had at GABF. Cold fermentation is back! To me, lagers are beers that take a true talent to brew because it’s so hard to hide your flaws and imperfections, so the respect I have for a great lager bier brewer is second to none.

LESS-DESIRABLE 2016 TREND

I don’t really know how I feel about all the acquisitions and mergers in craft beer, but if that’s what people want to do, go for it. All these craft drinkers blacklist people and act like the breweries are Fugazi and they just signed a deal with Justin Bieber’s record label. These are businesses that want to make money while making good beer, too. The owners have taken on a lot of debt and have responsibilities to their families and workers, and so sometimes you have to do what it takes to make sure the business can survive.

Now, that being said, am I excited that Goose [Island] or Devil’s Backbone kegs are now super cheap, and the retailer or customer (who doesn’t know they aren’t craft) wonders why my kegs are so much more expensive? But it’s whatever. Everyone who complains about sales are doing so on the internet with their Apple computers while they’re wearing Nikes.

2017 HOPES AND WISHES

I hope my kids forget about the damn Elf on the Shelf in 2017. It’s annoying to have to remember to move him every night.

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Greg Engert

Beer Director at ChurchKey, Bluejacket, and the rest of NRG

BEST NEW LOCAL BEERS

Having opened Owen’s Ordinary up in Montgomery County this year, I’ve been able to really delve into the Maryland craft scene, and I have been particularly impressed by RAR and Manor Hill. Their beers are getting better and better, and you can taste that each brewery continues to tweak their flavors by honing their craft. I especially loved Reaper (a bright, focused and insistent Imperial IPA from RAR), as well as Manor Hill’s Hidden Hopyard series (brewed in small batches and always fresh).

The Veil, out of Richmond, has been sending ChurchKey their wonderful hop-forward beers, but I may be more excited about their spontaneous program; getting to share a bottle of Jeune, their first, very limited, spontaneous offering, with Cantillon’s Jean Van Roy and The Veil’s very own Matt Tarpey, at The Sovereign, was a highlight of 2016.

Speaking of wild beers, Pen Druid – out in Sperryville – are killing it, and their mixed-fermentation farmhouse ales are very special. I couldn’t get enough of Earth at Rustico’s Novemberfest, a beer that combined aggressive aromatic hopping and floral funk in a special, seamless manner.

FAVORITE NEW (OR IMPROVED) BLUEJACKET BEERS

I feel like we definitely made strides to further dial-in our hoppy offerings in 2016 by experimenting with new dry-hopping techniques, sourcing better and better hops, and attending to a host of technical details on the hot and cold side. And what is so great about this is that we have been able to improve on beers we already loved, like Forbidden Planet and Lost Weekend, while producing a number of new hoppy offerings that we can’t wait to brew again, like Bone Machine, Nowhere Fast and 85 Vagabond.

I am also excited by the lagers we have been making this year, as they have also been benefiting from new approaches to yeast handling, lagering procedures, and dry-hopping. Slingshot, hopped exclusively with Hallertau Blanc, is beginning to compete with Forbidden Planet as far as my favorite, sessionable Bluejacket offerings go.

FAVORITE PLACE TO DRINK

A series of events and parties brought me down to Asheville, North Carolina more than usual this year, which meant that I got to drink a good amount of beer at one of my all-time favorite venues: Burial Beer Co. It’s an intimate, industrial space, showing the kind of character that only develops through organic evolution, and the beers are always spot on. I’m nearly addicted to Skillet Donut Stout, and it tastes even better at their legendary brunch where, every Sunday, their in-house kitchen – Salt & Smoke – serves up delicious food, and their is some live jazz literally played among the brewing equipment. Even though they’ve recently expanded with an additional production facility (and will be direct shipping NRG more of their beer in 2017!), the original location remains unchanged.

LESS-DESIRABLE 2016 TREND

I’d have to say that I’m a little concerned that the proliferation of adjunct IPAs and stouts is showing no signs of slowing. And this is not merely based on the popularity of such styles, since there are some amazing ones out there. For example, the Other Half/ Arizona Wilderness City Slickers collab (an IPA with prickly pear and lemon zest) was beautiful, and The Answer can do no wrong with their spiced stouts (Broken Bird, finished with coconut, is fantastic). The problem is that so many are imbalanced, and artificial, in character, leaving a slew of beers on the shelves that are more akin to malternatives. Even some of the bigger brewers’ offerings that were once more nuanced with adjuncts are becoming overwhelmed, going from good/ great to gimmick.

2017 HOPES AND WISHES

When I was in London this past spring, I drank almost nothing but real ale for five days, even though my friends kept touting the many delicious, modern beers being produced by the British New Wave. And while I love those brewers, and happily serve their beers stateside, I could not get enough of those low alcohol, creamy cask offerings, some brewed by young brewers, but most by the old guard. I’d love to see more of a cask movement grow in our market, though I know the demands of brewing, transportation, cellaring and distribution will likely preclude it. In any event, we will keep our cask engines flowing throughout NRG, continue to brew our cask Bitter, Essex, and our cask Mild, Coaltown, exclusively for the hand pumps at Bluejacket, and dream of real ale pub crawls in the District.

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Nathan Zeender

Head Brewer at Right Proper Brewing

BEST NEW LOCAL BEERS

I would say more a brewery than a beer in the form of Pen Druid in Sperryville, Virginia.  Spontaneous, local grain, wood fired, oak mash tun, barrel fermented…it’s like a time machine back to the rustic beers of hundreds of years ago brewed by three psychonaut brothers. Decidedly different and worth checking out.

BEST NEW NON-LOCAL BEERS

Alu by Norse from Norway was really memorable. Again, a transportive beer that conjures the Nordic farmhouse tradition.

FAVORITE NEW RIGHT PROPER BEER

I love our pale smoked beer, The Lubitsch Touch, which unfortunately was (unsurprisingly) the slowest-selling beer from our production brewery… oh, bother.

FAVORITE PLACE TO DRINK

The Midwest Belgian Beer Fest put on by Perennial in St. Louis was a nice low-key fest with loads of curious beers.

2017 HOPES AND WISHES

Lagers. Beers that tell interesting stories. Smoked beers.

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Adam Reza III

Lead Brewer at Port City Brewing

BEST NEW LOCAL BEERS

It’s not new, but Atlas’s Saison de Brett is one of my favorite beers, and this year’s iteration has been one of the best for me.

As for new beers in 2016, DC Brau’s 5 Spot, its collaboration with Boundary Stone, was one of my favorites. A lot of session IPAs suffer from a lack of body, but 5 Spot has great balance.

BEST NEW NON-LOCAL BEERS

Founders’ Backwoods Bastard. Ever since we made Colossal V, I’ve been fascinated with the possibilities of barrel-aged old ales. I love the dark fruit and date characteristics, and the bourbon flavor isn’t overwhelming.

FAVORITE NEW PORT CITY BEERS

Metro Red, for sure. It was cool to go from producing 30 barrels in 2015 for DC Beer Week to making 240 barrels this year. It was fun to take a style that isn’t common on the East Coast and have it be so well received. I’m proud of how it turned out – I achieved the aroma and bitterness I wanted using only Amarillo hops, and the final result was extremely satisfying.

FAVORITE PLACE TO DRINK

Boundary Stone is my go-to. Not only is it stumbling distance from home, but they really care about serving great beer. They hold it down for local breweries, but you can also get a wide variety of craft beer from around the country. Their staff is amazing, and it really has a “Cheers”-like environment.

One of my favorite events Boundary Stone hosts is the Battle of the Barrel Aged, which has really made everyone step up their game in terms of barrel aging. We really got to step outside of our comfort zone and create our first Brett barrel-aged beer, and although we were runners-up this year, we’re coming with the heat next year!

POSITIVE 2016 TREND

One of the coolest things I’ve seen Port City and some other local breweries do is cultivating a sense that the brewery is a destination rather than a bar. We have yoga nights, trivia, stand-up comedy, food pairings, events for runners and cyclists – the list goes on. We’ve made it a point to make the brewery a place for everybody to want to come to and spend time at, and that’s expanded the market beyond beer nerds.

LESS-DESIRABLE 2016 TREND

I could go on about things like pumpkin beers or how the market has pushed up seasonals so that we’re drinking Oktoberfest in July, but I’ll leave that alone. Something I do hate to see though, as craft beer becomes more and more popular, are bars and restaurants that decide to offer craft beers without learning the proper sanitation and line maintenance. Not only are lines often dirty, but shelf life isn’t always taken into consideration. I’d like to see distributors and sales reps educate bars on how to stock and serve craft beer correctly.

2017 HOPES AND WISHES

I’d love to see more simplicity in beer. More light lagers, more ESBs. Simple, drinkable, but difficult-to-make beers.

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Jace Gonnerman

Beer Director at Meridian Pint, Brookland Pint, and Smoke & Barrel

BEST NEW LOCAL BEERS

This is a hard one for me as our spots are so locally focused. As always, there’s likely a number of great beers that I can’t think of at the moment, but the following beers come to mind as new local beers that really impressed me in 2016:

DC Brau/Port City’s Zehn Von Zehn; 3 Stars Ricky Rosé; Atlas’ Dance of Days; District Chophouse’s Paradise Regained; Ocelot’s Lonely People and Hope; Aslin’s A Small Town in Ontario; RAR’s Galaxy Hyde; Union’s Older Pro (any version); Gordon Biersch Rockville’s Keller Czech Pilsner (from brewer Christian Layke); Manor Hill’s Sunna Rising; Pale Fire’s Arrant; Triple Crossing’s Blood Gulch; The Veil’s Master Shredder; The Answer’s Augmentation; Fair Winds’ Siren’s Lure; and Right Proper’s Astral Weeks.

BEST NEW NON-LOCAL BEERS

I’m not sure if they were released for the first time in 2016, but these were all new to me: SingleCut’s Softly Spoken Magic Spells; Parish’s Envie; Wicked Weed’s Garcon De Ferme; Logsdon’s Seizoen Bretta; J. Wakefield’s Miami Madness; Fremont’s Coffee Cinnamon B-Bomb; and Lagunitas’ Born Yesterday 2016.

FAVORITE MERIDIAN PINT COLLABS

Hard to pick on this one. Talking Backwards turned out exactly as we hoped, and it was a huge success. Adventures of Audrey was a great beer, and it also had a ton of meaning being named after my daughter. I also liked the dry-hopped Berliner with oat malt that we did with Right Proper.

FAVORITE PLACES TO DRINK

Given that I’m in a bar five days a week, I don’t tend to get to them much outside of work. That said, I’m a big fan of the tasting room at Ocelot – great set-up and feel. The 3 Stars Urban Farmhouse is great, too. Plus, an occasional boozy lunch at Bluejacket.

POSITIVE 2016 TREND

To me, this is an exciting time to be in beer because there’s more of everything. IPA is certainly at the forefront, but there’s also never been more great lagers, session beers, brown ales, saisons, etc. Lagers, in particular, seem to be something that brewers are putting a lot of time and energy into executing well.

LESS-DESIRABLE 2016 TREND

Coffee IPAs. Randalls. Casks with ridiculous shit.

As the beer scene continues to grow, it’s pulling more and more people in including people whose primary objective is to chase only what’s new and rare. Some outstanding flagship beers are being lost or overlooked by people distracted by shiny objects. More and more bars are pouring craft beer – some have cleaning and education standards in place, but most do not. I tend to drink primarily at places where I know the folks running it and their commitment to quality.

2017 HOPES AND WISHES

I hope the desire for the new and rare will wane a bit or at least balance out. Bars, breweries, and consumers alike need to focus on quality. Innovation is an important part of craft beer and needs to continue to be. In an increasingly saturated market, it’s an important part of standing out. But I hope there’s always room for a traditional and well-executed lager, wheat beer, or porter.

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Adrien Widman

Founder of Ocelot Brewing

BEST NEW LOCAL BEERS

This is a tough question. I’ll just list some off the top of my head: Old Ox’s Funky Face series (always so clean and easy drinking); Lost Rhino’s Genius Loci Series (perfect blends of wild yeast and bacteria, complexity); Blue Jacket’s Essex (one of the best ESBs in the area); Union’s Double Duckpin (yum); and Right Proper’s Diamonds, Fur Coat, Champagne (delicate, complex, so flavorful).

BEST NEW NON-LOCAL BEERS

This is an easy one: Fernweh from Commonwealth Brewing Company. It’s a sour Tafelbier fermented in white wine barrels at 4% ABV. This is honestly one of the best beers I’ve had in the last couple of years. It’s soft and delicate, with the perfect balance of tart and flavor. It’s also super clean and beautiful to look at. Jeramy and Greg killed it with this beer. I could drink this beer all day, any day.

I’d also add: The Answer’s Piece of the Action (soft and fruity yeast characters, huge aroma); Triple Crossing’s Alternating Current (aromatic, hoppy, clean, just the way I love my IPAs); Hardywood’s Trickery (thick and chewy, sweet and roasty – so, so good); Hardywood’s Pils (a benchmark for the style); and The Veil’s Master Shredder (Amarillo and fruity yeast characters that make you want more and more).

FAVORITE NEW (OR IMPROVED) OCELOT BEERS

Trick question! I tend to be that guy who jumps from beer to beer as a favorite on a weekly basis. When it comes to our IPAs, there is a sweet spot of about a week where I think it’s fantastic, then I move onto the next beer that hit its sweet spot.

Since we don’t have core beers, it’s hard to say we dialed anything in, but I am very proud of our Pilsner, Sunnyside Dweller. That beer just always hits the spot when I need it.

Another beer we recently released is a Baltic Porter, Powers of Observation. It was our first crack at brewing that style, and it exceeded my expectations with the final results.

On the IPA front, we always try and modify procedures and ingredients. One of the most recent beers we did, Hope (which benefitted the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children), really nailed what we were trying to do with a hazy, soft mouthfeel, lower IBU, and huge aromatic nose. A pretty simple recipe, but it turned out wonderful.

FAVORITE PLACES TO DRINK

Admittedly, I don’t get out much these days unless it’s for an event.

In DC, my top choices for hanging out would be Meridian Pint, and ChurchKey on slower days. In NOVA, Rustico has always been a favorite. The staff at these places know beer very well, and that goes a long way in my book. Proper glassware is a must for me, too, so when you have the combo of great beer selection, proper glassware, knowledgeable staff and incredible food, it’s a winner!

Honorable mention goes to Mekong/The Answer in Richmond. Again, the staff, beer selection, food, and atmosphere is off the charts. I just wish I didn’t live two hours away from them.

POSITIVE 2016 TRENDS

Out in the market, I love seeing more and more rotating tap handles at bars and restaurants. It seems like it used to be that unless you went to a beer-centric place, you always had the same choices, same beers, same brands.

Better beer is becoming easier and easier to find locally, and I think establishments are starting to respect that.

LESS-DESIRABLE 2016 TREND

Too many items to list here, so I’ll only mention a few.

Crowlers! I have such a love/hate relationship with crowlers. I understand the appeal for consumers, the recyclable nature of the can, the form factor, and the ability to fill on the spot with almost any beer you have on tap. It also helps with brewery sales, which is huge plus for the business side of things. The problem with them is that they are nearly impossible to properly fill, often times exposing the beer to oxygen which in turn destroys the quality of the liquid inside. Oxygen is the enemy of beer and of the hundreds of crowlers I have opened, maybe two of them haven’t suffered from some sort of off flavor and those were darker, malt heavy beers where diacetyl can be masked better. Even with CO2 purging prior to filling, todays standalone crowler systems aren’t capable of proper packaging in my opinion. Growlers can also suffer the same consequence but its a bit easier to cap on foam with a small opening.

Too many adjuncts. With the exception of a handful of ingredients used in small quantities, I just don’t get it. A coffee stout or fruited IPA is one thing, but a mash potato, jalapeño, wine must, fruity pebbles-infused barrel-aged beer just isn’t up my alley. If I can’t drink more then one of them back-to-back-to-back, there is a problem.

Tickers. Sorry, but there is no way in the world you are able to fully appreciate, let alone judge, something on 1-oz or even 2-oz of beer. Sometimes, I think people get more satisfaction out of trying 1-oz of 12 different beers than to enjoy a full pint of a particular brew. To me, that is quite sad.

2017 HOPES AND WISHES

Education among beer geeks. Appreciation of quality over scarcity. A more open community where brewers help each other make better beer so everyone wins.

Stylistically, people evolve and their tastes change, be open minded about different styles and accept that just because you may not like something today, doesn’t mean it won’t be your favorite next year, and vice versa.

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Josh Fernands

Beer Director at Pizzeria Paradiso

BEST NEW LOCAL BEERS

Let me say that as a whole, I think that the local beer scene continues to grow in leaps and bounds, and I am so happy to see the continued success of our local breweries!

In no particular order, here are three beers that I really enjoy:

Anything from The Veil in Richmond. I think that there is a wealth of brewing and beer wisdom within the team at The Veil, and it shows in the beer

3 Stars’ Ricky Rosé. They really nailed this beer, and it makes me excited for future beers coming out of their sour/wild beer program

DC Brau’s collaboration series for their anniversary. From marketing to liquid, this was just so well executed, and with six well-done beers that were so different, they really showed their range in brewing great beer, much like Mariah Carey has shown her amazing vocal range.

BEST NEW NON-LOCAL BEERS

Oh man, really opened it up with this one, so many options…

Holy Mountain’s Covenant. We did an event with these guys earlier this year. This beer was everything that I want out of a beer: It was so delicate and nuanced, yet there was such a depth of flavor.

Oxbow’s Momoko. I drank some of this at the Bottling & Blending space in Portland. Way to showcase how fruit should be used in beer! I am salivating thinking about it.

Graft Farm’s Flor. I know, not a beer, but if you have a chance to try this, you will understand. The use of Brett, fresh cider, and barrel-aged cider? I mean, come on!

FAVORITE PIZZERIA PARADISO COLLAB

Right Proper’s Maslow. It has been a big dream of mine for a while to make a farmhouse table beer for the restaurant. This beer far exceeded my wildest dreams, in part thanks to the genius of Nathan and Thor. And it goes so well with the pizza

FAVORITE PLACES TO DRINK

With friends. As much as I love to nerd out about beer (not that the two are mutually exclusive), at the end of the day beer is a social drink meant to be shared with friends along with a good conversation no matter the surroundings.

POSITIVE 2016 TRENDS

The continual “raising of the bar” of industry standards. I don’t think that this is a new trend, but I think it is worth noting that it has done anything but grow stagnant or drop off. Staff education continues to be a focus and we are seeing a lot more from the brewery side. I have had a lot of brewery reps step in this last year to do tastings with my staff to further their education about the brands. We have more Cicerone Certified staff members then ever and that number continues to grow.

Another hot topic of the year would have to be the conversation of calling everything a wild beer and/or a sour beer. With the explosion of beer that fits this category, we are seeing a deeper discussion about how to define these beers and a more robust vocabulary around that. As someone who loves everything from a Gueuze to a kettle sour, I’m very happy about it.

Also long live the New England IPA.

LESS-DESIRABLE 2016 TREND

Hunting the White Whale. While I understand that there are some truly great beers out there, I have also come to accept that I will never be able to drink all of them. I don’t have a list in my pocket of beers that I need to check off, nor will I ever. I also think that there are a lot of really good beers out there that go unnoticed because they don’t have the hype. Discovering beer for yourself is part of why I fell in love with this industry.

2017 HOPES AND WISHES

Field Beers/Gruits. It’s a natural progression of the story of the Saison and Farmhouse styles, which have been very popular. There are some amazing breweries out there making some really unique beers, including Urban Farm Fermentory (they just opened a Gruit nano brewery in their space), and Scratch out of Illinois

Wild beers, spontaneous fermentation, and a bigger focus on yeast. As creators of wild and sour beers gain a greater understanding of these magical creatures, we are seeing such great beers come out of it as a byproduct. There is nuance and a depth of flavor (note my earlier description of Covenant from Holy Mountain). They have so much more of a story to tell.

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Ben Little

Head Brewer at Manor Hill Brewing

BEST NEW LOCAL BEER

Hands down, Oliver’s Pagan Science. It’s pretty easy to tell that we lean towards the hoppy side of things at Manor Hill, and I am no exception to that. Steve Jones at Oliver’s typically rides the other end of the spectrum in what they do at Oliver’s. Needless to say, I was quite intrigued that he was releasing a new series of hop-forward beers. The first sip blew me away.  Aroma, mouthfeel, finish – pretty much everything was spot on for my tastes.  Perfect balance and way too drinkable for the ABV.  It really was fantastic.

BEST NEW NON-LOCAL BEERS

I’ve been lucky enough to have a few bottles from De Garde Brewing in Oregon (Thanks, Eric!) dropped off at the brewery. We’ve recently started a sizable mixed fermentation project, so grabbing inspiration from others doing similar-minded things is so helpful to me. I do my best to set up the perfect conditions, but the outcome is determined by wild living organisms. The few that I’ve had have been wildly complex and balanced.  So much going on, yet still quite approachable.  Outstanding stuff.

FAVORITE NEW MANOR HILL BEER

I really loved our “Samoa” Barrel Aged Hawkwind Porter.  It is a 7% porter that spends just about a year in Old Forrester Bourbon barrels. I love Old Forrester barrels. They have the same spirit profile as Woodford Reserve (same mash bill, actually) but spend a little less time in the barrel. This brings more of the wood into the mix. To me, barrel aging is about finding that balance of wood and spirit. Post-aging, we took a few of these barrels and rested the beer on and absurd amount of toasted coconut, Ghanan cocoa nibs and Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla beans. The goal was to find a flavor that reminded me of dipping my favorite Girl Scout cookie into a glass of bourbon.  I’d say mission accomplished.

FAVORITE PLACES TO DRINK

To be honest, I’m a bit of a homebody. I absolutely love hanging out at home on the patio and enjoying time with my girlfriend, Liv. If I did have to pick one place, it would be Milkhouse Brewery in Mount Airy. Tom Barse has a beer festival there once a year, and it is always a blast. The scenery is always idyllic, and the breweries that attend are some of my favorites.

POSITIVE 2016 TRENDS

I’m sure that it shows in most of our beers, but I am not a fan of filtration on any level. I think beer is beautiful in its natural state. Filtration strips so much goodness and nuance from a beer. The fact that the public is becoming increasingly acceptive of this really makes me happy.

I also love how fruit is making its way into beers that we aren’t used to seeing it in. Of course, there are over-the-top examples and those jumping on the bandwagon, but I do feel that fruit used right can take beer to new levels. Working on a farm brewery, I source a ton of local fruit in season, freeze it, and use it throughout the year. It’s just a wonderful opportunity to express and amplify flavor profiles in ways that we haven’t before as brewers.

LESS-DESIRABLE 2016 TREND

The definition of “hoppy.”  I do my best to keep a pulse on the industry and interact with beer drinkers whenever possible. Of course, I spend my fair share of time in the brewery, so most of this is done through social media. The use of the term hoppy is pretty wide and varied.  There is definitely an educational opportunity from our side, as producers, as to what hops lend to the beers being made today. I’d like to think that we maintain a balance of flavor and bitterness in our beers while remaining incredibly aromatic. I think that our Grisette is a great example of this.  It is incredibly hop forward for the style, but is quite reserved in bitterness. I would say that it is very hoppy, but many would not since it doesn’t have the face melting bitterness and flavor that they would expect from a “hoppy” beer.

2017 Hopes and Wishes

Keep buying local beer.  Our local scene has grown leaps and bounds over the past couple of years.  There is so outstanding beer being made in your back yard by some incredible people.  Go seek them out, sit down and have a chat with those responsible for making and selling the beer.  We all come from unique and diverse backgrounds but are brought together every day by pure passion for what we do and being integral parts of our respective communities.  Beer is meant to be consumed fresh for the most part and we are keeping those hard earned dollars in the communities in and around where we live.

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Daniel Vilarrubi

Head Brewer at Atlas Brew Works

BEST NEW LOCAL BEERS

I’m not sure if Right Proper’s White Bicycles was new or not, but I had it for the first time at the start of this summer. It’s light and refreshing but really complex – definitely a beer nerd’s summer beer. I drank it whenever I saw it on tap. Because they use a blend of microbes to make it, you’ll find slight differences from batch to batch, but it’s always been good.

There was also Port City’s Colossal V, a solid old ale and their fifth-anniversary beer. It’s a big, malty beast (10% ABV, I believe). It was fantastic fresh, and I’m looking forward to trying it after some aging.

BEST NEW NON-LOCAL BEERS

The Luponic Distortion Series from Firestone Walker. I’ve had 1-3 so far, and they’ve all been stellar. I’m not a hophead by any means, but the idea making a beer with different blends of experimental hop varieties for each batch is just cool. But there’s also a nice malt backbone to the Luponic Distortion beers that give it more balance than all of the super light, super hoppy IPAs out there.

FAVORITE NEW ATLAS BEER

Our summer series beers were all pretty great, but Dance of Days definitely stole the show. It quickly became an Atlas staff favorite. The wheat in the beer provides some great body to compliment the ever-present combination of Citra and Mosaic hops.

FAVORITE PLACE TO DRINK

This is a tough one. Wherever I’m drinking currently is always my favorite place for beer. Boundary Stone is a fun bar and there’s always great local beer on tap. The extra space they moved into this year helped open the bar up a bit as well.

POSITIVE 2016 TRENDS

I feel like there was more of an attempt to educate the beer consumer this year. I saw a lot more events geared toward education rather than just drinking. Big Board ran a beer school, bringing in breweries to educate patrons on beer production. I saw a lot of folks in my industry talking to the public about craft beer vs big beer. I even felt like I was fielding more questions from strangers about craft beer. I’m really happy to see so many people taking an interest in the work I’ve decided to pursue.

LESS-DESIRABLE 2016 TREND

Can I say that I didn’t like the Department of Justice approving the Anheuser-Busch InBev and SABMiller merger? Or does the DoJ put me on a list for that?

2017 HOPES AND WISHES

I’d be interested in doing some more collaborations. We worked with DC Brau on a beer this year, and we’ve worked with a few other local makers and it’s always been fun. You learn a lot working on your craft with other people. Atlas is getting busier each year but I hope 2017 affords us some more time for collaborative projects.

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Dave Delaplaine

Beer Director at Roofers Union

BEST NEW LOCAL BEERS

Union Craft started playing around with cask versions of their Old Pro, and every time it has wowed me.

3 Stars and their sour program – so excellent! I cannot wait to see the expanded

BEST NEW NON-LOCAL BEERS

Holy Mountain in Seattle and Crooked Stave in Denver. I was fortunate enough to visit both breweries early this autumn and was totally enthralled with each.

While it was not new to me, I did get to finally make it to a personal Mecca, Avery Brewing Co. As you know, I am a fan of the brewery, and getting to visit their location in Boulder was a memory that will last a long, long time.

FAVORITE PLACE TO DRINK

I love that Nats Stadium has done so much to embrace local beer. I’m not sure what my favorite place to consume beer in the city is, but as a beer drinker, nothing made me happier this year than being able to drink an amazing Berliner Weisse from 3 Stars while sitting in the stadium, watching the Nats whoop-up on the Cubs. (It’s too bad it wasn’t foreshadowing). The fact that you can now drink a good sour beer from a local brewery at a ball game is an obvious win against the Big Beer companies of the world.

POSITIVE 2016 TRENDS

Well, goses were certainly not new in 2016, but, boy, did they explode. This was awesome to see.  Both the increased availability and the accessibility of the style was wonderful in 2016.

Another trend that was wonderful to see was beers being aged in more unique barrels. From Meade to Sherry to astringent ciders, the impact of the barrel on various styles was so great to experience.

LESS-DESIRABLE 2016 TREND

2016 has been a great year for beer.  One disappointment I have faced as a beer buyer is with a certain local distributor.  While most of our area’s distributors have continued to excel and improve and find new ways to make for an exciting beer buying process, Hop & Wine has continued to disappoint.  A few years ago, they were my favorite distributor to work with, now if not for a couple of key brands, I would skip them entirely.  They treat their quality employees terribly (or did until they all left) and their customers even worse.

2017 HOPES AND WISHES

I hope that Union Craft will take me up on the request for a firkin of Old Pro with squid ink!

But to be more serious, I think it’s great that even novice beer drinkers today are opening up their minds to some of the whackier styles and I only hope that those of us working in the beer industry continue to keep beer approachable and fun.  Keep the pretension out of the bars and guests will keep feeling brave enough to go outside their comfort zones.

To all the breweries out there, you continue to impress and intrigue.  I know we’ve created a tough world for you where innovation is a must and it cannot be easy.  But I am very proud of the work our local breweries do to innovate while still maintaining quality.

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Drew Kelley

Co-Founder at Aslin Beer Co.

BEST NEW LOCAL BEER

Anything Pen Druid does is excellent. If I had to narrow down just to one, it would be Jupiter, their Wild IPA. The beer was everything I look for in an IPA: big nose, nice mouthfeel, and, most importantly, it has you wanting to go back for more with another sip.

BEST NEW NON-LOCAL BEERS

This year, I was able to try my first brews from De Garde and The Rare Barrel. Both of their wild ales were exceptional and very well balanced.

FAVORITE NEW ASLIN BEERS

My favorite beer we produced was our Rosemary & Vanilla IPA. I thought it had a perfect combination of tropical fruits, pine, rosemary, and vanilla. All the flavors melded together and created a sweet and savory IPA.

FAVORITE PLACES TO DRINK

Aslin Beer Co. tasting room. Other than that, we really enjoy drinking at Meridian Pint and The Sovereign in D.C.

POSITIVE 2016 TREND

We definitely saw the New England IPA take off across the country. Before, most of the beers in that style were being brewed in the Northeast. Now, you can find most breweries making an attempt at the style. I hope it becomes a style that sticks (like the West Coast IPA), but only time will tell.

LESS-DESIRABLE 2016 TREND

I think kettle sours became pretty big in 2016, however I have noticed breweries will put out Kettle Sours with off-flavors such as butyric acid and try to fix the off-flavor with fruit. From my experience it isn’t pleasant finding beers on-tap or in a can that you are excited to try that have these off-flavors. Saying this, I hope more breweries experiment with this technique, but dump beer with these off-flavors rather than saving them.

2017 HOPES AND WISHES

It wouldn’t be a secret if I told you…

No, I hope that the DMV and Virginia beer scene continues to grow. I think 2016 was a great year for Virginia craft beer, and at this rate, I think that we can make this area and state a beer destination.

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Bill DeBaun

Editor of DCBeer.com

BEST NEW LOCAL BEERS

Atlas Brew Works’ Dance of Days: One of three summer seasonals released by the Ivy City brewery, Dance of Days stood out because of its dank Mosaic and Citra dry-hops and soft bitterness on a wheat chassis. It was far from the only take on this IPA we saw this year, but it was the best local one.

Manor Hill’s Grisette: Manor Hill’s own IPAs deserve a callout, but it was their farmhouse-style Grisette that kept calling to me. Think session saison, heavy on wheat, with a light lemon and biscuit capped off with fruity hops and a bone-dry finish.

3 Stars’ Two-Headed Unicorn: The second release from 3 Stars’ Funkerdome was a collaboration with Charm City Meadworks. While lacking some of the polish of the finest barrel-aged sours, it’s a promising harbinger of things to come from their barrels and foeder.

District Chophouse’s Paradise Regained: Former assistant brewer Rob Fink’s (now with Jailbreak Brewery) New England pale ale found an unlikely home amidst the Chinatown mainstay’s more traditional offerings. Beyond the hazy, juicy hop showcase, Paradise was a reminder to me that surprises still abound in the DC beer scene.

Flying Dog’s Cold Press Coffee Porter: Part of a series of staff-suggested suds released throughout the year, this Porter was part of a brief wave of coffee-laced offerings that cropped up in 2016 (and will likely be back next year). Kudos to Flying Dog for the creativity and for a February beer I’m still thinking about in December.

BEST NEW NON-LOCAL BEERS

Sierra Nevada and Mahr’s Brau’s Oktoberfest: The constant stream of TTB label approvals is evidence that Sierra Nevada, the third largest craft brewery in the U.S., is still tinkering and innovating, but their second annual Oktoberfest collaboration is a return to fundamentals. Teaming up with Mahr’s Brau, Sierra released an Oktoberfest that was less amber lager than most U.S. takes, and completely thirst-quenching all through fall.

Logsdon Farmhouse Ales’ Szech ‘n Brett: Although I’m generally of the mind that the DC market is crowded enough, I made an exception for this newcomer to taps and shelves. This Szechuan peppercorn-infused beer was complex, thirst-quenching, and effervescent. It’s everything I’m looking for in the style.

Great Raft Brewing’s You, Me, and Everyone We Know: Maybe not a fair pick since it’s not available in market, but I have to shout out to former DCBeer editor Andrew and Lindsay Nations of Shreveport, LA’s Great Raft Brewing. In three years, they’ve brought great beer to northwest Louisiana and started producing beers like this beautiful sour blonde ale aged in Chardonnay barrels. Stories like these, about finding opportunity and bringing fresh, local beer to places without it, are what keeps the craft beer segment rolling.

FAVORITE PLACES TO DRINK

Brewery tap rooms: This was a great year to drink on-premise at breweries. Beautiful buildouts at breweries like 3 Stars Brewing Company, Atlas Brew Works, Hellbender Brewing Company, and Right Proper Brewing Company’s production location in Brookland make for great destinations. Catching a tour, chatting with brewery staff, and trying out some limited releases(which may not make it to market) are all some of the benefits. The costs, of course, are that (aside from Atlas) your options for a next stop are fairly limited.

Kingfisher: Why would you want to open one more bar in Logan Circle? That’s a very fair question to ask, but Kingfisher’s quirky, characterful neighborhood bar personality fills a niche in the neighborhood. The bar has no drafts but has a steady rotation of local-ish cans, unlimited free popcorn, and random oddball Netflix offerings. Not much more I need in life, to be honest.

ChurchKey: What can be written about the Logan Circle beer temple that hasn’t already been written? The 50 drafts should be enough for any beer fan (really, they should be. If you take a look at the list and scoff, I don’t want to know you), but “the book” with 500+ bottles is better than ever (especially after having slimmed a little bit with some bottles going on feature). It’s still the place for brewery launches, massive tap takeovers, and finding rarities in the District.

Max’s Belgian Beer Fest: Every President’s Day Weekend, Charm City mainstay Max’s holds a three-day Belgian Beer Fest (and Sour Monday) that highlights a tremendous lineup of beers. It’s a pilgrimage worth taking not just for the suds but for the experience. Meeting strangers, splitting bottles with them, trying to pronounce beers and saying, “Fuck it” and pointing. This event really has it all. Can’t make it but still want to satisfy your Belgian craving? Check out Georgetown’s The Sovereign.

Smoke & Barrel: I don’t get down there as much as I did when I (disclosure!) worked there, but the Bottom of the Barrel is still the dark, dank craft beer oasis it has been since it opened. Beer director Jace Gonnerman maintains a draft list where I somehow always want to order at least 20 of 24 offerings (to hilarious effect!) while snacking on vegan barbecue.

POSITIVE 2016 TREND

The rise of crowlers, the (slow) decline of growlers: I really don’t like growlers. Too often they’re overpriced, and then once you open them, you have to be prepared to drink 64 ounces of beer before it goes completely flat and oxidized in some kind of hoppy version of Logan’s Run. Crowlers (32 ounce sealed-on-premise cans) seem to me a better option. 32 ounces (slightly more than a 750 mL) is more appropriately shareable while protecting beer from light and oxidation. Plus, if you’re really ambitious (or a boor…or both) you can shotgun them. I expect more breweries to move into crowlers, although the death of growlers, in general, is greatly exaggerated here; by and large, they’re not going anywhere any time soon.

More discussion about diversity in craft beer. Have you looked around at a beer event recently? Have you noticed that there’s a disproportionate number of 21-35 year-old white men? I have. Craft beer doesn’t always (or often) do a great job of making everyone feel welcome as a consumer. Fortunately, there has been an acknowledgment from the Brewers Association that the segment needs to do better. This is hardly a panacea. There’s a lot to be done. But being honest about shortcomings and soliciting solutions is a good start. Craft beer has been content to reap its growth from a fairly homogeneous segment of the population, but that can’t last forever. Those double-digit growth projections written into so many business plans in the past half decade? At some point, they can’t be attained without female consumers and consumers of color. The sooner we all get on that same page, the better.

LESS-DESIRABLE 2016 TREND

The dominance in the brewing metagame of hazy, juicy, “New England” IPAs. Heady Topper is a tasty beer, no disputes here. But it unleashed a wave of similarly styled IPAs that ran rampant as consumers decided a balancing bitterness in the finish and beer clarity were unimportant relative to the density of cat piss and tropical fruit flavors packed into IPAs. Don’t get me wrong, these beers are often tasty, but when is Schwarzbier going to get its (deserved) day in the sun?

2017 HOPES AND WISHES

More consumer education in the form of understanding good examples of styles, recognizing off-flavors, and identifying good beer stewardship in beer sales. The average consumer’s beer knowledge is still lacking, and the sooner we improve that, the quicker “the market will decide” and weed out bad actors.

In the same vein, more full-throated damnation of breweries who release beers with abjectly sexist or racist beer names or labels. If we want to weed out bad actors, we have to do the weeding, and not all of it has to be done on the back of the liquid being served.

Can we all agree that 12 ounces of a typical flagship IPA should never be priced at above $7? Drinking in DC, like everything else in DC, is expensive, but some of these prices are insane.

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Allison Lange

Head Brewer at Old Ox Brewing

BEST NEW LOCAL BEERS

I’m loving what brewer and microbiologist Jasper Akerboom is contributing to Lost Rhino’s Genius Loci Series. It’s amazing that he’s able to coax local LoCo wild yeast and bacteria into creating something so complex and delicious.

BEST NEW NON-LOCAL BEERS

While in Richmond for the Master Brewers Association of American meeting, I visited Triple Crossing Brewing Company for the first time. Paranoid Aledroid (their pale wheat ale) and Trace Amounts (their session IPA) stood out as really clean and hoppy.

FAVORITE NEW OLD OX BEERS

Our new winter seasonal, Brew Bocka, was a great collaboration with the DC coffeehouse Tryst using Apollo coffee from Counter Culture. Apollo has floral, citrusy bright notes that really complement the underlying bock without making it feel like you’re drinking a cup of coffee.

FAVORITE PLACE TO DRINK

On my couch with my feet on the coffee table.

POSITIVE 2016 TRENDS

One of the biggest things that I see happening is a coming of age of the DMV beer scene. New breweries are opening with a wide variety of business models, which means beer drinkers have even more options to enjoy craft beer, and more established breweries are really stepping up their game.

A big trend for Old Ox this year was kettle souring. The microbiologist in me is really excited to be able to experiment with tart flavors without having to risk contaminating the brewery!

2017 HOPES AND WISHES

I would like to see more projects like Schlafly’s Hop Trial SMaSH Pack, which featured four beers that shared the same malt bill, but were brewed with one of four different hops. It was a great way to showcase the distinct flavors and aromas that each hop contributes and to guide beer drinkers through a thoughtful tasting process.

Old Ox did a similar project in coordination with the NOVA Homebrew Club. We took the malt bill for Hoppy Place IPA and brewed three batches, each using one of the three hops that usually go into Hoppy Place: Citra, Amarillo and Centennial. We offered flights in our tasting room of Hoppy Place and the three variants and our customers really appreciated the opportunity to taste and understand what each hop contributes to the final product.

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Brandon Skall

Co-Founder and CEO at DC Brau

FAVORITE NEW (OR IMPROVED) DC BRAU BEERS

In addition to the five collaborations we brewed with Austin Beerworks, Cigar City, Perennial Artisan Ales, Port City, and Sun King for our fifth anniversary in April — which really pushed the limits of what we thought we were capable of, and allowed us the freedom to experiment with different styles and flavor profiles — my favorite new/improved Brau beer this past year was Space Reaper. The summer seasonal is one of the best beers we brew each year, and this year was no exception. I love the rebranding, and then we took it one step further, playing with the structure of the beer by changing out the yeast for our Belgian strain to see what would happen. Space Reaper 2.0 smashed our expectations!

POSITIVE 2016 TRENDS

One trend I really loved seeing in 2016 was the return to traditional styles of beer. We’re all for experimentation, but it’s easy to get caught up in pushing the extremes. Coming back to traditional-styles, like a pilsner for example, and really centralizing your palate is really refreshing.

Another trend I loved was seeing breweries, restaurants & bars get more creative in the types of events we’re doing – going beyond a basic tap takeover or a run-of-the-mill beer dinner. One of my favorite events we did this year was our Evening of Magical Mystery Dinner at the National Cathedral with Chef Mike Friedman and his team from All-Purpose & Red Hen. The fact that 100 people blindly went into a dinner with no idea where it would be held or what would be served made it all the more special.

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Mike Van Hall

Creative Director of Stillwater Artisanal

BEST NEW LOCAL BEERS

My biased answer is Aslin’s Astro Zombie. I had it during my first meeting with the Aslin guys. I never had any of their beer before that, and I hadn’t drunk a NE-style IPA in a while. It is as fragrant a juice-bomb as I have ever encountered. Aslin’s thoughtful approach to the style, as shown by this beer, is one of the many reasons I like to work with them.

My unbiased answer is Two-Headed Unicorn from 3 Stars and Charm City. I first tasted it at Snallygaster and loved it. This beer held its own with some stiff competition around. I think it proves that the 3 Stars team knows how to do funk in an interesting and approachable way, even with a relatively young sour program.

BEST NEW NON-LOCAL BEERS

Mikkeller’s Spontan Quadruple Blueberry was the most ridiculous thing I tasted all year. I can still conjure the taste months after I had it – like fizzy sour blueberry pudding or something.

Odell’s Piña Agria is also way up there too. Refreshing like a perfectly ripe pineapple.

FAVORITE NEW STILLWATER BEERS

Extra Dry is my baby. I love everything about that project.

But the beer that I think Brian nailed this year is Tangerine Haze. It should replace mimosas for brunch at all self-respecting restaurants. Every cooler at the beach should be filled with it. The balance of fruity tartness, dry-hopping, and low-alcohol that Brian achieved makes this a desert island beer for me.

FAVORITE PLACES TO DRINK

Locally, my two go-to spots are Archipelago and Cantina Marina, but I choose bars for atmosphere and the staff. Honorable mention goes to The Pinch, which I only just came across recently.

POSITIVE 2016 TREND

I like the fruit beer trend, despite some really bad examples being pushed by folks with too much market share. Fruit IPAs and such are good gateway beers for people that aren’t beer nerds. Brewers that understand how to use (real) fruit to create interesting flavors can help broaden the audience of beer drinkers, which helps everybody.

LESS-DESIRABLE 2016 TREND

I made stickers that answer this question.

2017 HOPES AND WISHES

My hope for 2017 is that neighborhood breweries start to become a bigger thing. By “neighborhood breweries” I mean purposefully smaller operations that choose to cater to a geographically limited clientele and do not focus on distribution as part of their plan for success.

There is a misperception that it is easy to get rich by opening a brewery and that drives business models to shoot too big. In a crowding market, that is the setup for failure for most.  But when done right, a small operation can support a couple families and allow for some great experimentation. You don’t need to be big to succeed in the beer world.

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Matt Humbard

Co-Founder and Head Brewer at Handsome Beer

BEST NEW LOCAL BEERS

This was sort of a weird beer year for me, especially for a consumption point-of-view. I was almost drinking no beer for the first six months of the year, but when I wasn’t drinking experimental batches of beer I was working on, I was drinking a lot of Birdhouse from Brewer’s Art or the lighter stuff from Manor Hill. This year more than others, I really gravitated to lower-alcohol, simpler beers. And there were plenty of light, hoppy saisons or lower alcohol grisettes around.

I guess my goal with drinking (what an odd way to put that) was to enjoy beer and the flavors without the consequences of drinking.

BEST NEW NON-LOCAL BEERS

This year, I started researching and getting into IPA from Trillium. I don’t have many trade contacts, but I’m fascinated by the Treehouse / Trillium style of IPAs that are out there now. A friend turned me onto this style pretty recently. (I was aware of the whole NE IPA phenomenon but I hadn’t really participated because the last two years have been really busy.) They’re hard to describe in the terms that you would normally use to describe and IPA. They can be sweet but not heavy, hoppy but not very bitter, and they are unfiltered in the most offensive way possible. They are intentionally opaque beers. A lot of late hop / dry-hop additions to give a strong aroma – almost more important than the actual flavor – but the good ones taste amazing. Very interesting beers.

FAVORITE NEW HANDSOME BEERS

2016 was really basically our first full year of production, and we tried a lot of experimental things I’m pretty proud of. The two beers we made this year were the two botanical-forward beers.

Kind Regards was probably our best selling and most sought after beer, and I was pretty proud of all the flavors and how it came together. The color was amazing and the almost rose water flavor of the hibiscus flowers with the dry hop of mosaic hops really played well together. For a highly odd / experimental beer, it played well and people loved it. I really hope we get to do that again in the future.

The second flower beer was the Folly of Youth, the chamomile saison. People who tried that beer loved it but it didn’t seem to get as much traction as the Kind Regards for whatever reason. It sold super fast but it was much harder for me to find on draft at places for some reason. I think I preferred the odd tea-like bitterness the chamomile gave that saison and the more aggressive carbonation of that beer to the Kind Regards, both were such odd beers, especially for the DC market, I was proud to put those out there for people to try.

FAVORITE PLACES TO DRINK

My beer tastes have gotten pretty simple, and so have my drinking establishments. For a while, all the places I was going were places doing events that had tapped Handsome beer.

When I’m not working, I do love going to Dacha beer garden. There’s just something about that place that I find comforting. I love the simplicity of German beers (Weizens and Pils), and I love the selection and the feel at Dacha. My wife and I went there for our anniversary. She was having a rough day, so I left work early, and we headed there. It was unseasonably warm for October, and it was early enough in the day where very few people were in the place. The kids colored in coloring books, and we sat outside in the sun, drinking a few Weizens, watching them play. It was one of those tiny moments no one ever writes about or paints but reminds people how perfect life can be.

POSITIVE 2016 TREND

The last few years has seen a definite uptick in lighter, low-alcohol craft beers with big flavors. All of this I agree with, but that’s probably because I’m old and enjoy drinking but hate getting drunk. I support great “session” beers. These styles of beers just seem to be in a breweries standard line-up. If they have more than about four beers, one will be 4%-ish and light.

LESS-DESIRABLE 2016 TREND

I was in a beer store a couple of days ago and noticed that there were six different ales described as “blonde” on the label from regional breweries. I can’t remember the last time I was excited to try a blonde ale, if ever.

The shelves are getting crowded and there seems to be some redundancy in there. I think the DC metro area could support a lot more beer commerce than it is, but I think there’s a lot of duplicated effort by a few breweries going for that $10-ish per six-pack drinker, and I fear that is where the dreaded “bubble” is. I’m sure those beers are all fine, but for the simple craft beer neophyte just getting into beer, it might be overwhelming.

Although, if I had a canning line, I’m I’d have my own 10$ six pack on the shelf.

2017 HOPES AND WISHES

I love making beer. I love brewing. I have a notebook with over 150 beers or styles or techniques I want to try out. I spend dozens of hours a week just researching. I have too many hopes and wishes for the future. I want to continue to push into new ingredients and styles, hopefully do some more interesting mixed fermentations.

I think the “wine” bottle style of beer in this market is pretty lacking from the local breweries. There aren’t a lot of options in the 750 ml “special” beer bottle from many places, and I hope that changes. I personally like showing up to a dinner party with a nice bottle of beer that can be treated like wine.

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Nahem Simon

Beer Director at Jack Rose Dining Saloon

BEST NEW LOCAL BEERS

2016 was a good year for new local treats. There are so many new beers in our area this year alone that I could go on and on, perhaps because I love the sound of my own print voice, so I will restrain myself and note three.

3 Stars Ricky Rosé puckered me timbers, and I would drink all of it when next released…all of it.

All of the DC Brau five-year anniversary collab beers were great. I can’t wait for year six in 2017!

And it’s not a beer per se, but Charm City’s canned meads are reshaping how we perceived meads as once overly-cloying high ABV beverages. Their meads are incredibly approachable and innovative.

BEST NEW NON-LOCAL BEERS

Too are many to choose from.  Since 1.8 (ish) breweries open a day in the USA alone, I’m going to say that, for me, Wicked Weed is the Nicki Minaj of beer: Everything they do is gold.  Stone’s Mocha IPA was also pretty damn amazing! From abroad, the Van Steenberge Gulden Draak Nitro, because making that beer more silky and creamy is like making Jeffrey Dean Morgan more entertaining to watch as Negan…or making Game of Thrones more best! Or making my nerd analogies more not nerdy.

FAVORITE JACK ROSE COLLABS

I am so proud of every collab we did this year!  The Ryes of DC series (still to be continued in 2017) allowed us to get amazing 3-year Willett Rye barrel flavors in some of the finest beers produced by our local friends!  Atlas Brew Works crushed it, aging their Rowdy Rye in our barrel; Denizens did their Big Willett Style funky red saison, and Port City took their Porter and made it more sexy with our barrels.  Then DC Brau did two versions of the Space Reaper, and each iteration was flash-aged with their amazing abilities in our Willett Rye barrel for the regular space reaper, while the Belgian Space Reaper 2.0 took temporary residence in our Jack Rose Maker’s Mark Single Cask barrel.  Each one of these breweries was entrusted with our barrels to put what they thought would best show, and all of them excelled as always.

FAVORITE PLACES TO DRINK

Jack Rose, because my lines are immaculate, as well as anywhere where my company Liquid Integrity has installed a draft system.

Moving away from being self-referential, I love drinking at: Hazel, because of all the Crooked Stave; Boundary Stone, because the beers always go with their awesome whiskey selection; and, finally, for an event, Snallygaster, because I love watching people climb over one another to get a drop of beer when there are hundreds more options available…while I drink a beer…

POSITIVE 2016 TRENDS

The best trends would be the interest in quality shown by many retailers in upgrading and expanding their lines, as well as new builds.  I’ll unashamedly plug Liquid Integrity (again) here and leave readers to look us up!

LESS-DESIRABLE 2016 TREND

There are too many breweries to keep up with.  The worst trend is when whoever has some extra money, and has done some “home brewing,” thinks that they can open a brewery. This leads to displacing lines and a presence in the market that has been established by seasoned craft breweries, as well as new breweries staffed with the years of experience and training required to properly open a brewery. Only these people can consistently produce liquid that maintains its quality from batch to batch and is methodically conceived.

2017 HOPES AND WISHES

I would like to see more wild ales, and for every brewery owner to buy one of Liquid Integrity’s glass rinsers (Coming CBC 2017).  I also can’t wait to taste the yum that is going to be coming from “Dr.” Bill Sysak’s new brewery, Wild Barrel.

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Julie Verratti

Co-Founder and Business Development at Denizens Brewing

Jeff Ramirez

Co-Founder and Director of Brewery Operations at Denizens Brewing

BEST NEW LOCAL BEER

Ramirez: Baron Corvo, a Biere de Garde by Right Proper, has really brought an esoteric style to the local DC market, and done it well. It’s a malt-driven style that has layers of depth from aging, and it really shows in this beer.

BEST NEW NON-LOCAL BEERS

Ramirez: The Khores Ballroom Beer from Call to Arms Brewing in Denver stood out to me, because a few senior Colorado brewers made an attempt at a tribute beer to the classically imperfect American Lager Coors Banquet. Coors Banquet was a beer I drank before I drank craft beer, but also a beer I continue to drink after I’ve made a career of making craft beer. I think Call to Arms’ version is a great rendition of this style.

FAVORITE NEW (OR IMPROVED) DENIZENS BEERS

Ramirez: The beer I think we really dialed in this year is our Lowest Lord ESB, because the malt character is more interesting/complex than the original recipe.

Our latest sour/barrel-aged release called Oud Boy is also something I think has turned out really well. After barrel aging and creating sours at Denizens for the past 2 1/2 years, we now have a solid sour inventory to blend all of our styles to spec, which I am pretty happy about.

FAVORITE PLACES TO DRINK

Verratti: I’m going to cheat on this answer and name two places. Republic in Takoma Park is my favorite local place to grab a drink. I really admire that they have been a trend setter in MoCo by only carrying locally-made self-distributed beers on tap. My favorite place in DC proper is Brookland’s Finest. The food they are putting out is incredible and you can’t get more of a neighborhood hangout feel than the atmosphere they have created.

POSITIVE 2016 TRENDS

Ramirez: In 2016, the hops we use in a lot of our recipes became more available than in previous crop years. This has allowed us to plan production much more efficiently and be creative with new seasonal offerings. I hope this trend continues for a long time.

Verratti: I think there are more people calling out sexism, homophobia, and racism in the beer industry than I’ve previously seen. Diversity in craft beer is critically important, and I think more and more people in and around this industry have been speaking out more publicly on it. When you see something, say something. Yes, please, keep this up.

LESS-DESIRABLE 2016 TREND

Ramirez: I would have to say the Session IPA trend. This beer is basically a hoppy version of the American Pale Ale, and I don’t really understand the hype around creating it as its own style. After saying all this, I will admit that we did just release one called Safety Pin.

2017 HOPES AND WISHES

Verratti: I am looking forward to DC-area breweries putting out more variety of styles this year – specifically, lagers, barrel-aged, and sour beers. I love a hoppy beer just as much as the next person, but I’m not sure how many more blown-up beer releases for IPAs and DIPAs I can take. There are some seriously talented brewers around here, and I think their brewing skills are show-cased more clearly in beers that don’t overwhelm your palate with hops on hops on hops.

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Ben Evans

Co-Founder and Head Brewer at Hellbender Brewing

BEST NEW LOCAL BEERS

We have a great growing beer community here in the DMV, and I try to take full advantage of all the beer festivals I work to get samples of the latest stuff from other local breweries. I’m a big fan of the sours that 3 Stars and Lost Rhino put out. I really liked the recent release of Space Reaper by DC Brau. Atlas’ Dance of Days is damn tasty, and I’ve had a few beers from The Veil and Aslin that were great. I was serving beer next to the Ocelot guys at Snallygaster this year again, so I got to try some of their beers. I’ve also been out to their brewery a couple times, and I love how much hop aroma they pack into their IPAs.

BEST NEW NON-LOCAL BEERS

I haven’t gotten out much in or out of DC for the last four years, but I was able to visit NYC for a weekend this past summer. I went to Other Half, and I was really impressed with a lot of their stuff. I was also happy to see a collaboration with 3 Stars on tap at Other Half. (They did a Grisette with millet, if I remember correctly.)

FAVORITE NEW (OR IMPROVED) HELLBENDER BEERS

I feel like we really dialed-in our Bare Bones Kölsch and Ignite IPA this year. Along with some other minor tweaks, we switched the base malt of the Kölsch to Pilsner malt, and we recently switched up the dry-hopping technique on the IPA, as well as adding more dry hops per barrel. I’m really excited for our Grampus Smoked Nut Brown to drop in the new year. We just brewed that one, and the applewood and cherrywood smoked malt we use from Copper Fox Distillery smelled great in the mash.

FAVORITE PLACES TO DRINK

I’m all about visiting local breweries if I’m traveling, but with my schedule I’m all about finding great places that are walking distance from home. I live in Columbia Heights here in DC, so some of my favorite places to grab a beer in my neighborhood are Kangaroo Boxing Club, The Midlands, Lyman’s Tavern, Timber Pizza, El Chucho and Meridian Pint. I go to all of them for various reasons including some really good food options and outdoor seating, but they’re all great, and I’m lucky to live where I do.

POSITIVE 2016 TREND

Sours seemed to have a stronger presence in 2016. I love sours, but I’m specifically a fan of 100% brettanomyces fermented beers because they tend to have a little more funky yeast character than sour character. I liked Bretty McBrettface from Lost Rhino a lot because it had a lot of peach and tropical fruit going on, and all of those flavors and aromas were contributed by the wild yeast strains. We’ve been doing a decent amount of 100% brettanomyces pilot batches that we hope to scale up slightly in 2017. We should be seeing some of those make it to the tasting room lineup by February.

LESS-DESIRABLE 2016 TREND

Probably my biggest pet peeve is when I see folks look down on bright beers as if they’re somehow inferior to hazy beers. I will say that I like a lot of beers that happen to be cloudy, and I really hate filtering beer. We started out filtering our Kolsch way back when we first opened, but quickly replaced the yeast strain and sold the filter. It’s now nearly clear, and it tastes better to us. I still generally see haze as a flaw in beer, but I can appreciate it at moderate levels in many different styles. I don’t mind if a beer goes out with a small amount of haze if it’s appropriate to style, but I try to get all of our beers as clear as possible before they go out the door. A little haze is OK, but I like drinking beer a lot more than I like drinking yeast.

2017 HOPES AND WISHES

I’m looking forward to seeing more hybrid styles of beer that don’t really fit the BJCP style guideline molds.

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Dave Coleman

Co-Founder and President of 3 Stars Brewing

BEST NEW NON-LOCAL BEER

Other Half’s Double Mosaic Dream. Huge hop character from one of our favorite regional breweries.

FAVORITE NEW (OR IMPROVED) 3 STARS BEERS

#ultrafresh is hands down my favorite DIPA of the year for us, but we also put out some killer sours. Ricky Rosé, Two-Headed Unicorn, and Funkyard Dog all exceeded my expectations. Our brewery team really dialed in our DIPAs and Funkerdome program this year, and it shows.

FAVORITE PLACES TO DRINK

Our Urban Farmhouse has been a favorite this year for obvious reasons. It has created a real culture at the brewery. It’s made it much more than drinking in a warehouse. Additionally, we have had so many great bars and restaurants not only open, but continue to hone and sharpen their craft. It’s helped DC’s ever-changing landscape continue to grow and improve.

POSITIVE 2016 TREND

Seeing a focus on constant innovation take a hold at a handful more breweries, where people are really starting to think outside the box of conventional styles that most breweries do year round.

2017 HOPES AND WISHES

I’d like to see more quality sours in the market – well executed, and with more balance and complexity.

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Tad Dmuchowski

Operations Manager of City Tap House

BEST NEW LOCAL BEERS

I really like the emergence of the 3 Stars sour program. Two-Headed Unicorn was a great beer that had a well-balanced malt to hop ratio with a funky forward vinegar flavor showing that the Funkerdome is doing its job. The skill of the staff lead by Dave Coleman are hitting their stride.

BEST NEW NON-LOCAL BEERS

I am always a fan of Ommegang’s Rare Vos. An excellent representation of an Amber-style Belgian or otherwise. This is a well-balanced beer with great amber coloring, a slight hop profile and a moderate ABV.

One of the beers I was really impressed with this year was the Graft Gose Cider. From Graft Cidery out of NY, this salty, funky cider was an impressive twist on a cider. Not to mention that it Frankensteined 2 styles most would not have put together, salt and cider. This combination worked exceptionally.

FAVORITE PLACES TO DRINK

I am an eclectic drinker so I have a few for different situations. Jack Rose is always an option for a night out and keeping it classy. Its upstairs roof bar is going to please no matter the situation with cocktails that are expertly crafted by the team of professional bartenders. The upstairs also has a carefully cultivated beer selection that will please the palate and your senses as you look out over the city and Adams Morgan.

For a local spot with an all local lineup, no choice better than Boundary Stone.  All of the bartenders really know the beer they have on draft.  No matter how busy they may be, they take the time to make sure you get one that you will truly enjoy. With their dimly lit ambiance, you’ll feel like you are hidden away in your own home as opposed to the middle of Washington, DC.

The bar that I go to for a great night out with old friends is Ivy and Coney, located just outside Shaw. This is a Midwest haven tucked into a bustling neighborhood. With throwback beers on draft, steady flow of Bell’s Two Hearted and the signature shot of Chicago- Malort. This small cozy spot will make you think you’re in a neighborhood bar in Chicago with locals supporting their favorite teams (die hard fans – lots of them).

POSITIVE 2016 TRENDS

I think that one of the best resurrected styles to really take off this year is the Radler. This is a style that lends itself to a ton of variations that we started to see from breweries this last summer. Not only does it lend itself to a variety of flavors, but its low ABV makes it an ideal choice for cocktails such as “The DC Radler” (Radler with Gin) or a “Dirty Radler” (Radler and Old Overholt).

LESS-DESIRABLE 2016 TREND

This is a personal one of mine that many will disagree with: unbalanced beers. The allure of “the hoppier the better” is one that I don’t quite understand. I would like to see the super hoppy with a stronger malt backbone to hold up to the IBUs.

2017 HOPES AND WISHES

I hope that 2017 brings us as much great and creative beer we can all drink.

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Mari Rodela

President of DC Brewers Guild + Chief Community and Culture Officer at DC Brau

2017 HOPES AND WISHES

I would love to see an English Style Bitter (ESB) made in DC. It’s one of my favorite styles and is way under produced. Oliver’s in Baltimore makes a great one, but I’d love one from my friends in DC.

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Ben Clark

Head Brewer at Flying Dog Brewing

BEST NEW LOCAL BEER

I keep going back to Waredaca Brewing Company’s Beecher IPA. It’s brewed with lemon verbena from the farm’s garden, and it has a perfect balance of hops and herbs. Waredaca is a farm brewery in Montgomery County’s Laytonsville, and it just celebrated its one-year anniversary this month. One of their founders, Keith, got his start brewing at Flying Dog, and it’s always amazing to see one of our own go off and do great things (and brew great beers).

BEST NEW NON-LOCAL BEER

I try to buy local, so I always look for something new when I travel. I love getting the chance to drink some Bale Breaker beers when we are out selecting hops every fall in Washington State. Bale Breaker was started by a family of hop growers, and the brewery actually sits on one of the family’s hop fields, just a few miles down the road from where they grew up. I recommend Top Cutter, their flagship IPA.

FAVORITE IMPROVED FLYING DOG BEER

Snake Dog. When we release over 20 new beers each year, our legacy IPA of 20 years is probably not what you would expect me to say. But we have been making some tweaks to Snake Dog over the course of 2016, and I think the modifications we made are great.

Snake Dog has always been known to be a pretty assertive IPA, a crowd favorite, and consistently among our top sellers. So why mess with success? It comes down to what we like in our IPAs at the brewery, and allowing our beers to evolve alongside our palates. Some of the hops we’re using now weren’t even available 20 years ago. We have added a large amount of Citra to the mix, as well as some Simcoe and Mosaic, a new favorite hop around the brewery. Snake Dog’s citrus notes are definitely popping, and you get a little dank/green hop from the Simcoe with some tropical/juicy-fruit from the Mosaic.

All of the Snake Dog fans at the brewery love the new hop profile, and the proof is in how quickly any surplus sitting around the brewery gets grabbed up and taken home.

FAVORITE PLACE TO DRINK

I am kind of an urban homesteader. I live in a cul-de-sac, but I have a garden, a worm farm, I hunt, and I can a bunch of food each year (300 pounds of apples into sauce this year, about 10 different hot sauces, and more). I also raise meat and laying chickens, ferment all kinds of stuff… You get the picture.

With that said, I love farm breweries.  Enjoying a pint in the place where the ingredients came from, talking to the people who had their hand in every aspect of the creation of the beer – and knowing the effort that went into getting those ingredients into the beer – really appeals to the romantic in me.

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Mike Stein

President of Lost Lagers

BEST NEW LOCAL “BEERS”

Stealing a page from Fritz Hahn, my favorite new beer wasn’t a beer at all but a cider. A beverage made from fermented apple juice. Hard to pick between the 4 Collaborative Ciders that ANXO fermented but there is something for everyone between the two Basque-style ciders done with Millstone Cellars of Monkton, Maryland (#1 & #2) and the two (#3 & #4) done with Eden Specialty Ciders of Newport, Vermont. Two of out the four are still, #2 & #3, which is an easy carry-over for wine drinkers. Two of the four are sparkling #1 & #4, these are more readily accessible to beer drinkers. Regardless of your beverage of choice, cider is a great place for beer and wine to meet as in reality cider is NEITHER beer nor wine. Sure, it’s classified as wine by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, but in reality it’s history is unique in America and ANXO is doing some incredible things, including but not limited to, foraging fruit from inside the District to press into a foraged cider. A concept usually reserved for destination cideries out in Vermont, California and northern New York. Watch this cidery as they are “DC’s first licensed winery since prohibition” an important distinction when you realize DC had cideries prior  to 1917, when the city fell into the nightmare that was prohibition.

BEST NEW NON-LOCAL BEERS

There was a time in life when I just couldn’t get enough lager. OK, that time is now and like a school-boy crush, Lager, I’m still not over you. Thankfully this year saw the rise of beer shops like Craft Beer Cellar on H Street where there are TONS of German and even Czech, Polish, and Danish lagers. They’re not exactly new, but I find the more people I pour a 6% ABV Czech Lager, the more Czech-beer converts I have behind me, banging the beat of the lagerrhythms. My father was born in Prague, so of course I’m totally partial to the Czech Konrad 14º  it’s a bargain at the Craft Beer Cellar at $3.75. But of course like people, there are lagers of every color. The massive Baltic porters primarily from Poland, like this one, which are also there for a mere $2.25. Sure it’s a guilty pleasure as Zywiec is Heineken-owned but you could do A LOT worse when it comes to macro lager. For $6 you can support an independent Czech brewery and Poland’s largest (not independently owned) brewery in Heineken’s Grupa Żywiec S.A. Seeing as $6 is the new $3 dollar pint price of beer in the District you’re always welcome in my house with a lovely European lager.

Favorite Beer Lost Lagers Helped Produce

One particular Lost Lagers project that gave me great pride was the Polish Porter brewed at the District Chophouse. Anybody who knows the DCBeer scene knows Barrett Lauer is one of the most hard working men in town. He’s done countless good deeds for brewers in need and has lent much of his time helping out the DC Brewers Guild which is another organization that holds a special place in my heart. They are essentially the Justice League of the District’s superhero team of breweries. Executive Director Kathy Rizzo has done a great job in conjunction with President Mari Rodela to steel the community of makers, for the pros and cons of operating as a small business in our city which is always more difficult for independents than larger organizations. In many ways I like to think of DC’s brewing scene as small but mighty.

The Polish Porter was a beer that took years in the making and by the time the stars aligned it seemed the brewing gods and goddesses smiled upon us. Like me, Barrett Lauer’s mom is a European immigrant (she’s of Polish descent). In May, we celebrated Polish Constitution Day with District Chophouse/Lost Lager porters at the Polish Ambassador’s Residence. Pouring our porter for Ambassador Ryszard Schnepf was a real honor and I could imgaine how historical brewers who have served their porter to ambassadors must have felt.

The short of it being a “Polish Porter,” is because it was brewed exclusively with Polish hops. Porter was known as “London Porter” for most of the time the style was on the rise. There was also a ton of Dublin Porter brewed in the 19th Century. But lesser known is the “Warsaw Porter” which we believed to be as fine an article as the London or Dublin varieties. The means of production were similar but instead of English barley and hops, the Polish versions historically used domestic, as well as Czech, and German barley and hops. Of course the biggest difference was the fermentation with the English brewers using ale yeast and the Poles eventually coming to use lager yeast. All of this to say the Polish article is just as good, if not better, than the English and Irish article. Just don’t tell the Fullers or Gallway Bay breweries I said that!

FAVORITE PLACES TO DRINK

I feel one should always have a “local” in walking distance. Somewhere to go “down the pub” where you’re as comfortable there as you are in your own living room in your jammies resting your slippered feet.

I’m lucky enough to say that two of my locals are brewpubs. There’s the always-enjoyable Bluejacket and just west on M street is the the Gordon Biersch Brewpub Navy Yard. There the beers that come out of Travis Tedrow’s serving vessels are truly exceptional. As you’ve guessed by now I’m incredibly partial to lager over ale. BUT I would venture to say that Travis’ Flanders Red ale or Grand Cru was the best sour ale manufactured commercially in the district in 2016.

The Flanders Red-style “Vintage Release” was a blend of 3 different French wine barrels. Two aged his Belgian Dubbel in them and one held lager with each barrel aging for over 7 months. He put in microorganisms from Jasper Akerboom’s collection, a proprietary blend of Brettanomyces, Lactobaccilus, and Pediococcus. Together, the three blended barrels made a tart, refreshing, sour ale that was *GASP* a better experience than drinking copious quantities of Travis’ always amazing Keller Pils. But to be fair, this beer could not have been blended without the lager! This wonderfully complex ale was of course radically different than his easy-drinking, clean, crisp, and refreshing lagers. Still it was a welcome addition and a generous showcasing of brewers chops for the man who makes amazing lagers and mixed culture blended ales alike.

Travis says he has another sour he’s aging and getting ready to blend so be on the lookout for a similarly complex and completely out of this world ale in the near future.

POSITIVE 2016 TRENDS

The biggest trend for me in 2016 was lager. I know, I know, shocking! Coming from the President of Lost Lagers.

Another trend I saw was the non-distributing business model of breweries. Practitioners, such as the Carney brothers of Pen Druid, make 100% of their beer sales out of their tasting room. You walk in and find a Carney brother and you’re having an unquestionably authentic experience. You’re basically guaranteed the kind of access Slugworth sought of the Willy Wonka chocolate factory, just by stepping foot in their brewery.

In many ways, this model is a throwback to the pre-prohibition days of brewing in DC where for every brewery you had a tiny hole-in-the-wall tavern where the brewer was the CEO, his wife was the Hostess Extraordinaire, their children were the servers and maitre d, and grandmother might very well have been the chef de cuisine. These pre-prohibition pub breweries primarily manufactured weiss beer, though sometimes they made lager and porter. By 1890, George Frederick Kozel had opened a saloon at 1827 14th Street which had “a special room for women patrons.” That’s what progress looked like in the 19th Century! Ironically enough, Garden District is on the same block where this progressive 19th C. saloon once stood. And that will do if you don’t possess a time machine to get back to 1890.

LESS-DESIRABLE 2016 TREND

A lot of local beer people, some in the DC Brewers Guild, the DCBeer staff in general but specifically Editor Bill DeBaun, and many other intelligent men and women have said the misogyny that’s found its way into craft beer needs to stop. Amen brothers and sisters. Not so much locally, Bryan Roth, has written about and summed it up well. In his post he mentions a recent All About Beer interview with Laura Bell, next in line to the Bells empire, which can be heard here. To sum it up, here is Roth’s annotation of the interview with Bell:

“For us, we make a lot of excuses in beer,” Laura Bell, vice president of Bell’s Brewery recently told John Holl on the podcast After Two Beers. “The first lesson I learned in brewing was that if you can’t take it when men hit on you, especially men that are your distributors or suppliers or whatever, you’re not going to make it. So grow a thick skin, toughen up, you have to tell them to back off. But if you can’t do that, then maybe this isn’t the industry for you.”

I have the utmost respect for Bell and take what she says to heart. I will never experience misogyny in the beer business the way she has. That is me addressing my bias. So when I hear other people talk on a misogynistic level I typically have to use that as a jumping off point for education. I’m by no means perfect BUT I am a white man with an invisible backpack of privilege. I am also a person who is a feminist, an advocate, a person with the notion that women should be treated as equals. Of course women being treated (and paid) as equals sounds like “an absurd notion” the further outside of the District I get. It’s tough, uncomfortable, and awkward to leave our respective bubbles. But that comfort that I feel in DC and the awkwardness when I go to less urban areas is an indicator of the work that still needs to be done. This work for social justice needs doing not just in beer but in uplifting the level of equality in daily American life. Whew. Glad I got that off my chest. Lager me!

2017 HOPES AND WISHES

I don’t know that I’m secretly hoping anything will change though I do hope more breweries would play to the already existing strengths of their breweries, neighborhoods, and not-too-far-away farms. I would really like to see more amber, brown, and black lagers brewed. How about a pre-prohibition style porter hopped with hop varieties that existed before 1920? How about more porter fermented with lager yeast? How about more porter fermented with Brettanomyces? Consider the gauntlet thrown!

I’d also like to see more “adjunct” and pre-prohibition lagers. A beer doesn’t taste bad because it’s brewed with corn or rice. Brewers, do us all a favor and make a good, no a GREAT beer with corn or rice. I feel like I’m constantly making batches of beer that prove to people how great corn can be in both lager and ale. I think the NEIPA trend has de-stigmatized some of the animosity towards “adjuncts.” Anything that is not barley can be called an adjunct. For so many of the juicy hop bombs we love imbibing, there is a portion of oats or wheat or both in the grist and that’s a good thing. As we begin to turn our gaze towards local grains, farmers stand a better chance to malt wheat or oats or grow GREAT wheat and oats that can actually surpass the quality of “superior” German wheat. Virginia grows barley but the state also grows wheat, oats, and corn. It is my hope that as we continue to think local, the quality of local malts rises as well as the quality of local hops which we have already seen taking place in Virginia.

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