DC Brau started in 2011 on the eastern side of Washington, DC. It is still within the city limits, but it is essentially right on Maryland’s state line. After opening in 2011, it was Washington DC’s first brewery since 1956. It quickly shot up to become the largest brewery in the city. In 2017, they produced 15,000 barrels of beer. Not only do they produce the most in Washington, but they have been featured numerous times for beer festivals, magazine write-ups, and other awards. In the brewery space, there are signs proudly hanging above the seating areas that highlight their accomplishments.
DC Brau is in a large warehouse space, and they have exploded their property from about 6,000 sq. ft. to about 50,000 in the last seven years that they’ve been in business. They have a new brewhouse besides the one that you can see on the tour, and it’s double the size of that one. With one 15-bbl system and another 30-bbl outside the public eye, they are not only leading the production arms race but also expanding the distance between the competition. They have employed some unique strategies to use the undeveloped space as it is now.
First, resident craftsman John Wye (JonWye.com) is renting out some of the space to use for his art studio. He produces graphic leather belt artwork and designer t-shirts. He is not an employee of the brewing company! He doesn’t touch the production or get involved in the branding side either.
Along the tour, you will be brought to this back room where you can see John’s studio. On the other side of the room, empty cans create an incredible selfie opportunity. The pallets and pallets of cans are strangely satisfying.
The main bar in the front will welcome you to the brewery. Merchandise covers the back wall. My personal favorite item available for sale was the t-shirt that says “Fermentation without Representation” across the front.
The layout of the building is unique because the bar and the seating is not in a clearly defined taproom. The walls between the bar and the brewery don’t go all the way to the ceiling. Additional seating is available in the industrial side of the space as well. After walking around a little brewing equipment, you can sit in the shadows of a fermentation vessel in the back. Additionally, there is another bar in the back that can give you drafts or cans. They also fill growlers. Their current barleywine, Sleeping Standing Up, was only available at the brewery. To get recipes like that, you need to fill a growler or just arrive especially thirsty for a few pints.
DC Brau worked hard to advocate the city council for the adoption of new, looser regulations surrounding the brewing industry in Washington, DC. They largely worked with Atlas Brew Works in their efforts. Some of their beer, like the Public Pale Ale and The Corruption IPA, are available at many bars in the city. They are producing large volumes of a locally-produced beer for a city thirsty for something new. For the regular readers of this blog, the co-owner of Kros Strain Brewing Company in La Vista, Nebraska used to be a home brewer in Washington, DC. My tour guide at DC Brau was an acquaintance of Scott Strain.
TOUR PRICE: Free
GUIDED TOURS OFFERED: Saturdays: 1pm, 2pm, 3pm, and 4pm
HISTORY: Opened in 2011
THREE WORDS TO DESCRIBE THIS BREWERY: Abundance, Commitment, and Experimentation
MY PERSONAL 3P SCORE (PRICE, POURS, AND PLEASANTNESS): 4.3/5
- Free tour
- Revolutionizing the DC beer industry