Monday, January 26, 2015

Who's Up For A 2015 DC, MD, & VA Brewery Challenge

While enjoying a tulip of Tripel at Lost Rhino Brewing Co. on Saturday, my friend Chris and I heard about  someone who visited all 100 Virginia breweries in 2014 (#vabrewerychallenge).  Not afraid of a challenge, we committed ourselves to accomplish the same feat in 2015, with me raising the bar to visit the eleven breweries in the District (#dcbrewerychallenge) as well as the 60 or so in Maryland (#mdbrewerychallenge). As expected, we will be using theCompass Winery, Brewery, Distillery Locator to navigate to these establishments. And I can image that Uber will be utilized often.

Thus #1 for the #vabrewerychallenge is Lost Rhino Brewing Co., located in Ashburn Virginia. Most should be familiar with their year round Face Plant, Rhino Chaser, and New River; but i tend toward the seasonal's - like the Tripel and brown ale styled porter - Why Nut?  With decent food and live music on weekends, what's not to like.

On Sunday I began the #dcbrewerychallenge at Atlas Brew Works, located in northeast near the National Arboretum. I was one of the first visitors, but by the time I had finished a sampler, the tasting bar was two deep. Atlas was the 4th craft brewery that has recently opened in DC and I was familiar with the brewery since their District Common and 1500 South Cap Lager are available at Nationals games. But three of their specialty brews hit home for me. First was the Rowdy Rye, I'm always in the search for rye, and this had a some edgy spices to balance the sweet malt. Next was the Pumpernickle Stout that includes some rye and molasssas - ingredients for pumpernickle bread. There is some sweetness to this beer as well but also some creaminess and spice. The final beer, the Town & Country, is outstanding. It's their Belgian Saison aged nine months in used red wine barrels. This process creates a complex beer - with many wine characteristics such as a strong cherry aroma and some tannins on the tail. Can't wait to share this one with my wine friends.

Brewery #2 for the #dcbrewerychallenge is Bardo Brewpub, located less than a mile from Atlas. Pay attention, because if you miss the brewery, you need to travel several blocks to retrace. Bill Stewart initially starting brewing beer with Bardo Rodeo in Arlington Virginia in 1993-4 and at the time it was the largest brewpub in the country. His brother Andrew helped manage the brewpub. Eventually that location closed and the Stewart family renovated the current location and opened Bardo Brewery in 2013. They have an enormous outside seating area and a good sized indoor facility which was half full on this visit. There were ten beers on tap, but once I saw the Bubba's Sour mash, I knew what direction I was headed. This is a tasty sour, black in color, tart in flavor, unfiltered for added complexity. 

 Check back for our next challenge stops. Cheers. 

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