Craft Breweries in and around Washington DC, USA

I lived in the Washington DC area for 18 years and I was certainly a fan of craft beer during that time. But it wasn't until after I left our Nation's Capital that I truly started honing my skills and ramping up my visits to as many breweries as possible. I still return to the DC area on occasion, so I've had a chance to experience several of the local breweries with a fresh palate. I compiled the following list of breweries in Washington DC and surrounding communities in Maryland and Virginia. It is by no means comprehensive. I have more tasting to do, but it's my hope this will give you a great start.

District of Columbia

Atlas Brew Works

Atlas Brew Works is 100% solar powered, so you can thank the sun for the tasty beer (thank the brewers too). If that isn't cool enough, the draught list is creative, with something for everyone, and you may recognize some of the popular brews because they distribute regionally. Atlas is a production brewery and a taproom; there is no restaurant, but you can bring your own food or purchase from occasional food trucks. Atlas is located a couple miles from the NOMA Metro station on the Red Line. You'll either want to drive to the brewery or take a ride share from the Metro. The brewery is near the National Arboretum if you want to tack that onto your trip. Atlas is kid and dog friendly.

Tropic Thunder American IPA

The draught list at Atlas in June 2019

This is Bluejacket, a brewery and restaurant in Southeast DC. The atmosphere can't be beat in this large, historic building that was once part of the Washington Navy Yard. During baseball season, the brewery is a great stop before or after a Washington Nationals game, with the ballpark right down the street. Bluejacket has a great selection of brews, including a few common beer styles as well as several unique finds. Mexican Radio (sweet stout with spices, 1st in flight) is a favorite of mine. The Turnstiles, a New England style IPA (2nd in flight), is also good. Oh, and they have delicious, upscale pub fare too.  Bluejacket is in the heart of DC, walking distance of the Navy Yard Metro station on the Green Line.

Bluejacket's building used to be part of the Washington Navy Yard

My flight from October 2018

Both my Tots and Coconut Curry Soup were delicious

Red Bear Brewing Co is a newcomer on the DC brewery scene (opened in early 2019) and one you won't want to miss. This is an energetic young brewery offering a variety of beer styles, including seasonals. Polar Bear Wheat Pale Ale (1st in flight) is a popular choice and quite tasty. The Something About Rosemary saison (3rd in flight) was an interesting brew and hazier than expected. I visited during DC Pride, so I also must point out the Butch Queen Fruited Pale Ale (5th in flight) with passion fruit - yum! As for food, there isn't a permanent menu, but various food vendors operate as "pop-ups" so you're likely to find food if you visit during a busy time. Red Bear is only a short walk from the NOMA Metro station on the Red Line.

Red Bear has a nice patio for warmer weather

My flight from June 2019

The tap room decorated for DC Pride in June 2019

If you're a fan of "Real Ale" a.k.a. cask beer, you'll want to check out Chesepiooc Real Ale Brewery in Crofton, Maryland, USA. This is a little off the beaten path if you're just visiting DC proper, but easily reachable by car about halfway between the DC Beltway and Annapolis, Maryland. Chesepiooc has filled a niche with their rotating cask ales. There are eight beer engines and new real ales are put on draught on Wednesdays until they run out (the brewery is closed Monday and Tuesday). Unfortunately, I visited on Sunday afternoon with only one remaining cask ale. Here Comes the Sun New England IPA (2nd in flight) was my only cask option on my June 2019 visit, so I'll need to return. But there were several other brews on standard CO2 draughts. My favorite was the unique Here Comes the Moon Black New England IPA (3rd in flight). This was my first experience with this interesting mash-up. I love that Chesepiooc educates customers by listing the malt, hop and yeast varieties that go into each brew.

Chesepiooc's Beer Engines

My flight from June 2019

Every beer's specifications are posted at Chesepiooc

Granite City Brewery

Normally I wouldn't recommend a chain, but the Granite City Brewery location on the Potomac River is convenient for those staying in National Harbor, Maryland, USA, a popular destination for shopping, dining and conventions. Both the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center and the MGM National Harbor Hotel & Casino are nearby. Granite City could be a nice craft beer diversion from the rest of  your busy activities in National Harbor. They offer a full menu of upscale American pub fare, and a slate of standard beer styles. On my most recent visit I opted for the Ukulele Citra IPA, which was a pretty decent version of the style. On a previous trip I gave high ratings to the Broad Axe Stout and the Zug Zwang Porter, but neither was available on my second visit. Granite City is best accessed by car unless you're staying in one of the National Harbor hotels.

Exterior of Granite City National Harbor

Ukulele Citra IPA

Jailbreak Brewing Co

Jailbreak Brewing Co operates in Laurel, Maryland, USA in the far eastern suburbs of DC. The brewery offers a vibrant atmosphere and a wide variety of beer styles. You can sample unusual creations like the Made Wit Basil witbier that is, well, made with basil. But my favorite on my 2018 visit was the Funk Sway Berliner Weiss. Jailbreak has a kitchen and the garlic Parmesan fries are delicious. From DC, you'll need to drive to Jailbreak, which is located between DC and BWI airport.

My flight from June 2018

Inside the spacious taproom

Jailbreak's unassuming exterior

Virginia

Aslin Beer Co has two locations in the DC suburbs: one in Alexandria, Virginia, USA and one in Herndon, Virginia, USA. The Alexandria location is closest to DC and just opened this summer; it's the one I visited. The draught list is heavy on the IPAs. Those of you who like it hoppy will be happy. There are also a few stouts, lagers and other styles on the menu, so you'll have options. I tried a couple of the creative IPAs and my favorite was the very unique Drive-In Copy Cat Sour IPA (pictured). The flavors were slightly sour, slightly vanilla, with a smooth mouthfeel. The blue color comes from algae. My other favorite was a Saison called Sedona or Sonoma?!?. Aslin Alexandria had tacos for the hungry, and kids are allowed in the taproom until 7 pm. Aslin isn't far from the Van Dorn Street Metro station on the Blue Line, but it might be easier to grab a quick ride share than to walk to the brewery.

That's the yummy blue Drive-In Copycat Sour IPA

Exterior of Aslin's Alexandria location

Audacious Aleworks

Audacious Aleworks in Falls Church, Virginia, USA is another brewery with a diverse draught list. I was delighted to see that Audacious has some sour beers, which are always fun to taste, and I included one in my flight. Everything was good, and the staff were very friendly and liked to talk about beer, as they should. Audacious describes itself as family friendly and they offer a small menu of pub fare. Falls Church is just west of Arlington, Virginia but the brewery isn't within walking distance of a Metro station, so you'll want to drive or take a ride share.

The bar at Audacious Aleworks

My flight, from left: Ch-ch-ch Cherry Bomb fruited sour, Tread Lightly Belgian Tripel, The Lord Humungus DIPA, and Pumpkin Porter

New District Brewing Co

New District Brewing Co (Arlington, Virginia, USA) is a neighborhood brewery and tap room, and the first of its kind in Arlington in over 100 years. It's a small business that supports other small businesses (they serve cheese plates from nearby restaurant and cheese shop Cheesetique). They are located on the popular W&OD mixed-use trail and as such, they support local running and cycling events. They're also adjacent to a dog park and allow pre-registered pups to visit the brewery on Wednesdays. I used to live in the neighborhood and had a chance to stop by the brewery for an unofficial "tour" in fall of 2015 before it opened, when I sampled a delicious brown ale. I didn't make it back to the fully opened New District until three years later. My favorite draughts that day were the All Your Haze New England IPA and the 1821 Dark Lager (third and fourth in flight). New District is located in the Shirlington neighborhood in Arlington. There is no direct Metro access, so this one is best visited by car, and is right off the I-395 Shirlington exit.

New District's space is in an old storage facility; in nice weather that garage door is open

My flight from October 2018

Port City Brewing Co   

Port City Brewing Co (Alexandria, Virginia, USA) is located in a historic city on the banks of the Potomac River across from Washington, DC. They’re an award-winning brewery with a loyal local following, with a variety of brews found on tap at many DC-area bars and restaurants. The brewery offers a busy taproom, frequent tours, and special events like Monday night "Joggers & Lagers", a fun run at the brewery. I've tasted and enjoyed a number of Port City brews over the years, and the flagship beers are all good examples of their styles. On my most recent visit (October 2018) I ordered the juicy Integral IPA. While not Metro accessible, you can get off at a nearby station and take a ride share a couple of miles (there are several options on different Metro lines, so consult a transit map).

Outside Port City Brewing

Integral IPA

Visit

Unfortunately, most of these breweries are not directly accessible via the area's Metrorail system, but in some cases you can take a train most of the way and then walk a couple miles or take a ride share. Check out each brewery's website (linked) for more specific directions and for opening hours, which could change seasonally.

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