Though traditionally a great meal may be paired with a great wine, that is changing in the District. Locally-produced, craft beers are getting a seat at the table. People who know a thing or two about brew tend to appreciate it in much the same way as a fine wine. Julia Herz of the Brewer's Association says that craft beer can rival wine since beers can "have a lot of the flavor resonancy because of the malt and the hops, does really good with spicy foods."
DC Brau in Northeast, which opened in April of 2011, is the first production brewery inside DC proper lines in 60 years. Owners Jeff Hancock and Brandon Skall expect sales of their craft beers to triple this year. "We currently cannot keep up with the supply and demand of the city," says Hancock, whose company is on pace to sell 5,000 barrels in 2012. Over the past year, overall beer sales may have fallen, but craft brewers have seen an increase in sales by 13 percent.
Several other craft brewers have recently launched in the region, including Port City Brewing in Alexandria, and DC-based Chocolate City Beer and 3 Stars, in addition to brew-pubs, which have opened their doors as well. Hancock credits local-brewery success to what he considers the 'cultural renaissance' that DC is experiencing. "You have a lot of high end restaurants and people looking for higher quality products. It's a pretty large town as far as alcohol consumption goes and it hasn't had its own kind of brewing brand identity," he says.
Thousands of local craft beer enthusiasts gathered this weekend for Savor, a travelling celebration of the pairing of great foam with great food. The event, which took place at the National Building Museum, attracted a crowd of 4,000 people, and sold out in less than 30 minutes. Attendees were given the opportunity to sample beers from over 70 breweries, including DC Brau.
As thirst for locally-sourced beer grows, Herz notes, "you're going to start seeing breweries in the Washington DC area... 11 breweries total we documented, several of those are in planning. So that is a beautiful thing."