Tapping The 411 On The Best DC-Area Breweries

RealClear Staff


     When visiting the nation’s capital, after absorbing all that political history and knowledge, sit down for some suds at DC land’s best breweries, beer gardens and brewpubs.

[Source: History.com]

The wise always work their way in reverse, so start with Waredaca Brewing Company in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Gather ’round a lakeside picnic table situated on a real, horse farm while partaking in saturating sips from one or all seven on-tap beers. (4017 Damascus Rd., Laytonsville; 301-774-2337)

MOST POPULAR BREW(S): White Flag Belgian Wit and Beecher Lemon Verbena IPA

NEWEST BEER(S): Marzen-Style Camptoberfest  and Whetstone Session (pale ale)

[Photo: Randy Lovelace]


Afterward, don’t get too lost when visiting Vanish in Virginia. Located deep within a 52-acre forest-and-field scape, this brewery has its own hop farm, processing facility, large-production brewery and tasting space. Owned by Jonathan Staples, the estate includes a covered-patio area for sampling their 20-tap selection while feasting on barbeque from the Bryan Voltaggio-created menu. (42264 Leelynn Farm Lane, Leesburg; 703-779-7407)

MOST POPULAR BREW: a “neck-and-neck” team of Grapefruit IPA & Double IPA

NEWEST BEER: Pineapple Saison

[Photo: Rachel Nania for WTOP]


Founded by Dave Coleman and Mike McGarvey, DC-headquartered 3 Stars Brewing Company started as a homebrew lab in Mike’s basement! This hobby turned multi-award-winning company specializes in locally crafted ales—a 40-plus beer selection! In addition to their brewery, guests enjoy actionable activities such as belly dancing and yoga. Upon playful participation, feel free to throw a barbeque while cooling off with a cold one. (6400 Chillum Place NW; 202-670-0333)

MOST POPULAR BREW(S): Peppercorn Saison

NEWEST BEER: #Ultrafresh

[Source: BeerBusterPodcast.com]


You’ll need to come correct when visiting Right Proper Brewing Company. This highly notable DC-based brewer is locally renowned for being one of the few that takes a historical approach—we’re talking foeder-style beer. Rather than being bogged down by a ton of television screens blaring blatherskite, enjoy beers in an atmosphere lit by a candles with the occasional viewing event on a projector screen. Don’t fret if feeling the itch for repeat visits, as their available ales are always changing—but those favorites are on tap too. With barbeque, menu items all under $20, it’s hard to go wrong when hitting up this brewpub and kitchen. (Brewpub & kitchen: 624 T Street, NW; 202-607-2337 | Brookland production house & tasting room: 920 Girard Street, NE; 202-526-5904)

MOST POPULAR BREW(S): Raised By Wolves and Diamonds, Fur Coats & Champagne

NEWEST BEER(S): Natural Mystique

[Photo: Tammy Tuck]


The only brewery with a patented “Hopzooka,” Port City Brewing Company invites their visitors to not just enjoy beer but hosted events too! Join them in a medley of fun including video games, trivia,“Joggers & Lagers” and “Pedals ‘N’ Pints”—yep, they have bicycling. When in Virginia, a pit stop at the Port is a must! (3950 Wheeler Avenue, Alexandria; 703-797-2739)

MOST POPULAR BREW(S): Optimal Wit (Belgian, white ale with a citrus taste) 

NEWEST BEER(S): Oktoberfest (seasonal, traditional, German lager) and their one-off George Washington Double Porter (aged in whiskey barrels)

[Photo: Jordan Mittleman]


When you’re at Old Ox Brewery, you’re family—especially since they’re owned and operated by one. Enjoy up to eight beers on tap while participating in sports-related events including Trottin’ Oxen runs, zip-line adventures and relay racing. (44652 Guilford Dr., Ashburn; 703-729-8375)

MOST POPULAR BREW(S): Golden Ox Golden Ale and their seasonal Oxtober beer (September/October)

NEWEST BEER(S): The Oxercist (imperial pumpkin ale | nine percent | brewed w/maple syrup, pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves)

[Source: OldOxBrewery.com]


Once a military secret-listening post, Old Busthead Brewing Co. has kept with the olive-color tradition. This Virginian brewery (Faquier County) supposedly got its name when a local became a little to “spiritual” and fell off his horse, but some say otherwise. Within these multi-building rehabbed walls are a 30-barrel four-vessel brew house, six 60-barrle fermenters and two 120-barrel fermenters—just so they can brew the best for you. Often, they’ll have various food trucks for guests to crowd around between pints—one at a time, folks! Be sure to enjoy their trivia and live music. But don’t forget to stop in their swag shop on your way out! (7134 Lineweaver Road, Vint Hill; 540-347-4777)

MOST POPULAR BREW(S): Graffiti House (west coast-style IPA | Mosaic hops & CTZ hops)

NEWEST BEER(S): Virginia Hop Harvest and Smoked Rye 

[Source: OldBusthead.com]


The wild cats of beer will surely never fail. Ocelot Brewing Company crafts their brews stealthily and strategically and at impressive levels. Come join them for a pint at their Dulles, Virginia, pride. But don’t worry, you’ll be treated like the big cat around there. (23600 Overland Drive #180, Dulles; 703-665-2146)

MOST POPULAR BREW(S): IPAs and Russian Imperial Stouts

NEWEST BEER(S): Kettle Sours

[Photo: Neal E.]


Return to the country, down on a farm, and mosey onto Maryland-based Manor Hill Brewing. However, don’t let their location fool you. They’ve plenty of elegance, as the owners of Columbia’s Victoria Gastro Pub erected this outfit—tasting-room visits are through reservations only (but it’s definitely worth the wait). If you’re feeling the urge to get away but want to keep the class, stop by and imbibe... Be on the lookout for their opening of a table in Ellicott City’s historical district. (4411 Manor Lane; 410-997-7771)

MOST POPULAR BREW(S): Manor Hill IPA (draft and can)

NEWEST BEER(S): Taylor’s Row IPA

[Photo: Fritz Hahn]


The Mad Fox Brewing folks are anything but, as they’ve a European-style gastro brewpub (Falls Church) to accompany their cask-conditioned and barrel-aged beers. Founder Bill Madden wanted nothing short of perfection, so they opened a second location (Glover Park) to achieve such a feat. In addition to their fine food (ingredients are from local farms), enjoy a pint as per their Angram water-jacketed beer engine that ensures your ale is “served at properly conditioned cellar temperatures.” (Falls Church Brewpub: 444 West Broad Street, Suite I Falls Church, VA; 703-942-6840 | Glover Park Taproom: 2218 Wisconsin Avenue, NW Washington, DC; 202-791-0389)

MOST POPULAR BREW(S): Orange Whip IPA and Keller Bier Kölsch

NEWEST BEER(S): Wee Heavy and Batch 700

[Photo: Jeff Martin]


You’ll need a teensy bit of rage when bellying up to Lost Rhino Brewing Company’s bar—just kidding. Nevertheless, traipse down Red Rum Drive and roll into this place with a beast-sized thirst for a rotating list of 15 beers. Their yeasty strains are local—beit orchards, meadows and even fossils! Additionally, this Virginian outfit holds up its namesake, as they support rhino activism. (21730 Red Rum Drive, Suite 142; 571-291-2083)

MOST POPULAR BREW(S): Faceplant IPA and Rhinofest (seasonal)

NEWEST BEER(S): Tmavy Lager

[Source: LostRhino.com]


Bust out of that day job and sneak into Maryland’s Jailbreak Brewing Company. You won’t be alone, as their staff is made up of professionals from all different walks who shared a love of ale and freedom. Grab a cushion on their couch or hunker down at a table while sampling up to 12 tap-estries. Exchange ideas of independence while watching their friendly staff create yet another boisterous batch of beer. And remember, they keep it kosher here, folks! (9445 Washington Blvd N, STE F, Laurel; 443-345-9699)

MOST POPULAR BREW(S): Feed The Monkey (hefeweizen), The Infiinite (amber ale) and Big Punisher (double IPA)

NEWEST BEER(S): [anti-pumpkin] Carrot Conspiracy (seasonal, spiced, amber ale | a collaborative release with Flying Dog Brewery) and Watershed Moment (an IPA, which all proceeds go to the recent flood in MD)

[Photo: Thomas Cizauskas]


Former-legislative-assistant Patrick Mullane threw his old profession out the window when he founded and launched Hellbender Brewing Company. While he had a steady job “on the hill,” he obviously needed a break from the fiery pits of politics. Now, he shares his love of beer and brewing with all who wish to enter these DC doors. Here, it’s board games, bicycle tours and 12 draft lines! (5788 2nd Street; NE Washington, DC; 202-8278768)

MOST POPULAR BREW(S): (summer) Southern Torrent Saison and (winter) Red Line Ale

NEWEST BEER(S): (re-release) Bare Bones Kölsch and Dunkelweiss (dark hefeweizen)

[Source: DCBrewTours.com]


Jump back over to Maryland and enter Franklin’s—a family friendly triple threat including a brewery, restaurant and general store, which also sells toys (the only one in the world)! History buffs will appreciate it being Prince Georges County’s first microbrewery. This craft-beer-brewing operation is owned by a fun-loving married couple who celebrate family fun and ale appreciation. They’re right along the Rhode Island Avenue Trolley bike trail; so hit the brakes, slam down the kickstand and bring in your closest of kin for food, folks and foam! (5123 Baltimore Ave; 301-927-2740)

MOST POPULAR BREW(S): Bombshell Blonde (blonde ale), Rubber Chicken Red (American amber ale) and Twisted Turtle (pale ale)

NEWEST BEER(S): 97 LB. Weakling (re-release) and Rauchweizen (oak-smoked hefeweizen)

[Photo: Alison Beckwith]


If you’re a Ralph Steadman fan, you might just be a Flying Dog Brewery lover too! Most are familiar with their label art—the righteous Ralph, of course—but few may know that astrophysicist/photographer/rancher/writer/philanthropist/educator and founder George Stranahan conquered the K2! (The brewery’s conception actually spawned from him running out of booze during this deadly feat!) With his life-long friend and partner, Richard McIntyre, they launched this artful beast of a brewery. Visit this Maryland malt-centric masterpiece and enjoy one-off brews and Summer Session concert series while appreciating the history and art of the Flying Dog. (4607 Wedgewood Blvd., Frederick; 301-694-7899)

MOST POPULAR BREW(S): Raging Bitch (Belgian-style IPA) 

NEWEST BEER(S): Carolina Reaper (peach-spice IPA) and White Peach Saison

[Source: BrewsTravelers365.com]


Earn your water wings (sort of) by cruising back to Virginia so you can enjoy the nautical-themed Fair Winds Brewing Company, which has up to 12 taps. Try dipping in on a Thursday—all-night happy hour and trivia. But the most memorable activity is their brewery tour. Enjoy some suds with names that hearken sailors and the sea! (7000 Newington Road, Suites K&L, Lorton; 703-372-2001 | 38° 44’ 20.9796’’ N & 77° 11’ 4.4592’’ W for the true sea farers)


NEWEST BEER(S): Masthead Mosaic (east coast IPA) and Nautifest (Oktoberfest brew)

[Photo: Tim Peterson]


Be one of the locals at Denizens Brewing Company. More than just a brewery—an upstairs taproom, a downstairs lounge and a 200-seat beer garden—Jeff Ramirez’s, Julie Verrattie’s and Emily Bruno’s imbibing establishment’s the only woman-and-minority-owned operation in Maryland. Additionally, their five-star chef is sure to prepare a plate fit for your palate—the food and foam are made to be a team! They take brewing seriously, as your enjoyment is their top priority. (1115 East-West Highway, Silver Spring; 301-557-9818)

MOST POPULAR BREW(S): Southside Rye (IPA) and Born Bohemian (Pilsner)

NEWEST BEER(S): Dubplate: Summer Jam Mix

[Source: Denizens Brewing Company Facebook]


Be DC strong with a trip to DC Brau Brewing Co.! Their beers are so amazing they had no choice but to name if after our nation’s capital. But be thrifty by going here on a Friday—pints are half price (or during one their events with bands and DJs). Founders and DC-locals Brandon Skall and Jeff Hancock dare not disappoint when you walk into their establishment. (3178-B Bladensburg Rd., NE; 202-621-8890)

MOST POPULAR BREW(S): The Citizen (Belgian pale ale) and On The Wings of Armageddon (Imperial IPA)

NEWEST BEER(S): Oktoberfest

[Source: BeerandBrewing.com]


A cozy, Virginia farmhouse and nanobrewery, Crooked Run Brewing requires no reservations, but space is limited (especially out on the patio). Expect head-scratching hybrids and unique ingredients (e.g., cherry & cayenne). Their tasting room is open five days a week. Don’t forget to shake the hands of the young-yet-wise Jake Endres & Lee Rogan. Go on out, but get there before it fills up! (205 Harrison Street SE, Suite B, Leesburg; 571-918-4446)

MOST POPULAR BREW(S): Peach Habañero Storm (Galaxy Hop IPA) and Impress Sour IPA (fresh oranges)

NEWEST BEER(S): Star Fire (sour, double IPA w/passion fruit)

[Source: Crooked Run Brewing Facebook]


Capital City Brewing Company definitely earned its moniker due to their dual locations. In order to take in its entirety, you’ll need to do a dosey-doe between DC and Virginia. Watch a game, eat some food while letting their brews bubble down your gullet. This double-down establishment is never a dull moment! (brewpub: 4001 Campbell Ave., Arlington, 703-578-3888 | restaurant: 1100 New York Ave., NW, 202-628-2222)

MOST POPULAR BREW(S): Amber Waves (gold medal)

NEWEST BEER(S): Saison, Black Saison and Irish Red Ale

[Photo: Ed Petersen]


Hop a train then jump off at the nearest station where beer is served, and you’ll have Caboose Brewing Company. This appropriately rustic space not only serves up to 12, rotating beers, it also slings out six hobo-approved wines and an on-tap cider. Their brew-paired menu features an array of small sides with ingredients from local, Virginia farms. All aboard! (520 Mill St., NE, Vienna; 703-865-8580)

MOST POPULAR BREW(S): Vanilla Hobo Stout (Imperial stout, eight percent), Car Hopper IPA and Citra Session IPA

NEWEST BEER(S): Ghost Train (pepper ale infused with ghost peppers) and Hobo Stout (bourbon-soaked-barrel-aged stout)

[Source: FunInFairfaxVA.com]


With the brew house being its key component, Blue Jacket is a multi-faceted fun time (including a bottle shop, restaurant and 20-tap bar). They pride themselves on traditional techniques tied with “experimentation, innovation and collaboration”—as they should. This dynamic, DC establishment is nothing short of super heroic. (300 Tingey St., SE; 202-524-4862) 

MOST POPULAR BREW(S): Forbiden Plane (dry-hops Kölsch), Lost Weekend (100 percent citra-hop IPA) and Mexican Radio (stout with cinnamon, ancho-chili, vanilla bean and cacao nibs)

NEWEST BEER(S): Ex-Lion Tamer (tropical, fruity, west coast IPA)

[Source: JDLand.com]


Seemingly inspired by a Steam Punk aesthetic, DC-based eco-friendly Atlas Brew Works is all about the gears and cogs of old—not sparing the solar power at all. Their yester-year label art definitely stands out in a crowd of other bottles and cans. Come discover a refreshing taste of artisanal hand-crafted beers—16 in fact! Perhaps you’ll catch some live Bluegrass music, which goes down on the third Sunday of every month. (2052 West Virginia Ave., NE; 202-832-0420)

MOST POPULAR BREW(S): Ponzi (IPA) and 1500 (helles lager)

NEWEST BEER(S): Rowdier (Imperial version of hopped up rye ale)

[Source: IStopForHops.com]


Test your dexterity at the final stop when you step inside and grab a pint at Virginia’s Adroit Theory Brewing Company. Experiencing the artistic exclusivity of this beer will surely raise your palate’s complexity—taste buds forever changed. (After a few rounds...if you’re still up to the challenge, sample their beer-infused hot sauce.) These mysterious malts are forever changing—be ready for the high-alcohol content (these brews are not for the lightweights)—so you’ll have to keep up while always inquiring... (404 Browning Ct., Purcellville; 703-722-3144)

MOST POPULAR BREW(S): Death of Cthulhu (Russian, Imperial stout brewed w/marshmallows & seaweed | aged in bourbon)

NEWEST BEER(S): Invisible Art (black IPA brewed w/sesame seeds)

[Photo: Josh Triggs]



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