The best way to keep warm in the winter is with a beer blanket, right? Lucky for Washingtonians, D.C. has a plethora of craft breweries and microbreweries to cozy up at.
The Bitches were recently invited to try City Brew Tours, which runs tours of local breweries in D.C., Baltimore, Boston, Philly, and Vermont. Always looking to up my cred on Untappd, I was in. I brought along my beer-loving pal, Megan, who is up for anything. We met our group outside the National Portrait Gallery in Penn Quarter and headed out for the After Hours brew tour on a snowy night.
The Movers And Shakers
Our driver, tour guide, and beer expert extraordinaire was Chris. He works in IT security by day, but by night leads a super informative brewery tour. Chris knew how each of the breweries operated, explained to us the differences in their manufacturing processes, and how those are reflected in the product and distribution. It was clear that not only does Chris know a lot about beer in general, he really knows his stuff about the D.C. beer scene.
Megan and I were joined by a group of eight tourists from Norway. They were friendly and very eager to discuss the differences between American and European beer. City Brew Tours does a great job of keeping the tours intimate, so you really get a chance to ask every question and enjoy a tour that can be tailored to your interests and beer preferences.
Going on a City Brew Tour is a real commitment. The After Hours Tour was a full five hours long, so don’t expect it to be a lazy day at a tasting room.
That said, the vibe is structured, but super relaxed. Our group was full of friendly beer-lovers, eager to learn more about the local craft beer scene. And it took us all over. On this particular night, we went to Hellbender, The Public Option, Brookland Pint, and District Chophouse.
The breweries you visit depends on that day’s availability, but I was excited since I hadn’t tried three of the four spots.
Each brewery and bar has its own distinct vibe. Hellbender is the largest of the group, and has a family-friendly tasting room in Northeast D.C. I was happy to get to try The Public Option, which I never would have gone out my way to try. It’s a tiny bar tucked into a house, that brews its own draughts in a shed down the street, but does not distribute.
Brookland Pint, the sister restaurant to Meridian Pint, is a cool spot in the up-and-coming neighborhood of the same name. It had a ton of local beers on tap, so we sampled ones from 3 Stars, Devil’s Backbone, and Port City Brewing. It was here that we sat for a casual meal, to help soak up all the booze and refuel for the rest of the night.
Finally we ended at District Chophouse, which I never realized brewed their own draughts. I’ve probably walked by this spot a million times and just assumed it was another stuffy steakhouse. In fact, it’s more casual that it appears, but retains the bones of the bank that was once housed there.
We sampled at least 12 different beers over the course of the night. There was a focus on those brews made in house, but we also tried more local beers at Brookland Pint. Your tour guide will choose the styles of beer for you, so we suggest keeping an open mind and be willing to try anything.
Chris asked about our favorite types of beers at the beginning of the tour, so he was able to recommend styles tailored to our palates. I learned I like District Chophouse’s Dunkelweisse, a dark beer that I never would have ordered on my own.
City Brew Tours offer a great way to explore the D.C. beer scene. Our tour guide was super knowledgeable, and our group was intimate enough that we really got to know each other. Plus, it’s a great value. The After Hours Tour is $90 per person for four stops, at least 12 beer samples, plus dinner and transportation. Other tours run from $65-$90 but I’d definitely recommend this one for beer-lovers looking for a fun night out.
City Brew Tours operate in D.C., Baltimore, Boston, Philly, and Vermont.