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The 10 must-try breweries in the DMV

The DMV is in the midst of a full-blown brewing renaissance. That is not news, but it is a potential problem because if you’re looking to dip a toe (or, more likely, a tongue) into the hundreds of beers produced at our dozens of new breweries, where on earth do you start?

Below, is a primer on some of our best local suds:

Port City Brewing Co., Alexandria, Va.

  • Fun fact: This is the oldest packaging brewery in Northern Virginia. Which is to say, not very old, but these guys were on the forefront of the local craft boom.
  • If you visit: You can get a workout in. Cycling groups and running groups have regular meetups at the brewery, and beer yoga is a weekly thing.
  • Fill your growler with: Port City Porter, a dark, chocolatey ale that’s still light enough to quaff on a summer night.

3 Stars Brewing Co., Takoma

  • Fun Fact: Before this brewery ever opened, they threw open the doors on the adjacent homebrewing shop, D.C.’s first and still only.
  • If You Visit: Take a seat in their “urban farmhouse,” complete with a bourbon-barrel bar, a retractable garage door and reclaimed shingles.
  • Fill Your Growler with: Peppercorn Saison, a Belgian-style farmhouse that you may have had at Nationals Park … and you should again.

Right Proper Brewing Co., Shaw (and Brookland)

  • Fun Fact: Here, they specialize in yeast-forward styles, many of which originally hailed from Belgium and Germany. Plenty of them were made in their three foeders, giant oak tanks that once fermented Virginia wine.
  • If You Visit: You’ll have to take your pick between the brew pub in Shaw, where you can get a Chick-fil-A-inspired sandwich; and the Brookland production house, which is the place for tours and tastings.
  • Fill Your Growler with: White Bicycles, a wonderfully dry and tart rustic witbier, brewed with black limes.

Bluejacket, Southeast Waterfront

  • Fun Fact: At this former Naval factory, most of the 25 beers on tap are only available at the brewery.
  • If You Visit: Be forewarned: Your experience will be far different on game days versus on days when the Nats are away.
  • Grab a Bottle of: Mexican Radio, a stout brewed with vanilla beans, cacao nibs, chili peppers and cinnamon sticks.

DC Brau, Langdon

  • Fun Fact: As D.C.’s first production brewery since 1956, these guys were the first to put D.C. beer back on the map.
  • If You Visit: Make it a Friday night, when all pints are half off.
  • Fill Your Growler with: El Hefe Speaks, their seasonal hefeweizen that’ll make you welcome more global warming. Well, maybe.

Adroit Theory Brewing, Purcellville, Va.

  • Fun Fact: The lineup of beers, focusing on bold, barrel-aged styles, is interesting enough, but get a load of the labels—gothic and creepy, they look like they were ripped off of heavy metal albums.
  • If You Visit: Get there early enough to score a seat at the outdoor patio. Just beware of dogs.
  • Fill Your Growler with: Black as Your Soul, a Russian Imperial Stout that you might find in bourbon barrel or red-wine barrel-aged versions.

Waredaca, Laytonsville, Md.

  • Fun Fact: The name comes from this property’s former life as Washington Recreational Day Camp.
  • If You Visit: The former camp still sports acres of equestrian barns and horse pastures, so try to spot the next Kentucky Derby winner as you sip your pint.
  • Fill Your Growler with: Geedie, a high-alcohol Belgian trippel with plenty of malt and spice character.

Denizens Brewing, Silver Spring, Md.

  • Fun Fact: Almost alone among local breweries, this one is women-owned and operated.
  • If You Visit: Pick a nice spring day … and then get there early, because the 200-seat patio beer garden fills up quickly with beer lovers. And dogs.
  • Fill Your Growler with: Southside Rye IPA, an unexpected twist on the hoppy, go-to style in nearly every taproom.

Ocelot Brewing, Sterling, Va.

  • Fun Fact: These guys like big, hoppy beers, but they don’t like to be pinned down: they often won’t brew a beer more than twice per year.
  • If You Visit: Expect live music in the tasting room.
  • Fill Your Growler with: Any of their IPAs will do nicely, but keep an eye out for the Talking Backwards triple IPA, a high-alcohol hop monster of a beer.

Manor Hill Brewing, Ellicott City, Md.

  • Fun Fact: They grow two acres of hops—four varieties in all—on site.
  • If You Visit: Things will never get too crowded, because they limit their tasting room to 50 people at a time. Yes, you can book ahead. And you should.
  • Fill Your Growler with: Malt Shop IPA, which ups the ante with oats, wheat, vanilla beans, apricots and mangoes.
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