If you aIf you are moving to the capital at one of the Takoma apartments in DC, you might be wondering, “What food is Washington DC known for?” The truth is there is a burgeoning food scene in the capital, and as far as nightlife in Washington, DC, it would not be complete without beer. No one can say downtown Washington, DC, is new to the brewery scene: Its first brewery, the Washington Brewery Company, opened in 1796.1 But when prohibition laws put an end to the local brewing industry, it didn’t truly revive until the founding of DC Brau in 1991.
Today, the nation’s capital is bubbling with local brews for every palate, and there are even Washington DC events centered around craft beer.
With so many, which is the best brewery for the ultimate beer lover? If you’re boiling over for the best breweries Washington, DC, has to offer, you’re in the right place. We’re ale about the trendiest hop-spots and hidden gems that make DC a haven for local lovers of brew.
#1 DC Brau
We start our trip through DC’s microbrewery scene with DC Brau Brewing Company, the first local brewery to launch after the city legalized local brewpubs in the 1990s:1
- What it’s known for: DC Brau offers a variety of IPAs, stouts, and porters, as well as seasonal and limited release beers. You’d be remiss not to try one of its three signature ales: The Public, The Citizen, and The Corruption. Fitting, huh?
- Worth noting: DC Brau Brewing Company features a taproom where you can try each of their craft beer varieties. If you’re a true brew nerd looking for weekend fun, you can also tour its brewing facility.
One of the most popular microbreweries in Washington DC is Bluejacket, which was founded by Greg Engert, an award-winning beer director:2
- What it’s known for: If you’re looking for a wide variety of options, you can’t beat Bluejacket. The pub boasts a 15-barrel brewing system and offers a rotating selection of beers on tap, as well as a variety of bottled and canned brews. Bluejacket also specializes in innovative Belgian-style beers that pair perfectly with jumbo pretzels slathered in housemade beer cheese and mustard.
- Worth noting: First, its taproom overlooks the Nationals Park baseball stadium, making it the perfect post-game pitstop. Second, its brewing facility is stationed in a former navy shipyard, making for a particularly interesting tour through its three-level brewing space, two barrel rooms, and three temperature zones.
#3 Port City Brewing
Located just outside the DC area in Alexandria, Virginia, Port City Brewing is the city’s first craft DC brewery since Prohibition. Port City boasts both award-winning beers and a commitment to sustainable brewing practices:
- What it’s known for: Port City specializes in a regular lineup of year-round beers and brews numerous seasonal, limited release, and specialty ales and lagers. Try a spicy Tidings Ale if you’re in town for the winter holidays or a malty Monumental IPA any time of year.
- Worth noting: Port City Brewing Company offers tours of their facility and has a tasting room where you can sample their various creations. It was also named Small Brewery of the Year by the Great American Beer Festival in 2015.
#4 Right Proper Brewing Company
Right Proper Brewing Company offers two locations—the Brookland Production House and Tasting Room in Northeast DC and the Shaw Brewpub and Kitchen in DC’s historic Shaw neighborhood:
- What it’s known for: The Shaw Brewpub serves elevated pub fare seven days a week—stop in for signature dishes like a crispy fried chicken sandwich on brioche bread or the six-cheese mac and cheese. Pair with one of Right Proper’s numerous IPAs, stouts, and sours.
- Worth noting: Right Proper was named Washington’s Best Local Brewery four years running by the Washingtonian. And the brewery is dog-friendly—what’s not to love?3
#5 Hellbender Brewing Company
If you like your brew with a side of environmental consciousness, Hellbender is the place for you. Hellbender was founded by neuroscientist Ben Evans and political strategist Patrick Mullane, to craft an eco-friendly brewery that everyone can enjoy:
- What it’s known for: Some of Hellbender’s most popular pours include Bare Bones Kolsch, a light, mildly bitter German-style ale; the citrusy Ignite IPA; and Southern Torrent, a rich Belgian Saison ale.
- Worth noting: Beer brewing is an energy-intensive process, and Hellbender’s aim is to reduce their environmental impact while still creating top-of-the-line beers. As the first brewery on the East Coast with a resource-saving mash filter, Hellbender uses less grain and water per batch of beer than almost any other DC brewery in the region.
Other DC breweries worth mentioning:
Denizens Brewing Co – Since 2014, the Denizens Brewing Co has gone from strength to strength. They are known for their crisp lagers and barrel-aged stouts.
Atlas Brew Works – Located in the Ivy City neighborhood, the Atlas Brew is a pioneer in terms of being the first solar-powered brewery.
Aslin Beer Company – This taproom is located in Alexandria and is known for being one of the most experimental breweries. But the go-to for Aslin Beer Company is their funky sours.
Craft The Perfect Lifestyle with Common
Experiencing the culture in an immersive way is one of the most romantic things to do in Washington, DC. With its bevy of historical taprooms, eco-conscious Washington DC breweries, and dog-friendly bar rooms, DC is the capital of must-experience bar crawls.
But that’s not all the DC area is brewing—the nation’s capital offers museums, parks, eateries, the famous Eastern Market, and comfortable living with Common.
What’s Common, you ask? We offer all-inclusive, community-driven living spaces which feature fully furnished coliving suites in Shaw, Columbia Heights, Chinatown, and Takoma.
No matter your location, make it home with Common. Check out our DC coliving homes today!
- The Brewery History Society. The Washington Brewery at Navy Yard. http://www.breweryhistory.com/journal/archive/159/Washington.pdf
- Brewing Industry Guide. Right-Sizing Your Brewhouse. https://brewingindustryguide.com/right-sizing-your-brewhouse/
- Washingtonian. 16 dog-friendly breweries around DC. https://www.washingtonian.com/2016/08/05/beer-dog-friendly-breweries-around-dc/
- Destination DC. Breweries to check out in & around Washington, DC. https://washington.org/visit-dc/breweries-in-washington-dc
- WETA. D.C.’s illustrious brewing past and present. https://boundarystones.weta.org/2014/08/18/dcs-illustrious-brewing-past-and-present