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by ARLnow.com — December 16, 2014 at 1:30 pm 1,789 0

Arlington-based PBS is celebrating the upcoming fifth season of its hit Downton Abbey with a building-sized mural on its Crystal City headquarters.

The temporary art installation, featuring the likeness of Downton character Lady Mary , is 90 feet high and 54.5 feet wide — 4,900 square feet total — and took about 140 hours to complete. It was installed at 2100 Crystal Drive in partnership with the Crystal City Business Improvement District and building owner Vornado/Charles E. Smith.

“Downton Abbey is the top PBS drama of all time and we are thrilled to showcase that in Crystal City, where PBS calls home,” said Angela Fox, president and CEO of the Crystal City BID, in a press release.

“Crystal City residents, workers, and visitors are encouraged to take photos of themselves with the project, and hashtag #DowntonPBS,” the press release said.

The fourth season of the British period drama drew an average audience of 13.2 million viewers, according to PBS, making it one of the highest-rated dramas on American television. The fifth season will premiere on Sunday, Jan. 4, 2015.

Disclosure: Crystal City BID is an ARLnow.com advertiser.

by ARLnow.com — December 16, 2014 at 12:00 pm 622 0

Ask Adam Real Living header

This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Adam Gallegos, Arlington-based real estate broker, voted one of Arlington Magazine’s Best Realtors of 2013 & 2014. Please submit your questions via email.

Q. I saw a mention on ARLnow this past Tuesday that Arbour Realty has been acquired.  Isn’t this your company? Are you going to continue the Ask Adam column? 

A. Yes, Arbour Realty is a company that my wife and I started in 2008. We were recently acquired by a company called Real Living | At Home. Real Living is a national brand owned by Berkshire Hathaway. Real Living | At Home is the regional franchise.

They have been one of the fastest growing real estate brokerages in D.C. and Maryland. Purchasing Arbour Realty is part of their strategy to begin their rapid growth in Northern Virginia. Real Living is on the cutting edge of technology and real estate services, providing a clear advantage over traditional brokerages.

Real Living | At Home logoWe will now have an in-house staff of PR, marketing, photography, videography and technology professionals working on our behalf when we are selling homes. We are looking forward to leveraging the myriad of resources provided by Real Living to take our real estate services to the next level.

We are keeping the Arbour Realty team together under the new brand. I will remain a leader in the Virginia office, but will focus more on our clients and less on the administrative duties of running a company.

I will continue to write the Ask Adam articles for ARLnow so please keep the questions coming. I truly enjoy responding to your questions and following the comments that follow my articles.

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

by ARLnow.com — December 16, 2014 at 10:45 am 2,012 0

Last week, we reported on a gift shop in Ballston that had been robbed not once but twice by the same armed robber.

It turns out, the same guy has actually robbed the store three times in the past month or so.

Police say the man, pictured above, robbed the City News and Gift Shop inside 950 N. Stafford Street on Nov. 8, Dec. 3 and Dec. 4. The first time, he displayed a handgun and demanded money. The second time, he displayed a “large kitchen knife” and demanded money and Newport cigarettes. The third time, he again flashed a gun and demanded money.

Arlington County Police are seeking the public’s help in identifying the man. The police department’s press release, below.

The Arlington County Police Department’s Homicide/Robbery Unit is asking for the public’s assistance in identifying an armed robbery suspect who has robbed a Ballston convenience store on three occasions and has been captured on surveillance video.

On November 8, 2014, the suspect entered the City News and Gift Shop located inside 950 N. Stafford Street at approximately 3:10 PM. The suspect was wearing black pants and was layered in a Washington Nationals jacket over a red and white striped polo shirt which was over a black hoodie. The suspect displayed a handgun tucked into his front waistband and demanded money. After the robbery, the suspect fled towards Fairfax Drive.

On December 3, 2014, it is believed that the same suspect entered the City News and Gift Shop at approximately 2:55 pm. This time the suspect was wearing black pants and a black jacket layered over a tan hoodie. The suspect displayed a large kitchen knife, demanded money and Newport brand cigarettes before fleeing towards the Ballston Metrorail station.

On December 4, 2014, the same suspect entered the City News and Gift Shop at approximately 8:20 pm. The suspect appeared to be wearing the same clothing as the day before with blue jeans. During this robbery, the suspect again displayed a handgun before demanding money. It is believed that the suspect fled again towards the Ballston Metrorail station after the robbery.

The suspect is described as a black male in his 20s-30s, approximately 5’8″ to 5’10″ tall, with a medium build. In all three robberies, he appears to be wearing black and white soled tennis shoes, similar to Converse All-Stars, and a black beanie-style winter cap.

There were no reported injuries during any of these armed robberies

If anyone has information on the identity and/or whereabouts of this individual, please contact Detective P. Mulvaney of the Arlington County Homicide/Robbery Unit at (703) 228-4239 or pmulva@arlingtonva.us. Anonymous tips can also be provided through the Arlington County Crime Solvers Hotline at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).

by ARLnow.com — December 16, 2014 at 9:30 am 1,609 0

Apartment construction project on Lee Highway, at dusk

Blue, Orange, Silver Lines Suspended — Metrorail service on the Blue, Orange and Silver lines was suspended during the morning rush hour due to a water main break in D.C. Those in Arlington hoping to get to work via Uber were being charged four times the normal rate, thanks to the company’s “surge pricing” practices. An Arlington Alert, meanwhile, contained an oddly appropriate typo — it noted that service was suspended at “Farragut Wet” due to the water main break. [Washington Post]

Board: Traffic Light Coming in 18 Months — The Arlington County Board had good news for activists at its Saturday meeting: the traffic light they’re seeking at Columbia Pike and S. Frederick Street is coming. The bad news is that it could take up to 18 months. Board member Walter Tejada said that is “too long” and “we have to find a way to make it happen.” [InsideNova]

Zoning Change Advertised for Wendy’s Redevelopment — The County Board on Saturday voted to advertise a potential zoning change for 2026 and 2038 Wilson Blvd, the current site of the Wendy’s restaurant in Courthouse, which is slated for a redevelopment. Developer Carr Properties wants to build a 12-story office building on the site. Public hearings will now be held in advance of Board consideration of the rezoning request. [Arlington County]

Arlington Book Store Wins Grant — East Falls Church bookstore One More Page Books has won a $9,000 grant from novelist James Patterson. The store plans to use the grant to launch a “bookmobile” — a modified food truck that sells books around the community. [Washington Post]

by Ethan Rothstein — December 15, 2014 at 6:25 pm 13,126 0

(Updated at 12:50 p.m. Tuesday) Seven vehicles — five cars, an ART bus and a mixing truck — were involved in a collision at about 5:45 p.m. at the intersection of Columbia Pike and S. Dinwiddie Street.

According to Arlington County Police Department spokesman Lt. Kip Malcolm, the ART bus was in the parking lot of Columbia Pike Plaza when a car turned in front of it. The ART bus, driven by 26-year-old Agere Sileshi, struck the car, at which point Sileshi lost control of the bus, Malcolm said.

The bus pushed the car into a parked vehicle, Sileshi accelerated and pushed all three vehicles over the brick retaining wall and onto S. Dinwiddie Street, Malcolm said. There, the bus hit three cars stopped at a red light, creating another chain reaction in which the seventh vehicle, a parked car, was pushed into benches and a tree on the sidewalk in front of Arlington Mill Community Center.

Sileshi was charged with reckless driving for failure to control her vehicle, Malcolm said. Three motorists were transported from the scene with non-life-threatening injuries, as was one pedestrian “struck by flying debris.”

Westbound Columbia Pike was closed for more than an hour around the scene as emergency crews from Arlington and Fairfax sort out the aftermath, which included cars strewn all over the intersection and a substantial part of the brick wall along Dinwiddie Street destroyed.

In addition to the cars and walls damaged, several bicycles parked in front of Arlington Mill Community Center were damaged in the accident, and at least two benches affixed to the ground were either destroyed or displaced.

by Ethan Rothstein — December 15, 2014 at 5:00 pm 1,390 0

Startup Monday header

Editor’s Note: Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

Two North Arlington teenagers want to help Arlington residents with the hardest part of the holidays: setting up the Christmas tree.

Duncan MacBride and Sam Gonson are sophomores at Gonzaga College High School in D.C. and they are first-time entrepreneurs. Duncan got the idea to start their fledgling business the day after Thanksgiving, setting up his family’s tree with his father.

“My dad and I were setting it up and saying ‘this is not fun. This is difficult,’” Duncan said. “I texted Sam to say I have this idea about setting up people’s trees for them. I figured, I don’t enjoy doing it. It’s hard to set up a tree, I figure most people probably go through the same thing.”

Sam and Duncan have been friends for a year and a half, and Sam said he was immediately on board with the idea. The spent the following week coming up with a business plan, price points and making marketing materials. A week later, they installed their first tree.

Duncan MacBride and Sam Gonson set up a Christmas treeThe duo charges $20 to take a tree from someone’s car into their home, set it up in the stand and hang lights over it. They also hang lights around the house for $15, and charge $10 per hour if their work takes more than one hour.

“We tried to figure out something that was reasonable but not over the top,” Duncan said. “We’re trying to help people, not rob them.”

So far, the pair has set up a handful of trees in North Arlington, but they acknowledge they got a late start this year. With at least two winters left in Arlington before they go to college, this is, for them, more of a testing season.

“This year we’re trying to lay a base,” Duncan said. “Hopefully next year it will turn into a real thing.”

Next year, Sam says they plan to donate 20 percent of their proceeds to the Father McKenna Center, a food shelter affiliated with Gonzaga.

Most people with trees only set up their seasonal decorations once a year, but Sam and Duncan have already learned tips to make their jobs easier.

“Always check the lights before they’re up,” Sam said. “Put them closer to the inside of the tree so you can’t see the cord. Make sure the tree is properly balanced in the stand, and leave enough room at the top for the star.”

The two are also learning how to deal with clients and handle transactions. While they’re expecting business to pick up next year, they’re also prepared for a potential boom in the week leading up to Christmas, when many families buy and decorate their trees at the last minute.

Those interested in Sam and Duncan’s services can email them at duncan.macbride@gmail.com and samwgo@gmail.com.

by Ethan Rothstein — December 15, 2014 at 3:45 pm 0

Teck Cocktail holiday party posterDisruption Corporation in Crystal City (2231 Crystal Drive, 10th floor) is hosting the annual Tech Cocktail holiday party and all-star award ceremony tomorrow night.

The party will start at 6:00 p.m., end at 8:30 and costs $25 to attend ($35.99 if the guest wants a copy of Startup Mixology by Tech Cocktail’s Frank Gruber). All guests are encouraged to bring canned goods to donate to the Arlington Food Assistance Center.

Hundreds from the D.C. startup scene are expected to be in attendance, and awaiting the announcement of the annual awards. Winners will be named in the following categories:

  • Best Design (Product)
  • Best Bootstrapped
  • Most Innovative Product
  • Most Disruptive
  • Biggest Pivot
  • Best Company Culture
  • Most Active in Local Community
  • Most Likely to Get Acquired
  • Best Social Good Startup
  • Best Big Company with Startup Culture
  • Most Charismatic or Best Founder(s)/Leader(s)
  • Best Community Leader

Several Arlington companies — including Disruption Corporation and its founder, Paul Singh – are nominated for the awards, which are still open for voting here.

There will also be a mixology demonstration and cocktails — naturally — for the occasion. After the event concludes, the remaining guests will migrate just one floor up for a happy hour at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse.

Photo via Teck Cocktail

by Ethan Rothstein — December 15, 2014 at 2:30 pm 1,564 0

The Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington at 4444 Arlington BlvdFor many, the holiday season is a time of happiness, family and gifts. For others, it’s also a trying time and a reminder of recent losses.

The Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington (4444 Arlington Blvd) is holding a service this Sunday for those who experience what the church calls “the dark side of the holidays.”

“This time of year can be a stressful time for most, but it can be especially difficult for people who may have suffered a major loss or have had a major life-changing experience in the past year,” the church wrote in an email. “Even happy memories can bring pain during the holidays. And, today’s commercialization and idealized images of what our holidays should be like are standards and expectations enough to stress the most ardent among us.”

The service will be on Sunday at 6:30 p.m. and is open to all, but is not appropriate for young children, the church said. The service, called “Standing Outside the Season,” will be hosted by Rev. Aaron McEmrys. Childcare will be provided.

Scratching Post: Cat Bites

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — December 15, 2014 at 1:30 pm 490 0

The Scratching Post banner

Editor’s Note: The Scratching Post is a column that’s sponsored and written by the staff at NOVA Cat Clinic.

Many people think that because cats are so small compared to humans that they can’t do us any real harm. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

Cats have so many weapons for their size — they come equipped with 18 claws and 30 teeth. Today, we are going to focus on cat bites and how they can impact us.

Any bite from a carnivore, like housecats, can be dangerous. Due to their diets, a lot of bacteria is present in their mouths which can lead to a widespread infection quickly in a person if their skin is punctured.

A cat’s teeth are shaped to kill and rip flesh from bones. As a result, when they bite and release the punctures they produce can close up and seal bacteria within the prey’s body. It’s almost as if they can inject bacteria, leading to infections which require medical treatment.

I’ve seen many people who’ve been bitten by cats think it’s no big deal. Then a couple of days later, the hand swells, throbs with pain and one may even be admitted to a hospital.

Years before I was in the veterinary field, I was bitten on the hand by a friend’s cat. I didn’t think too much of it, just washed it and went about my business. Two days later my hand swelled up like a balloon and I was admitted to the hospital for 3 days of IV antibiotic therapy. I also needed a surgical consult because of the location of the bite. Luckily there was no need for surgery, but this can often be a concern because cats tend to bite hands and wrists.

There are so many tendons, ligaments and important structures in the hand that it is not uncommon for a cat bite to need to be surgically debrided. Here at NOVA Cat Clinic, we always recommend that anyone who’s been bitten by a cat receive immediate medical attention and antibiotics.

In addition to the risk of infection and the need for antibiotics, anytime someone is bitten by a cat we must investigate the cat’s rabies status. If kitty is up to date on their rabies vaccine then medical attention is all that’s needed.  If the kitty is not up to date, then by law the clinic must contact Animal Control.

Rabies is prevalent in Virginia, D.C. and Maryland. Animal Control must be made aware of any potential transmission form any mammal bites. In Arlington County, the typical protocol for an owned cat that has bitten someone is to follow a 10-day quarantine period. This involves keeping the kitty at home and indoors for a full 10 days for observation of any unusual symptoms.

Depending on the situation, a rabies booster may be given either before or after the quarantine process. If neither the kitty nor the person that was bitten show any symptoms after 10 days, the quarantine is considered complete and the risk of rabies transmission negligible. If there are any unusual symptoms, the kitty may need to be confiscated and the person may need intense medical intervention.

The moral of the story? Anything with teeth CAN bite. If it’s a cat, take precautions and be aware of the potential risks involved.  If a cat bite occurs, please seek immediate medical attention.

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

by Ethan Rothstein — December 15, 2014 at 12:00 pm 581 0

An All Access Taxi accessible cab (photo courtesy All Access Taxi)Arlington will soon see an influx of wheelchair accessible taxis.

The Arlington County Board voted on Saturday to approve the licenses for 60 new taxis, all wheelchair accessible. Ten of those taxis will be operated by Blue Top Cab while the other 50 licenses will be owned by new company All Access Taxi.

The Board’s unanimous decision adds 20 more taxis to the county’s fleet than County Manager Barbara Donnellan recommended, bringing the total number of licensed cabs in the county to 847, 97 of which will be accessible cabs.

“Our taxi companies, members of the disability community and riders are telling us there is a growing demand for accessible taxi service in Arlington,” Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette said in a press release. “We strive to be a fully welcoming community, and these additional cabs will provide more options and convenience to many people with a disability.”

County staff’s report on the licenses said people with wheelchairs have had to wait three hours for an accessible taxi and have had trouble getting taxis from Reagan National Airport. Julie Piche, the CEO of All Access Taxi, said the County Board’s approval will drastically improve the lives of disabled Arlington residents.

“This is ground-breaking because for the first time a local government has recognized that accessible and equitable service requires a fleet and a dedicated effort,” Piche told ARLnow.com today. “This is a victory for people with disabilities across the nation because their needs have been recognized and their quest for accessible, on-demand transportation has been validated. Arlington’s leadership will set the standard for the nation.”

All Access Taxi anticipates offering rides on demand — via phone, online and a mobile app – in February, Piche said, and its full fleet is expected to be operational by April.

Photo courtesy All Access Taxi

by ARLnow.com — December 15, 2014 at 11:00 am 1,101 0

Unveiling of a half cab-half police cruiserSoberRide, the local anti-drunk driving program that offers free cab rides during certain festive occasions, has launched for the entire holiday season.

The program started up Friday night and will run through New Year’s Day.

Every night through Jan. 1, between 10:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m., those in the D.C. area who have been drinking and need a lift  home can call 1-800-200-TAXI for a free cab ride up to a $30 fare.

Arlington’s Red Top Cab is among the local D.C. area cab companies participating. Organizers say SoberRide saves lives.

“Last December, nearly 1,900 (1,877) Greater Washington residents did the right thing and availed themselves of this lifesaving service rather than possibly driving home impaired,” said Kurt Erickson, president of the nonprofit Washington Regional Alcohol Program (WRAP), which runs SoberRide. “For SoberRide’s hours of operation during just last New Year’s Eve, such ridership (463) translated into the removal of a would-be drunk driver from our shared roadways every 62-seconds.”

WRAP and the Arlington County Police Department unveiled a half-cab, half-police cruiser (pictured) in 2012 to help promote the SoberRide program.

by Ethan Rothstein — December 15, 2014 at 10:10 am 0

Arlington Agenda is a listing of interesting events for the week ahead in Arlington County. If you’d like to see your event featured, fill out the event submission form.

Also, be sure to check out our event calendar.

Tuesday

Event-CalendarDefense Contractor Jobs Open House*
Crowne Plaza Hotel (1480 Crystal Drive)
Time: 11:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m.

Jacobs Engineering is looking for engineers and analysts for their bid on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Program, for engineering services.

Wednesday

airlingtonClarendon Menorah Lighting*
Clarendon Central Park (3140 Wilson Blvd)
Time: 6:00-7:00 p.m.

Enjoy potato latkes, gelt and dreidel spinning as the Arlington-Alexandria Chabad hosts a 6-foot Menorah lighting in Clarendon. The event is free to attend and visitors will be entered to win a free Amazon Kindle.

RFL-logoUgly Sweater Party
O’Sullivan’s Irish Pub (3207 Washington Blvd)
Time: 6:00-8:00 p.m.

Hosted by the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life, this party will have food and prize drawing, and 10 percent of proceeds will go toward organizing Relay for Life events in the area.

Thursday

Chanukah-on-Ice-667-640x251Chanukah on Ice*
Pentagon Row Ice Rink (1201 S. Joyce Street)
Time: 6:00-8:30 p.m.

On the third night of Chanukah, Pentagon City hosts its annual Chanukah on Ice festival and Menorah lighting. The event is $10 in advance, $13 at the door and includes skate rental.

Saturday

Entry Circle Sign at Potomac Overlook Regional ParkChristmas Bird Count
Potomac Overlook Regional Park (2845 N. Marcey Road)
Time: 7:30 a.m.-noon

Join the Potomac Overlook naturalist and walk the park trails for the annual Christmas Bird Count to help see which birds have come to Arlington for the winter. Binoculars available, but limited.

Bad-ScooterLive Music: Bad Scooter
IOTA Club & Cafe (2832 Wilson Blvd)
Time: 9:00 p.m.

Police tribute band A Thousand Rainy Days opens for cover band Bad Scooter, which plays rock, funk, blues, reggae and soul music, all with a groove to dance to. Tickets are $10 at the door.

*Denotes featured (sponsored) event

by ARLnow.com — December 15, 2014 at 9:20 am 3,016 0

An accident on southbound I-395 Sunday night (photo courtesy Dave Prentice)

Tejada Rips Streetcar Decision — Arlington County Board member Walter Tejada made a forceful seven-and-a-half minute speech at Saturday’s Board meeting, ripping into the decision to cancel the county’s streetcar project. Tejada said the county government “has failed” and wasted the time of those involved in the streetcar’s 15-year planning process. Tejada was joined by two members of the public who spoke out against the decision. [Blue Virginia, Washington Post]

Wilson School Supporters Speak Out — Supporters of the Wilson School in Rosslyn are making what might be a last push to save the 104-year-old building — which they claim is historic — from potential demolition. Stan Karson, president of the nearby Radnor/Fort Myer Heights Civic Association, told the School Board week that “if you tear down Wilson School, you are saying to Arlington students history is important only in the classroom, not in the board room.” Meanwhile, Karson wrote in a newspaper letter to the editor that “the concerned community has been silenced.” [InsideNova, Washington Post]

Abby Raphael Won’t Seek Reelection — School Board member Abby Raphael says she will not seek reelection in 2015 and has no plans to run for County Board. Raphael is on her second term on the School Board. Some believe she may have her sights set on a state-level office. [InsideNova]

Moran Laments ‘Demagoguing’ Left — Retiring Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) says the left wing of the Democratic party is starting to pick up some traits of the Republican party’s Tea Party wing. Moran said liberal Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) was “demagoguing” the issue of financial reform by opposing a compromise spending bill — a bill that avoided a government shutdown but contained some changes to the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law. [Blue Virginia]

Board Approves Bond Refinancing — Arlington County will save $147,000 a year over the next 16 years thanks to a refinancing of three wastewater and water system bonds. The County Board unanimously approved the refinancing on Saturday. [Arlington County]

Photo courtesy Dave Prentice

by ARLnow.com — December 12, 2014 at 4:05 pm 3,758 0

I-66 passing through ArlingtonVirginia transportation officials are taking the first step toward a package of big changes to I-66 inside the Beltway.

The announcement follows the I-66 Multimodal Study, which wrapped up last year and presented a number of options for improvements to I-66 inside the Beltway, including high-occupancy toll (HOT) lanes and a third travel lane in each direction. County officials have vehemently opposed widening I-66, and the county successfully sued VDOT to block HOT lanes on I-395.

In a letter to Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette today, Virginia Secretary of Transportation Aubrey Layne, Jr. said that the Commonwealth is pursuing a multimodal improvement package that includes converting I-66 to HOT lanes during peak hours. (I-66 is currently HOV-only during rush hour.)

Layne said the Commonwealth will be initiating an environmental assessment as the first step toward pursuing changes. He also said the package would include capacity improvements for Metrorail and buses along the corridor, but did not specify whether a third travel lane is to be added, according to a county spokeswoman.

Fisette responded to Layne’s letter with the following statement Friday afternoon.

Arlington is passionate about giving people travel choices. I have just received this letter and have shared it with my Board colleagues and the County Manager. The letter references the I-66 Multimodal Study (inside the beltway) as the basis for any future improvements. It is fair to say that Arlington contributed heavily to that study and largely embraced it. With that in mind, we will consider this new effort and determine how best to constructively respond and engage as a community. We are all concerned about congestion along this vital corridor. It is important to note, however, that whatever changes are made, must enhance all multimodal options – as the I-66 Multimodal Study concluded.

by Nick Anderson — December 12, 2014 at 2:30 pm 594 0

Your Beermonger logo

Editor’s Note: This sponsored column is written by Nick Anderson, beermonger at Arrowine (4508 Lee Highway).

This week I did something I had never done before over my near-20 years of beer geekery: I signed up for a membership in a brewery’s reserve society. The idea of these ‘societies’ or ‘clubs’ is becoming more popular every year, but they aren’t without their detractors. As always, only you can determine what is worth spending your consumer dollar on, but here’s a fairly short rundown of what these memberships have to offer, why some folks don’t like them, and why I decided to finally take the plunge with one.

The most famous brewery societies are those of The Bruery. The Bruery offers three ‘tiers’ of society memberships: Preservation Society members receive three special-release beers per quarter; Reserve Society members are also offered first rights to purchase small-batch production beers (along with discounts at The Bruery’s tasting room and on all Bruery merchandise); and the ‘you have been chosen’ Hoarder’s Society gives its members deeper discounts, more bottles of limited releases, and exclusive beers.

Locally, D.C.’s Three Stars Brewing Company has its Illuminati Reserve Society. Members are guaranteed bottles of the five limited release beers Three Stars plans on putting out over the course of 2015, along with a discount on purchases at the D.C. Homebrew Shop, special growler fills, and invites to special brewery events. Adroit Theory in Purcellville has the Black Heart Society, with each of its three tiers offering greater discounts at the brewery along with more of its special release beers.

For smaller, more experimentally-minded breweries with dedicated fanbases, clubs like these have multiple benefits. Bypassing overcrowded rare beer release events that inevitably leave more people angry than satisfied is an attractive prospect; establishing limited release for society members guarantees that a brewery’s most sought-after brews go to dedicated fans. Also, societies essentially give brewers a focus group to test new beers with; an especially enthusiastic response to a society-only beer can give breweries an idea of how a recipe might perform in a wider release. For beer geeks like me, societies not only give us a peek behind the curtain at the direction a brewery might be headed in, but they give us the chance to ensure we get access to some of our favorite beers. Also, there’s the “I got this and you didn’t because I’m a Society Member” factor.

For those concerned that beer is becoming “too much like wine”, Societies are a disturbing sign of the times. The concept of societies is adapted from the hundreds of winery Reserve Clubs out there, and their mere existence is an act of exclusion–anathema to the ethos of beer as a social beverage. Some believe the ultra-rare releases for society members encourage ‘Whalers’, who always seek out harder to find beers and look down on anything available at retail. The ‘focus group’ aspect of societies can alternately be looked at as ‘preaching to the choir’, or pandering to a small selection of palates that can’t possibly speak on behalf of a wider audience and are more inclined to demand different, not necessarily better beers.

(more…)

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