Sehkraft Brewing (925 N. Garfield Street) in Clarendon is holding a series of beer release parties this month.
Starting on Thursday, May 5 — Cinco de Mayo — the brewery and beer hall will release varieties of its in-house brews. First up is Sehkraft’s “Good to Go IPA,” starting at 5 p.m. on May 5, followed on May 12 by the release of its “Hoptastic IPA” at 8 p.m. Both release events include a free concert from 8:30-11 p.m.
From May 19-21 Sehkraft will be holding a “haus party,” with five of its in-house beers on tap: Good to Go, Hoptastic, Sehkraft Amber, Wicked Weiss (a Berliner-style wheat beer) and Uber Awesome IPL (India Pale Lager).
“It’s American Craft Beer Week that week so what better way to ‘Say Craft’ by throwing our Haus Party/Grand Opening of Sehkraft,” owner Devin Hicks told ARLnow.com in an email. “We’ll have our friends Hardywood, DC Brau, and Left Hand Breweries over to help celebrate on the 21st. They’ll be bringing a couple of their brews over and we’ll be doing BBQ specials all day on Saturday. DC Brau is bringing over their Wings of Armageddon and 5th Anniversary brews and Hardywood is bringing over some Richmond exclusive brews.”
“Going to be quite an event,” Hicks added. There will also be free live music each night and a kids show Saturday morning, he said.
After the “haus party” week, Sehkraft will be rolling out a number of other brews, including “Pro Forma Pils,” “Hopriculous Double IPA,” “Earl of Clarendon Robust Porter,” and “Nova IPA,” a collaboration with Vienna-based Caboose Brewing.
Hicks, who has clashed with Arlington County’s zoning staff in the past, took the opportunity to say that Sehkraft would have opened earlier — it opened in November — had it not been delayed by various local regulatory holdups.
The opening was delayed for four months because, according to Hicks, zoning inspectors insisted that the “brewery tanks blocked the view in the windows to the activities inside the venue.” He called it “a huge waste of time and money.”
“Obviously, a major hardship to us eventually opening, paying taxes, providing quality jobs and contributing to making Clarendon and Arlington County a better place to live, work and visit,” Hicks said. “Obviously we had other delays via the zoning’s ‘effective methodologies’ but this definitely set the tone to our construction nightmares right off the bat.”
“I am hopeful that with my words about the difficulties with navigating through zoning’s bureaucracy, it will help other businesses have a less stressful, less time consuming and less costly ordeal in opening in a great County to do business in,” Hicks continued. “That office needs to recognize that we are all on the same team.”
Previously, Hicks said that county inspectors forced him to install a bulky wheelchair lift in the middle of the restaurant in order to provide those with disabilities access to the venue’s small entertainment stage.
Editor’s Note: This biweekly column is sponsored by Dominion Wine and Beer (107 Rowell Court, Falls Church). It is written by Garrett Cruce, a Cicerone Program Certified Beer Server.
After several years of carrying two Richmond breweries — Lickinghole Creek Craft Brewery and Hardywood Park Craft Brewery — Dominion Wine and Beer was looking to expand their offerings from Virginia’s capital city. The great news is that they will be carrying beers from Strangeways Brewing and Ardent Craft Ales.
In a city that has seen a renaissance in recent years — it was named among the top 10 places to travel by Travel + Leisure magazine — one can find 13 breweries of varying size. Soon to be added to those ranks is the San Diego behemoth, Stone Brewing Co. Also among that 13 are the two newest breweries to Dominion’s line up: Ardent Craft Ales and Strangeways Brewing.
Ardent Craft Ales
Ardent Craft Ales began in the way many contemporary craft breweries do: as a result of a great deal of homebrewing. Co-owners, Tom Sullivan and Paul Karns, formed a co-op of homebrewers who bought a half-barrel pilot brewing system and set out to learn as much about brewing as possible. The co-op brought them into contact with Kevin O’Leary had recently brewed for Cambridge Brewing Company in Massachusetts. As the three men shared ideas and continued to learn, Ardent Craft Ales was born.
I’m going to cut right to the chase, this saison is a treat! All the smells and flavors are there from the clove in the aroma and the banana in the flavor. What puts this beer ahead of other recent saisons is the bubble gum sweetness that cuts the herbal bitterness that often comes out in the style. Instead of finishing bitter, Ardent’s saison starts out with a shock of herbs and finishes sweet. This is a tasty, drinkable beer that would accompany your weekend BBQ well.
Down railroad tracks from Ardent is a brewery that RateBeer named the Best Brewery Taproom in Virginia: Strangeways Brewing. Founded by Neil Burton and Mike Hiller in 2013, the original intention was to use an existing brewery in an arrangement called “alternating proprietorship,” but it was against the law. Like other entrepreneurs, Neil Burton worked with the Virginia legislature to put a law in place. His success came right as craft brewing was booming in Richmond, which meant that there wasn’t a brewery that could accommodate another brewer. Burton and Hiller, who met while working on the law, decided to open their own brewery.
This spiced white ale smells good and clove-y. It’s a wonderful aroma, which leads into a powerfully pungent sip where cloves and banana collide. The Belgian yeast, and the spices, make all this possible. Underlying the whole thing is a solid wheat-based malty beer that works in harmony with the yeast to create a flavorful brew. It’s easy to overlook these wheat ales, but this one should be savored.
True to its lineage, sour wheat beers, this golden beer has an aroma that mixes lemon with vinegar and a hint of baking soda. The vinegar is a clue that this Berliner Weisse leans away from the traditional balance of malt and tartness, and toward the trend of all out sour beers. The flavor exceeds the expected tartness of the style going all the way to full-on pucker. Though not a copy of the Berliner Weisse style, this sour beer should please those in search of another brew to tie your tongue into knots.
The chocolate and coffee aroma of this dark brown ale are very enticing, but the true delight is in the flavor. Up front is a powerful vanilla that gradually turns into brown sugar and dried figs as the slight effervescence tickles your tongue. This is a fairly simple beer, but it’s satisfying nonetheless. With more character — and sweetness — than your typical dubbel, Woodbooger stands out as a truly American reinvention of a classic. Despite the low alcohol, this flavorful beer encourages sipping. Enjoy one, or two, slowly and get all that it has to offer.
Be sure to come down to Dominion Wine and Beer to get some of these Richmond beers!
Editor’s Note: This biweekly column is sponsored by Dominion Wine and Beer (107 Rowell Court, Falls Church). This column was written by Garrett Cruce, a Cicerone Program Certified Beer Server, who also writes about beer on his own blog: beerbeltway.wordpress.com. Catch new posts there on Sundays.
I’m back. I took a small break, but I couldn’t stay away for long.
First, we’re going to look at a new trend in craft beer that shows how breweries are trying to keep their beers relevant. Then, we’ll look at two different IPAs that are keeping the once-trendy style up-to-date — one with mysterious and experimental hops and the other by being a solid and delicious local offering.
It’s always an exciting time to be exploring craft beer, but as Spring approaches the releases get more refreshing and bright in flavor. The cold winter after the new year has meant that we’ve had plenty of time to enjoy the heavy stouts, barleywines, old ales and so on that Winter has to offer. Now, get ready for juicy beers, both literally and figuratively. Whether the fruitiness is the result of actual fruit or the wonderful flavor component of a hop or hop blend, these warmer weather beers will brighten your palate.
Fruit Infused Beers
For years now, some craft breweries like Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, 21st Amendment Brewery and Founders Brewing Company have made fruit-infused beers as part of their regular line-up. But in recent years, more and more breweries are either adding new fruity brews or taking their flagship beers and infusing them with fruit or fruit flavor. We have a full-blown trend on our hands. Local breweries are in on it as well with Virginia’s Adroit Theory Brewing Company and Laurel, Maryland’s Jailbreak Brewing Company coming to mind.
Three of this week’s beers are fruity brews that fall into each of the two categories I mentioned above. Dogfish Head and Green Flash Brewing Company have brewed beers that are unique in their line-up, while Ballast Point has taken their Dorado double IPA and spiked it with watermelon.
Dogfish Head Craft Brewery shook up it’s annual releases this year, cutting some perennial favorites and trimming some underperforming brews. One of the favorites that was shelved for 2016 is Aprihop. This replaces it! For this year’s Spring fruity beer, Dogfish Head mashed up peaches and mangoes and ginger to create this complex ale. Stick your nose deep in the glass, the hops and the fruit intertwine — spicy stone fruit. Right off the bat, the flavor is winey with the peach flavor lasting all the way through to the finish. Hops bring some spice to the party, but this is no hop bomb. It’s a complex brew that is subtley fruity and hoppy with enough fizz to mask the alcohol. I’ll miss this beer when it’s gone.
Whoa. There’s cucumber and green watermelon rind in my nose right now. The pink flesh of the watermelon is not the first thing you smell. Honestly, it’s not present in the flavor either. What I get instead is the astringent tang of the rind or of cucumber skin. It’s that bitter surprise that makes you screw up your nose — you took too big a bite of that watermelon slice. It’s a challenging brew. If bitterness is your glass of beer, then this might be right up your alley. I can go for hop bitterness, but I am less used to the kind of bitter that this brings. It does grow on me as I sip it. Be sure to sip this one for a while! The high alcohol (10%!) will allow it warm up with out getting undrinkable. Warmed up enough and the bitterness turns to sweetness and the hops begin to shine through.
Shirlington’s spring beer festival is returning for its third year.
Hosted by Capitol City Brewing, the third annual Mid-Atlantic Spring Beer Festival will take place Saturday, April 30 from noon to 7 p.m., rain or shine.
“The springtime beer-tasting event will include a line-up of 35 regional breweries,” according to a press release. “Admission for beer drinkers is $30 (one general admission pass per person), which includes a wristband, official tasting glass and 10 drink tickets. Additional drink tickets can be purchased for $1 each with a five-ticket minimum. The event is free for non-drinkers and children.”
Participating breweries include:
- DC Brau
- Pleasure House Brewing
- Starr Hill
- Flying Dog
- Adroit Theory
- Fair Winds
- Bold Rock
A number of Shirlington restaurants will be participating, offering springtime fare to festival-goers, including Busboys & Poets, Café Pizzaiolo and Luna. Music will be provided by DJ Julius Talvik.
Ticket sales will begin at 11:30 a.m. the day of the event.
Editor’s Note: This biweekly column is sponsored by Dominion Wine and Beer (107 Rowell Court, Falls Church). This column is written by Dominion owner Arash Tafakor.
This week, Dave and I sat down with the founders of Aslin Beer Company right in Herndon, Va. near Reston Town Center.
Aslin is one of Virginia’s newest breweries and they’re already on the national map by brewing world class New England style IPAs and a bunch of other tasty brews.
This week we tasted their brand new IPA called Orange Starfish that will be released today at 3 p.m. Dominion will also be getting Aslin’s next round of releases in the next few weeks. So watch the video and stay tuned.
To start, the local watering hole at 2854 Wilson Blvd will hold a release party for a new signature beer tonight.
Created as a collaboration with Devil’s Backbone Brewing near Lexington, Va., the beer is being called the “Whitlow’s Good Time IPA.” It’s a moderately hoppy beer that’s 4.7 percent alcohol by volume, according to Whitlow’s manager Jon Williams.
Locals can get their first taste of the beer for a big toast at 7 p.m. The beer will be offered for $3 from 7-9 p.m. Then, starting at 10 p.m. tonight, local party band For the Win will play a
free show (correction: there will be a $5 cover after 10 p.m.).
On Saturday, the band Virginia Coalition will play a free show at Whitlow’s. “VaCo” used to play at the bar every Tuesday night during the early 2000s before getting big.
“We’re looking forward seeing some old faces,” said Williams.
“The neighborhood has changed,” he said. “The condos got built and the demographics have gotten younger. And obviously there’s a lot more competition now.”
Despite the competition, Whitlow’s has managed to stay busy, attracting both younger bar-goers and long-time “neighborhood folks.” Williams chalked that up to Whitlow’s not straying far from its roots.
“We don’t try to be something we’re not,” he said. “We’re not pretentious at all and we just stay true to what we started out as — a neighborhood gathering spot — and I think people appreciate that. It’s a gathering place people who have lived here a long time know they’re pretty much guaranteed to run into someone they know.”
The most recent major change: the opening of a new rooftop bar, Wilson’s on Whitlow’s, a few years back.
Asked what the future holds, Williams wasn’t sure.
“We’re going to keep chugging along and keep coming up with silly ideas,” he said. “You have to keep doing stuff to stay fresh and current in people’s minds. That’s the biggest challenge. We’re going to get through this weekend and put on the thinking caps again.”
Taste of Arlington will feature a mammoth “street pub” this year.
The 400-foot long portable bar travels the country, offering draft beer from Oregon-based Deschutes Brewery at various large events. Proceeds from the beer sales will be donated to charity, said a rep for the Ballston BID, which organizes the annual event.
“This partnership will not only take the beer garden to a whole new level, but will greatly increase Taste’s fundraising clout,” said Mollie Wagoner.” As a signature event of the Ballston BID’s new charitable arm, BallstonGives, they hope to outdo all past fundraising. The BID has already guaranteed a minimum $25,000 donation to Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC) with a goal of raising much more.”
The event, held along Wilson Blvd in Ballston, features food from more than 50 restaurants and attracts some 40,000 people each year. The beer and wine sales area is consistently one of the most crowded sections of the festival.
This year’s Taste of Arlington is scheduled for May 15 from noon to 6 p.m.
It’s February — Today is the first day of February. As happens every four years, this year February will have an extra leap day — Monday, Feb. 29.
Top Colleges for Class of 2015 — In terms of applications sent, the top three colleges to which Arlington’s high school class of 2015 applied are: 3. University of Virginia, 2. Virginia Commonwealth University and 1. James Madison University. Arlington students sent a total of 321 applications to JMU. [Arlington Magazine]
Tomorrow: Celebrating Stratford’s Integration — On Tuesday evening Arlington County will hold a special event honoring the four African American seventh-graders who integrated Stratford Junior High — the current home of H-B Woodlawn — in 1959. [Twitter, Arlington County]
There Are Still Snow Boulders in Arlington — A number of Arlington residents are frustrated that some sidewalks, streets and parking lots are still obstructed by large piles of snow. [WJLA]
Scott Walker Owes Shirlington Company $60K — The campaign of former GOP presidential candidate (and Wisconsin governor) Scott Walker owes Shirlington-based Lukens Company $59,140 for direct mail, printing and postage services. It’s the fourth-largest debt listed by the campaign in public documents. [Milwaukee Business Journal]
Win: District Taco Makes ‘Cheap Eats’ List — District Taco has made a BuzzFeed list of “21 Delicious D.C. Eats That Won’t Break The Bank.” Amsterdam Falafel, which has a location in Clarendon, is also on the list. [BuzzFeed]
Fireball Spotted Saturday Night — A very bright meteor that streaked across the sky in the Northeastern U.S. Saturday night was captured on a dash cam in the Skyline section of Fairfax County. [Capital Weather Gang]
Photo by Bruce Majors
A Total Wine store is coming to Ballston.
The chain booze outlet, to be located at 800 N. Glebe Road near Mussel Bar, has applied for a Virginia ABC license to offer wine and beer for sale along with beer keg sales and delivery.
Though the Bethesda-based national retailer has locations in surrounding Alexandria, McLean, Fairfax and Springfield, this will be the first Total Wine location to open in Arlington.
A representative from the company — known as “America’s Wine Superstore” — confirmed the Glebe storefront is in the early stages of opening.
There appears to be no activity yet inside the space, and the representative could not provide an approximate date of when they hope to open the store.
Hat tip to ARLnow commenter Dean
After first announcing its plans to open late last summer, a new brewery near Shirlington is ready to open its doors this weekend.
New District Brewing Co. (2709 S. Oakland Street) is scheduled to open to the public this Saturday, Jan. 9 at noon, according to co-owner Steve Katrivanos. The 5,200 square foot space is off S. Four Mile Run Drive near the Shirlington dog park and the W&OD Trail.
Though Katrivanos and his brother Mike — who built the brewery’s brewhouse system — had hoped to open before the end of 2015, inspection processes delayed the opening.
This Saturday’s grand opening will feature nine beers on tap, accompanied by food trucks to be on location all afternoon. There will also be t-shirts and hoodies for sale and growlers available for purchase.
After it opens, New District Brewing Co. will boast the title of the first production brewery to open in Arlington in nearly 100 years.
New District will have full brewing operations on site and will distribute its beer to restaurants and bars. The brewery also has its own bar, with up to a dozen beers on tap at once, a tasting room with tables and a small retail space.
According to Katrivanos, more details about Saturday’s opening will be announced later this week via the company’s Facebook page.
With the local craft beer trend on the rise in Arlington, another homegrown brewery is working to open its doors before the new year.
New District Brewing Co. — formerly known as Metropole Brewing Company — is on track to open its 2709 S. Oakland Street location by the end of the month. The brewery is off S. Four Mile Run Drive near the Shirlington dog park and the W&OD Trail.
The 5,200 square foot space was formerly home to a moving and storage company. The garage-style building is now in the final stages of being repurposed into a fully-operational brewery with short- and long-term cold storage, a bar with 12 taps, a tasting room with tables and seating, as well as a small retail space.
Though he couldn’t give an exact opening date, co-owner Steve Katrivanos said the small company is now working on the final touches.
“We have a clear vision for what we want to do,” he said. “We’re still developing our brand as we finish up packaging and labeling. Still, we’re pretty confident in a late-December open date.”
Katrivano’s brother, Mike, first had the idea to start a brewery, and rumors of its opening started in March. The company is owned and operated by the two brothers, their father and one of Mike’s college friends. Katrivanos said they’ve also been fortunate to have the help of other family and friends to have their vision realized.
“We’re very much a DIY organization that’s been building up for quite some time,” he said. “My brother’s an electrical engineer by school, and he can build about just about anything. I’m sure he’s saved us hundreds of thousands of dollars and he’s done such a good job.”
Editor’s Note: This biweekly column is sponsored by Dominion Wine and Beer (107 Rowell Court, Falls Church).
This week the Weekend Wine and Beer Guide is doing something a bit different: rather than reading about beer late on a Friday — now you can watch.
We set up a GoPro in the shop and interviewed Nick “Beermonger” Anderson of Alexandria’s Port City Brewing. You might know Nick better as the former beer columnist on ARLnow.com. Enjoy!
Editor’s Note: This biweekly column is sponsored by Dominion Wine and Beer (107 Rowell Court, Falls Church). It is written by Garrett Cruce, a Certified Beer Server in the Cicerone Certification Program.
One year ago, the owners of Green Flash Brewing Co. and Alpine Beer Company announced that their breweries were merging. Around this time, Green Flash ranked 48th among craft breweries in the U.S. in brewing volume according to the Brewer’s Association. They weren’t huge, but they were a good sight larger than Alpine who employed 20 people.
Their business relationship had begun a year earlier when they entered into a “handshake agreement” to have Green Flash brew and package some of Alpine’s beers. This agreement doubled Alpine’s production from 1,500 bbl to 3,000 bbl. So successful was 2013-14 for both breweries that they decided to take their relationship one step further.
Joining forces, while allowing each company to continue operating independently, supports an environment in which two world-class breweries can co-exist and thrive. Their excellence is evident on beeradvocate.com — each brewery routinely earns a score of 90 or greater. What’s better, is that Alpine — a brewery that was previously only local to San Diego — can now share it’s coveted beers with the same markets that enjoy Green Flash.
It can be fun getting your hands on a beer than can only be found in the Russian River Valley or in rural Vermont. What I prefer is enjoying a superb beer that I bought in my own back yard. Alpine and Green Flash have proven that they can scale up their winning formulas. Now, we can all benefit.
Check out these three Alpine beers and more at Dominion Wine & Beer.
Alpine Beer Company Hoppy Birthday IPA (5.25% ABV)
Brewed to celebrate hoppiness and to keep the party going, Alpine’s Hoppy Birthday is a session IPA. The relatively low ABV of this beer allows the huge hop flavor to shine without all the alcohol of a standard IPA. For those who like the way that hops can bring the bitterness, this beer will be a welcome assault on the tongue.
Duet is Alpine’s own West Coast IPA — a modern classic with a blend of Simcoe and Amarillo hops. The combination of hops lends this beer a nice balance of piney aroma and hop flavor. This is a finely crafted, hop-forward IPA that has just the right amount of sweetness from the alcohol. It’s full of flavor and immensely drinkable.
Alpine Beer Company Nelson golden rye IPA (7% ABV)
Made primarily with generous amounts of the New Zealand hop, Nelson Sauvin, in both the brewing and dry-hopping this IPA packs quite a hop punch. The rye in the name refers to European rye, which is used as part of the grain bill — it brings both a smooth maltiness and a peppery spice that complements the bitterness of the hops. Nelson’s reputation preceded it’s availability in this area when The Washington Post made Nelson it’s Beer of the Week earlier this summer.
The license, if approved, would allow the Starbucks at 2690 Clarendon Blvd to serve beer and wine.
The company had earlier applied for Virginia ABC permits at two South Arlington locations, as part of the “Starbucks Evenings” program it’s rolling out. All three permit applications are still pending.
Starbucks Evenings stores will serve beer, wine and a selection of small plates at night, in addition to the usual coffee, tea, pastries and breakfast foods.
Starbucks customers may be able to order a glass of wine with their Pumpkin Spice Lattes at two Arlington locations in the next few months.
Starbucks has filed liquor license applications for its new Penrose Square (2413 Columbia Pike) and Arlington Ridge Shopping Center (2925 S. Glebe Road) locations. If approved, the stores will be able to serve beer and wine, in addition to the coffee and tea drinks the company sells.
Starbucks is offering beer and wine at select stores as part of its new “Starbucks Evenings” service, which also includes small plates.
According to a sample menu, the coffee chain will sell various red, white and sparkling wines by the bottle and glass, as well as craft beers. Small plates include truffle mac and cheese, bacon-wrapped dates, chicken skewers and truffle popcorn. Menus vary by region.
License applications for the two stores are currently pending, according to the Virginia Department of Alcohol Beverage Control.
Wine and beer will come to the Long Branch Creek location in “probably a few months,” said a supervisor at the store but she could not provide any additional information. USA Today reported in August that Starbucks is launching Starbucks Evenings at more than 2,000 of its 12,000+ U.S. stores, with many opening by the end of the year.
A Starbucks spokesman stopped short of confirming that the two South Arlington stores will in fact be serving beer and wine in the near future.
“Just as each customer is unique, so are our stores and we consider a broad range of products and experiences for each neighborhood,” said the spokeswoman. “And, as you’ve probably seen, we’re in the very early stages of considering our stores at 2413 Columbia Pike and 2925 S. Glebe Road for the Evenings menu. It’s a long and thoughtful process and the permit filing is just one of many steps we take.”