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by Katie Pyzyk — November 1, 2016 at 1:35 pm 0

The following is the third in a weekly series of articles about a “day in the life” of companies at the MakeOffices coworking space in Clarendon. The mini-series, which will run this fall, is sponsored by MakeOffices.

Move over Willy Wonka, the employees at SharpSeat are now the ones offering golden tickets. Whether for concerts or sporting events or theater performances, SharpSeat hooks up secondary market buyers with their dream tickets. The service essentially “is like StubHub, but cheaper,” say co-founder Andrew McCulloch.

He and the other two co-founders, Mike Williams and Brad Kurtzman, met while attending James Madison University and moved to Northern Virginia to take jobs after graduating. They attended a lot of ticketed events upon moving to the area and found themselves giving advice to friends looking to buy good tickets, too. But there was one major problem.

“There’s a ton of fees that we got sick of paying when shopping around on other sites,” McCulloch says. “We saw an opening in the secondary ticket market.” That’s when they decided they could do it better.

The three did a lot of research on secondary market ticket sales and ended up using their industry knowledge to start SharpSeat as a side project. “We found the average person didn’t know to look any further than Stubhub for secondary [tickets]. We saw an opportunity there to give them a better alternative,” Williams says.

They all eventually left their jobs to work full-time on SharpSeat. “We basically wanted to find a way to make tickets cheaper for the end customer,” McCulloch says. “We knew if we could find a way to keep costs down and still get access to the same tickets the big guys were getting, we could pass the savings on to customers.”

Their average day is a lot different now. The employees live in Virginia Square — two live together and the other lives down the street — so the MakeOffices Clarendon location where they work makes for an easy commute.

“One of the best parts is not having the commute around D.C.,” McCulloch says. He also found it important to stop working from home every day. “Keeping work and life separate was big for me because working in my kitchen all the time I’m [distracted]… Plus, here we’re surrounded by a bunch of other entrepreneurs that are getting things done.”

Being among other entrepreneurs has helped the employees stay motivated when doing their daily tasks, which include maintaining the website, coordinating with site developers, researching what events are coming up and fielding calls from the customer service team. And according to Williams, one of the big challenges they constantly face is marketing.

“For every business, [marketing] is probably 90 percent of the battle,” he says. “Just getting the word out there and getting people to visit the site, more than just your family and friends.”

Thanks to the business’ growth since launching two years ago — there is currently about $2 billion worth of tickets listed on the site, although it fluctuates seasonally — the team recently has been able to hire out for help with that marketing burden.

“Now we’ve hired a marketing firm to help us and we’re really looking to expand,” Kurtzman says. “This is our first business so we kind of learn as we go. We had to teach ourselves everything.”

They also outsource much of the customer service to a team in Chicago, but not all of it. The co-founders all use their venue expertise to give advice to customers who contact them looking for tips on purchasing the best tickets.

“So often people ask what’s the best value and where’s the best place to sit,” says McCulloch. “We know where you’re going to get a better value… Just little intricacies like that help out when we’re talking to clients.” Williams agrees, adding, “We have good knowledge of all the D.C. venues so we help people out” with getting the best ticket for their money.

To remain experts in the industry, the three often do offsite work — attending different types of events locally as well as traveling to other cities to check out their venues. “Obviously, it’s really fun to do that, but it is a part of what we have to do [for research],” Williams says.

Kurtzman explains that traveling to sites is how they gain knowledge of the best seats so they can offer direct customer support. “StubHub doesn’t really do that kind of thing,” he says.

When the SharpSeat employees aren’t traveling, they take advantage of the amenities in the MakeOffices Clarendon coworking space.

“Getting dedicated office space around here… is pretty unrealistic, especially for a small company like us,” says Williams. “Even for something half as nice as this, if you want a dedicated space the rents around here are so much that it just never really made sense to us. When this space opened up we couldn’t believe how cheap it was for what you get.”

One of the perks included in that price is a set of rotating taps of regionally-brewed beers. The SharpSeat co-founders say they like to head to the kitchen to try out new brews, relax and meet employees from the other businesses in the coworking space.

“Plus, I love the massage chairs,” Brad says, as the others laugh. “I usually use them once a day.”

Between the MakeOffices benefits and the satisfaction of doing a job they love, the SharpSeat team experiences something many typical employees don’t: They actually enjoy going to work.

“At my old job, I hated going to work. Now I love coming to this office,” Kurtzman says. Williams agrees, saying with a smile, “It’s kind of crazy that we’re voluntarily coming into an office after we wanted so badly to get out of one.”

by Tim Regan — October 25, 2016 at 1:30 pm 0

Oktoberfest Beer Garden, photo via Rosslyn BIDLocals will be able to enjoy seasonal brews, food and live polka music at a plaza in Rosslyn later this week.

The Rosslyn BID is scheduled to transform the site of the forthcoming Continental Beer Garden at the corner of 19th Street and N. Moore Street into a pop-up Oktoberfest beer garden on Thursday, Oct. 27, from 4-8 p.m.

During the event, attendees can buy drinks such as Spaten Oktoberfest, Franziskaner Hefe-Weisse and glasses of wine from Continental Pool Lounge. Additionally, the Rocklands BBQ food truck will be on hand to serve barbecue.

The pop-up beer garden will also have live music from The Polka Brothers and “fun fall temporary tattoos done by a local artist,” according to the BID.

Though admission is free, all attendees must be 21 years of age or older.

Photo via Rosslyn BID

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — October 21, 2016 at 3:45 pm 0

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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.

In the mid-nineties two breweries opened across the United States from each other. One in a former mechanic shop in Utah and the other in a brew pub in Delaware. They each had a philosophy that drove them. They each developed an aesthetic that defined them. In 2016, they both underwent a facelift, a redesign of their core beer labels.

Dogfish Head Craft Brewery

October 21

Dogfish Head Craft Brewery started in 1995 as a brew pub in Rehoboth, Delaware. From the beginning, Sam Calagione saw his beers as intrinsically connected to food. Whether it was his use of the wine-bottle sized bottles to encourage sharing over a meal or the exploration of beers that used culinary ingredients, the brewery was establishing a consistent approach. In the 21 years since opening, Dogfish Head built a recognizable brand with the shark logo and Sam-inspired “Doggy” typeface.

The importance of the ingredients and the basic elements of Dogfish Head’s design have come together to create the new look of their core releases — their IPAs and other year-round releases. Prior to this year, Dogfish labeled its core beers with a plain label that used “Doggy” and the shark, while its ancient ales had unique labels that featured imagery that evoked the origin of the beer. Now all of the core releases, which includes some ancient ales, sport colorful labels that feature painterly illustrations of key ingredients along with brewery ID and beer name/description in playfully set “Doggy.” Off-centered, like it’s beers, is the shark logo as it breaks out of the label. Dogfish Head’s in-house department worked with Boulder, CO-based food and beverage packaging design studio, Interact, to develop the new look.

Uinta Brewing Company

October 21

Out west, in 1993 Uinta Brewing Company set up shop in the state with the fewest beer drinkers. Their first beers included three that remain in their core beers to this day: Cutthroat Pale Ale, King’s Peak Porter and Trader IPA. In 2005, Uinta created the specialty brewery called Four +, which was responsible for beers like Monkshine and Wyld. In 2011, they introduced the compass to their brand. This year, the compass at the center of their brand and their various 12 oz. releases finally came together to form a consistent Uinta-infused look.

Working with studios like Portland-based Sincerely, Truman and Nashville-based Anderson Design Group, Uinta introduced both a new logo and refined look that ties all their core releases together. Starting with a new logo that streamlines the well-known compass and mountain range mark to feature a simple east-west pointing diamond with a clean, bold typeface. The labels tie together beers like Punk’N and Monkshine — whose labels were simple and type only — with their illustration-based releases like Dubhe and Cutthroat. Prior to this redesign, the illustration-based labels used WPA-style images that evoked National Parks posters. Now all of their labels feature the colorful nature images, uniting all their beers and making them stand out on the shelf.

In this age of Instagram and Untappd, breweries’ core releases are increasingly considered passé by beer drinkers looking for the next big thing. A good redesign generates fresh buzz. A good redesign gets at the essence of a brand — the personality and the visual style. A good redesign re-introduces a brewery to beer drinkers. We all win with these two redesigns, since we get attractive packaging and delicious beer. Go ahead and judge these beers by their labels, you won’t be disappointed.

Dogfish Head Craft Brewery Midas Touch Ancient Ale (9% ABV)

October 21

Part of the Ancient Ales category, Midas Touch always had a unique label. An oversized golden fingerprint sat a top a solid purple label with the words “Midas Touch” in an evocative typeface that suggested Mesopotamia. Now, the purple carries forward with the gold transferring to the beer name. Rather than referring the golden touch that King Midas was said to have, Dogfish focuses on the ingredients. That, after all, is what makes this beer so unique. The illustration under the Dogfish shark logo depicts generous amounts of muscat grapes, barley and honey comb.

Midas Touch has been in the Dogfish Head line up since it first arrived in 1999. This early example of the wine hybrid beer adds mead to the mix — based on analysis of residue in vessels taken from the tomb of King Midas in Gordion, Turkey. Make no mistake about this beer — it’s not in the same vein as their much loved IPAs — this is a sweet, delicate brew with grapes, honey and malt at the fore. Let Midas Touch warm slightly out of the refrigerator and you’ll get a nose full of ice wine. If you have a taste for dessert wines, you’ll enjoy the sweet fruitiness up front. A malty finish keeps you from forgetting that this is still a beer. Despite its sweetness, I always feel that the honey takes a backseat to the grapes. Enjoy this winey beer with some cheese or a creamy alfredo.

Uinta Brewing Company Dubhe Imperial Black IPA (9.2% ABV)

October 21

Uinta’s year-round black IPA made a modest change from its previous look. Dubhe’s previous label featured a nighttime scene in a Monument Valley-like setting featuring the name swooping underneath the mountains. Now, the setting is the same, but at twilight as the smallest amount of orange light remains on the horizon. In the foreground is a red VW bus, which sits directly above the name, which is now set in a condensed sans serif typeface that appears hand drawn like the illustration above. Shining brightly in the dark sky is the official star of Utah, Dubhe, which makes up part of the big dipper.

Dubhe pours stout black with a rich, creamy head. Between the appearance and the aroma, which balances black coffee and cocoa with the cardamom sharpness of pine sap, you’d be excused for confusing it with a spiced Turkish coffee. This beer is appropriately sweet, thanks to the alcohol, but the dark roasted malt combines with the dank hops to create a richly flavored beer that evokes the spiced coffee that is hinted at in the aroma. Black IPAs are one of my favorite emerging categories and this beer is regularly a go-to for me.

by Samantha Moore — October 21, 2016 at 12:00 pm 0

Total Wine and More opened in Ballston this morning, a day later than first anticipated.

An “occupancy permit issue” prevented the store from opening on Thursday, as scheduled.

About 15-20 customers were already perusing the aisles of wine, beer, food and accessories shortly after Total Wine opened the doors Friday morning.

Located at 800 N. Glebe Road, the store includes special features like a cigar humidor, a growler fill station, a classroom and meeting space and free Wifi.

The store’s hours are 9 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 9 a.m.-8 p.m. on Sunday.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — October 7, 2016 at 2:00 pm 0

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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.

The harvest period for hops in the Pacific Northwest happens to coincide with the end of Summer and beginning of Fall. As rows and rows of bines — that’s what hops grow on, though they resemble vines — fill out with bright green leaves and hop cones, farmers reap what they sowed. Most hops are processed in a kiln to dry them and keep their valuable oils stable. A certain portion of hops are shipped directly to breweries so they can use them to make “fresh hop,” “wet hop” or “harvest” (though there can be confusion between a fresh hop “harvest” beer and a brown ale called a “harvest” beer) beers.

Fresh hop beers can only be made during and immediately following the hop harvest as the wet hops (they are literally wet with moisture and fresh hop oils) have a short life span if they are not dried. The oils risk spoiling and worse, the moisture can lead to rot. Before long all those lovely, fresh hops are garbage. That’s why fresh hop beers are so special. That’s also why Fall is truly the one seasonal period for craft beer that cannot be superseded by seasonal creep. A fresh hop beer cannot be made before its time.

Thomas Cizauskas gave me the idea in a comment on my last column. He inquired about whether I had any favorite fresh hop beers that are limited to Fall. Since that article was about my faves up to that column’s release, I couldn’t say. There just weren’t any fresh hop beers available to me.

As it is, I had to cross the Potomac to Dominion Wine & Beer’s sister store, Downtown Crown Wine & Beer to find two locally brewed fresh hop beers. These beers represent another aspect of the fresh hop category: the appeal to locavores. Both are made using only locally harvested hops, while one even uses locally sourced grain and honey.

Waredaca Brewing Company, Whetstone Session Pale Ale (4.4% ABV)

whetstoneLocated in Laytonsville, MD, Waredaca is designated as a farm brewery, which means that they include at least one ingredient grown on the farm. Established on the Waredaca farm, the brewery brews small batches of draft-only beer. Their Whetstone is a fresh hop beer that is made with Cascade and Chinook hops from their farm and a Maryland hop farm, Pleasant Valley. The result is a beer that smells of biscuit with an earthy overtone and a hint of pear. The sip is light-bodied with a subtle hop fruitiness that gives way to hints of pine. While there’s a bitterness in the finish, it’s very light. As it warms, the green grass that can be a hallmark of fresh hop beers begins to come out in the flavor. Subtle is THE word with this style and certainly this beer, too.

Oliver Brewing Company Harvest Ale (5.6% ABV)

harvest-ale Oliver Brewing Company started in 1993 with a focus on traditional English style beers. Since then, they have expanded from the basement of a brew pub to their current location and began to can their flagship beers. They still brew smaller batches of special beers, like Harvest, that are only available on draft. I had actually just sampled this fresh hop beer at the Ale House of Columbia days before grabbing my Crowler from Downtown Crown. Oliver’s fresh hop ale is more of an amber ale that gives off a delightful scent blending honeycomb, Nilla wafer and dark berries. Similar to the Whetstone, Harvest is light on the tongue. The flavor is more malt than hop flavor, though a hint of smoke appeared as my glass warmed. Oliver sourced its fresh hops from Black Locust Farms in Maryland, its grain from Copper Fox Distillery in Virginia and honey from Miller Bee Yards in Maryland.

These two beers aren’t merely entries in a brief annual release schedule, they are celebrations of local farming and economies. I set out to learn more and to share with you about a style that I knew existed, but hadn’t given much attention. I ended up finding a style that can be used to epitomize the concepts of #drinklocal and #shoplocal.

Check out Dominion Wine & Beer to see what fresh hop beers they have. These subtle beers are worth exploring now since the season for them will be gone before you know it. Cheers!

by ARLnow.com — October 7, 2016 at 9:15 am 0

Potomac River (Flickr pool photo by Yakfur)

ACPD Officer Played in NFL — Arlington County Police officer Dorian Brooks was formerly an offensive lineman for the Pittsburgh Steelers. At 6’3″ and 280 lbs, Brooks has lost some weight from his playing days — which included a 2011 Super Bowl appearance — but remains an imposing figure on the beat. [WUSA]

Write-in Candidate: Congressman Stole My Porn — Write-in congressional candidate Mike Webb continued his press release barrage early this morning with a curious one: an evidence-free accusation that Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) broke into his home and stole cell phone chargers, digital cameras and an external hard drive containing his porn stash. The subject line of the email: “VIP Beyer Steals External ‘Sex Drive’ and Impotent Webb Wants Good Porn Bac [sic].” Webb inadvertently made headlines earlier this year by releasing an image showing tabs for porn websites on his computer, later claiming that he was just testing said sites for viruses. [PDF]

Flights Canceled Due to Matthew — Hurricane Matthew’s jaunt up the Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina coast is leading to numerous flight cancellations at Reagan National Airport. [WJLA]

New Bishop Is an Eagles Fan — The Diocese of Arlington’s incoming bishop, Michael Burbidge, is a big fan of the Philadelphia Eagles, the Redskins’ NFC East foe. He received the call telling him the pope had appointed him to replace Bishop Paul Loverde in Arlington during the recent Eagles-Steelers game — though he unknowingly let the call go to voicemail. [News & Observer]

Columbia Pike Fall Wine and Craft Beer FestSponsored — Sample Columbia Pike’s unique wines and rare craft beers at this family-friendly, ticketed event. It’s taking place Saturday, Oct. 8 from 3-8 p.m. on Adams Street at Columbia Pike. Food and beverages from Pike restaurants will be available for purchase, and a children’s area and musical performances will keep all visitors entertained. [CPRO]

Flickr pool photo by Yakfur

by ARLnow.com — September 29, 2016 at 8:55 am 0

Pumpkins at the Columbia Pike farmers market (Flickr pool photo by Alan Kotok)

Garvey to Hold Book Discussion — Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey is launching a series of community book discussions on various topics. Tonight Garvey and School Board Chair Nancy Van Doren will discuss the best-selling book “Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School.” The discussion will take place at Arlington Central Library (1015 N. Quincy Street) from 7:30-9 p.m. [Facebook]

Beer Store, TechShop Collaborate for New Kegerator — Crystal City Wine Shop (220 20th Street S.) has teamed up with nearby TechShop to create a new kegerator. The custom-modified refrigerator allows the store to offer varieties of craft beer that aren’t available in bottles or cans. Customers can take the beer home in fillable cans known as crowlers. [Washington Business Journal]

Cosi Files for Bankruptcy — The Cosi chain of sandwich and salad restaurants has filed for bankruptcy and closed 40 percent of its locations. Among the closed stores: the Cosi in Courthouse. A rep for the company told us yesterday: “The decision to close this restaurant was based on its financial performance and market density. At this time, we do not have any plans to reopen this restaurant.” [Nation’s Restaurant News]

Flash Flood Watch Continues — Forecasters are expecting several more inches of rain to fall between now and Saturday. The potential for flash flooding along streams and low-lying areas remains and a Flash Flood Watch is still in effect. [Twitter, Twitter]

Flickr pool photo by Alan Kotok

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — September 23, 2016 at 1:15 pm 0

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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.

It’s wonderful to be able to drink and talk about pumpkin ales and Oktoberfest lagers in the actual season they are made for. With the first day of fall on Thursday, we are officially in the season of beers that began appearing on store shelves in August. Some of these and some recent releases have become my “faves” of the season. I’ve gone back to these beers, savoring them, and now I’d like to share them with you.

Ballast Point Brewing Pumpkin Down Scottish Ale with Pumpkin (5.8% ABV)

Ballast Point Brewing Pumpkin Down Scottish Ale with PumpkinSan Diego’s Ballast Point Brewing is known more for it’s West Coast IPAs and fruit infused beers than it is for earthy, spiced brews. But, every once in a while, they make an Indra Kunindra — a curried stout — or this pumpkin-loaded version of their potent Scottish ale, Piper Down. Once you pour this dark amber beer, the earthy aroma of squash mingles with cinnamon and nutmeg obscuring a malty honey wheat. Ballast Point avoids creating a pumpkin pie beer by rooting this in the malt forward style of the Scottish Ale. Slightly sweet and spiced at first, Pumpkin Down turns slightly bitter with the flavor of cooked pumpkin flesh. I’ve bought a couple sixers of this delicious Fall mashup. It’s tasty and versatile — enjoy it with a meal or on it’s own.

Dogfish Head Craft Brewery Punkin Ale (7.0% ABV)

Dogfish Head Craft Brewery Punkin AlePunkin Ale has been a staple of the Dogfish Head line up since their earliest days — 1995. It’s distributed in nearly every state and might be the entry point for many into their beers. Though they have controls and labs and all, they are still a craft brewery that relies on humans for analyzing the flavors of their beers. What this means is that some years their Punkin Ale is just alright and some years it’s fantastic. This year’s falls into the latter category — and it has awesome label art. Bursting with aromas of sweet potato pie, cinnamon, nutmeg and sweet biscuit, Punkin seems to be poised to be a Pumpking-like beer. But it isn’t. It’s a solid brown ale that warms the palate with pumpkin pie spices, more winter warmer than typical pumpkin ale. Only in the finish is there a pumpkin presence, and it tends to be more of an earthiness than straight up pumpkin. Whether you’re looking for another pumpkin beer to try or can’t stand the sight of another, this beer might just be right for you. Available in four-packs as a strongish seasonal, this beer is worth a visit or a revisit.

Sixpoint Brewery Tesla Hop-Charged Lager (7.1% ABV)

Sixpoint Brewery Tesla Hop-Charged LagerYou can always rely on Brooklyn’s Sixpoint Brewery to have fun with it beer names. Tesla, named for the inventor and not the electric luxury car brand, refers to the story that Nikolai Tesla once electrified a neighborhoods water supply causing homeowners to get a shock. Joining the recent trend of hoppy lagers or so-called India Pale Lagers (IPLs), Sixpoint has “hop-charged” this lager with American hops for a big, juicy lager. As you’d expect, the aroma is packed with tropical fruit and pine sap from the hops with a hint of Nilla wafer from the underlying lager. This beer is crisp, which is to say that it’s a typical lager, but almost immediately the hop flavors explode your mouth. What I enjoy most about hoppy lagers is that the beer is a nearly neutral vehicle for the varied and robust flavors of hops. This strong lager comes in the signature Sixpoint can and it goes down smooth with very little bite.

Great Lakes Brewing Co. Oktoberfest (6.5% ABV)

Great Lakes Brewing Co OktoberfestI had to include at least one Oktoberfest beer in this article. Cleveland’s Great Lakes Brewing Company delivers one of my Fall Faves in their own Oktoberfest. Hewing close to tradition, they brew their Fall lager with the darker Munich malt, which lends this beer its brown bread and raisin aroma. Malt is the name of the game here, too. I confess to crave the sharper flavors of an IPA or a sour, but each Fall there is something comforting about a malt-bomb of an Oktoberfest beer. The flavors here round out with a nuttiness that is satisfying. Grab a couple bottles or a Crowler of this traditional style and enjoy the cooling days.

These favorites and more are available now at Dominion Wine and Beer. Cheers!

by ARLnow.com — September 20, 2016 at 10:45 am 0

Pumpkin beer in the Clarendon Whole FoodsPools might close after Labor Day but summer has been very much still in effect over the past couple of weeks.

With high temps in the 80s and 90s, one does not exactly get the twigs and acorns crunching pleasurably beneath one’s boots feeling that traditionally prompts a craving for fall-related items — you know, the ever-popular pumpkin spice latte or a malty Oktoberfest beer.

Starbucks has been offering the “PSL” since the end of August (McDonald’s now has a version, too) and Oktoberfests and pumpkin beers started hitting local store shelves even earlier than that.

We know that such seasonal beverages are popular choices when the air gets crisp and the days shorter. But are they popular now before the official start of fall? (The autumnal equinox is Thursday.)

Given the proliferation of Starbucks and the crowds at our fall beer tasting event over the weekend, it seems like the answer might be yes. But let’s see whether actual consumption so far this season actually bears that out.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — August 26, 2016 at 2:00 pm 0

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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.

Raise your hand if you know what a Crowler is. It’s okay if you don’t know. I’ll admit to having Ozzy Osbourne’s “Mr. Crowley” pop into my head when I think of the word “Crowler.” But I digress. 

Crowlers are 32 oz. aluminum cans that start out open on top so they can be filled with beer like a growler. Rather than sealing with a cap, like a growler, a top is placed on the can that includes the tab opener that 12 oz. and tall boy cans have. Then the can and top are placed on a can seamer, which works like a can opener in reverse. 

Once the Crowler is sealed, you can keep it refrigerated for up to a month. Of course, once you open these single-use cans, be prepared to enjoy all the beer inside. While these giant cans are not resealable, their modest 32 oz. volume does mean that you can take that special release to go. Beer in the can will keep reasonably well while you enjoy it if you cannot pour it all into glasses right away. A tip that Richard over at Aslin gave me is to put plastic wrap over the top when you put the unfinished Crowler back in the fridge. Just don’t keep it like that for more than a few hours.

Born of a desire to solve for the inconsistency reusable glass growlers and a need for an affordable and unbreakable growler, Oskar Blues worked with can-maker Ball to develop the Crowler. The result is a packaging option that looks and acts like something that came off a canning line, but actually was filled on demand. 

The Crowler is so effective at packaging beer that local favorite, Aslin Beer Co. in Herndon, uses them — and traditional growlers — in place of traditional beer packaging. With their longer shelf life, it’s no surprise that you see craft beer lovers traveling with their Crowlers. It’s this portability and storability that makes this on-demand beer vessel an up and comer. 

I was able to grab two Crowlers of beer for this article: J. Wakefield Brewery’s El Jefe hefeweizen and Ocelot Brewing Company’s Buddhist Prodigy DIPA.

J. Wakefield Brewery, El Jefe Hefeweizen (5.5% ABV)

El Jefe HefeweizenI opened this Crowler first. I was impressed by the way the experience of this beer was preserved — the very fine effervescence that keeps this otherwise heavy ale light remained. By nature of the yeast that is used in this style of beer, you’d expect to smell and taste banana. That’s certainly in there, but the word here is coconut. It’s in the aroma and from the beginning of the sip through to the finish. While there is a brief sweetness, this wheat beer finishes with a malty quality common to a good hefeweizen. At 5.5%, this was a great beer for one or two in a Crowler.

Ocelot Brewing Company, Buddhist Prodigy DIPA (8.7% ABV)

Buddhist Prodigy DIPAThis is the type of beer that is perfect for the Crowler. It’s relatively high ABV makes it a great beer to share with a friend or two. This beer was in its unopened Crowler for about a week and it came out as though it had been freshly poured. The flavors were crisp and the beer retained its appropriate amount of carbonation. I see a theme forming in this column — tropical flavors! Buddhist Prodigy is a passion fruit juice bomb that favors clarity over cloudy, but nevertheless tastes like drinking in the tropics. Rather than following the trend of tart passion fruit beers, this DIPA starts out sweet and fruity only to transition to a dank, piney finish. The Washington Post’s Best New Brewery of 2016 shows why with this delicious brew. 

Head on down to Dominion Wine & Beer and grab some Crowlers then head home or to the beach or the mountains, and enjoy! Cheers!

by Andrew Ramonas — August 25, 2016 at 4:30 pm 0

Oktoberfest in Shirlington (Photo via Capitol City Brewing Company)Men in lederhosen and women in dirndls are set to descend on Shirlington for a day of beer drinking, pretzel eating and Bavarian music this fall.

Capitol City Brewing Company is throwing its 17th annual Oktoberfest at The Village at Shirlington (4001 Campbell Avenue) on Saturday, Oct. 1, from noon to 7 p.m.

Admission is $30, which gets festivalgoers who are at least 21 years old a glass and 10 tasting tickets. Extra tickets cost $1, with a five-ticket minimum. But non-drinkers can get in for free.

Capitol City, Mad Fox, Flying Dog and more than five dozen other breweries are expected to offer beer samples at the event. Patrons then can pair their lagers and ales with bratwurst, giant pretzels and other German food on sale during the festival, as they listen to bands play Bavarian tunes.

Beer taps are set to close at 6 p.m.

Photo via Capitol City Brewing Company

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — August 12, 2016 at 1:00 pm 0

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Editor’s Note: This biweekly column is sponsored by Dominion Wine and Beer (107 Rowell Court, Falls Church). 

This week, Dave and I sat down with Fair Winds Brewing Company’s owner Casey Jones and brand ambassador Mike Kuykendall to talk about our can release party at Dominion Wine and Beer today starting at 5 p.m.

Fair Winds Brewing Company is a fully operational packaging brewery featuring a 30 barrel brew house and expansive taproom in Lorton, Va., right off Fairfax County Parkway and I-95. Check out the video below and learn about how a great local veteran-owned brewery is providing our area with fresh flavorful craft beers.

by ARLnow.com — August 10, 2016 at 10:00 am 0

It’s August 10 and already the shelves of Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and other Arlington stores are being stocked with fall beers.

Pumpkin beers, Oktoberfest beers — the kind of brews that make you think of crisp, cool weather and fallen leaves crunching under your feet. Yet, we’re still a month and a half away from the first day of autumn, the leaves are still green and another sweltering heat wave is about to get underway.

How do you feel about this practice of starting fall early in the beer aisle? Do you appreciate being able to stock up on your pumpkin beers early, or do you wish retailers would save the Oktoberfests until closer to October?

Regardless of your answer, if you’re a fan of fall beer, be sure to mark your calendars for the seasonally-appropriate date of Sunday, Sept. 18, for a free ARLnow-sponsored “Mega Fall Beer Tasting Event” at Arrowine, featuring a whole bunch of great breweries, some rare brews for sale and grub from local food trucks.

Space is limited, and email subscribers will get first dibs; keep an eye out for an invite.

Hat tip to Peter G.

by ARLnow.com — August 3, 2016 at 4:45 pm 0

(Updated at 5:05 p.m.) Continental Pool Lounge is expanding with a new, 180-seat indoor/outdoor beer garden.

The new Continental Beer Garden will be located in what’s currently a pop-up urban park with tables, chairs, potted plants and a mural, at the corner of 19th Street and N. Moore Street. Despite being a block from the Metro station, in the bustling, bus-clogged heart of Rosslyn, the 4,000 square foot outdoor beer garden will be a relaxing place to eat, drink and have fun with friends, says Continental owner Curt Large.

“The seating will include a large communal table, picnic tables, outdoor sofas and Adirondack chairs,” Large told ARLnow.com. “Our menu will feature foods meant for sharing, including sausages, appetizers, and other light fare. The beer garden will showcase local Virginia craft beer along with a couple of German brews. Continental will also build outdoor bocce courts for beer garden patrons and will host bocce tournaments and leagues.”

The space, which is just steps away from the Continental Pool Lounge, was formerly the parking lot of a service station. It sat vacant for some two decades, Large said, before being converted to an outdoor seating area by property owner JBG and the Rosslyn Business Improvement District in 2014. The space has hosted a number of events, including a pop-up beer garden organized by the Continental two years ago.

Large says the inside of the service station will be incorporated into the beer garden.

“We will also renovate the interior service station area, located under the office building at 1901 N. Fort Myer Drive,” he said. “The approximately 1,000 foot area will have a bar and small seating area, along with a kitchen and bathrooms. The interior will embrace the industrial grit of the former service station, showcasing some great 1970s vintage garage cabinets and signs behind the bar area.”

Mary-Claire Burick, head of the Rosslyn BID, said the beer garden will be a welcome new amenity for the area, building upon the “pop-up” events that have been held there over the past two years.

“This is a big part of what we do as a BID,” she said. “We saw this underutilized, industrial open space with a ton of foot traffic and made it a priority to reclaim and activate it with our partners, Continental Pool Lounge and JBG. ”

Large has applied for building permits and a liquor permit. He hopes to open the beer garden in the spring of 2017.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — July 29, 2016 at 3:30 pm 0

Weekend Wine and Beer Guide logo

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.

This week, Dave and I sat down with Taylor from Three Notch’d Brewing from Charlottesville, Va., to discuss our tap feature going on today at 5 p.m. We will be tapping the only keg of Bourbon Biggie Smores in Northern Virginia, an absolutely delicious Imperial Stout aged in Bourbon barrels and our very own Dominion Citra IPA, a delicious low IBU IPA that we collaborated with the brewers of Three Notch’d.

Check out the video below for event details and the history and philosophy of Three Notch’d Brewing.

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