The Six-Pack Project: VA and DC

6pack logoWelcome to the Six-Pack Project, the brainchild of the hardest-working, unpaid beer blogger in the business: Bryan at thisiswhyimdrunk.

The Six-Pack Project is a new, collaborative effort between beer bloggers from around the country. Each blogger highlights a hypothetical six-pack from their State that best represents the State’s beer culture. If someone is coming to visit, what bottles or cans would we share? Or since I am woefully self-centered: If I came to visit, what beers would I share with me. The rules are, to-wit:

  • Pick a six-pack of beers that best represents your State or State’s beer culture.
  • Beer must be made in your State, including any “gypsy” brewed beers.
  • Any size bottle or can is acceptable.
  • Current seasonal offerings are fine, but try to keep selections to year-round brews as much as possible. Out-of-season beers are highly frowned-upon.

I live in Northern Virginia, several miles from DC. Thus, I have shrewdly negotiated my jurisdiction to include the District. I will lay claim to the rest of Virginia, too, and leave the Maryland parts of the DC Metro-area to some lucky Marylander in a future Six Pack Project edition.

The area’s beer production has improved significantly since the Haybag and I arrived in ’05. However, of the three NOVA/DC breweries that regularly sell bottles and cans, Alexandria’s Port City is the grizzled veteran. They first sent bottles out the door waaay back in February 3, 2011*. A handful of the many Virginia breweries outside of NOVA distribute some of their beers up here, but not nearly enough. With that in mind, here goes.

OTWOADC Brau On the Wings of Armageddon (DC) – This single hop Falconer’s Flight IIPA was brewed in honor of the end of the world (December 21, 2012). Then, after everyone realized the Chief Mayan Calendar-Maker was just a dick with a sick sense of humor, DC Brau made a new Baktun resolution to brew and can more OTWOA, as the kids like to call it. A total dank beast with citrus, tropical fruits, a doughy malt backbone, and a building bitterness. I would liken it to Fat Head’s Head Hunter, but a little more tropical and with more control.

LOCAL FLAVOR: Indicative of the largesse and excesses of Washington.

el hefeDC Brau El Hefe Speaks (DC) – American brewers have issues with Hefes. In fact, one would think that the difficulty level of making a good one falls somewhere between solving a Rubik’s Cube and licking your own elbow (you’re totally trying it right now…it’s OK, I’ll wait). They’re either too plain, too bitter, too clovey, or they’ve got some sort of sour aftertaste going on. Not El Hefe. Bananas, light clove, wheat, a little bubble gum, and a clean finish. Now if we can only find a good American brand of spatzle, we won’t need the Germans for anything anymore…amiright?

LOCAL FLAVOR: Washington solving America’s problems.

port cityPort City Porter (VA) – I sing this beer’s praises to anyone who cares to listen..and probably a few who don’t. It’s not too sweet, not too dry. And it’s subtle, with chocolate, light notes of coffee, cream, malt balls, and a light kiss of hops and roast bitterness. When you start drinking it you’re all like, this is solid like in a girl next door sort of way. But pay attention, cause by the end it builds and you’re all like this porter brings all the boys to the yard. Damn right. It could teach you, but it’d have to charge.

LOCAL FLAVOR: I don’t know, but don’t you ever say nothin’ bad about Port City Porter.

pretty in pinkBluejacket and Lost Rhino Pretty in Pink (DC and VA) – This is more locally symbolic than the rest. It’s a collaboration between Rachel Cardwell, a brewer at Hardywook Park (an exciting Richmond brewery that will hopefully be getting up to NOVA soon); Megan Parisi, head brewer of the soon-to-open Bluejacket brewery in DC (they’ll have a modest 5,000 bbl annual capacity, but 19 freaking fermentation vessels, including open fermentation tanks and a coolship); Kristi Mathews Griner, brewmaster for the Leesburg brewpub Vintage 50; and Becky Jordan, the executive chef at Lost Rhino Brewing (the brewery in Ashburn where they brewed it…a brewery with significant connections to Dominion, which got snapped-up and whisked away by Fordham around the height of the area brewing’s John-the-Baptist-fasting-in-the-desert period). It looks like nuclear pink grapefruit juice. Smells like tropical fruit, flowers, with some slight peppery spice. Tastes like pomegranate, grapefruit, pineapple, and hibiscus. Very floral, dry with slight fruity sweetness peeking through, and lightly tart.

LOCAL FLAVOR: Empowered women and the past, present, and future of DC-area brewing.

dark hollowDark Hollow Chocolate and Coffee BBA Imperial Stout (VA) – This is from Blue Mountain  Brewery’s Barrel House, where they brew their higher-end beers that require barrels or a little extra love. I find the regular Dark Hollow decent, but it has a slight vegetal thing going on. This one is straight up balla’, though…well at least for the $12 price tag and relative availability. Big coffee and chocolate dominate, while the bourbon complements. Grab one of these with ease while the hype-whores stalk the delivery truck and the mailing list for a shot at your bottle store’s 12-bottle KBS allotment.

LOCAL FLAVOR: Whiskey and beer meet, legally, in the Blue Ridge Mountains…just under two hours from the moonshine capital of the world.

downrightPort City Downright Pilsner (VA) – Summer is on the way. And when it’s hotter outside than two squirrels making love in a wool sock, it’s not like you’re going to come in from mowing the lawn and ask for an barrel-aged baller. I’m grabbing a Downright. Now, I’ll let the style Nazis decide whether this is a Czech Pilsner or a German Pilsner. They can hash-out SRM 5 vs. 6, while I polish off my first refreshing beverage and tie into some more spicy Saaz hops and hefty but clean bitterness. I don’t usually get too tweaked over pilsner, but this is a good one to have on hand for the Summer months.

LOCAL FLAVOR: DC is a freaking swamp, people. Literally. It gets hotter than a pair of sweatpants full of BBQ.

The Haybag: I still think you should have thrown in a Dogfish Head. This area made DFH. If it weren’t for this area, Sam would still be vibrating hops into his 60 minute with one of those electric vibrating football table-top games.

You can check out the other Six Pack Project posts for this round as follows:

*DC Brau apparently started in 2009, but didn’t produce any cans until Spring 2011. Also worth noting, six more breweries in NOVA are supposed to be popping-up in the next year.