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By Close of 2013, Amount of Beer Brewed in DC to Double

By DCBeer Contributor Katie McConnell

What a difference two years make. In that time, DC added three breweries with some serious beer.

While not news to many of you, the growth of craft beer in DC is part of a national trend. According to the most recent numbers from the Brewers Association, there are now 2,126 breweries in the U.S. as of August 2012. The U.S. added 350 new breweries in a year resulting in the largest total number of breweries in 125 years. Furthermore, the craft industry had 14 percent growth in volume in the first half of 2012, and that’s after 13 percent growth in 2011.

Looking forward to 2013, DC’s breweries are set to outpace the current national trends in volume growth. Expansions by current breweries plus the addition of four more breweries or brewpubs means that the amount of beer brewed in the District will double.

Expansions of DC Breweries

DC Brau recently announced its second expansion since opening. The brewery plans to more than double its production volume from 5,000 barrels to 12,000 annually, which will allow its distribution to reach into Maryland. Chocolate City Brewery also plans to increase its annual production from 1,200 barrels to 1,500 or 1,600 barrels.

DC's newest brewery is also already getting ready to expand. According to 3 Stars Brewing Company President Dave Coleman, the brewery is “definitely looking at a very large expansion in 2013” including adding more fermenters and hopefully finding a bottling line that will fit their needs. The brewery’s expansion will increase their production from the 400 barrels brewed in 2012 (they launched in August) to 2,200-2,500. 3 Stars also plans on developing a barrel-aging program in 2013.

New Breweries and Brewpubs

In addition to the existing breweries, there are four new breweries or brewpubs in the District getting ready to enter the market.

As reported by DCBeer’s Chris Van Orden, Atlas Brew Works and its 20-barrel system is set to debut in the first quarter of 2013. Owners/brewers Will Durgin and Justin Cox plan to start with a pale ale and a California common. Looking to the future, the 9,200 square foot Ivy City brewery gives the duo plenty of room to expand.

Bluejacket Brewery, helmed by brewer Megan Parisi and Neighborhood Restaurant Group beer director Greg Engert, was recently named one of the Top Ten DC restaurant openings in 2013 by the Washington City Paper. The brewery and still unnamed 200 seat restaurant plans to open its doors in April or May. While there is no word yet on the annual volume churning out of its 15-barrel system, the brewery plans on producing “special small batch beers.”

Also in 2013, Right, Proper Brew Pub plans to open in Shaw. The brainchild of home brewer Nathan Zeender, the brewpub will be focused on small scale, “yeast-forward” craft brewing in a comfortable and casual tavern atmosphere.

Finally, Bardo Brewpub is slated to open in March or April. Bardo will bring back many of the recipes of Bill Stewart Jr.’s first brewpub: Arlington’s closed, but beloved, Bardo Rodeo/Dr. Dremo’s. Located at 1200 Bladensburg Rd., NE the new brewpub will feature 10,000 square feet of outdoor seating complete with a beer garden, grill, cornhole, and a sandbox.

In addition to four breweries listed above who have leases and are actively in the permitting and building processes, there’s the potential that Low Brau and Hellbender could also enter DC shortly.

Before the city gets too big for its beer britches, as was pointed out by the Washington Post's Greg Kitsock, in terms of breweries per capita, DC still has a long way to go before we catch up with the likes of Portland, Oregon (we’d have to add another 33 breweries). However, it looks like it’s going to be a good year for DC beer drinkers. We're looking forward to keeping you posted.

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