When the brewery opened in 2009, it was the first brewery to operate inside the District of Columbia since 1956. Now it’s joined by several others, including Chocolate City (2011) and 3 Stars (2012). Given its lead in opening, DC Brau is the most commercially advanced of these, shipping six-packs of cans around the immediate DMV region.
With DC-themed, near-graffiti art on its walls, the DC Brau headquarters is split into two sections – a small tasting/hang out room and its canning/fermentation space. I really liked how open their building was, which allowed my friend, Justin, and I to get a look at some of their equipment:
After grabbing some samples, we decided to share a couple six-packs of their flagship brews. The Citizen, a Belgian pale ale, and Corruption, an IPA, both impressed.
Inspired by Belgium’s tripel style of beer, Citizen is fermented with a Belgian yeast that keeps the brew malty and sweet. Aromatic and Carapils malts give the beer an aggressive biscuit smell and taste, but for my money, it’s the residual esters of the yeast that steal the show. Citizen’s aroma is full of orange zest and banana with touches of clove and even an inoffensive fennel-like quality. While there is almost a trace of hops hiding at the front of the beer’s taste, it’s lingering banana flavor that truly stands out and lasts from one sip into the next.
While it’s no Orval, perhaps the benchmark for this style of beer, Citizen does have lots of fruit characteristics without using any fruit. At 7 percent ABV, it does clock in higher than Orval, however. If anything, I was most impressed with DC Brau for making this one of their flagship brews. It’s definitely taste and has mass appeal, but not a style you typically see among a new brewery’s initial offerings.
On the other end of the taste spectrum, Corruption IPA is a great take on a Northwest India pale ale. The aromas of this beer are dirty, dank and distinctly American. DC Brau uses 40 pounds of Columbus hops per brew that combine with a dose of honey to give Corruption a cloyingly sticky-sweet smell. These hops don’t go as far into citrus territory as Cascade, but with an alpha acid level that sits around 15 percent, they do give Corruption a hard, bitter bite combined with a pungent earthy smell and some grapefruit.
Each sip of this IPA tastes super resinous and the hop profile never dried out my tongue. The malt bill (Pale 2-row, C-10 and Victory) maintains a good, fresh-baked bread balance, but when push came to shove, all I could think about while drinking this beer was standing among giant spruce trees in Washington State.