Jerry Hoffberger at one time owned both the Baltimore Orioles and National Brewing Co., cementing the ties between the sport and the beverage in the region.
The resurgent Washington Nationals, after years of hapless play, false starts and futility, are giving their fans something to drink to this year.
Coincidentally, new breweries in the nation’s capital are happy to provide thirsty baseball fans local suds to toast their National League East-leading ball club.
After decades of having to rely on national chains and regional breweries from Virginia, Maryland and Delaware, along with some here-and-there brewpubs in the city, Washington beer drinkers have two breweries to call their own — DC Brau and Chocolate City Beer. DC Brau started up in April of last year, followed by Chocolate City in August.
The response has been positive.
“We can’t fill enough orders for Washington, D.C.,” said Brandon Skall, a co-founder of DC Brau.
“One of the things that was shocking my business partner and I was that there was no — there was no absolutely no — beer voice in Washington, D.C.,” Skall said. “Yes, we had great brewpubs here, and brewers had been doing great work in brewpubs for some time, but there wasn’t anything available for the city as a whole,” he said. “That’s what we thought we wanted to change.”
“There’s so many great, small, creative people doing the right thing here, and that’s cool, and we just stumbled into it,” said Jason Irizarry, one of the founders of Chocolate City Beer.
Saturdays at the Brewery
Of the two, DC Brau is the more prevalent in the city and in Capitol Hill bars, restaurants and package liquor stores.
It is sold by the can and keg, helping with what the business folks like to call its penetration rate.
Located at 3178-B Bladensburg Road NE, in a lonely stretch on Route 1 near Fort Lincoln, DC Brau is looking to expand its footprint so that it can brew more beer and store more of it on-site. Its merchandise sales are solid. It gives off the vibe of an already well-oiled machine preparing to shift into a higher gear.
Chocolate City Beer is a bit more eclectic.
It is located at 2801 Eighth St. NE, in an area between Brookland and Edgewood, in a stone building along the railroad tracks that was once the workshop of Chad Houseknecht, a longtime 9:30 Club production guy and recent co-host of “Weapons Masters” on the Discovery Channel and Military Channel.
“All the old 9:30 heads, anyone, like, in their 50s from the old 9:30 club, the original team, they know the building as the Big Pile of Rocks,” Irizarry said of the funky stone building that is Chocolate City HQ.