A Beer Lover’s Guide to the Best D.C. Breweries

New and emerging breweries have been popping up across Washington, D.C., over the past few years. The nation's capital is becoming a mecca for craft beer with breweries, restaurants and bars that offer different types and styles of beers. Whether you prefer ales, lagers, India pale ales (IPAs), stouts, pilsners or sours, you're sure to find a new D.C. brewery to satisfy your taste.

Visiting the best breweries in D.C.

When you visit a brewery, order a flight to sample several beers, typically between three to six ounces per tasting glass. Some places have separate tasting rooms, while others offer a full menu of foods that pair well with distinctive craft beers.

The brewmaster or waitstaff is usually very knowledgeable about their brews and can give you the advice to help you choose a beer that you will like. If you find a beer that you especially enjoy, you can even buy a growler, a 32- to 64-ounce glass, ceramic or stainless steel take-home bottle of craft beer. Some breweries offer tours of their production facilities and rent out space for private events.

So, where are the best D.C. breweries? The following guide highlights some of the local hot spots.

3 Stars Brewing Company

3 Star Brewing cans and growlers

Source: Facebook/3starsbrewing

Located in Washington D.C.'s, Takoma neighborhood, the brewery has released more than 200 different beers. They were named Rising Stars in 2014 by Star Chefs Magazine and have been named D.C.'s Best Local Brewery multiple times by Washington City Paper.

3 Stars Brewing Company offers a Community Supported Beer (CSB) program, where you can pay for a membership and receive a set number of beers per week. Beers change weekly so you get to enjoy a wide variety of brews.

Atlas Brew Works

Bartender at Atlas Brew Works, Washington, D.C.

Source: Facebook/AtlasBrewWorks

Atlas Brew Works has two breweries with a taproom and dining area in D.C. — one in the Ivy City neighborhood and the other in the Navy Yard area near Nationals Park. The brewery produces handcrafted artisanal beer including its flagship brews — Ponzi, District Common, Blood Orange Gose, Dance of Days and Silent Neighbor.

The Ivy City location has a popular outdoor patio, and the Navy Yard, with 13 big-screen TVs, is a prime venue for cheering on your favorite sports team.

Bluejacket Brewery

Taproom at Blue Jacket Brewery, Washington, D.C.

Source: Facebook/bluejacketdc

Bluejacket Brewery is one of the most popular restaurants in the vibrant Navy Yard neighborhood of D.C. The brewpub offers sandwiches, salads and other bar food, as well as a changing menu of beers.

The restaurant has a cool warehouse vibe and a large outdoor patio for dining. Bluejacket also offers same-day beer delivery and prepared foods, groceries, produce, wine and spirits delivery and pick-up options.

D.C. Brau Brewing Company

Cans ready for brew at DC Brau, Washington, D.C.

Source: Facebook/DCBrau

D.C. Brau is one of the largest breweries in Washington D.C., occupying more than 48,500 square feet of warehouse space in Northeast D.C. The company produces several types of beer and hard seltzer.

The tasting room is open for growler fills and on-site beer tastings, with specials and events planned throughout the week. Half-priced pints are available on Fridays. Complimentary brewery tours are given to the public on Saturdays.

Hellbender Brewing Company

Menu wall at Hellbender Brewing, Washington, D.C.

Source: Facebook/HellbenderBeer

Hellbender Brewing Company claims to be the first brewery on the East Coast to invest in a mash filter, which increases the efficiency of the brewing process using less water and grain than a traditional brewhouse.

Located near Fort Totten, Hellbender has a tap room with communal tables, board games and large screen TVs. Customers are allowed to bring in their own food. Timber Pizza and Dolci Gelati food trucks park in front of the brewery every day.

Red Bear Brewing Company

Options at Red Bear Brewing Co., Washington, D.C.

Source: Facebook/RedBearBrewing

Red Bear Brewing Company serves on tap beer, cider, mead, wine and cocktails. Located in NoMa, the D.C. brewery was created by three friends from Seattle who sought to craft beer and a casual ad inviting place to chill. One of their core missions is to produce tasty ales and lagers in a sustainable way.

They offer a full menu of food with seasonal updates, including favorites, such as the Bear Beer Burger, Good Grief Corn Beef, Washingtonian Wings and fried cauliflower.

Right Proper Brewing Company

Beer and cheese flight selections at Right Proper Brewery, Washington, D.C.

Source: Facebook/RightProperBeer

Right Proper Brewing Company produces beer for the Shaw Brewpub & Kitchen, Brookland Production House & Tasting Room and farmers markets in D.C. The company started in 2013 as a small neighborhood brewpub.

The Shaw location features its beers alongside classic American pub fare, while the Brookland brewery serves flights and sells growlers to go. Tours of the brewery are offered on Saturdays and Sundays.

City Tap House

City Tap House, Washington, D.C.

Source: Facebook/CityTapPennQtr

With Washington D.C., locations in Penn Quarter and Dupont Circle, City Tap House is a growing chain of brewpubs that first opened in Philadelphia in 2010. From India pale ale to barrel-aged stouts, craft beers are rich with variety and innovation.

The beer menu categorizes each item by style and gives a detailed flavor description so you know exactly what you're drinking. The food menus include a range of items to appeal to all sorts of tastes, such as greens and grains, a fried chicken sandwich, 10-spice wings and shrimp and grits.

Dacha Beer Garden

Dacha Beer Garden, Washington, D.C.

Source: Facebook/DachaBeerGarden

While not actually a brewery, Dacha Beer Garden is one of the best places in Washington D.C., to enjoy a variety of beers. Following the tradition of open-air Bavarian beer gardens, this is a great spot to hang out with friends and enjoy trying some new brews in the nation's capital.

Dacha serves a carefully curated selection of world-class German, Belgian and American craft beers, along with wines, meads, ciders and other refreshments. The food menu includes casual foods like bratwurst, burgers, mac and cheese and German potato salad.

Support the best breweries in D.C.

Craft breweries are mostly small businesses that work hard to produce beers to satisfy the changing tastes of their patrons. If you're a beer lover, visit a variety of breweries and you won't be surprised to find some great brews. You'll enjoy trying something new and supporting a local business.

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Rachel CooperRachel Cooper is a freelance writer and author with more than a decade of online journalism and content creation experience. She has written for About.com, Washingtonian, Federal City Council, Montgomery Parks, Destination Maryland, Conde Nast Traveler, Payscale, Valpak, Grandparents.com, Washington Parent and more. Her books include Quiet Water: Mid-Atlantic, AMC’s Canoe and Kayak Guide to the Best Ponds, Lakes and Easy Rivers; 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Washington, D.C. and Images of Rail: Union Station in Washington, D.C.

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