Monday, May 2, 2011

Welcome to DC (Brau)

Note: cross-posted at

DC and I, it’s complicated. I was born here, at George Washington Hospital, the old one that’s now being developed as Square 54, and my son was born at the newer version of the hospital across the street. I may as well go public with this and say that I’ve got one more on the way, and he or she will be born there, too (knock on wood). So if I want to, I can claim native status, and I do it when it suits me, but I was raised in New York City, and I came down here for holidays and summer trips to see my extended family. I moved back here in 2002 and immediately began to feel local pride. I’ve got more roots here now: a son in a charter school, a house in northeast, a job, family, and friends.

But growing up in New York, DC was “too hot”, “too quick to cancel school”, oh, and by the way, the mayor smoked crack. It was funny when Jeffrey Maier caught that fly ball over Tony Tarasco’s head, turning an out into a Derek Jeter home run, giving me more ammunition with which to taunt my DC cousins who grew up rooting for the Orioles (DC couldn’t even keep a baseball team!). When my parents visit me from New York, they always bring bagels by request, because the ones I’ve found down here don’t pass muster. A few of the above are still true, and here’s one more truth: by and large, nobody in DC makes anything. What I mean is that there’s not much in terms of a tradition of industry here. Baltimore has the docks and the Domino plant, or had them, Philly, New York, Boston, even Trenton (it makes, the world takes) all have industry. Up and down the east coast, things were (and are) being made, but not here. DC was different, is different. It’s not even DC, it’s “Washington,” a place that’s the butt of jokes because the federal government did this or that, and politicians who want to get elected elsewhere talk about an “inside the beltway” mentality like there aren’t real people here doing real work that most other Americans would recognize. And so it hurt when the Nats went with “Washington” instead of “DC.” Those of us who live here, we live in DC, not Washington. Washington is for tourists and politicians, DC is for us.

DC Brau gets that. Brandon and Jeff are from here. They understand. Every can of the Public Pale Ale, the first offering from DC Brau, is a political act, mentioning that we in the District are taxed without representation at the congressional level and features a link to DC Vote, an organization devoted to obtaining representation. Each pint pulled represents DC, not Washington. I could talk more about the Public, an IPA kindly masquerading as a pale ale, but it’s been talked to death. I’ll pause to note that it’s very good, although I think the mango and pineapple aromas from the Falconer’s Flight hop pellets are more pronounced on draft than in the can, and you probably should pour the canned beer into a glass to experience a wider range of flavors.

The point is that DC makes something, lack of industrial tradition be damned, and with Chocolate City and 3 Stars on the way, DC is going from a great place to drink beer to a place that makes great beer. In warehouses in northeast and Takoma, places that are DC, not Washington, we’re making something.

Welcome to DC. We make beer.