I’ve had the great fortune of attending countless beer festivals over the past several years. Usually, that means travelling to Colorado, North Carolina, or having to drive outside of the beltway to some field in rural Virginia. When I learned that DC was hosting its first beer festival at Nationals Park, I could have sworn the skies opened up and the beer gods finally shone their light upon our great city. The event, put on by Drink Eat Play, was for all intents and purposes a wild success. For those of you that didn’t get a chance to attend, let’s start with selection.
In terms of the breweries that were represented at DC’s inaugural beer festival, the number and variety of available beer was impressive to say the least. There were 80 breweries in total represented, which is quite a large number. While the event was predominantly dominated by American craft brewers from around the country, there were also a few international breweries present such as Newcastle and Warsteiner. The greatest aspect of the event however, was the strong showing of DC’s local breweries. It wasn’t until 1992 when Capitol City Brewing Company became the first brewpub to open in the city since Prohibition, and craft beer has exploded into the DC market ever since.
We made a point to make our way to every local brewery during the event and speak to some of the great people that make their amazing beers. What they’ve been brewing up is very exciting, and the DC beer scene should soon prove to be strong competition for the established brewing powerhouses of Colorado, North Carolina, and our nation’s west coast. Be on the lookout soon, as I plan to visit each of these breweries for a full review of both their operations and the beers they’re currently brewing!
In terms of set up and logistics at the event, I gotta say that DC’s first stab at a major beer festival left a little to be desired. The craft breweries were primarily located in the corridors of Nationals Park, which coupled with the sheer size of the crowd, made it very difficult to navigate. In comparison with other beer festivals of this magnitude, getting around to each brewery was a chore. The lines were often so long that they stretched from each brewery to the back wall, and it was often tough to distinguish which line you were actually in. I felt like I had to straddle the person in front of me and ride the wave to the next beer. Hopefully this will be remedied for next year’s event.
Signage was also an issue. We often found ourselves waiting in a line for ten minutes without actually knowing what we were waiting for. We didn’t go thirsty however. While most beer events adhere to a strict 1oz pour at each station, the DC Beer Festival issued attendees a 4oz tasting mug that was always filled to the brim.
Another refreshing part of the DC Beer Festival was the available entertainment! WOW! In comparison to other events of this type, DC really nailed it. There was a DJ pumping out tunes for the well-oiled attendees to get their groove on, as well as a live band on the other side of the park throwing down covers of classic rock and pop to listen to. If jamming out or dancing wasn’t your thing, a game area was also set up with everything from corn hole to bocce ball courts.
If you were hungry, as many people seem to get walking around drinking beer for three hours, there was also an incredible food selection. Actually, it was the by far the best I’ve ever seen at any beer festival I’ve been to, including the mecca of all craft beer events; The Great American Beer Festival. DC really nailed it in these areas, and for $40 of unlimited beer for three hours, the value of this festival was top notch! I can’t wait for DC Beer Festival 2014!
Until next time, stay thirsty DC!