HopFest proved to be a fun beer festival, made all the better because it focused on local breweries only (those in DC, MD and VA).
Hosted by the DC Brewers’ Guild, this was the fifth annual version. Held in the expansive new Brewhouse section of DC Brau, it sold out and a few of the hoppy beers (mostly IPAs) were tapped out fairly quickly.
But not before I had the chance to sample 19 beers (our festival glass afforded us a 4 oz. pour) from 19 different breweries. I didn’t get to every brewery’s stand (there were 35 or so after all), partially because I skipped over a few where I’d already had that beer, and partially because I already drank my fair share.
One great aspect was the showcasing of brand new beers, for example, the two IPAs offered by Red Bear Brewing (which also opened in NoMa that same day to huge lines), Hellbender’s Hawaii 6-0 farmhouse ale, and Bluejacket’s Challengers IPA. All very drinkable.
During the interludes between beer sipping, the food truck options were welcome. The Frenchman’s chicken sandwich (Napoleon the Conqueror) was legit (kudos to the egg and ‘Frenchy’ sauce), and my friends had Timber Pizza, which is always amazing.
* Almost all the beers I tried I’d drink again, including a few excellent beers.
* The chance to try brand new beers, especially from Red Bear Brewing.
* A DJ was on hand (in a nook with a couch!), and it even led to a sing along of Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline”.
* DC Brau’s new brewhouse expansion is cool, and should be a good place for their Tasting Room overflow. I hadn’t been since they opened it, so this made for a good excuse.
* Excellent food options.
* A sold out festival led to a run on some breweries, where the kegs tapped out even a couple hours before it ended. But I tasted everything I was hoping to, so not the end of the world.
* The lines to the bathrooms were epic. Even with the three port-o-potties outside.
Best Beers I Tried
Of the 19 beers I tried, here are some of the stand outs:
Bigger Cat (Triple IPA, 11% ABV) by Ocelot Brewing Company (Untappd Rating: 4.38; My Rating: 4.5) – Oh wow, this is so smooth and delicious, and dangerous to drink too much with that high ABV. I’ve discovered I enjoy double IPAs, so when it’s a triple it should be that much better, right?
Challengers (New England IPA, 7% ABV) by Bluejacket (Untappd Rating: 3.97; My Rating: 4) – I really like this beer, and extra special credit for the cool artwork on the can (Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots).
Shakey Isles (Imperial Double IPA, 8% ABV) by Astro Lab Brewing (Untappd Rating: 3.90; My Rating: 4) – Very good.
Polydeuces (IPA, 6.8% ABV) by Fair Winds Brewing Company (Untappd Rating: 3.68; My Rating: 4) – I do like many of Fair Winds beers, and this is solid.
Double Orange Starfish (Imperial Double IPA, 8.3% ABV) by Aslin Beer Company (Untappd Rating: 4.37; My Rating: 4) – Sweet, like a creamsicle, but strong. Probably wouldn’t drink more than one at a time, but that’s okay.
Elegy (pain edition) (Imperial Double IPA, 9% ABV) by Adroit Theory Brewing Company (Untappd Rating: 4.13; My Rating: 4.25) – I think it was the Pain version of this beer, but it was quite tasty and I literally got the last pour before it ran out.