Best DC Beers of 2021

End of year lists? Of course.

Trends are shifting. People are clamoring for a fresh lager or something that brings back the classic taste of beer. No more of the funky or over the top, just pure, pure beer flavor.

I get it. Going back to the roots of brewing can be refreshing. Give me Right Proper’s Senate Beer or Other Half’s Ivy City Lager and I’ll even join the trend myself. Many of the local breweries are heeding this call, and adjusting their offerings.

But when you can drink any of the Double Mmm sours by Other Half Brewing Co., why would you clamor for much else? These beers are delicious. If you disagree, you can both be wrong and enjoy your lagers, that’s allowed.

I’m going to focus on (new to me) beers I tasted from DC breweries in 2021. This is pure, and on brand.

I tried more sours this year than normal, and four made the list. Only overshadowed by six IPAs.

Lastly, I’d like to give a shout out to all DC breweries, all of which I visited in person in 2021 (and 2020 too), for creating great beers and being able to stay or re-open during the pandemic. And to Other Half Brewing Co. (2020) and City-State Brewing Co. (2021) for opening during the pandemic. And to my local beer shop, Craft Beer Cellar on H Street NE, for which I’m grateful I can buy single cans/bottles, and sample so many beers from the comfort of my home/roof deck/hiking spot.

Best DC Beers of 2021

(In no particular order – grouped by brewery.*)

  • Double Forever Cashmere IPA by Other Half Brewing Co. (8.5% ABV)
  • Cannibal Machine Sour by Other Half Brewing Co. (6.0% ABV)
  • Double Mmm…Fruit Dream With Blackberry And Raspberry Sour by Other Half Brewing Co. (7.0% ABV) – I’ve been digging all the sours in the Double Mmm series, this was my favorite so far.
  • Ivy City Lager by Other Half Brewing Co. (4.6% ABV) – Very solid lager. There is also a canned collaboration version with Salt Line. 
  • Barrel Aged Continental Blockade Porter by DC Brau (10.0% ABV)
  • Brau Radler – Lemon by DC Brau (2.3% ABV) – So pleasant and easy to drink.
  • Your Pet Cow (Jameson Cask Barrel Aged) (2021) Stout by DC Brau (9.5% ABV)
  • Solidarity Beer 2021 IPA by Right Proper Brewing Company (in collaboration with other DC breweries) (6.0% ABV)
  • Crush-A-Lot Sour by Bluejacket (6.0% ABV)
  • We Are the Ship, All Else the Sea IPA by Bluejacket (8.0% ABV)
  • The Floor Is Guava! Sour by Red Bear Brewing Co. (6.1% ABV) – Got me through many of the terrible University of Washington football games watched at Red Bear.
  • Playlist Double Dry Hopped IPA by 3 Stars Brewing Co. (6.3% ABV)
  • Playlist – West Coast I IPA by 3 Stars Brewing Co. (6.4% ABV) – The West Coast II is also good!
  • Madam Veep’s IPA by Atlas Brew Works (5.7% ABV) – Yes, I know this is essentially the same as Dance of Days. Yes, I routinely buy Days in standard rotation for my fridge.

Best Outside of DC Beers

(Okay, why not more beers?? What could go wrong? Let’s get crazy, and off brand. In no particular order. Behold, sours and stouts!)

  • Braaaaaaaains – Pineapple, Guava, & Passionfruit Sour by Drekker Brewing Company (7.3% ABV) – Pair this with a Monday Night half-priced burger at Slash Run, and damn, you’re in business.
  • Siren – Blackberry + Raspberry Sour by Mortalis Brewing Company (6.0% ABV)
  • Electrofruit – Pineapple Upside Down Cake Sour by Cushwa Brewing Company (6.0% ABV) – Love.
  • Coastal Sunset (v3) Sour by Humble Forager Brewery (6.0% ABV)
  • Double Fruited Vanilla Sour by Southern Grist Brewing Company (7.3% ABV)
  • Secret Machine – Blueberry, Blackberry, Raspberry Sour by Dewey Beer Company (7.0% ABV)
  • Daft Dragon Gose by Red Dragon (8.0% ABV)
  • Nitro S’mores Stout by Southern Tier Brewing Company (10.0% ABV)
  • A Brutal Departure Nonetheless Stout by Burial Beer Co. (14.0% ABV) – Some on this list are from Snallygaster, and this was in my top tier at 2021’s edition. I probably only tried 50 (of the 430) beers, so what do I know!
  • Sinister Prime Minister Stout by Magnify Brewing Company (Collaboration with Interboro Spirits & Ales) (12.0% ABV)
  • Biggie S’mores Stout by Three Notch’d Brewing (8.0% ABV)
  • Stone Xocoveza Tres Leches Stout by Stone Brewing (8.5% ABV) – Came in 2nd place (of 5) in a stout/porter tasting competition while carving pumpkins. I voted it 1st.
  • The Summoning IPA by Triple Crossing (8.0% ABV)
  • Guard Your Grill Triple IPA by Cushwa Brewing Company (10.0% ABV) – I need to visit Cushwa, haven’t had a beer I didn’t enjoy from there yet.
  • Moutere NEIPA by Three Heads Brewing (6.3% ABV)
  • Feasta IPA by Väsen Brewing Company (8.0% ABV) – After re-reading this list of breweries, it seems another trip to Richmond is in order!

* What, no love for Hellbender Brewing Company? I only had a couple new ones in 2021, but if I had done a list in 2020, then their Serves You Rice Saison (5% ABV) and Next Tropic Pale Ale (5% ABV) would have been high on the list.

Author: Jeremy Bailey

Writer and editor living in Washington, D.C.

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