On 14 April 2011, there were only two brewpubs in Washington, D.C.—Gordon-Biersch downtown and District Chophouse— but no production-only breweries. Then, the following day, DC Brau shipped kegs of its beer, and it became the city's first production-only brewery since the Christian Heurich Brewing Company died in 1956.
Skip forward, three and one-half years, from 2011 to this past Wednesday, 5 November 2014. That's when Hellbender Brewing Company began shipping kegs of its first beer, Red Line Ale, and thus became Washington, D.C.'s newest brewery, the city's fifth currently operating production brewery and its eleventh extant brewery or brewpub.
According to Greg Kitsock, the beer columnist for The Washington Post —who describes Hellbender as a "microbrewery," an older term, when most today now say "craft" brewery— Hellbender will brew using an eighteen-barrel brewhouse (that's an unusual fraction), and a mash filter. Unlike a lauter tun —more common to 'craft' breweries— in which sugary malt liquid, called wort is drained from the mash, a mash filter separates wort from spent grains by filtering it. (I believe Hellbender is unique among D.C., Maryland, or Virginia, 'craft' breweries for using this technique.)
Hellbender's first three beers, in kegs only, will be:
- Red Line Ale (6.0% alcohol-by-volume, 35 International Bittering Units)
- Eft IPA (6.8% alcohol-by-volume, 85 International Bittering Units)
- Bäre Bönes Kölsch (5.0% alcohol-by-volume, 21 International Bittering Units)
For more information, details on the grand opening, and on where to find the beers on tap, go to: