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Wednesday, May 09, 2007

DC: Fewer brewpubs and BIGGER beer

Where have all the brewpubs gone?, Greg Kitsock seems to lament in his latest Washington Post column on beer.

He's not referring to a national demise. In fact, "nationwide, 58 opened and 40 closed -- the lowest number of failures since 1996, according to the Colorado-based Brewers Association." There are currently 975 brewpubs in the US, again according to the Brewers Association.

Kitsock is bemoaning the shrinking number - of brewpubs in Washington, D.C. - now a mere three.

Brewer Bob Kitrell of the former BALTIMORE brewpub - Sisson's
Kitsock provides a possible answer: it's the rents, silly. To survive the costs of operating in downtown DC, brewpubs or beer-centric restaurants probably need to emphasize food and wine and price to a greater extent than the beer itself. Pretzels and brats and $5 pints just won't pay for rapacious rents.

Recently, at a just off downtown restaurant, I found a 750-ml bottle of non-vintage Belgian beer priced at an astounding $60. With all the good affordable wine available these days, I might hesitate to pay that much for a bottle of wine. With all the good beer available in our area - brewed locally or imported - should a beer be at that price? No way!

But then again, there are those rents to pay... and the food was good.

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