Tour D.C.’s burgeoning craft beer scene

If the recent government shutdown taught us anything, it was to take the initiative to explore beyond D.C.’s monuments, museums and Jose Andres restaurants (they were open, just packed). Washington’s craft brewers may be off the beaten tourist path – they’re nowhere near the National Mall – but the tours and tastings offer alternative weekend outings for locals and visitors alike. And Washington’s craft brew scene is just taking off, with newcomers Bluejacket and Atlas opening in the last three months. Here’s our DIY district beer trail for true aficionados in town.

3 Stars Brewing Company

Look for the graffiti and skulls off the Takoma Park metro stop. After its first year, the artsy brew house is making a name for itself at competitions (winning a Maryland Governor’s Cup silver medal in 2011) and among locals with a wide variety on tap and free tours on Saturdays at 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. The facility also opens on Thursday nights from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. for tastings and growler filling. Don’t let the rough-around-the-edges exterior fool you; 3 Stars isn’t shy about their passion for the community and the fight against hunger, and is working with chefs and charities to repurpose excess grain from their processes.

6400 Chillum Pl. NW, 202-670-0333,

Atlas Brew Works

Rolling up its garage door for the first time in September, Atlas is winning over locals with a casual, no frills atmosphere and neighborhood feel. Waltz in the open garage and show a greeter your ID for four tickets to redeem the tastings of your choice – the bartenders recommend trying all four varieties from lightest to darkest. The equipment and supplies are on one side of the warehouse with a bar (and bathroom) on the other. Mingle with fellow patrons impressed by the simplicity of the experience and or call dibs on the next round of corn hole. Atlas is open from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays with tours and tasting events to come.

2052 W Virginia Ave. NE #102, 202-832-0420,

Bluejacket Brewery

On the opposite end of the spectrum, the Neighborhood Restaurant Group’s long-awaited brewing facility is anything but simple. Beer director Greg Engert’s pet project is the latest in a string of shiny, new reasons to head out to Navy Yard with three floors of production, dining and, of course, drinking facilities. Currently, only the restaurant and bar are open to the public, but tours and tasting events are on the way. We caught a sneak peek opening week and tasted some of the 20 varieties available, all brewed on-site. That ensures a beer for every palate, anytime. Save this for last as doors don’t open until 4 p.m., but be warned it is packed nightly.

300 Tingey St. SE, 202-524-4862,

DC Brau Brewing Company

In 2009, DC Brau began producing the first beers brewed and distributed within the district’s limits since the ’50s. Locals cling to the brand because it quickly became a city trademark, and you’ll find it on tap at most area bars. The brewers behind the beverage give tours every Saturday on the hour from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. answering questions about home and micro brewing and the varieties on tap, namely popular pale ale, The Public. And yes, they’ll talk about the cans and their green initiatives.

3178-B Bladensburg Rd. NE, 202-621-8890,

SEE MORE: The complete foodie travel guide to Washington D.C.

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