Hey everyone and welcome to the fourteenth episode of People & Pints & Podcasts! For this episode, I traveled down to Washington, D.C. and managed to check out both a local brewery and a Belgian-inspired beer bar (I also spent some quality time with my girlfriend and former guest of the show, Rosa). I met with Bill, editor of DC Beer, to talk about the history and growth of craft beer in the District and his own personal history with beer. We also get into a Cuvée René Kriek from Brouwerij Lindemans in Belgium. We wrapped up by talking about the sociology of craft beer and Bill’s work in education in the nation’s capital.
I began my beer adventure in D.C. with a trip out to DC Brau, Washington, D.C.’s first production brewery since prohibition. DC Brau is a little out of the way from the center of the city but the interior is gorgeous and was an exciting venue to check out. I enjoyed a few samples from the taps and left with a six-pack of collaboration beers.
Later on, I met with Bill DeBaun of DC Beer at The Sovereign in Georgetown. The Sovereign is a beautiful bar with a delicious lineup of Belgian imports and Belgian-inspired beers from US breweries. Bill had some trouble with traffic and the public transportation so I waited a few minutes chatting with Erich, an expert bartender. Once Bill arrived the three of us chatted a bit over a few drinks before recording the episode.
Bill, who is familiar with the staff of The Sovereign, asked if we could find some quieter space for recording. They suggested we try recording in the bottle room, a small room lined with hundreds of bottles of delicious beer. There was some ambient noise from the hum of the cooling unit, but hopefully that doesn’t distract from a truly fun and exciting episode.
We started by talking about the history of DC Beer, the website, and D.C.’s craft beer scene. DC Beer was started before the rise of craft beer in Washington, D.C. just as a resource for tracking bars that had craft options on tap. Bill joined the staff right around the time DC Brau started and tracked the growth of the craft community. Bill shared his own experience with craft beer, explaining that he cast “a wide net,” trying anything he could get his hands on. I affirmed this route into craft as a good way to find what you enjoy. We then moved on to the beer.
We drank a fruit beer, Cuvée René Kriek, from Brouwerij Lindemans, which definitely had the look and smell of something with quite a bit of fruit and something sweet. When I went in for a sip I noticed an interesting blend of sweetness and tartness. Bill took the time to describe spontaneous fermentation, a tricky but potentially delicious way to produce beer. For our review, Bill described the Cuvée René as “cherry-bleach,” which Bill noted might sound off-putting. I decided to describe it as “challenging.” We then discussed what this beer’s spirit animal would be; I said it would be a fox, while Bill dubbed it a Disney “wicked stepmother.” Lastly, we both agreed that the ideal drinking time for this Cuvée René Kriek would be with lots of friends and for some sort of event or celebration.
We shifted away from the Cuvée René Kriek and ended up talking about the lack of and need for diversity in the craft beer industry. We talked a little bit about the socioeconomics behind craft beer, citing DC as a test subject, and also thinking about gender in the market. We broke down the “normalcy” of homogeny and how the community should be more inclusive. Beyond that, Bill pointed out that it makes more economic sense to market to different groups.
Bill then shared some of his work in education down in Washington, D.C. He spoke about access to college and “who gets opportunities.” He cleverly noted the “intersection” of craft beer and education in that regard, but also mentioned some differences.
We returned to the Cuvée René at the end and gave it a rating. Bill gave it a 7.5-8/10 while I landed on the 8-8.5/10 range. We both agreed it was a good beer and certainly enjoyed it during our conversation.
This ended up being a longer episode but we hope you enjoyed it!