Hey everyone and welcome to another episode of People & Pints & Podcasts! I had a few meetings to take in Washington, D.C. so I was able to schedule an episode with Jace Gonnerman, Beverage Director at three D.C. craft beer-focused restaurants. We met at one of his locations, Brookland Pint. Jace chatted about some of his responsibilities and his take on the local craft beer scene. I also took an informal tour and chatted with the Head Brewer of Right Proper Brewing Co., Nathan Zeender. Nathan had me sample my way through some of Right Proper’s outstanding beers and I really enjoyed learning about his process. Hopefully next time we’ll record some audio!
Jace found craft beer rather serendipitously. He made his way from Indiana to the East Coast but hadn’t really found any job he loved. After bartending and gaining some beer chops, he applied for and secured a position with Meridian Pint. After some time he rose to become beverage director of Meridian Pint, Smoke & Barrel and Brookland Pint. Jace handles all beverages but has a specific understanding of beer. He spoke about his role and what goes into curating a beer list. “We want to make sure that we’re never forgetting about the average craft beer consumer.” Creating a balanced selection, that includes both local and quality out of state options, is potentially one of Jace’s more difficult tasks. However, he has managed to keep an emphasis on “both local and fresh,” understanding what consumers are looking for.
Jace happened to bring in some beer from Virginia and was generous enough to share! We both really enjoyed Master of Karate from Aslin Brewing Co. Jace prompted our drinking by saying that Master of Karate is the highest rated beer from Virginia on BeerAdvocate. I wasn’t very surprised and loved the big juicy, citrus flavors similar to Julius from much-revered Tree House Brewing Co. in Monson, MA. We got into our fun review process as Jace used the word “juicy” to describe Master of Karate and I settled on “candy” to describe the type of sweetness of this IPA. We both agreed on whom we would order the beer for. Jace noted that it is a typical beer nerd IPA and would certainly order it for someone who is really into IPAs. I agreed but noted that I thought it hit both sides of the spectrum. I felt that it would be a very good introduction to the style as it has a more subtle bitterness. Lastly, we tried to determine the ideal time to enjoy this beer. Jace said, with a laugh, that it would be a good morning beer and I didn’t complain with that time period. I went broader and just suggested summer but, as we recorded at 11 am, it ended up being a morning beer.
Jace then shifted and talked about the DC craft beer scene at large. He noted how it had “come a long way in a short period of time.” The scene has grown quickly and has become noteworthy and, importantly, accessible. I’ve certainly become impressed by DC’s beer offerings but I pressed Jace on the surrounding beer culture. Having spoken with people in DC and familiarized myself with the city, I asked Jace about the “Type-A” personality of DC and how that coincides with the community of craft beer. Jace was pretty confident that exclusivity or hyped-competition was not a significant part of the craft beer scene in DC. Jace shared some insights on trends in craft including the push for lagers and sours. On the flip side, Jace looked, hesitantly, toward the future saying, “the bubble is going to burst…eventually.”
One brewery that is going strong in D.C. is Right Proper Brewing Co. I was invited to their Brookland Production House and was happy to just walk down the street from Brookland Pint and meet with Nathan, Head Brewer for Right Proper. Nathan was busy brewing but was happy to yell over the sound of the grain mill. Nathan also took the time to pour some beers for me to sample and directed me through their process, highlighting their gorgeous oak foudres. The beer was fantastic and I was thrilled when Nathan sent me away with their rustic witbier, White Bicycles, brewed with black limes and fermented in the foudres with “house-mixed culture of wild yeasts.” My dad and I enjoyed splitting the beer over a great Father’s Day dinner!
I hope you enjoyed this week’s episode and I will certainly try to get some audio with Nathan next time I’m in D.C.! Please subscribe to the show on iTunes!