Fall is in the air, fall festivals are proliferating, and the now-thing-to-do is drink “a good beer,” dining in or out.
While good beer is easily found in the vast array of small brewery beers at Wegman’s http://wegmans.com (column coming soon), or in the carefully selected craft beers at Trader Joe’s http://traderjoes.com, bottled beer just doesn’t have the fresh taste of what’s on tap.
The best place for new craft beers on tap? Try the local brew pub.
Local brew pubs are a new foodie trend. While Homer Simpson or his buddies are not likely to be found at the bar, drinking a cold one, there will be twenty-something professionals, and a wide array of older folks looking for fresh, tasty, and affordable.
Brew pubs don’t only offer beer–most offer a good selection of basic fare, and Alexandria has a great option: Shenandoah Brewing Company http://shenandoahbrewing.com.
Located on 652 South Picket Street in Alexandria, Shenandoah Brewing makes some interesting beers, all named after destinations in Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park: Big Meadow Pale Ale, Skyland Red Ale, Old Rag Mountain Ale, Stony Man Stout (a personal favorite) and Shenandoah Root Beer, for those under 21, or anyone who wants a delicious honey-sweetened non-alcoholic treat. (Note that Shenandoah uses no sugar or corn syrup in this root beer, which gives it a very distinctive taste.).
Shenandoah also likes to be inventive: imagine a chocolate donut beer? Sound odd? Watch this Youtube video and be introduced to the Chocolate Donut Stout. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RKOKe-wdUUo.
This brew pub is also the DC area’s only brew-on-premise. Customers can make an appointment to use the equipment to make their own brew. In addition, Shenandoah provides some advice on types of beer, and for the finished product, they also have an arrangement to print custom labels.
Restaurant fare is basic: chips, peanuts and Beer Queso dip for appetizers/snacks, and on the heavier side, vegetarian Black Bean chili, and a meat based chili, Mexican Brewers Chili (made with beef and of course beer!), and then a basic Meatball Sandwich or BBQ sandwiches. The Black Bean Chili is spicy but not too heavy–perfect company when beer is the main item on the menu.
Most brew pubs have an industrial flavor, located in ware-house space, with the brewing operations showcased behind glass with a simple but comfortable tasting area (aka as the bar) adjacent and Shenandoah’s no different. Football games on the TVs, and a dart board make this an odd blend of Old England with the modern industrial space, but somehow it works.
Check out Shenandoah’s happy hour on Thursdays and Fridays, from 5:30 pm to 8:30 p.m.. Maybe Homer Simpson will show up!