Arlington in Clarendon hosted ‘Local Day’ Saturday, showcasing a recently redesigned beer department that focuses on beers from local breweries in Virginia, Maryland, DC, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Delaware.
Four local breweries were pouring samples when I met up with new beer buyer Surafel Alem (everybody calls him "Su"), who was recently promoted from his assistant position at the Alexandria Whole Foods.
“We carry brands from all eight local craft breweries that fall within a 115 mile radius of our store,” Alem said. He’s even sectioned off a large area in the store’s cooler section marked LOCAL. “I endlessly talk with the vendors, listen to my beer nerd customers (and I say that in a good way), and look at beer ratings on Beer Advocate.com,” he added.
Matt Tremonte represented northern Virginia’s newest brewery, Port City Brewing Company in Alexandria, passing around samples of their four flagship beers, including Monumental IPA, Essential Pale Ale, Optimal Wit and Porter.
“[Patch] readers should come and visit, tour the brewery and taste some of our beer,” suggested Tremonte. The brewery is at 3950 Wheeler Avenue. Tasting room hours are Fridays, 4-8 pm; Saturdays, 12-5 pm; and Sundays, 1-5 pm. No reservations are required. The $5 fee includes a souvenir tasting glass to keep and samples of all of beers on tap. Call 703-797-2739, or send an email.
Emma English, market manager for Starr Hill Brewing, shared four varieties from our home state brewery nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains in Crozet, Va., a suburb of Charlottesville. They included the floral, hoppy Northern Lights India Pale Ale (soon to be available in cans), and the lighter, more refreshing The Love, full of the banana and clove flavors that mark a well-made German Hefeweizen (an unfiltered wheat beer).
Flying Dog Ales contributed several of its year-around pale ales as well as its summer seasonal Woody Creek White Belgian-style Wit. (The big news from Flying Dog: Next week is Frederick’s inaugural Beer Week, and on May 10 Flying Dog will host a kick-off at VOLT restaurant for their new Backyard Ale, a collaboration beer between Flying Dog brewmaster Matt Brophy and Chef Bryan Voltaggio. The brand won’t hit the market until early June. To make a reservation for this sure to sell-out event contact email@example.com.)
Finally, Old Dominion Brewing Co. of Dover, Del. brought along their crisp and refreshing summer seasonal Beach House Golden Pilsner, year-around staples Hop Mountain Pale Ale and Dominion Lager, and Millennium Ale (a rich, smooth, caramel-like barleywine brewed with honey, packing a whopping 10.5 % alcohol-by-volume).
In January, the Arlington Whole Foods joined branches in Fair Lakes and . The growlers themselves cost $3.99 apiece (although you can bring your own if you’ve already bought one from one of the area’s brewpubs or beer bars). A refill for a 64-oz jug costs $9.99 and for a 32-oz bottle, $5.99, regardless of the beer. That amounts to just $2.50 a pint, a real bargain.
What’s more, the taps at the Arlington Whole Foods have gone exclusively craft local. When we stopped by last Saturday, the four taps in the northeast corner of the store, near the wine department, were dispensing Dominion Oak Barrel Stout, DC Brau’s The Public Pale Ale, Legend Brown Ale and Port City Optimal Wit. Sales are for takeout only, although at some point in the future, Whole Foods might offer on-premise beer sales as well. The growlers are endlessly reusable and fit in well with Whole Foods’ environmentally friendly code of ethics.
Elsewhere in Arlington: As part of American Craft Beer Week, May 16-22, the restaurants in the Ballston Commons Mall (and Bethesda) will host Dominion Day on May 22, featuring generous discounts on draft Beach House and other bottled selections with free “Living the Dream” glassware. That same night, in Clarendon will run specials on Dominion and several other craft beers on tap, including a featured firkin.