A few months back I went to a little event that was put on by one of my favorite bars on H street: Lil Miss Whiskey’s Golden Dollar. We had gone there for really a few different reasons. First of all, there was free scotch tasting upstairs that night. I know very little about scotch, but it is one of those things I enjoy now and then. Secondly, they were having a local bbq place sell their fantastic food on their back patio. Thirdly, they were tapping the newest brew from DC Brau: The Corruption IPA. At this point I had managed to have all of the other products put out by DC Brau, and I really wanted to keep that streak alive. So we headed down to enjoy the festivities.
While there I crowded onto to the patio with quite a few others to enjoy the beer and bbq. Eventually, and unknowingly, I ended up in conversation with Jeff Hancock. While it still took a few minutes to realize, I did end up chatting with him for a little while, and eventually asking if I could send him a few questions for a little interview segment on here.
Well after a few months, all of which I am sure were spent brewing even more fine libations, Jeff got back to me with his responses. Keep in mind these questions were sent a little while ago, so they don’t account for their new beers: The Citizen, El Hefe Speaks, or their upcoming Atlas Fest Bier, which will be available this weekend at the H Street Festival.
Q: What inspired you to start up DC Brau?
I had always wanted to own my own brewery. I know I didn’t want to do a brewpub concept and when I met Brandon Skall (my partner) I knew with our combined skill sets and the fact that DC hadn’t had a package brewery since 1956 we had to give it a shot.
Q:Explain the meaning behind the name, and what it means to you.
Brau means “to brew” in German and when you are branding a brewery the name is important. It is easily rememberable and worked for both Brandon and myself.
Q:What are some of your favorite beers and styles of beer to drink?
First off let me start by saying I really haven’t met a beer style yet I don’t like. With that said, some of my favorites are Pale ale, IPA, Porter, Stout, Schwarzbier, Dunkels, Helles, Oktoberfest, Mild ale, Brown ale just to name a few.
Q: I know you have a lot of experience at some well established breweries, what are you bringing to DC Brau that you picked up from them?
I bring the confidence and multitude of skills I learned from all the brewmasters I worked under. Also, effective ways to manage the brewery from wort production to packaging, employee relations, quality control/ assurance and most importantly how to solve problems instead of make them.
Q: What are some of your future plans for DC Brau? (or at least those you don’t mind talking about)
We are currently planning a number of collaborations with breweries throughout the east coast and the U.S. We are working with Epic Brewing, Stillwater Ales, Cap City just to name a few. We are also adding more fermenters to the brewery with plans to expand into the warehouse space next door within 6-8months if we keep at our current pace.
Q: Your beers as of right now are only really available in the DC area, do you have plans to expand your distribution?
We do, we plan to eventually expand into Virginia and Maryland. When we can meet the demand of those states we will probably look to expand into bigger east coast cities such as Philadelphia, New York, Boston and some cities to the south as well.
Q: A lot of breweries are doing craft brew in a can now, what inspired you guys to package your product in a can?
We decided to use cans for a number of reasons. Cans are superior in preserving freshness as opposed to bottle’s which allow beer to get “light struck”. Cans are generally made with 80-90% recycled Aluminum. Cans are allowed in to most major parks and recreation facilities, beaches, picnic area’s, etc.
Q: I really enjoyed your limited edition porter, are you planning on doing a lot of limited releases? What do you think is the benefit of making a beer available for a limited time?
The benefit of doing limited release beers is about creating something special and unique. I don’t think it has to be some crazy beer with an exotic ingredient. It can be as simple as choosing a basic recipe and brewing it as best you can. We have had an overwhelming response to our Penn Quarter Porter which is a Robust Porter. People are demanding that we make it a year round offering. But then it wouldn’t be limited. But at the same time it would allow me to develop another limited Brau release which I always love to do.
Q: Since we are also a source for music, what are some of your favorite bands to listen to? Have any bands really been a big inspiration to your brewing?
I am a big fan of Clutch, Black Sabbath, Siouxsie and the Banshee’s, Happy Monday’s, Blur, Pantera, Slayer. I like a lot of different styles.
Q: Recently DC Brau was instrumental in getting the beer tasting laws in DC altered, how was that process, and how soon can we expect tasting tours?
The process was not hard, it was mainly about educating our elected officials and showing them we just wanted the same rights that grocery stores and beer and wine stores have. The ability to taste our wares at our brewery. We currently do tours and tasting every Saturday between 1-4pm.Check out our Facebook page for current weekly offerings.