Column: A new ‘tradition’ for D.C. brewery, sports team

WASHINGTON – The distinct and (to my nose) enjoyable smell of beer being made fills the air as I stand inside DC Brau in Northeast D.C.

Brandon Skall, co-founder and CEO of the craft brewery, is telling me about “The Tradition,” a limited-edition beer created in partnership with D.C. United.

“The collaboration actually came about because of a T-shirt we made a while back,” Skall explains. “It was a T-shirt kind of honoring D.C. United at the start of the season, and the fans were really into that and really excited. And that just turned over into us doing a beer with D.C. United.”

In a statement on its website, the team explains how the name was chosen via a fan contest, along with help from United players:

“Out of 534 entries in the “Brand the Brew” contest, Donald Wine II’s submission* reigned supreme, with midfielder Chris Pontius, defender Ethan White and defender Dejan Jakovic ultimately choosing the name for Washington, D.C.’s first-ever team-specific brew. While harkening back to the Black-and-Red’s rich history in MLS, “The Tradition” also tips its hat to DC Brau’s customary naming scheme of its beers, which includes “The Public,” “The Citizen” and “The Corruption.”

As for the beer itself, Skall says the process of designing it was a bit different than usual for the brewery, because the goal was to craft a beer “that’s going to be enjoyed by everyone.”

“We wanted to make a beer that was definitely all all-grain, craft beer. But we didn’t want to take it too far over into the hops or too far into the malts or too experimental,” he says. “We wanted it to be not just a beer that beer lovers and enthusiasts could enjoy, but also something that someone who doesn’t drink craft beer all the time would be able to pick up and think of as quite accessible.”

Skall and his team were just putting the finishing touches on the beer when I stopped by the brewery, transferring the brew between tanks so that carbonation can be added before United fans and other members of the public get their first taste.

That will happen this weekend during the regular Saturday growler hours at the brewery, located at 3178-B Bladensburg Rd. NE. From noon to 4 p.m., tastings of “The Tradition” will be available and you can also fill up your growler (a 64-ounce beer jug) with it.

Skall warns that only 5 gallons will be available for tastings – and 30 gallons for growler fills – so it probably won’t last long. Skall says you’ll later find “The Tradition” at an assortment of bars around town (it debuts at The Pug in D.C. Saturday night) and outside RFK stadium in Lot 8 at the United tailgate.

I had a wee taste of the yet-to-be-carbonated beer out of a special plastic taster cup sent over by the team, which features the D.C. United logo on one side and the DC Brau logo on the other. The beer is golden in color and clean and crisp on the tongue.

Skall thinks people will enjoy it.

“Soccer players don’t like beer, do they?” I ask Skall before leaving.

“Oh, never,” he deadpans. “And soccer fans can’t stand it either.”

See a brief clip of life inside DC Brau below:

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