Brewery Name: Atlas Brew Works
Type of Brewery: Retail Brewery
Location: Washington, DC
Facebook: Atlas Brew Works
Background: One of the early comers to the DC beer game, Atlas has long been a power player in beers that are simple, smooth, and extremely drinkable. Their California Common, Rye Ale, and IPA can be found at scores of local bars and restaurants, and cans can be picked up at most stores. When I was still living in DC, the Rowdy Rye was a staple in my fridge since it offered a really neat profile that I haven't found elsewhere. While visiting, it became clear to me that Atlas is doing TONS more than just those base beers now, and have some really impressive brews in rotation. Saisons, stouts, barrel aged beers, collaborations, and dry hop iterations are just a few of the many flavorful routes you can take in the tasting room!
Growlers: Yes! Growlers for sale and for filling.
The Beers: This write-up is filled with talk about the staples that Atlas provides, so here’s some info on their lesser-known specialties:
Vibe: Absolutely perfect brewery vibe. Similar to my writeup of 3 Stars, Atlas has figured out how to make you feel like you're in a craft brewery without overwhelming you with the smells and noise that can sometimes be a turnoff.
The massive bar is right in the center, with seating areas including couches, tables, picnic benches, and stools on either side. Board and table games are aplenty, and a few arcade-style games can be found in the corners (Shane is a big fan of Buck Hunter, so he is always quick to point it out) [EDITOR'S NOTE: I got the #2 high score on my very first attempt at Atlas, no big deal but kind of a big deal]. Behind the bar and off to one side is a view through massive garage doors into the brewery. You can see the tank section and a bit of the lab, which is always a neat insight to the magic happening in the brewery.
The space is bigger than I would have guessed from the outside, and has a really great buzz when there are a good amount of people inside. We went during the middle of the winter, so the outdoor area wasn't of much use, but there are tons of additional tables and areas outside to hang when the weather is nice. Our visit was on a Friday afternoon, and, as happy hour set in, the space filled up really well. Atlas' layout provides the ability easily walk up to the bar for new beers regardless of where you’re camped out. A few of our earlier brewery visits during this trip required standing a couple rows deep in line to get a beer at the bar (or being at the bar and constantly bumped and surrounded by thirsty patrons), so we noticed how much nicer it was when set up properly.
The staff were great and took time between pours to tell us about a few of the collaborations and experimental beers that were on tap. They also engaged with us about our tour of all of the breweries DC had to offer, and gave us some industry info on what might be to come in the area. We all really enjoyed how relaxed the Atlas staff and atmosphere was without being stagnant. Overall great vibe that would quickly make me a regular if I were still in the District.
Price ($ to $$$$$): $$$. About standard for a city brewery. Maybe a touch high with full pours between $6 and $9 and tasters for $3 or $4 across the board.
Food: No kitchen, but Atlas partners with some local vendors to have food like jerky, sandwiches, and other munchies available in the tasting room.
Final Thoughts: I was already excited to get to Atlas when I didn't think they brewed much beyond their lagers and rye beers. The amount of solid beers they had to offer at the taproom blew my expectations out of the water. This is one of the few industrial-style breweries in the District, and they really nailed the setup. I wish it were a touch more accessible from the Metro, but it's in a fun part of the city near Union Market and a few of the other breweries we visited, so that certainly makes up for it.
As I mentioned above, Atlas was always a staple for me when I lived in DC. A six-pack of the Rowdy makes for a perfect party favor or beer to come home to after work. After trying all of the the saisons, beers with a barrel aging component, and the unique style interpretations (like the Hoppy Wheat), Atlas has become one of my highest rated breweries in the District.
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