We heard a rumor—fantastic craft beer was being brewed in a secret location hidden in a Takoma DC neighborhood. Okay, I made that up, but it certainly felt like we were seeking out a concealed location when we were searching for 3 Stars Brewing Company. We drove through a quiet neighborhood of quaint postwar brick houses, mumbling “There is no way that there’s a brewery here,” but then there it was—on Chillum Place, a short industrial street running along the east side of the train tracks.
Longtime friends Dave Coleman and Mike McGarvey turned their homebrewing hobby into 3 Stars Brewing Company with their first release of Pandemic Porter in 2012. Two years later they went through a massive expansion with a 300% increase in production for 2015. Brightest Young Things visited 3 Stars in January for an in-depth look at their history and their vision of brewing “big, bold beers”, the kind of beers that they like to drink. After reading this, I felt like I had just sat down for a long chat with Mike and Dave. They consider themselves a boutique brewery, producing unique beers in large format 750ml bottles. Their first canned beers were just released for the summer with the Ghost White IPA and Citra Lemon Saison. They only use fresh ingredients for flavoring and prepare them onsite, including grinding pink, green, and white peppercorns for the Peppercorn Saison. This is beer worth seeking out.
The brewery is tucked into an old auto body shop in a brick warehouse at the end of the street. A group of people hanging out by the food truck gave us a clue that people were having fun inside of that warehouse. Through the front door, it’s a different world inside, filled with people socializing around picnic tables, playing corn hole, and drinking beer against a background of gleaming stainless steel tanks.
Upon entering, everyone gets carded. In exchange, we got four tickets for four free tastes. The tasting room is through a door to the right in the Homebrew Shop, where brewing supplies are sold. A chalkboard on the wall lists the many places with 3 Stars beers on tap, showing that these guys are doing well. There were four beers on tap in the tasting room, so we tasted them all.
Back out in the brewery, at the bar you can get beers by the glass ($5 single pour), individual 4-ounce tastes ($1.50) or a tasting flight of four 4-ounce tastes ($6.00). Given the bold flavors and high alcohol level of most of their beers, 4 ounces was a good size for us. We decided on tasting flights of the four beers that were not available in the tasting room for a more comprehensive taste of their offerings.
Not realizing that they closed at 5:00pm on Saturdays, we were surprised to hear the last call for beer. The folks sitting next to us at the picnic table asked if we were heading over to Hellbender Brewing Company after this. What was that? There’s another brewery just down the street? And they’re open until 8:00! You know where we headed next. Takoma just became much more interesting.
3 Stars Brewing Company
6400 Chillum Place NW, Washington DC
Free tours on Saturdays 2pm and 3pm
Tasting hours: Thursday and Fridays 4pm – 8pm; Saturday and Sundays 1pm – 5pm