Virginia’s Aslin Beer Company finally opened its cavernous new brewery and taproom in Alexandria this week, welcoming customers after more than two years of waiting. A lineup of destination brews — only five bars in D.C. pour Aslin beers — are the primary reason to visit. But edgy artwork inspired by its pastel-hued cans is a big draw on its own.
Local designer Mike Van Hall creates the labels that inspired the psychedelic murals splashed across its walls.
“It’s completely Lisa Frank on acid,” Aslin brand manager Erik Raines says while describing graffiti work from U.K.-based artist Loch Ness.
The industrial space’s “Scandinavian, minimalist” canvas — accented by sleek subway tiling, concrete flooring, and black accents — lets the energetic neon signage and trippy murals pop (847 S. Pickett Street, Alexandria).
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Had the pleasure of collaborating with @aslinbeerco in the US on these new paintings. These were my interpretations of their awesome can designs created by @opprobriations and Aslin ✌️ ______________________________________ #art #painting #aslinbeerco #aslinbrewing #lochnessart #lochness #psychedelicart #surrealism #trippy #trippyart #surrealart #illustration
Aslin’s constantly-rotating lineup of brews are served across 24 tap lines, with about half filled for now. There’s also a bottle list featuring some of its most exclusive barrel-aged stouts that aged in cellars for years.
Aslin brews are pretty hard to get, which makes its new Alexandria taproom even more worth the trip to sip. They aren’t sold at retail locations (though a newly signed distributor will change that soon), and Northern Virginia Magazine notes that only around 5 percent of its goods land in area restaurants (Churchkey is one of a handful of D.C. bars that pours it, says Raines). After going offline for more than two years, its Herndon taproom will be revived later this year.
“We are lucky to have a devout following who’s been clamoring for this place for two years now,” says Raines. Its Instagram account has over 53,000 followers, and fans went nuts when the brewery came to D.C. last year with a pop-up outside of Nationals Park.
Its inaugural Herndon location (257 Sunset Park Drive, Herndon) couldn’t keep up with demand until this second home came along. The new brewery will start production in early August, pending permits. Once that happens, the brewery will be able to make ten times as much beer.
Having more dedicated space means Aslin can also devote more resources to making time-intensive lagers and pilsners alongside its faster-producing IPAs. Along with New England-style IPAs, Aslin comes up with a whopping 50 recipes a year covering categories like dessert-tasting sours, spiked seltzers, and pastry-styled stouts.
“Having a space like this gives us the potential to brew more more efficiently and do more styles we didn’t have a chance to do,” he says.
Hours are 11 a.m. to p.m 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday with an 11 p.m. closing time on Friday and an 8 p.m closing time on Sunday.
An in-house food truck parked outside sells a short, yet diverse menu. There’s deviled eggs with bacon jam; a Korean-styled fried chicken sandwich; an Italian-accented pulled pork sandwich; and fried burrata with sourdough.
One competitor, Crooked Run brewery in Sterling, recently stepped up its menu by adding an all-day biscuit counter with West Coast flair.
Customers at Aslin can order food from a walk-up window inside. Food runners bring it in, “so we aren’t forcing you to walk outside, especially on a day like today,” Raines says.
Chef Taylor Gates plans to expand selections once the brewery gets it feet wet.
Raines thinks the boom in Alexandria’s brewing scene — Eisenhower East now has Lost Boy Cider, Mount Vernon has beer hall Hops N Shine, and Del Ray just got The Garden — will only augment, not hurt, business.
“Everyone wins — it’s fun to watch the industry grow,” he says. “So many people are excited we are in their neighborhood. Herndon is not the closest place.”
The team is also prepping for a huge anniversary party at its new home in September, inviting 120 breweries from around the world to show off their liquid wares. Along with offering to-go growlers once production starts, Raines says Aslin is open to doing partial and full tap takeovers featuring guest breweries.
Under a newly signed deal with Northern Virginia distributor Hop and Wine Beverage, its beers are expected to be sold at more locations soon.
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