D.C.’s thoughtful new microbrewery Lost Generation Brewing Co. channels great American novelists through its throwback design and opening beers named after timeless literary quotes.
Tucked off Eckington’s Metropolitan Branch Trail, the IPA and lager-centric brewery breathes new life into an old Nabisco factory dating back to the early 1900s (327 S. Street NE). The 5,000-square-foot cavernous space carves out room for a speakeasy-styled taproom up front. The 30-seat bar oozes history, surrounded with original brick walls and reclaimed Douglas fir wood dug out from under the floorboards.
Husband-wife duo Jared Pulliam and Anne Choe have their own stories to tell. Pulliam is a teacher-turned-brewer who ran the show at Lagunitas out West, all while Choe was working at some of wine country’s top restaurants.
Lost Generation opens with a core cast of IPAs, lagers, and seltzers fermented with fruit juice (strawberry-lychee and mango-passionfruit). There’s two kettle sours, a zingy grapefruit gose ale, and dessert-style sour that tastes like peach a la mode. Also on tap: a wheat ale with Mandarina Bavaria hops called “Only a Sunny Smile” in reference to a famous line from F. Scott Fitzgerald.
Other beer titles and vintage taproom decor like books, metal gramophones, manual typewriters, and displayed quotes pay homage to the brewery’s muses: iconic writers Gertrude Stein, Ernest Hemingway, and the Fitzgeralds. The non-sterile brewery also gets a dose of color via a lengthy mural from D.C. artist Kelly Towles.
“Lost Generation evokes themes from that era of arts as well as a blend of modernism, as the notions of the Lost Generation still feel poignant today,” says Pulliam.
Production first and foremost fuels its taproom, says Pulliam, with plans for “very limited” distribution. Kegs will make their way to D.C. and Virginia bars soon, notes DC Beer. There’s also wiggle room to add more silver tanks to its production facility showcased behind a glassy wall in the back. Stay tuned for a release date on a northern German-style pilsner.
The couple has a combined 30 years of restaurant and brewing experience. Pulliam started brewing professionally in D.C. as a moonlighting gig while he was still a public school teacher, “grading papers while I was lautering,” he says.
The duo set a long-term goal to open a brewery and taproom right here in their hometown. That was a decade ago, when pioneering brewery DC Brau was pretty much the only big game in town.
“D.C. still being in its nascent stage of beer, we knew we’d have to go to one of the epicenters of brewing culture to really grow,” he says.
So they moved to California, where he scored a dream job at Lagunitas Brewing Co. and ran all three brewing departments for five years. Choe also honed her hospitality craft working at Sonoma’s treasured Girl and the Fig and all-female cocktail bar Drawing Board.
“Petaluma was no Paris, but we had to leave to grow in our own professions and really be around people who believed in the products we love as much as we did,” he says.
A pair of “Shift” lagers at Lost Generation pay homage to Pulliam’s early-morning hours brewing at Lagunitas and its Santa Rosa sibling Moonlight, when crushing a 6 a.m. beer after work was commonplace. Lost Generation’s “Grave Shift” dark lager mimics Moonlight’s best-selling Death and Taxes. Its crisp “Shift” counterpart is made with Tettnang and Hallertau Blanc hops (4.7 percent ABV). The most potent of the bunch is the “Feather Kitty” (8-percent ABV), a hazy double IPA named for one of Hemingway’s beloved cats.
When the duo returned to D.C., Choe worked for Michelin-rated Fiola and Neighborhood Restaurant Group (Bluejacket Brewery and Iron Gate). D.C. got a first taste of Lost Generation’s IPAs earlier this month at Snallygaster, NRG’s massive annual beer festival downtown.
A little further up the popular Metropolitan Branch Trail sits City-State Brewing Co.’s year-old Edgewood facility. If Lost Generation’s crazy busy opening day (Saturday, October 29) was any indication, there’s clear demand for more breweries in the Northeast neighborhood.
“We had to stop entry and start a line as we were at capacity for about six hours straight,” says Pulliam.
Hours are Wednesday and Thursday from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. and Friday until midnight; Saturday from 11 a.m. to midnight; and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. (closed Monday and Tuesday).
Food trucks will start parking on-site soon. For now, the fare is limited to bar snacks like Jerkface Jerky.