Chocolate City Beer officially launched Thursday night, with a party at RFD which was among the most-anticipated events of 2011’s DC Beer Week. The new “nano-brewery” based in the Edgewood neighborhood of Northeast brought all four of their beers for the occasion: Big Chair IPA, Cornerstone Copper Ale, 1814 ESB, and Cerveza Nacional de la Capital. The room was packed full of brewery friends and supporters and what seemed to be every beer writer in the city, everyone wading through the crowd to get their taste of the new beer and then, of course, dutifully Twitter their reactions.
A consensus seemed to form that the Cerveza Nacional de la Capital was the best of the four and I totally agree. The dark Vienna lager style beer, named, according the brewery’s website, in “salute to our Latin American neighbors and their influences on the American beer world,” has a pleasant roasty character and decided malt presence. There is a pronounced chocolate flavor and nice depth. The Cerveza Nacional is ideal for the transition into autumn – it has the darker, warmer flavor of a cold-weather beer, without much heaviness. It had a pleasant and appropriate level of carbonation as well which, while it would generally go without saying, was in marked contrast to the glass of the ESB I tried. Due to what seemed to be an off keg, that light-in-flavor beer was almost completely flat.
Perhaps a consequence of the ambitious decision to launch with four beers at once rather than staggering the releases, it seems like Chocolate City Beer may still need a little time to get each one fully perfected. However, the team behind the brewery clearly have big plans for their little company and are worth keeping an eye on in the coming months. For those who did not brave the crowded party last night – or who just want to try the beer again under more normal circumstances – Chocolate City will be available at RFD, Looking Glass Lounge, Wonderland Ballroom, and The Pug as of today, and they will continue expanding rapidly.