‘Jeff Hancock and Brandon Skall’
courtesy of ‘Samer Farha’
“We’re quitting our jobs, next week,” Brandon Skall tells me. I look over at his business partner, Jeff, who smiles wryly. “From here on out, it’s all DC Brau.” Maybe it’s a crazy thing to do. Starting a business in the best of times is tough, but in this economy it’s especially risky. Still, Brandon and Jeff don’t seem worried, which inspires a certain confidence.
“How do your wives feel about it?” I ask, noticing wedding rings on their fingers.
“They’re scared shitless, but they’re excited,” Jeff Hancock replies. “That’s how I knew this was a good idea.” Both men smile, lean back in their chairs and sip their beers. It’s one of the hotter days in late June and we’re sweating it out on the back porch of Little Miss Whiskey’s, talking about their start-up brewery, DC Brau.
Oktoberfest server at Old Europe by Corinne Whiting
My initial exposure to German culture came during the first few weeks of my junior year abroad. One evening in September ’99, three brand-new friends and I raced off into the sunset across the unsecured French border on our trusty rent-a-bikes. (My ride was bright pink and accessorized with a Toto-sized basket out front.) Once on German soil, we boarded our first train (of many) chugging its way toward Munich. Destination: Oktoberfest. We carried with us one change of clothing, had no lodging booked, collectively spoke two words of Deutsch and had a vague plan to simply meet my friend from home “under the Glockenspiel” (ah, those haphazard, pre-cell phone days).
We were bursting with excitement and “green” naivete, but, thankfully, some lederhosen-clad travel gods smiled down upon us. We had a blast (and even found shelter thanks to some kind souls who shared their Marriott floor space). During that adventure, I learned several things about the German community: they are much friendlier than cultural stereotypes might suggest, they can belt out “Take Me Home, Country Roads” with the best of ’em, and they know how to brew some darn good (and, yes, potent) beer. Munich knows how to throw a party.
Luckily for us Americans, our country has also embraced this holiday that practically demands indulgence (from the free-flowing bier to the hearty dishes) and general merriment to be shared among large groups of friends and family. Today more than 43 million Americans identify German as their primary ancestry, and that culture’s widely celebrated here in DC (especially at this time of year!).