One of D.C.’s longest-running modern breweries has shut its doors. For a good decade, 3 Stars Brewing Company served 100-plus beers — all of which were celebrated over the weekend, as beer aficionados from across the DMV showed up for a final drink. For the time being, 3 Stars has no plan to reopen. Fingers crossed, someone will offer 3 Stars a lifeline, because a brewery closing is always a bad thing. But crossed fingers don’t satisfy hop cravings.
Below, three excellent local breweries to fill a 3 Stars-sized void — plus a couple extra, because the more breweries, the better.
For anyone who has just lost their neighborhood brewery: Hellbender Brewing Company
If you came to 3 Stars because it was nearby, Hellbender will be your next-best (and next-closest) choice. It has a somewhat similar footprint: There’s a large-ish room with a few big TVs for sporting events. (If you’re there on a weekday, they’ll put on whatever you request — they were very affable when I requested specific MLB playoff games). There’s a small bar where you can chat with the brewers. There’s an outdoor area with fire pits. Whether you’re with a large group, a family with small kids looking for an afternoon beer, on a date or solo, there’s a seat for you.
The atmosphere will also be familiar: Like at 3 Stars, there’s typically a food truck. They host similar events: record fairs, trivia nights, open mics, etc. It’s laid back and informal.
The parking situation, too, is similar to 3 Stars: It’s a brewery at the end of an industrial strip, with readily available residential spots across the street. It’s not too far from the end of the Metropolitan Branch Trail — about as far as 3 Stars.
If you frequented 3 Stars for any of these non-beer reasons, Hellbender is your NE equivalent. Also, their beer is good.
5788 2nd St NE (map)
For anyone who will miss 3 Stars’ variety: Silver Branch Brewing Company
One of the best aspects of 3 Stars was/is (for the moment, you can still find 3 Stars six-packs in local liquor stores and grocery chains) their massive selection. They experimented for the duration of their run, and the only other local brewery giving them any sort of output competition is Silver Branch.
The Silver Spring brewery is only one Red Line stop away from 3 Stars. Oddly hidden like 3 Stars (3 Stars, too, was tucked away at the end of an industrial block), Silver Branch is not-that-easy to find initially, located in an office park right off the Silver Spring stop. But we’re not recommending it because of its real estate.
Silver Branch consistently releases new beers. Recent highlights include their Dr. Juicy IPA, introduced to the public this March and available year-round. Do you enjoy 3 Stars’ Juicy Julie? Here you go. There are over 50 Silver Branch releases, most in limited and seasonal release, all worthy of a flight at the brewery.
Related: If you visit Silver Branch and wish you could go on a walking brewery tour, you’re in luck. Both Astro Lab Brewing and Denizens Brewing Co are less than a mile away on Georgia Ave. Stop at the intimate Astro Lab for another flight, and end your evening on Denizen’s roof.
8401 Colesville Rd #150, Silver Spring (map)
For all the DC beer fans who don’t want to lose the originals: DC Brau
DC Brau is the last man standing. Chocolate City Brewing opened in 2011 and closed in 2014 (thankfully, it later reopened as the beloved Dew Drop Inn, conveniently located on the Metropolitan Branch Trail). 3 Stars opened in 2012, and you know how that ended. DC Brau opened in 2011, and it’s still here.
The first modern brewery in D.C. was an oddity a decade ago, with sparse competition from the aforementioned Chocolate City and 3 Stars. Love ’em or hate ’em (I do not understand the pointless rivalries between breweries. As a beer drinker I want every brewery to succeed. You can like more than one brewery! Hell, you can like every brewery! And even if you hate every single option at a brewery, just wait. Most have new offerings every month.), DC Brau is as popular as ever, with their flagship The Public pale ale available in most every liquor store. They branched out a few years ago with their Full Transparency hard seltzer, and it also appears to be a hit.
Whether you’re still interested in somewhat limited releases with high ABVs (hello On The Wings of Armageddon) or just want something clear and boozy that’s not beer (hard seltzer is definitely still a thing), the original DC brewery is your best option.
3178-B Bladensburg Rd NE (map)
This article was featured in the InsideHook DC newsletter. Sign up now for more from the Beltway.