Hellbender Bäre Bönes Kölsch
Where in Town: The Big Board, 421 H St. NE
Price: $6.70/12 oz.
Ben Evans and Patrick Mullane, co-founders of Hellbender Brewing near Fort Totten, had planned to open in 2012. But challenges obtaining equipment and negotiating D.C.’s byzantine permitting system led to delay after delay. The brewery finally opened in November, and luckily, it was worth the wait. Hellbender’s spacious, 38-seat tasting room boasts a distinctive maple bar and eight taps flowing with a variety of fresh beers. A rare mash filter system, which allows Hellbender to brew more efficiently than most other breweries, will soon give way to a nearly all-wheat Dunkelweizen—a difficult, if not impossible, recipe with a standard brewing system. For now, a couple dozen District bars and shops regularly offer Hellbender’s Eft IPA, Red Line Ale, or Bäre Bönes Kölsch.
Put Some Spring in Your Stange
Bare bones, indeed. Despite the extraneous umlauts, this German-style Kölsch—technically, a name restricted to those produced in Cologne—is brewed primarily with American ingredients. A blend of lighter-colored malts yields subtle bread and caramel aromas, while Willamette and Sterling hops suggest grass and hay. Mild-flavored with a hint of ripe melon, Bäre Bönes is a refreshing brew perfect for this month’s hasty transition to spring. It is crisp, clean, and Pilsner-like (due to being cold-conditioned like a lager) and remarkably effervescent. At a mere 5 percent alcohol, don’t worry about throwing back several in one sitting. Looking for a beer with more zing? Watch for a new release from Hellbender’s Kölsch Pale Ale series dry-hopped with Equinox, one of the latest hop breeds from the pacific northwest.
Photo by Tammy Tuck