Brewers Tour

Beckert Graves at HCC. Photo Credit: Garrett Peck.Brewers were once the second-largest employer in Washington after the federal government. Early brewers were often English immigrants who focused on producing ale. The Washington Brewery, which operated near Navy Yard from 1805 to 1836, had numerous owners, including John W. Collet, Clement T. Coote, and the Gunton brothers (Thomas and William). Daniel Rapine, a one-time Washington mayor, had the first recorded retail outlet for beer. Brewing grew dramatically after the 1850s once German immigrants settled in Washington and introduced lager, a more palatable beer for Washington’s hot, humid summers. George Beckert was one of the first to produce lager locally.

Local Prohibition in 1917 shut down two major breweries on Capitol Hill: the Washington Brewery (where Stuart-Hobson Middle School now stands), and the National Capital Brewing Company on 14th Street, SE This latter site was home to a long series of breweries, starting with Beckert’s Park in the 1850s. During Prohibition, it became an ice cream factory, then was torn down in the 1960s. It’s now the Safeway, just three blocks from here. Along with Prospect Hill Cemetery, Congressional Cemetery today has the lion’s share of historic Washington brewers.

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