Named for an ancient endangered salamander species in Appalachia, Hellbender is a brewery with a big heart for environmentalism and conservation. Hellbender is committed to reducing their carbon footprint and was the first brewery on the east coast to invest in a mash filter, allowing them to drastically reduce their water usage and lessen the amount of grain needed to produce high-quality beer. The brewery supports conservation efforts in the Chesapeake Bay and uses their tour to educate patrons about environmental stewardship and sustainable approaches to brewing.
Located on the edge of a residential street, the brewery has an unassuming exterior and a relatively small interior, though an outdoor patio is a great place to hang during the warmer months. Their understated taproom has communal tables, board games, darts, and a couple of big TVs. Instead of sports, the brewery often airs movies and cult classics, though the staff is accommodating and will change the channel per customer requests if the place is slow.
Hellbender’s flagship beers include their Bare Bones Kölsch, a light crisp ale with a hint of hop that is super easy to drink. Their Capiralsaurus Wit Ale is a wheat beer brewed with Indian coriander and orange zest and is named after the official dinosaur of DC. Rotating taps have featured the Fringe Class, a hazy pale ale fermented with Norwegian yeast that is double dry-hopped and has a bright citrus flavor, and the Code Talker, a piney, bitter pale ale made with Chinook, Comet, and Columbus hops.
Every Wednesday the brewery hosts an Open mic night and provides guitars and a PA system to venturesome artists hoping to perform for a crowd. Sometimes, Hellbender has food trucks parked outside, but if not, patrons are allowed to bring outside food and order in. Tours are available for free every Saturday at 3 pm and 5 pm and no reservation is needed to attend. Hellbender is increasingly appearing on the beer fest circuit and encourages fans to keep up with their movements and stop by to say hello.
Cover Image: Southern Torrent Beer. Image Courtesy of Hellbender Brewing Co. at www.hellbenderbeer.com.