From unconventional brews that have beer fans and critics nationwide raving to a colorful tap room filled with eye-catching murals and vintage arcade games, there are plenty of enticements to explore Alexandria’s newest brewery. Aslin Beer Co.’s devotees toasted the good news when Aslin expanded its operation to a spacious taproom and new headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia in July 2019. Located in Alexandria’s West End, Aslin has quickly become a go-to spot for craft beer enthusiasts, with fans lining up to try Aslin’s signature IPAs like Mind the Hop and Orange Starfish and their ever-rotating, experimental beers like the Nutella churro-inspired Pisghetti Western Stout. Here are five reasons to check out Aslin Beer Co.
1. Taste Some of the Nation’s Most Sought-After Brews
In 2015, Aslin co-founders Kai Leszkowicz, his brother-in-law Andrew Kelley and Richard Thompson left careers spanning finance to fire-fighting to convert their home-brewing hobby into a full-fledged business. Aslin, named after the founders’ wives’ family name, found rapid success that exceeded their Herndon taproom’s capacity. As Aslin’s brews became more elusive, with minimal distribution to outside outlets and no public tasting room, demand reached a fever pitch. New releases sparked out-the-door lines for carry-out sales, and out-of-town fans on social media offered to swap for the exclusive beer.
Now, Brand Manager Erik Raines shares, Aslin’s ever-expanding collection of “softer, juicier” IPAs and “less tart, more fruited” sours regularly appear in Beer Advocate’s state and nationwide rankings. Their Alexandria facilities will run at nearly three times the production capacity as their former Herndon brewery. Even better, you can watch the beer-making magic in action through the expansive taproom windows.
2. Enjoy Eye-Catching Art Splashed Across the Brewery Walls
It’s safe to say that a trip to Aslin is a multi-sensory experience, with playful designs spread throughout the tasting room and plans for more to come. Much of the decor riffs on Graphic Designer Mike Van Hall’s distinctive label art, which ranges from mesmerizing geometric patterns to meme-inspired irreverence. At any given time, two or three of Aslin’s beers are canned, art-wrapped and available for purchase.
Snap a photo in front of walls featuring fierce felines or before the bold, blown-up murals of Van Hall’s can designs. Upstairs, settle into the lounge beneath the glacier-inspired mural and gaze down at the buzzing tasting room. Look up and you’re at eyeline with the life-sized robot that presides over the operation. On one gallery wall downstairs, you’ll find British painter Loch Ness’s spin on a few favorite Aslin can labels. The results resemble Cartoon Network meets Lisa Frank meets Día de los Muertos. A psychedelic Smokey the Bear may or may not be involved.
3. Try an Experimental New Beer Every Week
Aslin’s beer-brewing ethos? “If it sounds good, they’ll make it,” Raines shares with a laugh. Hence gambles that pay off, like “Glamping,” an Imperial Stout evoking bonfire vibes with chocolate, graham cracker, marshmallow and peanut butter infusions. As they release roughly 50 beers per year, their extensive draft list rotates a couple of times per week, meaning you can toast new innovations on the regular, from Silk, an Indian-inspired savory option with coconut, cardamom and curry, to the Apizza! sour ale, a satisfying amalgamation of watermelon, raspberry, mint, milk sugar and more. As Raines explains it, you’re not going to find a Blue Moon knock-off in Aslin’s ranks. From flavor profile to presentation, Raines emphasizes, each new beer embraces “the weird, fun and adventurous.”
4. Savor Elevated Food Truck Fare
Another reason to visit Aslin? Their permanent food truck, counter-ordering system and food runners mean you’ll never be stuck outside in a backed-up line. Sit back and sip in the tap room as you scan Chef Taylor Gates’ eclectic menu options, from a Korean-inspired Spicy Chicken Sandwich topped with house-made kimchi to a Fried Green Tomato “VLT,” finished off with eggplant bacon. Cheese lovers will flip over the fried burrata, served with garlic and shallot tomato sauce to sop up with sourdough bread.
5. See (Then Sip) “Spontaneous Beer” in the Making
No, that’s not a hot tub you spy behind the bar. The dimly lit, sauna-like room adjacent to the taproom contains a traditional Belgian coolship, a wide and shallow metal dish designed for natural fermentation. Vents in the temperature-controlled room ferry in outside air and wild yeast particles that embed in the American white oak walls and inoculate the “pre-beer” resting in the coolship. Raines explains that a couple times per year, customers will be able to watch this process, as “nature tells us what it wants to do.” Stay to taste Mother Nature’s finished product.
Find more craft beer, international dining and natural escapes in Alexandria’s West End.
Header Image Credit: Misha Enriquez for Visit Alexandria