“due to widespread abuse of the free tasting policy during growler hours at the brewery, DC Brau will be discontinuing free samples starting immediately”

Photo by PoPville flickr user Laura Grageda

From a press release:

“The saying goes, a few bad apples spoil the bunch. Unfortunately, due to widespread abuse of the free tasting policy during growler hours at the brewery,DC Brau will be discontinuing free samples starting immediately.

“This definitely isn’t something we wanted to do,” says Brandon Skall, CEO & co-founder of DC Brau Brewing Company. “Unfortunately people were going to great lengths to circumvent the system to drink more without paying. We are all for having people try our beers, but we have to stay compliant to the rules. This decision isn’t about the money, it’s about protecting our license.”

The brewery’s tasting permit restricts complimentary tastings up to 12 ounces per person per visit.

Visitors had received 4 drink tickets upon arrival at the brewery, which were good for 4 small (3-ounce) pours of any of the beers available that week. Under the new system, DC Brau will now offer 3.5-ounce pours for $2 each during growler hours, in addition to continuing to offer full pints for on-site consumption and growler fills.

DC Brau recently extended their growler hours to Thursday and Fridays from 4pm to 9pm, Saturdays from 1pm to 6pm, and Sundays from 1pm to 5pm. The brewery offers half priced pints on Friday nights, and will continue to offer free tours most Saturdays from 2-4pm on the hour.


52 Comment

  • I saw this posted elsewhere and found the release really confusing. Were people really going to “great lengths” to avoid paying? What were those lengths? Walking outside, putting on a fake moustache and hat, and coming back in? Saying they didn’t get tickets? Going to lunch then coming back? Or is the brewery just finding that it’s not worth doing tastings since not enough people were buying after tasting (despite them saying it’s not about the money)? Anyone have some insight?

    • They said in another piece that people were propping open the fire escape door, exiting through there, and then re-entering the main doors to get more tickets.

      This is a very unfortunate change for DC Brau. I still support them, but I don’t understand why they couldn’t just enforce the current rules with a heavier hand before doing this.

      • Yeah, I understand the concerns but it seems like they could have come up with a different system to ensure that the rules were being followed. I imagine losing out on the free samples will really cut down on their tour and other on-site business.

      • Why should they have to go further than they were to give away beer for free and what evidence is there that being tougher would do anything but put dcbrau in the position of being a-holes all the time? IMO this is great. They make very good beer available at a very good price and they don’t have to police so much

      • So…hand stamps?

    • +1
      Also, $2 for a taster is comparable to what you’d pay for a 4 oz. pour at a bar for DC Brau, it should be cheaper to drink beer at the brewery, not the same price.

  • I strongly urge them to adopt the strategy used by Indian election officials to prevent voters from getting seconds.

  • Port City charges like 6 bucks or something for four tasters, their tasting room is packed every weekend. I think DC Brau will be just fine.

    • Actually I think it’s 6 tasters. But still. I don’t think it’ll really stop a lot of people from going.

      • Went recently and it was $10 for seven 6oz tasters, plus one more during the tour straight out of the vat thingy (I obviously learned nothing on the tour). I thought it was decent deal!

  • I’m confused . . . was it “a few bad apples” or was there “widespread abuse”?

  • Sadly, I will probably not be going back to DC Brau ever again. I never truly liked the vast majority of their beers outside of Penn Quarter Porter and El Hefe. I went there more out of convenience when doing brewery/distillery hopping through Northeast. If they started brewing better, more flavorful beers then I would consider a return trip. All of their flavor profiles tend to blend together in a forgettable fashion.


    • Eh, you’re comments are a bit exaggerated eh?

      Their double IPA OTWOA is a top 20 ranked beer, WORLDWIDE. If you don’t like the beers they offer, perhaps you should go somewhere else? Sounds like you have some unreasonable, personal vendetta.

      #GladYouWontBeUsingTheirBusiness #MoreDCBrauForMe

      • “Their double IPA OTWOA is a top 20 ranked beer, WORLDWIDE”

        Where in the world did you pull that stat from?

        OTWOA is currently ranked at #248 on BeerAdvocate and RateBeer only lets me see the top 50 without paying, but it doesn’t even make it into the US top 50 let alone worldwide.

        • I apologize for not being more clear. I’m talking about in its category “American Imperial/Double IPA. Right now its at #53, but at one point it was within top 20. So even a ranking of 53 is impressive in a category that is highly competitive and beloved by many.

          Either way I don’t care that much. The point is, they make legitimate beers.


      • Please go fornicate yourself.

    • ah

      You’re upset that you wont be able to get free tastes of beer you don’t like?

      I don’t get it – it’s fine not to like their beer, but what does that have to do with their revised tasting policy?

    • HaileUnlikely

      The Stone of Arbroath Scotch Ale is really worth trying, if you like that sort of thing. It’s similar to Founders’ Dirty Bastard or Devil’s Backbone Kilt Flasher, but in my opinion better, and truly local without stretching what is meant by “local.”

  • Really…it was out of control with a ‘few bad apples????” Sorry, but you lost a customer and I will make sure to share the news with ten other friends…

  • I smell lots of Hipster entitlement!!!! “Oh no I can’t get free beer anymore…..poor me.” If ABRA investigated, they would lose their license. If they lose their license, people lose jobs. One thing I’ve noticed bartending for 17 years, 10 in DC, is the amount of people in this area that ask for free drinks. This is the same case. Stop thinking you deserve free alcohol at DC Brau or any bar. No one cares if it’s your birthday or if you’re going to “take care of me” when you leave with that massive 10% tip. I completely support DC Brau on this. They are great for the community, great to the community and deserve all of our support.

    • Wow, in my 15 years of frequent legal drinking it has never occurred to me to just ask for free drinks. I’ve been given them, sure, and they are always greatly appreciated, but dang, who asks for that? DC entitlement never ceases to amaze.

      • DC entitlement, maybe, but every brewery I’ve ever gone to outside this area has offered free samples at the end of the tour. So it’s nice of DC Brau to not make you go on the tour, but still, it’s kinda expected to get free beer from these places.

  • Agree with a lot of the sentiment above. I was planning on stopping by for the first time this weekend and still plan on stopping by. I really enjoy DC Brau and don’t have any problem paying $$ for it. Nobody is entitled to anything for free. It’s astounding how cheap people (hipsters) can be!

  • Good! The crowds were getting insane, and it seems a lot of folks were just hanging out trying to get drunk for free/cheap. “Hey, bro, got any happy tickets you aren’t gonna use?” (Actual words spoken by an actual human being last time I went to get a growler fill …). If it was more convenient I’d try to stop by on Friday or Thursday evenings when it’s probably less crowded but it’s a nightmare to get there during rush hour.

  • Meh, DC Brau isn’t very good in any case.

  • This is just plain cheap. I’m sorry. It is definitely about the money, not the liquor license.

    • From the WaPo article:
      “D.C. law limits the amount of beer a brewery can give away to 12 ounces per visitor per day. DC Brau says dishonest customers were figuring out ways to get around that limit, opening the brewery to the possibility of fines or the suspension of its liquor license.”
      Sounds like it actually is about (or at least has an awful lot to do with) the license.

  • Last time I was there I threw away my tickets because their offerings were so disgusting, so that should help even things out for them.

  • I dunno, this doesn’t really bother me. I haven’t gone to many DC breweries, but all of the others I’ve visited (PA, CA, MD, VA) charge for tasters/flights. $2 per taster might be a bit much, but it’s about the same as Port City (6 for $10) so I wouldn’t say it’s extravagant. I was actually surprised when I went to DC Brau and found out the first few tastes were free.

    • I recall maybe 6 years ago we visited Flying Dog in Frederick and if you paid $5 for a logo’d pint glass, you got basically unlimited beer. Seriously… if you wanted to get drunk, it was pretty easy. They’ve since stopped this (smartly).

    • In Milwaukee, you pay $8 for a Lakefront Brewery tour, which includes four (I think) chips that will get you about 6oz of beer each. Then you get a logo’d pint glass at the end of a tour. It’s a good deal.

  • Sounds kind of weird to me that people would go to that much trouble to get free 2 oz beers that it had to come to this. I’ve actually thought for the longest time that the DC Brau Brewery experience was comparably worse than the other brewries in the city. I’ve also never really been a fan of the beers they brew but as always taste is subjective!

    I really enjoy 3 Star Brewery (even though their ordering system really sucks) and it doesn’t hurt that there is a table tennis warehouse nearby! Anybody ever been there?

  • It seems to me like they could have given you a hand stamp each time you got a free beer. 4 stamps = no more beer. You’re not gonna wash that off that easily/quickly.

    • Exactly. This is what a lot of breweries do, including at least one in DC. But whatever. Their beers are decent, but better examples of every style they brew can be found in stores all over DC for less money. I’ve always gotten the impression that this place was much more about marketing hype than innovation, anyway.

  • This probably could have been handled with better enforcement that would have preserved the free beer. But they have a colorable reason to cut off the free riders, so why not do it. It’s not like this is going to cost them any paying customers.

  • NO BREWERIES IN THE CITY EVEN OFFER FREE SAMPLES ANYMORE. DC Brau was the last to do so. To be mad at them for this you would have to be made at 3 Stars, Atlas and Hellbender all for the same reason.

    • This is not true. 3 Stars gives you 4 tickets, each one is good for a small pour free sample (and stamps your hand when you enter, I think?). Or at least it was this way as recent as Super Bowl weekend, which was the last time I went there.

      • You are incorrect. 3 Stars charges $1.50 per sample.

        • orderedchaos

          No, Tom, YOU are incorrect: 3 stars gives you four tickets at the door, which gets you tastes of the four beers they pour in the tasting room.

          In the main room, samples of a wider range of beers are $1.50. But the initial four tastes in the tasting room are free.

      • Yeah, you get tickets for tiny pours in the home brew shop, with limited selections. If you want try try the full range of beers they have, it’s $ 1.50 per taster, paid at the bar. Source: I went there two weekends ago.

  • I think it’s pretty pathetic that adults have to act like frat boys on rush week to get small cups of free beer. Are they that hard up? ?

  • I feel like they make up for it with what they charge per 6 pack. For example, a 6 of Public (meh, at best) here in Mt.P cost more than every Lagunitas, Bell’s and (most) Founder’s offerings, and they are less than 2 miles away. Kinda feel like DC Brau has been gouging us for the last few years. Their beers also routinely cost more on draft than far superior brews, so the fact that this would happen is of no surprise. Not hating the player, just the game. Get the money while you can. I just with it tasted better (except On the Wings of Armeggedon – which is damn fine).

  • Soooooo… These guys protect their ass by changing the rules because people were taking advantage of them, and you say you will never drink their beer again? Just because you aren’t getting anything for free?? You people maybe some of the worst human beings around. Support local business, and spend your time hunting down the a-holes that ruined it for the rest, instead of the ones that are protecting their own ass and the beer they brew.

  • justinbc

    I stopped drinking their beer quite a long time ago after it kept tasting more and more watered down. They’re now at the bottom of the DC breweries for me, since Chocolate City closed. It’s overpriced marketing hoopla, the brewery equivalent of Old Ebbitt Grill. And the inconsistencies in their press release certainly make it sound like it’s most definitely about the money, despite their blatant caveat at the end.

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