9 Ways to Get Your Beer On

It’s October, and local craft suds are in prime season.

If you only drink beer on occasion, now is the time to pick up the habit. And if you missed last weekend’s Oktoberfest in Shirlington, don’t fret. There are still plenty more events on tap this month and next. Here are some of the most anticipated local brews of the season, plus destinations where you can try several in one sitting.

1. Wet hops

There’s only one time of year that freshly harvested hops can go straight into a batch of beer—and those batches will be gone before you know it. “Wet hops is when you take it off the vine and put it right into your beer,” explains Julie Drews, co-owner of The Brew Shop in Arlington’s Courthouse neighborhood. “It has to happen within 24 hours, and they’re rare and really hard to make.” TryThree Notch’d Brewing Co.’s Ten Farmers, which is made from fresh hops grown on farms near the Charlottesville brewery.

2. Dry hops

Dry-hop beers are just as fresh, but are made from hops that have been dried a bit after harvest.Hardywood Park Craft Brewery takes the local concept a step further with it’s “community hopped”RVA IPA. The brew is flavored with hops grown by Richmond residents and collected just in time to make the seasonal offering.

3. Oktoberfest brews

Move over, pumpkin beer. There’s a new seasonal favorite and it’s not just for festivals. This year, nearly every craft brewery seems to be trying its hand at an Oktoberfest offering. “The flavor profile is like toasted bread, with a little bit of spice,” says Drews, “more malty but still light on their feet.” Try the Hitzig Frau Oktoberfest Lager from Falls Church’s Mad Fox Brewing Co. or the Auslander Festbier, brewed with white tea and bitter orange peels, from New District Brewing Co. in Shirlington.

4. Sundays at Sehkraft

Sehkraft Brewing’s Beer Garden and Haus in Clarendon hosts a tailgate party—complete with meaty buffet—every Sunday during football season.

Wings, pulled pork and jalapeño cornbread are all on the weekly menu, along with the brewer’s own house beers and dozens of others on tap. The 9,000-square-foot space houses a restaurant, a 100-seat beer garden and a retail butcher and cheese shop alongside a stage for regular live music. Check out the brewpub’s calendar for more events.

5. Novemberfest by Rustico

It’s a jolly day when you can buy one ticket for $25 and taste away. Rustico Restaurant & Bar will allow suds-lovers to do just that when it throws open the doors of its Alexandria location for this rain-or-shine outdoor block party on Nov. 5. The event will feature “no fewer than 50 local beers” from a bevy of Virginia producers, says beer director Greg Engert, along with a whole smoked pig, sausages, pork sandwiches and other belly-fillers. Expect 30 Virginia breweries on tap, with strong stouts, porters, pumpkin ales, fresh-hop harvest ales and a few rarer finds. Tickets here.