The Washington D.C. area has seen an explosive growth of new breweries over the past few years. The first round of breweries is now well established (Port City, DC Brau, 3 Stars) and now the second and third round of breweries are starting to open and gain their footing. Caboose Brewing Co, in Vienna, Virginia is one of the latest breweries to open in the area and tap into the DC Beer scene. I have been monitoring their progress during my weekend bike rides on the nearby W&OD trail, as soon as I heard they were open I had to pay a visit.
My wife and I stopped by brewery and restaurant on their first official weekend of serving food and beer. Caboose Brewing is tucked away in the last portion of what appears to be a warehouse area just off the main drag in Vienna. Once inside though, you forget what the exterior looks like as the interior great is a mix of industrial, granite, and wood. It is inviting and comforting, but you still know you are at a brewery. There is a main bar area with seating and standing room as well as a dining area with a few long tables, and about six 4-top tables.
Before and during our dinner we sampled several of the Caboose Brewing beers. My favorite was the Vanilla Hobo Stout which had a nice touch of vanilla, good malt notes, and just enough hops for balance. The Car Hopper IPA errs on the malty side of an IPA but still provides some great hop notes. We also had the Sidetrack Saison which was perfect for the weather with good citrus notes and a refreshing mouth feel. There were 6 or 8 beers on draft during our visit, but the draft lines can hold several more. I expect they will be ramping up production soon to fill the rest.
For their food, Caboose Brewing has a farm to table mentality that is becoming increasingly common amongst breweries with food offerings. The menu is ever-changing depending on what they can source locally and what is in season. My wife had the cheese burger which came out as a double patty on a sourdough kaiser roll. I was in a wing mood so I went for the grilled chicken wings which were served with an IPA BBQ sauce, blue cheese crumble (bit heavy on the cheese), and scallions. The food was delicious, but a bit on the expensive side for a brewery.
My only real issue with Caboose Brewing was the seating arrangements. After putting in our name and sipping on our beers for a few minutes, we were seated at one end of an 8-seater table (4 to a side). There was a group of four at the other end, a one seat gap, then us. While this was not ideal, it was workable. Just after ordering another couple was seated in the empty seats between us and the group of four, creating an awkward and cramped dining experience. If we had known this was the arrangement going in we would have opted to wait for a more private table.
Overall I think Caboose Brewing can thrive in the DC area. Both their beer and food are great, and it is obvious that they plan on growing. They have a great, easily accessible location that will certainly benefit from the W&OD trail. If you are in the area, or scoping out new breweries around the DC suburbs I recommend swinging by for a beer.
Mike Hoff is a Senior Writer for Passion Beer.
He is always seeking out the new, weird and wonderful in the world of beer. When he is not writing for the site, you can normally find him with a camera around his neck and a beer in hand.