Best jobs in D.C.: Running a beer brewery

For any beer lover who’s ever gotten dreamy-eyed and announced that one day he would quit his sales job and open a brewery, the story of Jeff Hancock and Brandon Skall must be mighty inspirational. Last April, Skall, a wine salesman, and Hancock, a professional brewer, launched DC Brau, their own beer brewery and the first in the District for decades.

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In the works for three years, DC Brau now sells its trio of flagship beers in 150 bars and restaurants around town, as well as in its own tasting room at the brewery on Saturday afternoons. (Guests can also tour the premises, free of charge.) But the dream job of making one’s own beer isn’t all hops and barley and fun. The pros and cons of running DC Brau, meted out in one point increments:

The brewery smells pleasant
Brandon thinks it smells like sweet tea. Jeff thinks it smells like candy. I say apples. Either way: pleasant! +1

You get to use fun words and phrases
The brewing takes place in the “fermentation hall;” you check to “see if the yeast is performing;” you get to say “hops” a lot. +1

But you have to “see if the yeast is performing” even on Sunday mornings
Boo. -1

You become knowledgeable about herbs
The partners recently took a trip to the Big Bear garden for inspiration. “We went around the garden smelling all the herbs,” says Skall. They settled on lemon verbena and have also experimented with rosemary and raw wormwood. Hancock recently developed an orange peel and thyme porter. +1

Everyone envies your job
“That’s, like, every fifth person we talk to,” says Hancock. +1

But everyone thinks your job is a cakewalk
“A lot of people look at us and say, ‘look at those scrubs,’” says Skall. “’If they can do it, I can do it.’ We might look like scrubs or whatever, but Jeff was a professional brewer for 10 years.” He adds, “It’s one of those industries that’s very romanticized.” -1

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