This month’s History and Hops features Right Proper’s Production Brewhouse in Brookland, the city’s latest beer production facility. How is this new site different from Right Proper’s original brewpub in Shaw? A brewpub and a production brewery receive different treatment under the law. Although the brewpub can package its beer into kegs and distribute them to bars or fill growlers for customers onsite, it cannot can or bottle its product. On the other hand, a production brewery can produce its beer in cans and bottles, which means that it can distribute its product to retail establishments like grocery and liquor stores. With bottles and cans, the brewery can reach more individual customers.
Christian Heurich’s brewery was once hampered by a related but different law. For the first 18 years that Heurich operated his brewery, it was not legal to package beer onsite. Instead, the only way the beer could make it from kegs to bottles was by sending it to bottling companies. Heurich employed a number of bottling companies to package and distribute his beer. Facilities in Norfolk, VA, Baltimore, MD and Washington, DC, did much of this work, which is why many old Heurich bottles bear the name of one of those cities.
In his book, Capital Beer, historian Garrett Peck also notes that “An 1881 listing of bottlers and brewers in the Washington Post showed that James Butler, Julius Eisenbeiss and Frederick Herrmann were all bottling for Heurich…” By 1884, Heurich’s nephew, Charles P. Jacobsen, who had previously worked in his uncle’s brewery, had created the Arlington Bottling Company (ABC), located at 1021 27th Street, a block away from where Heurich would build his massive new brewery a decade later. Heurich bottled at least some of his beer at the ABC plant.
Congress finally enacted a law allowing breweries to package their own beer in 1890 (pg. 161), and Heurich built a new bottling plant at his Foggy Bottom Brewery in 1897. However, he still used his nephews’s bottling plant until at least 1912, and mentions of Heurich’s beer being bottled and sold from ABC disappeared slowly.
If the 1890 bottling law had not put the bottling plants out of business, Prohibition, which took effect in the District in 1917, hurt them almost as much as it hurt the breweries. As they could no longer bottle beer from 1917 to 1930 the Arlington Bottling Company bottled sodas and mineral water. In 1930 the owners closed the bottling company and converted the building to Sterling Laundry. The building was demolished shortly after the Heurich Brewery in 1962.