HERNDON, Va. - People all over the DMV are lining up for local beer - even if it means doing so in freezing temperatures.
Microbrewery Aslin Beer Company in Herndon, Va. releases canned 6-packs of their original brews every Thursday, and last week was no different with a line that wound around the corner full of beer lovers who were taking "long lunches."
Founder Andrew Kelley says he began seeing lines out the door last June, when 250 people showed up and forced them to close early after selling out.
"There are a lot of breweries out there that make a lot of quality beer, we're just lucky that we have a great following," Kelley said. "People don't seem to mind - if it's rain or shine, they want the beer, and they're going to be the first ones to get it."
Fans started lining up Thursday at 11:45am for a 3:00pm release of three of their most popular styles.
"I'm totally supposed to be somewhere else right now, but this is a big release," one fan in the front of the line said. "Take our money. It's a world-class product."
Within about an hour, Aslin sold out of the IPA and double IPA, Orange Starfish and Laser Raptors, beer names that the owners say are based on inside jokes between the guys.
Kelley and co-founder Kai Leszkowicz began as homebrewers and started brewing together in Fairfax, Va. in 2011.
The brewery is known for their New England style of IPA, characterized by its juicy hop presence and low bitterness, a counter to the piney, bitter West coast style of IPA.
Aslin's other specialty styles include kettle sour beers and stouts. "We brew what we like to drink," Kelley said.
Another fan in line sung the praises of the region's beer industry as a whole. "One good craft beer just raises the boats of all the other breweries in the water. It just makes everybody better... and it speaks volumes to what we got in and around the Beltway."
Others say that the industry is more than a passing fad, but instead a passion for the product and for Aslin specifically.
Another person from Burke, Va. said that some people drive between three and five hours just to be able to try Aslin's product. "Northern Virginia has some of the newest, cutting-edge technologies as far as brewing goes, and this is just a testament to that. People can't wait to get their hands on this stuff," he said.
New regulations in Fairfax County and Aslin's business model prohibit the brewery from on-site draft sales, but Kelley says they plan to open a brewpub for that very purpose within the next few months.
The DC area craft beer industry is growing and the consensus remains: high quality beer within driving distance is a huge win for beer lovers.