Jeff Wells and Teddy Folkman founded DC’s annual Beer Week in 2008. Jeff Wells is one of the co-founders of DC Beer Week and an On-Premise Sales Manager for DOPS, Inc. – one of the Washington area’s pioneering Craft Beer Wholesalers. A 15-year veteran of the Washington, DC craft beer movement, Jeff developed his love and passion for craft beer while gaining experience in all three tiers of the industry.
Chef Teddy Folkman, co-owner of Granville Moore’s on H Street, NE, and co-founder of DC Beer Week, has spent the past decade pursuing his passion for the culinary arts. When he isn’t in the kitchen, Teddy pursues another of his passions – craft beer. As the National Culinary Ambassador for Brewery Ommegang, he travels the country hosting cooking competitions and beer dinners, as well as speaking about food and beer at various festivals and events. All in all, these guys have a pretty good gig and lots of great beer.
1. Can you give us a little background on the event and how you two started it?
JEFF WELLS: Teddy and I have been longtime friends and have always enjoyed Great Beer, Great Food and Great People. The Craft Beer industry in Washington, DC seems to exemplify that. It seems that we never quite received the same recognition as many other cities and we wanted to showcase how far we have gotten in establishing a great beer town. We figured we would get all of our friends together and throw some amazing parties at a multitude of great bars and restaurants. We wanted to highlight great beer and its role in making DC an incredible town for nightlife and the culinary landscape.
TEDDY FOLKMAN: Like many of our fellow craft beer enthusiasts, Jeff and I started talking about how DC has grown into a great destination to drink craft beer. So we picked a week when restaurant and bars were typically slow and there were no other craft beer weeks happening nearby, and said “ok, let’s tell our friends and have them tell their friends.” Sixty events later, the first DC Beer Week happened.
2. When did your love of craft beer begin?
JW: I suppose I was destined to be in the Beer business from a very young age. I started collecting beer cans with my brother when I was 8 years old, and I think it was a sign of things to come. I remember fondly tasting my first Sierra Nevada Pale Ale in Jan of 1996. I remember the hop flavors exploding on my pallet and I was instantly hooked. A year later I was stocking shelves at a beer store and I was amazed at the passion people who were into craft beer displayed. Being a self-taught musician for the majority of my life, the craft beer scene reminded me of the underground scene in the music world that I grew up on in the DC area. Craft Beer was my Metal/Punk Rock for my adult life and I was flabbergasted that I could figure out a way to get paid to do it. What a dream job.
TF: November, 2001 – I had just gotten married and ran into an old friend who bought me a pint of New River Pale Ale at the old Old Dominion brewery. A week later, I was working for free to help open The Reef in Adams Morgan and explore this love.
3. What are some of the most dramatic changes you’ve seen in the DC beer community over the past few years?
JW: DC has always been a very educated, cultured city. People seem to take pride in the knowledge they have gathered and the Nation’s Capital truly knows the true meaning of sophistication. I really believe that in Washington, probably more than any other place, we understand beer’s importance at the dinner table, its importance to creating a great social atmosphere and the significance of respecting International culture. This is also driven by the growth of restaurants, taverns and neighborhoods as a whole. It is one of the fastest growing towns in the nation and craft beer has been a major part of that.
TF: It has to be the number of craft beers that have made their way onto the shelves of so many bars, restaurants, grocery and retail stores, etc., that never had them before, as well as the amount of quality, potentially award-winning beers being brewed right here in the District.
4. What was your favorite part about last year’s Beer Week?
JW: The fact that everyone was excited to get together, respect each other and let each other exceed in what each other does well. It achieved our mission to highlight a great city.
TF: The excitement and pride the people of DC showed – from consumers to brewers – during the week.
5. The White House Chef calls looking to put together a beer menu for POTUS. What five brews would you include?
1. Allagash White- Such a versatile Beer. Approachable to the novice pallet, packed with flavor and goes well with so many foods.
2. Victory Prima Pils- Truly a taste of Europe brewed by one of the East Coast’s best brewers.
3. DC Brau Public Pale Ale- First Brewery to produce packaged beer in DC in over 50 years.
4. Green Flash West Coast IPA- a truly American-style beer loaded with Pacific NW hops.
5. Malheur Dark Brut- Belgium is the Mecca of Beer. THIS is the Champagne of Beers.
1. Duvel – In my opinion, a perfect beer.
2. New River Pale Ale – A taste of how to win over Virginia
3. Petrus Aged – You love it or hate it. Hmmmmm I love it.
4. Southern Tier Creme Brulee Stout – It’s so good the first lady will allow for it to be included in any health related effort to eat and drink better. Maybe the 9.6% ABV can help in that.
5. Ommegang BPA – I have a strong attachment to this beer. If there were another beer summit, I would bring a case.