Decibel Metal & Beer Fest Brewery Profile: Atlas Brew Works

Atlas Brew Works
Washington, DC

Start Date: 2013
Signature Metal Beer: HaSaWoDo (aka Hail Satan Worship Doom)

The bands that will be performing at the upcoming Decibel Metal & Beer Fest on April 22-23 in Philadelphia are no doubt familiar to Decibel readers, but we wanted to shine a little light on the craft beer underground by spotlighting the breweries that will be pouring their beers at the festival. Next up we get triple-teamed by Atlas Brew Works founder/CEO Justin Cox, Brewer Emeritus/Director of Heavy Metal Operations Will Cook and head brewer Daniel Vilarubbi.

Will, can you please explain your role at Atlas as “Brewer Emeritus/Director of Heavy Metal Operations”?
My primary job is to ensure “Phish Fridays” never ever happen again at Atlas Brew Works. If I accomplish nothing else other than terminating that crime against brewing humanity, then I have done my job. In the meantime, I help plan heavy metal nights at Atlas with live local bands and influence all aspects of brewing operations to make them more metal and sexy.

Is playing heavy metal in the brewery good for the beer, a way to get employees motivated, or just an awesome soundtrack while you’re working?
Will: All of the above! I couldn’t imagine anyone getting motivated to do anything—let alone brew beer—while listening to country music. We like to think the loud booming bass and aggressive guitar shredding of heavy metal shakes the fermenters and invigorates the yeast. Happy yeast makes great beer. Great beer makes everyone happy. Therefore heavy metal = happiness.

What’s the most “metal” beer Atlas brews?
Asking a heavy metal-influenced brewery to pick their most metal beer is like asking a parent to pick their favorite child. With that said, we make a beer called Silent Neighbor, which is an American stout brewed with blackstrap molasses, rye and caraway. We named it after our very dead neighbors across the street at the historic Mount Olivet Cemetery. It’s heavier than heavy and blacker than black. We keep blasting metal hoping one day [the neighbors across the street] will rise from the dead and have a beer with us.

Will: What metalhead doesn’t love a little Satan and doom in their life? We’re brewing a special beer for the Decibel Metal and Beer Fest called HaSaWoDo (aka Hail Satan Worship Doom). We took a saison, typically light in color, and made it pitch black with midnight wheat—because black is more metal. It will clock in at 6.66% ABV and will be brewed to Bongripper at high decibels.

Has Atlas done any band collaborations or tribute beers? Details, please.
Of course we do! Emprosator is a doppelbock lager that we brewed in collaboration with our metal-loving friends at DC Brau and the band Russian Circles. The beer is named after the 2011 Russian Circles album Empros. We released it at a Russian Circles show at the Rock ’n’ Roll Hotel in Washington DC.

We brewed Oculus smoked brown ale in collaboration with DC’s-own riff masters Borracho. We poured that beer during their party at Atlas to preview their new album Atacam, which was released in December 2016.

Dance of Days is a wheat pale ale named for the song “Dance of Days” by DC hardcore band Embrace. Wheat gives this beer a full mouthfeel while Citra and Mosaic hops provide dank and fruity flavors.

Rye, Rye My Darling is a rye session saison brewed in tribute to The Misfits’ song “Die, Die My Darling.” It’s a light, easy-drinking summer saison with attitude.

Why should attendees of first annual the Decibel Metal & Beer Fest seek out Atlas beers at the festival? Give Decibel readers your best pitch.
Justin: Atlas is bringing two beers to the Decibel Metal & Beer Fest. The first, HaSaWoDo [Hail Satan Worship Doom], we are brewing exclusively for the festival. We’re going to load up Bongripper on the stereo and fire the pilot system up to brew the 6.66% ABV saison made black as the metal night with the addition of midnight wheat malt. It will have wonderful earthy characters from the saison yeast balance with a nice herbaceous nose from very light hop additions.

We are also bringing Rowdy to the Fest, one of our flagship beers that’s truly unique and in its own category. We call it a hop-forward rye, a style we made up because Rowdy refuses to conform to traditional style categories. The beer has a great nose of pine and citrus from generous IPA-like dry hop additions, a solid malt body someone once called burnt sienna in color, and we use rye malt for 15% of the malt bill which gives the beer a pleasant peppery spice note on the finish which doubles as a palate cleanser for the hop oils left on your tongue so you can continue to taste after drinking a couple Rowdys.

Tickets to Decibel Metal & Beer Fest are EXTREMELY LIMITED so, go here now!