The closure of 3 Stars—one of the pioneers of DC’s modern brewing scene—was a gut-punch to local beer drinkers. Now the brewery’s facility and its intellectual property are up for sale, leaving the door open for someone to continue on with the brand.
Co-founder Mike McGarvey says 3 Stars was ultimately a victim of the pandemic. The brewery, located in Northwest DC’s Lamond-Riggs neighborhood, had made a big bet on large in-person events and added a brand-new 5,000-square-foot beer hall just before everything shut down in 2020. The expansion debt put 3 Stars in a particularly tough position, even with the help of government grants and various pivots to online sales and virtual tastings. Amid the Covid chaos, cofounder Dave Coleman split, according to DC Beer.
“We did make it ten years, so we were doing something right along the way,” McGarvey says. “I think all of the complications with the pandemic just became something that I couldn’t see how to get past it, unfortunately.”
The 3 Stars sale includes a taproom, event space, and cellaring facilities at 6400 Chillum Place, Northwest, plus various brewing equipment and even some still-aging beer. The rights to 3 Stars’ branding and recipes are also up for grabs—with the facility or separately.
McGarvey says it would be “amazing” if someone wanted to carry on the 3 Stars legacy and continue brewing favorites like Peppercorn Saison or Ghost IPA. He’s hoping for around $1 million for all the assets, but “it is a competitive bid type situation.” If they can’t do a turnkey deal, the property, equipment, and everything else will be sold separately at auction. So far, interest has been “all over the map.”
McGarvey says he’s not sure what’s next for him personally and whether he’ll stay in the beer industry. His education is in mechanical engineering and he previously worked in management and IT consulting.
“I’ve been through the various stages of grief at this point, so it’s a lot easier than it was,” McGarvey says.”It’s not as bad as losing a family member. There’s no death involved. But definitely it has its pains to it.”