The Brickskeller (officially The Brickskeller Dining House and Down Home Saloon) is a tavern in Washington, D.C., located near Dupont Circle across from Rock Creek Park and on the edge of Georgetown, in the Marifex Hotel (now the Brickskeller Inn) building. With 1,032 choices of bottled beer on the beer list, the Brickskeller is listed in Guinness World Records as "the bar with the largest selection of commercially available beers." The Brickskeller was established in 1957, by Marie and Felix Coja, the grandparents of Diane Alexander who, with her husband Dave, is the current owner. In 1983, Dave Alexander assumed operation of the Brickskeller. The Brickskeller is open for lunch on weekdays, and opens at 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
The Brickskeller has selections from around the world, from Argentina to Zimbabwe, as well as a large selection of domestic brews. The menu includes a large selection of Belgian beer, varieties of wheat beers including Paulaner and Hoegaarden, as well as other European brews including Herold microbrew from the Czech Republic. The beer list also includes cheap varieties such as Bud Light, Miller, and Rolling Rock, which some people order. Often when ordering beer at the Brickskeller, they are out of one's first choice and sometimes the second choice. Some question how many selections of beer the Brickskeller really has in stock. Dave Alexander admits that availability can be a problem, especially when dealing with overseas wholesalers and importers. When it opened, the Brickskeller had 57 selections of beer.
The lower level is the main section that is open all the time. On the lower level, only bottled beers are served, while the upstairs level also serves draft beer. Soon after R.F.D. opened, the Brickskeller added a Belgian draft system in the upstairs dining room, expanding the number of taps. The Brickskeller also serves cask ales on the upper level. The Brickskeller also has more than 50 aged beers, and four varieties of mead ("honey wine"). Numerous beer cocktails are on the menu, including "Maui Mouthwash", which contains Malibu Caribbean White Rum with Coconut, fruit juice, blue curacao, vodka and golden lager, and Smack & Tan.
The Brickskeller serves standard American pub food, including spicy chicken wings, mozzarella sticks, potato skins, chicken tenders, and burgers. Other menu items include spinach and artichoke dip, pierogies, spiced shrimp, salad, and sandwiches. The kitchen at the Brickskeller is small, however, thus limiting selections they can offer on the menu. Also, the service can be slow at times.
The Brickskeller is a "hole-in-the-wall", with a rustic saloon motif. On the lower level, old barrels have been made into bar stools. The entire place is decorated with old beer cans, bottles, and other memorabilia. The Brickskeller has auxiliary seating in an upstairs dining room, which is only open on Friday, Saturday, and for beer tastings and other special occasions. The Brickskeller added televisions upstairs in 2003, so it could show March Madness and other sports events.
The Brickskeller is popular among the 25-34 age crowd and older, but is somewhat expensive and a little too refined to attract a large crowd of people in their early twenties. Capitol Hill aides, diplomats, tourists, and beer aficionados frequent the Brickskeller. Celebrities, including members of Pink Floyd and Queen Noor of Jordan, have also stopped by. Notorious spy, Aldrich Ames, also came to the Brickskeller, where he met with Soviets. Owner Dave Alexander alerted authorities, once he saw Aldrich Ames' picture on television.
The Brickskeller hosts monthly beer tastings and sponsors other events. The Brickskeller has sponsored a number of educational events at the National Geographic Society, as well as Smithsonian seminars held at the Brickskeller that draw top experts, and speakers including Garrett Oliver from Brooklyn Brewery and Dick Yuengling of D. G. Yuengling & Son.
Dave and Diane Alexander opened a sister location called R.F.D. (Regional Food & Drink) in 2003 in Chinatown, near the Gallery Place-Chinatown Metro station, at the former Coco Loco site. R.F.D. occupies a larger space than the Brickskeller, allowing the owners to do things they can't do at the original location, such as provide a very large selection of draft beer. At R.F.D., there are approximately 40 taps, which is the more than any other place in all of Washington. R.F.D. has taps in both the front and back rooms; In the back room, the trunk line from the cooler to the tap is very short, with the keg box located right behind the bar. The tap system uses a 75/25 gas blend.
R.F.D. has a greater selection of food than is possible at the Brickskeller, which has a very small kitchen. The chef, Diane Alexander, who trained at L'Academie de Cuisine in France, serves many dishes that are cooked with beer. R.F.D. serves standard American food, along with a selection of seafood and other regional dishes. Despite the large selection of beer, R.F.D. Washington is family friendly, with families eating there before/after Washington Capitals or Washington Wizards games at the nearby Verizon Center or when sightseeing downtown. R.F.D. is also good for groups and has outdoor seating in its courtyard.
The Brickskeller Inn opened in 1912, as the Marifex Hotel. The hotel remains open, as a small European-style inn that offers single and double rooms.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 Hahn, Fritz. "Instating the Draft", The Washington Post, 2005-04-15.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 Madigan, Sean. "A thousand bottles of beer on the wall", Washington Business Journal, 2003-05-23.
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 The Official Brickskeller Website. The Brickskeller. Retrieved on 2007-07-17.
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Shlachter, Barry. "Mother of all beer coolers: Brickskeller", National Post (Canada), 2003-04-12.
- ↑ "Herold Brewery's Boss Turns Top Salesman to Tap New Markets", Prague Business Journal, 2001-12-10.
- ↑ Stoppkotte, Kurt. "Beer Brewing Paralleled the Rise of Civilization", National Geographic, 2001-04-24.
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 Riell, Howard. "Bring back the draft: a brewing staple modernizes fast", Cheers, 2004-10-01.
- ↑ Stephens, Scott. "Years can be kind to some beers, too", Plain Dealer (Cleveland), 2006-11-15.
- ↑ "Coffee, tea, or mead?", U.S. News & World Report, 2002-11-25.
- ↑ Scarpa, James. "Beer makes a comeback as a cocktail ingredient, enhancing classics and inspiring creative concoctions", Cheers, 2006-11-01.
- ↑ Demographically Correct Guide to DC. Gridskipper (2007-03-05). Retrieved on 2007-07-17.
- ↑ The Art of Refermentation. National Geographic. Retrieved on 2007-07-17.
- ↑ "Washington hosts historic tasting of British and Irish classics", Beer Hunter (Michael Jackson), 2001-04-06.
- ↑ Kitsock, Greg. "For Some Heavenly Brews, Explore the Abbey Road", The Washington Post, 2007-04-25.
- ↑ Robertiello, Jack. "Not Just Another Brick in the Wall", Cheers, 2001-09-01.
- ↑ 16.0 16.1 Zibart, Eve. "R.F.D. Is Good For What Ales You", The Washington Post, 2003-04-11.
- ↑ 17.0 17.1 Hahn, Fritz. "It's Hard to Avoid the Draft at R.F.D.", The Washington Post, 2003-02-28.
- ↑ 18.0 18.1 Da's R.F.D. Washington, Washington Restaurant. Open list. Retrieved on 2007-07-17.
- ↑ The Marifex Hotel. The Brickskeller. Retrieved on 2007-07-17.