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Bardo Reincarnate

Last week, DCBeerbrarian Jacob Berg dropped some gems about a new brewpub. The story has been making the rounds, so you likely know that Bill Stewart Jr., and his brother Andrew Stewart, are not newcomers to purveying better beer. Dr. Dremo’s Taphouse hasn’t been open since 2008 and its previous incarnation, Bardo Rodeo, hasn’t brewed on premise since 2000. DCBeer.com recently spoke with Andrew Stewart, co-owner of the forthcoming Bardo.

What the Stewarts are colloquially calling “the spectacle,” will be a site for all to behold. The new Bardo Brewpub will feature 10,000 square feet of outdoor seating, self-serve taps (which according to plan will be unlike any current self-serve draft systems in the city), and “nicer, tricked-out bathrooms.” Bardo successfully received their liquor license so all that remains are approvals from the structural dept. overlords and the use and occupancy inspection. As far as an opening goes Stewart says, “we’re aiming for March” though with approvals pending that could turn into an April opening.

Andrew and brother, Bill Stewart Jr., are eager to bring back the recipes, which garnered Bardo Rodeo hardware at the 1994, 1996, and 1997 Great American Beer Festivals. In 1994 a silver was awarded for ‘White Lightnin’ in the Barley Wine Category. Bardo’s ‘Bundaberg Ginger Beer’ won a gold medal during 1996’s GABF in the Herb/Spice Beer category, and in 1997 they were awarded a bronze medal in the Other Strong Ales category for ‘Dremo Tibetan Sasquatch.’ These recipes will be brewed and featured at the new Bardo Brewpub. Bill Stewart designed almost all of the recipes, though some came from other, well regarded, sources.

Stewart said, “when it comes to this whole bar odyssey we’ve been on for 20 years, we’d just go out and steal ideas…mostly getting recipes from guys out west.” And while that might seem strange, it’s more common in the brewing world than you think, “when we first started up guys were willing to give us recipes…we’d ask ‘hey you got anything cool in the ways of porter or stout?’ And they’d go ‘sure here you go!”

As Stewart recalled, “John from Rogue came to Brickskeller and was doing a tasting. We went down there and caught him afterward and said ‘hey you want to come by and brew while you’re in town?” and he said ‘sure’ so he came by and gave us a recipe for Imperial Stout. Our Imperial stout and Rogue’s Imperial Stout are very similar.” Stewart was talking about Rogue Ales’ Brewmaster John Maier, and said, “that’s fine on the record but there’s a couple other guys that might loose their jobs if they go on the record.” There will be no shortage of big, beefy, high-octane beers, but don’t hold your breath for the Marion Berry Lambic.

While Andrew Stewart is not so naive to believe Bardo Brewpub will be a success based on the viable models of Bardo Rodeo and Dr. Dremo’s Taphouse, he is confident that fresh beer, brewed on site, will get patrons to the pub. He is quick to point out that when Bardo started, there were “maybe two or three” other places in Clarendon. “There wasn’t any pedestrian traffic on the sidewalk because there weren’t places off the sidewalk to stop into.” The Stewarts are calling the new Bardo the spectacle and “we feel like the spectacle will be big enough to make it feel like a destination place.”

In many ways Bardo cornered the market on fresh beer in the 1990s and 2000, supplying beer from one of 40, 7-bbl serving tanks. A similar system will be employed in the new Bardo, where beers will go from the fermentor to the brite tank before being served. Stewart says, “serving tanks will be like cask conditioning” and reminds “we have never used gas to carbonate our beer its always been self carbonating.” So if high quality beer will continue, what will change? “Somebody had asked me ‘what’s going to be different with this one?’ and the first thing that came to mind was the bathrooms are going to be nicer.”

As has been mentioned before, the Stewarts are still looking for investors. And while you probably don’t take your investment advice from DCBeer, if you have a spare 5k lying around, you will likely be pleasantly surprised with your investment. Bardo is offering 10% cash return in interest and 10% in a beer tab that's 20%! The Stewarts are also willing to negotiate higher percentage returns for those interested in investing larger amounts. You can give reach Andrew Stewart at newdremos@gmail.com.

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