The wait is finally over. Right Proper Brewing Company opens tomorrow at 624 T Street NW, just blocks away from the Shaw/Howard U Metro Stop. (See our previous coverage here, here, and here, as well as Dan Fromson's excellent Washington City Paper feature on Nathan Zeender here.) Right Proper is the product of a partnership between Thor Cheston, previous beer director of Brasserie Beck and Pizzeria Paradiso, John Snedden, owner of Rockland's Barbecue in the DC area, and Nathan Zeender, award-winning local brewer and producer of WildCraft Soda.
Right Proper will open with four house beers as well as three collaboration beers and a guest tap, in addition to numerous cans and large format bottles. The four house beers are:
- Ornette, a 3.7% grisette, brewed in the lone open fermentation vessel (the rest are closed fermentaton) in the brewhouse. Dry, clean, and quite refreshing, Zeender and Cheston joked that the beer fermented through in about 12 hours.
- The Duke, a 6.9% strong golden ale, named after Duke Ellington, that is in the vein of Duvel and all of its Belgian relatives.
- Being There, a 5.3% Kellerbier (unfiltered pilsener) and named after the DC-set movie starring Peter Sellers, which is one of Zeender's favorites.
- Raised by Wolves, a 5% "aromatic pale ale," that is dry-hopped three times and will be available in both 16 and 22oz offerings.
For more on some first thoughts about Right Proper, here are insights from DCBeer staff writer Jacob Berg (@jacobsberg) and DCBeer contributor Aaron Morrissey (@amorrissey). Pictures from preview night follow their thoughts.
- First off, the price is right:
Aaron: Those of us who are used to paying D.C. prices for beer are going to be pleasantly surprised -- Right Proper's beers are amazingly all priced between $4 and $6 -- the latter being for 22-ounce pours of a couple of the drafts. The food is also reasonably priced: appetizers in the $4-8 range, salads in the $7-9 range, and entrees under $20. An incredibly competitive price point for the market.
Jake: Agreed. One of the things that immediately stands out is the pricing, which is a most welcome antidote to the price of beer elsewhere in the city. That Grisette is $4, and nothing that they make is above $6. Their 10% ABV Wee Heavy is $5! I hope this signals a downward trend in terms of the often-inflated prices in DC. Kudos to them for doing this. They could easily charge another dollar, or two, across the board, but they've decided not to and I really respect that.
- The beer is top-notch.
Aaron: Fans of session beers rejoice -- Nathan and company have really done themselves proud with a number of beers that are eminently drinkable, yet offer distinct flavors and work well with a number of different foods. I'd be willing to wager that Ornette will be many people's first or second experience with grisette, but I think the style's understated delicacy will be a huge hit. Being There, in addition to being a superb homage to Peter Sellers and one of the best movies ever set in Washington, is just exactly what you want out of an unfiltered kellerbier -- just plain refreshing. The Duke will certainly work for any fan of traditional Belgian golden style ale. For fans of burlier beers, there was also Lost & Proper, a 10% ABV wee heavy collaboration with Lost Rhino (see more on that below) which was incredibly well-balanced, like a less abrasive version of Old Chub. Also, the staff knows their stuff -- all the bartenders and barbacks were well-versed in their knowledge of the beer on offer, and were even able to provide insights into the dry-hopping process on the Raised By Wolves (which wasn't my thing, but I can see how some people would love it).
Jake: The Grisette and the Baltic Porter are the early standouts to me. The former is under 4% ABV and is super dry. So much so that like Stillwater Premium, I'm not sure I would do a proper session with it, but I'd certainly have more than one. It's very grainy and cereal-like, with notes of lemon, hay, straw, and burnt grass. As soon as I took a sip of the porter it was obvious that they had used the Weihenstaphaner yeast strain, and when I asked them about it, they confirmed it, having gotten it from the Gordon Biersch on 9th Street. The fruity, vinous notes from the yeast along with the dark roasted malts make this beer taste like it has Sidamo coffee added. I know that this was made at DC Brau. If they're going to use their expanded tank space to lager more often and this is what they come up with, that's a very welcome development.
- They aren't afraid to promote other brewers' work.
Aaron: In addition to the beer brewed on-site, the bar also had an offering from St. Feuillien ($9) on the guest tap and about a dozen cans, bottles, and large format bottles at sensible prices. (Classique/Brau cans for $5; while a 750 ml of De Ranke Noel for $24 at a bar in D.C. is pretty damn reasonable.) I'm told there will also be three collaborations on the menu, including work with DC Brau, Lost Rhino, and Devils Backbone, though I only had one last night.
- The food, oh, the food.
Jake: The chef has a deft touch with the fryer as evidenced by the oysters and a chicken sandwich that was a dead ringer for Chik-fil-a in terms of smell (that's high praise). Bacon-fried kale is a delicious affront to vegetarians and their current leafy green of choice. Serving oyster stew over mashed potatoes turns that dish into a hearty winter meal.
Aaron: A chicken lover's dream -- I tried the chicken liver pate, the fried chicken parts and the chicken sandwich (also fried, because you only live once) on a brioche bun. All unbelievable. More than one person at the bar said it was the best chicken sandwich they had ever had. Other highlights include the meatloaf and the spicy corn which comes with the fried oysters that may be the best side dish in the city. Chef Matt Richardson (formerly of 1905) still is great at pairing food and beer, and is really going to open some eyes in 2014.
- The design neatly fits together several different styles.
Aaron: I commented several times on how the space almost offers a trip through several different styles. The front of the house is distinctly D.C. -- lots of exposed brick and original murals. The middle bar (which also is the service bar), feels almost like a Japanese sushi bar -- with minimalist wooden above-bar cabinets. The rear of the space, the main bar, feels very Scandinavian, with wooden framed windows peering into the brewing facility. A nice little journey from front to back.
- Other highlights:
Aaron: The fact that Nathan was able to fit so many barrels (I believe I counted 24) effectively in limited space; the Green Hat Aquavit barrels in front that will be used to age the Ornette at some point; the display case where we were told people would be able to come in and buy growlers without having to wait for pours, and the Panda fight mural.
Have your attention? We thought we might. To satisfy your aesthetic appetite, check out some photos from preview night. Then go tomorrow evening and check it out for yourself. Congrats to the Right Proper Team!
Created with flickr slideshow.