Young and Hungry

More Openings Next Week: Mad Fox Brewpub & Mussel Bar

MadFox_optmusselbar_optIt's like Christmas in July for D.C. beer fans! Earlier this month Meridian Pint opened in Columbia Heights, and next week two more beer-focused establishments will welcome their first guests. Mad Fox Brewpub is planning to open on Monday, July 12, in Falls Church, and Mussel Bar is scheduled to open on Thursday, July 15, in downtown Bethesda. Mouth-watering details on each below.


Mad Fox Brewpub, located off Route 7 between Seven Corners and Tyson's Corner, is the long-awaited independent project of adorned local brewer Bill Madden. Madden has achieved fame with winning brews at Capitol City Brewing Company and most recently, Vintage 50 in Leesburg. Recognized as a major player in the brewing world, Madden is often seated alongside some of the biggest names in beer at panel events like the Lupulin Reunulin at The Brickskeller.

According to the website, the venue's concept is somewhere between an English gastropub and a European brasserie. The restaurant's focus on local ingredients will drive a seasonal menu with daily and weekly specials, and a high-domed, wood-burning oven will likely make the brewpub a popular place for Neapolitan-style pizza. But let's move on to what The Lagerheads care most about: the beer.

Madden will pull as many as 10 staples and a rotating selection of over 20 seasonal brews in German, English, Belgian and American styles from his repertoire of over 50 recipes. In typical brewpub fashion, most standards will fall in the low-ABV range, while many of the seasonals will pack more flavor and punch for more adventurous drinkers. Two of our favorites, Madden's Kölsch and Wee Heavy are shoe-in's for permanent slots (we hope). The beers will flow from 12 drafts and 6 hand pumps. (That's six casks people, which is significant.)

More exciting than merely adding another beer place to the local scene is the fact that Mad Fox Brewing Company has plans for production and distribution beyond the brewpub's walls. These plans include growlers, corked bottles, and a barrel room for wood-aged beers. In addition, the Falls Church location moves Mad Fox into the position of being D.C.'s nearest production brewery, for the time being.


In stark contrast to Marcels, BRABO, and Brasserie Beck, 2009 DC Chef of the Year Robert Wiedmaier's newest Belgian-influenced venture  is described as a casual gastropub and rock-n-roll bar, which sounds like a more appropriate setting for a late-night happy hour to us. Not to hate on Brasserie Beck's location, but K Street is not our first-choice neighborhood (if you can call it that) to spend a Friday or Saturday night. And we have had some of our saddist D.C. moments dodging BMW convertibles down there during rush hour.

As for the food, in addition to serving everyone's favorite bivalves and accompanying frites, Mussel Bar's menu will have savory wood-fired tarts, Belgian custard, and a handful of Flemish entrées. In what is perhaps a throwback to Mediterranean-themed Levante's, the business that formerly occupied the soon-to-be Bethesda beer hotspot's location, doner kebabs also appear on the menu.

But most important to beer freaks like us, the bar will stock upwards of 130 Belgian beers in bottles and on draft (8 taps to be exact), thanks to the direction of Beck manager and beer director Thor Cheston. The selection will likely have many of the same Belgian beers as Beck, and of course includes Antigoon, Wiedmaier's commissioned house beer from Belgium’s Brouwerij de Musketiers.

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  • good info

    I can understand K Street not being everyone's first-choice, downtown Bethesda? I'd rather dip my junk in milk and crouch over a box of kittens than be stuck there on a Friday or Saturday night.

  • Native JD

    Brasserie Beck's policy of not seating complete parties in an empty patio was enough of a reason for me not to go back.

  • Native JD

    "incomplete parties" - my typo.

  • Raul

    Some of us actually live in Bethesda, so I'm quite pleased with the location. Too often, Bethesda gets expensive, though mediocre restaurants (e.g., Redwood) because everyone assumes people around here will just throw around money thoughtlessly (mostly true).

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  • anna

    I highly discourage people from going to Mussell Bar in Bethesda. That is if you feel people should be treated with respect. The food is ok..overpriced yes but ok. The reason for low rating is the service we received from none other than restaurant manager and owner. We went and my husband didn't have his ID with him. We are a couple in our late late thirties and look it. Since I had ID, I ordered the drink and my husband sipped from it. The owner and the manager started to yell at us as if we were teenage kids trying to get drunk in the middle of our meal. Threatening to throw us out if my husband drank another sip. I understood his policy but come on ...yelling at us...really?

    I was beyond mortified and embarrassed. More for him than for us. I plan on telling everyone about how little he thinks of his patrons. I am also a writer so you can bet this is what's on my mind and where my writing energies will go.

    For $12 beer...I was treated like crap. I implore anyone who feel this is uncalled for to ban going to this restaurant

  • HillChris

    aww, poor Anna. *world's tiniest violin*

  • EdA

    I haven't been to the Mussell Bar. But I haven't been in my late late 30s for a couple of decades (and regretfully look it) and understand perfectly well why purveyors of alcoholic beverages insist on carding me even if I look old enough to be their grandfather.

    Sorry, Anna. At least Hubby would have had no problem being the Designated Driver.

  • km

    Oh Anna I have a very similar story. Like yours, my husbands in his 30s. Last week we went to Cantina Marina for margaritas. He forgot his ID in his other pants (sounds like a joke but he really did). The bartender told him that she couldn't serve him with out an idea.

    Were we disappointed? Sure were, Cantina Marina makes great drinks.

    Did we try to sneak him drinks? No, we're not 19 years old.

    Did we argue with the bartender? Again No.

    Did we have a great time? Yes. I even got to enjoy a few extra margaritas since we were saving money on my husbands coca colas.