Young and Hungry

In the Brickskeller’s Embers, a Flicker of Hope

Like a shell-shocked trauma victim, I've been devouring every memorial piece I can find about the Brickskeller. I've instructed Google News to alert me whenever a new one appears, like this blip from the Associated Press that made its way to L.A. I've even read the comments.

In the flurry over "Brickskeller Finally Pulls the Plug," a chilly sendoff by my grease-loving colleague Scott Reitz, the first cut was the deepest. DCBeer.com blogger Bill DeBaun writes:

Scott is apparently unacquainted with the concept of the eulogy. Perhaps he's used to reading eulogies that say, "Boy, Uncle Dan died. He had a great sense of humor. But what an awful drunk, and he was ugly to boot." Doesn't usually work that way.

From exceptional beers and long nights to concrete pierogies and cold service, my memories of the Brickskeller are mixed, but the experience I had during my last visit was the most poignant. My party and I had just shared a third-choice bottle, and as our waitress approached with a look of apology, it seemed we were about to strike out once again.

"We don't have any gueuze right now," she said. "But would you like to try this? It's also sour."

I've been here before, I thought. She was going to thrust some saccharine bottle of Lindemans Framboise that I'd sooner use as cheesecake topping than pour into a glass. But instead what materialized was a 750ml bottle of Odell Saboteur, a strong brown ale aged in oak and inoculated with the wild yeast strain Brettanomyces. I'd never tasted this rarity from Fort Collins, Colo., but I'd heard stories.

We obliged our server and tore through the bottle, inhaling the beer's vanilla and pineapple sugars, coated in wild tartness. It was the first time in ages that the Brickskeller had actually aided my attempts to discover new beer.

As we left later that night (after learning that they were out of Saison Dupont), I thought of my conversation with new owner Megan Merrifield, who had told me recently that she would be interviewing the staff and offering them positions at the bar's next iteration. As we've all seen, a daunting beer list such as the Brickskeller's is wasted without a proper courier. But as the Brickseller closes its doors, there are signs that some of the people keeping the lights on might be up to the task.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

  • http://www.DCist.com john fleury

    Two weeks ago a few of the DCBeer.com guys and I also had some of the Odell's Saboteur. Fantastic beer. However, our service experience was very similar.

  • http://twitter.com/billdebeer Bill

    The Saboteur is definitely a favorite. The Brick's intrepid manager Rachel introduced me to it, and it has been a favorite ever since. Glad it has a new set of disciples.

    There's a lot of good still left in the location at the Brick. Those embers just need to be stoked. I'm looking forward to what comes next while still remembering what came before (good and bad).

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