ChurchKey Crew Mostly Mum on D.C. Brewery Details
It seems the people behind beer-focused venues Birch & Barley/ChurchKey, Rustico, and Columbia Firehouse are sick of slinging only other people's suds. On Monday, a press release naming the tenants of a new development near Nationals Park outted Neighborhood Restaurant Group's plans to start a brewery in southeast D.C.
The mixed-use development, dubbed "The Yards," will house a Harris Teeter, seven new restaurants, a riverfront park, and a plethora of office space and residential units—good news for those who want to stake out a claim near the taps. The new brewery and restaurant will occupy a 6,400-square-foot space and is slated to open in late 2012.
So far, the folks at NRG are being pretty tight-lipped about the details, as they are still in the early planning stages.
Birch & Barley/ChurchKey beer director Greg Engert tells me via email:
We are excited to be bringing a new craft brewery to Washington’s vibrant and growing beer scene. We are still in the development stage, so we do not have more details to share at this time. We hope that before the end of the year we will be able to announce the details of our brewery concept and introduce our brewery team.
Engert, who built the craft beer program at Rustico before opening beer mecca Birch & Barley/ChurchKey in 2009, will likely have a strong role on the team. He has already been involved in brewing projects with Sierra Nevada, where he attended Beer Camp in 2009; Baltimore's Stillwater Ales for Birch & Barley's first anniversary beer; and Schlafly on the recent D.C. collaboration ale, House In Session.
Under Engert's direction, a parade of highly-regarded and innovative brewers from around the world have visited the D.C. area to feature their brews at his draft nights and pairing dinners. Connections with big-name brewers Garrett Oliver of Brooklyn Brewery and "gypsy" producer Mikkel Borg Bjergsø of Mikkeller lend themselves to unique opportunities for collaboration.
According to NRG rep Megan Bailey:
We have crafted some amazing relationships over the years with brewers, chefs and other passionate, quality-driven, food and beverage folks that we are excited to approach for collaboration. None of them have been confirmed yet, but the possibilities are endless and exciting.
If NRG's visible commitment to high-quality, education-minded craft beer programming is any indication, the new brewery is indeed something to be excited about. With this news, all the new breweries opening in the area, plus Brasserie Beck / Mussel Bar owner Robert Wiedmaier's impending brewpub project (which Beck beer director Thor Cheston assures me is alive and well), D.C. should expect some great developments over the next year in the arena of local beer and food.
Image courtesy of Neighborhood Restaurant Group