Over 4th of July weekend I had a chance to venture out and peek into a couple of the new bars that opened in the NE (Big Chief) and SE (The Brig).
I like beer gardens as a concept, so I usually make it a point to visit new ones when they open. Sipping suds outside on a cool evening or in the shade on a hot day, I can handle that.
The Brig opened in early June on 8th St SE, just south of Barracks Row and the I-695 overpass. There is nothing unique or special about the venue itself, it has all the standards of a beer garden; picnic tables, umbrellas, a bar with lots of taps, robust litre mugs and a few bar eats. Okay, sorry, they do have two giant lion statues! But it does occupy an area without its own beer garden (though plenty of roof decks on 8th St SE), so it should serve as a neighborhood destination and a good place to walk to after a Nationals game. Should it be a regular destination if you live, say, in Petworth? Well, the world is your oyster, my friend, and there are many places to stop along the way. I hope The Brig finds its neighborhood niche and does well. When I’m in the area, I’ll stop by.
Now about the beer and food. See the photo for a list of the beers they offer. Not bad, enough German beers and a good representation of local beers. The Brat with potato salad and cheese sauce on the side was pretty good. The only major compliant I will lodge is the beer prices. $8 for a pint! I’m not sure I follow the logic of ‘if you are a beer garden you automatically charge more for beer’. If you’re offering something I can’t get elsewhere, maybe the premium price is defensible. But a DC Brau Corruption and Devil’s Backbone Vienna Lager, I can get anywhere and for less.
I’m curious how the burgeoning neighborhood of Ivy City will fare in the coming months. Not to put too fine a point on it, but it is literally in the middle of nowhereville DC, and a car (or a bike) is about the only way you’re getting there. But someone got it in their head that this was the next big ‘new neighborhood’ and has started building accordingly. So I look with interest.
Around the block from the newly opened Big Chief is The Ivy Room as part of the Republic Restoratives Distillery, which I also had a chance to visit when it opened. Nearby there is also the seafood centric Ivy City Smokehouse restaurant and only few blocks away is Atlas Brew Works (with Jos. A. Magnus Distillery above).
What I like about the Big Chief is its roof deck. Maybe not quite for the view, but it is spacious and features an Airstream trailer, which should have a good purpose in the near future. No taps in the main bar area, but decent selection of cans, including Abita. And no kitchen, but again Ivy City Smokehouse is next door. Live music will be featured on weekends, although no one was playing when I went. I will come back and see how it’s going. (Closed on Tuesday and Wednesday)