Farewell, Brickskeller. See you soon?

Posted: January 24, 2011 in Stuff about beer

Beermudgeon’s Note: Sorry that I’ve been away a while. Trying to get better at that. Let’s go …

So, since I haven’t written in a while, I feel a bit like Ernie Souchak after he returned from his sojourn to the Rockies (anyone remember Belushi in Continental Divide?). Lots of stuff to write about bouncing in my head, but let’s start with the impending demise of the venerated Brickskeller here in my hometown of Washington, D.C.

News that Dave and Diane Alexander, after more than 50 years of operating the Brickskeller (well, first Diane’s parents and grandparents, then Dave and Diane) would be selling their 22nd Street NW location to a hotelier couple was met first with disbelief and disdain from its longtime supporters and muffled “huzzahs” from its detractors. Supporters claimed they wouldn’t believe it until Dave told them directly and browbeat anyone who would dare even suggest such a travesty. People on the other side of the coin practically said “good riddance,” while apparently forgetting, ignoring, or simply not knowing the important place in beer history The Brick holds both locally and worldwide.

Nevertheless, it was officially revealed on Dec. 7 that the Brickskeller — as it exists at the former Marifex Hotel west of Dupont Circle — would officially close somewhere between Dec. 18 and 23. The new owners reportedly will spiff the place up a bit and reopened on Dec. 31 and continue to same sort of operation as usual, although their first decision — to rename the bar “Rock Creek” — crashed and burned because apparently they had no idea there was already two restaurants of the same name in Bethesda and Friendship Heights. Oops. The second — and operating — name, “Bier Baron,” hardly reinstills confidence. (Especially since they didn’t co-opt Homer Simpson for their logo.) We’ll see.

One of the more interesting comments I saw about all this from from Dave Alexander himself, when he was still not ready to publicly admit that the Brick was for sale or that he even had an interest in selling it. “No one will ever operate the Brickskeller that isn’t named Alexander,” said he. Interesting bit of wordplay, that. Of course, the Brickskeller name didn’t transfer to the new owners. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the old girl’s offspring, Regional Food & Drink, a.k.a. RFD, in Chinatown to be rechristened with the Brickskeller moniker in the next few months. Perhaps in time for DC Beer Week or SAVOR 2011?

Commenting on my last visit to the old Brick would churlish and probably seem mean-spirited, so I will decline. But let’s just say that we hope the Alexanders apply some lessons learned to RFD, including sprucing the place up and improving the menu. Brickskeller RFD can still be a destination spot for the DC beer world, but standing pat seems likely to doom the joint to the sidelines as other beer-centric places in the Metro area pass it by. Given its location, there is little doubt here that it will be profitable, but we hope for more.

Cheers!

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Comments
  1. Drew says:

    Beermudgeon,

    I used to work in DC and have since been moved away. I just wanted to share with you a little story about the Brick that happened last year. Some friends and I were in having some beers (assuming we could find one on the menu they actually had) when we saw a mouse on the floor. Seeing how dirty the place is, that isn’t surprising. What was surprising was that not only did the people working there know about the mouse, they had a plate of food set out for him, in the dining area upstairs.

    Then a few weeks later we went back to discover the mouse was still there, and still being fed. It was there until my time in DC was up last October.

    Anyway, I’m sad to see it has shut down. The bad service, stupid rules, outdated beer list, wildlife and dirtyness were part of the charm.

    I have to wonder if the Bier Barron is run in a similar way?

    RIP Brickskeller

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