Brewery Name: Bluejacket
Type of Brewery: Brewpub
Location: Washington, DC Navy Yard area right by the Washington Nationals Stadium.
Background: This brewery is the brainchild of Greg Engert and the Neighborhood Restaurant Group, famous for DC’s landmark beer bar Churchkey. I have been fortunate enough to try so many special beers at Churchkey that I cannot even begin to recount them for you. This group really took beer to that next level in the area. Bars like the Brickskeller may have existed before the NRG started, but Churchkey singlehandedly put DC on the map as far as a premier beer destination. 50 taps, five cask ales, shelves upon shelves of bottles. Truly the ideal exploitation of the District’s open beer distribution laws.
Not too long ago they opened up this brewery. There was much anticipation and one big question: yes, you can serve, describe, and pair amazing craft beer with food...but can you brew it? It’s always an interesting transition. I have been going to this brewery ever since they opened, and, to be honest, there have been ups and downs. Sometimes I walked away impressed, sometimes I left wondering why I didn’t just go to Churchkey. But after our last visit, I am happy to report that they have worked out whatever kinks were in the early stages of the brewery. Every beer we tried was amazing, and this brewery is truly a great part of the DC beer scene.
Growlers: No. The brewery does have its own bottle shop adjacent to the brewery that sells a good variety of their beers in bottle. I go back and forth on these decisions because while I understand wanting to use the bottle to preserve freshness, you can also get older bottles sometimes that sit around. I get that they don’t want old growlers sitting in fridges, but, growlers do not last very long in my house to begin with. Overall, a discussion for another day.
The Beers: I won't list them all, but here are a few of our favorite beers on tap during our visit:
Vibe: The brewery is situated in an old warehouse that has been renovated into a really cool looking building. This place has just the right feel of hip restaurant and middle-of-the-brewery experience. The tanks are right behind the bar, overhead there is dining, and you can sit right across from an elevated walkway leading to a massive collection of barrels. The lighting is just right--you can see, but you don't feel trapped in this cavernous building. This place is great for meeting friends for a drink, dinner, or just sitting at the bar and trying all the beers on the menu. It is in a really hip part of DC that makes you really excited to go there. Just one word of caution: depending on the season, it does get very crowded. They are right by the baseball stadium, so if you are looking for a relaxed experience, you may want to avoid this place when the Nats are in town. They do have sitdown areas that you can reserve, but the area by the bar is all first-come, first-serve, so you’ll have to be quick if you want a large table or a lot of seats at the bar. You can generally get in when it’s not baseball season, but just be aware.
Shane's Thoughts: I just want to say that I was blown away by Bluejacket. I had never been there before, and I had no idea what to expect from the place. But from the quality of the beer to the quality of the food to the quality of the venue...if Bluejacket has any shortcomings, I can’t find them. Just a really nice place to grab a few drinks (or, if you're like us, every beer on the menu).
Price ($ to $$$$$): $$$$. That isn't to say that Bluejacket is prohibitively expensive, but it's important to remember that it's more than just a microbrewery--it's a restaurant, too.
Food: Really good mix of pub food taken to the next level. Everything from fried chickpeas to house-made pickles. You can get a burger or a really nice meal. You can kind of do everything there because they have a nice dining area with a great bar area as well. The food is top notch.
Final Thoughts: A great part of the growing DC beer scene, and I am really glad to see that they have started to take their beers to the next level.
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