As the German-style name implies, the Brickskeller is a "celler-based" establishment. Three blocks from the Dupont Circle stop on the Metro's Red line, the entrance includes multiple steps up from the sidewalk, a sharp turn away from the hotel entry way, and a drop down windy steps to the basement bar. Past the very small bar are dozens of red and white checkerboard tableclothed wooden tables. Most in the smoking area but a few are slightly isolated nearby and designated as non-smoking. The red brick walls reinforce the "cellar" ambiance, with brown stone tile floors below the lightly lit walls holding framed American beer posters. Rows of Antique American beer cans ring the room in enclosed displays. 10 feet above is the black tiled ceiling that conveys a sense of seclusion. Visible through the smoky dining room are rows of lighted cans and bottles, mounted on the dark wooden walls that are illuminated by electric "glowing" lanterns. Even the wooden jukebox fits right in with the decor.
The claim to fame is the beer selection, all bottled, and it is well-deserved. The Heurich's Spring Fogg bock beer from Wild Goose Brewery (Cambridge, Maryland) is a dark amber color with a cream-colored head, malty aromas, a full body, nice mouthfeel, very malty flavor, and slightly alcoholic but very clean finish. The Wild Goose IPA is a clear amber color with a light hoppy, perfumy aroma, medium body, and a good serious hops-over-malt flavor. The Blue Ridge Hempen Ale (Charlottesville, VA) is a clear dark amber color with a tangy/malty flavor, full mouthfeel, medium body with a mellow hop bitterness and underlying malty but crisp finish. The Clipper City IPA (Baltimore, MD, www.clippercity.com) is a clear amber color with a sherry-like aroma, medium body, full mouthfeel, and very malty flavor.
By January 2002 the beer list featured over 1100 bottled beers and produced the boast on the menu cover of "The World's Largest Selection of Beer." The Schlenkerla Urbock is a dark brown color with a big aroma - smoky and malty. The slight early hops are immediately overpowered by the solid malty sweetness of this full-bodied brew, where a mellow smokiness is present throughout. The 7.5% Chouffe Biere de Mars is a dense dark straw color with a thick white head. Following the mellow, estery aroma is a very pale malt flavor with an almost citrusy, tangy character. A smooth mouthfeel and medium body are well matched to the array of non-assertive flavors (dinkel and woodruff) and the final alcoholic finish. The 7.2% medium-bodied Mahr's Weisse Bock is light brown, with a very slight sourness matched to a smooth malty sweetness. The Aventinus Wheat Dopplebock, at 8%, is brown in color and topped by a white head. With plenty of carbonation, the creamy mouthfeel brings out a malty flavor with just a hint of dark malts and lactic sourness. The mellower beers pair well with the $5.95 Belgian Trappiste Cheese Board that includes Chimay Grand Cru, Chimay Aged Vieux and Pere Joseph. Our extremely well informed beer server, John, reports that two tap beers and one cask are available every Friday and Saturday. Monthly beer diners and guest speakers are announced on the Website and the email list.
Considering the number of smokers and the extremely high summertime humidity, the Brickskeller does a great job of keeping the air quality very high. For a great selection of beers and the most fried French Fries imaginable, make it a point to stop by the Brickskeller.
1523 22nd St. NW
Reviewed by Tom Ciccateri - August 1997 & January 2002
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