Brickskeller, Adieu

A fixture of DC beer drinking quietly disappeared this past weekend.  The Brickskeller, long known as the bar for a vast number and variety of imported beer, closed its doors.  It will be missed but not forgotten.

Visiting the Brickskeller – located on a quiet block west of Dupont Circle – was a memorable drinking experience for many DC transplants.  For tourists, it was a quintessential part of any DC visit.  So many beers – hundreds! – were available in one bar.  And it was their expansive variety, built over multiple decades, that transformed the bar’s reputation into something nearing local folklore.  You hadn’t drunk in DC until you’d been to the Brickskeller.

I remember walking up those thickly carpeted front steps, through the front door, then turning right to follow the brick stairs into the basement.  But that was years ago.  I haven’t visited recently and I was unable to stop in before it closed last week.  And from what I could tell of the articles and opinions read on the closing, others had also not recently visited.

For several reasons Brickskeller’s closing did not come as a surprise: inconsistently available choices; notoriously poor service; and most importantly, other local bars with outstanding selections.  For so long it was the only place to find a particular import.  But in the decade I’ve lived in DC, a half dozen proprietors sought to one-up each other in the rare beer selection department, a few springing up in the last year or so.  Yet credit Brickskeller for creating the foundational demand for those hard to find bottles.

Every DC beer drinker has a first Brickskeller memory.  Many of us were in school and money was tight; at least to me, spending five or 10 dollars on a unique beer was extravagant and special.  Each sip was meant to last.  The bar will remain an irreplaceable and storied location in my mind.  And I’ll toast the Brick next time I’m raising a rare brew.

Published in: on December 20, 2010 at 10:59 pm  Comments Off on Brickskeller, Adieu  
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