The Brickskeller

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The BrickskellerThe Brickskeller
187 Ratings
The BrickskellerThe Brickskeller

Type: Bar, Eatery

1523 22nd St NW
Washington, District of Columbia, 20037-1005
United States

(202) 293-1885

// CLOSED //

A new bar has moved into the location with a similar beer menu: Bier Baron Tavern Beer Bar.

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Ratings: 187 |  Reviews: 187
Photo of slander
3.16/5  rDev -15.5%
vibe: 3 | quality: 3.5 | service: 2 | selection: 4

SAVOR the day tomorrow, right now we're 'esploring some DC, me and Phil. Walked a dodgy line and halfway around a circle from the last place to this next place, the neighborhood full of meh and mischief, I can feels it. Since way back in the way back of my formative years as a beer kid and surely before, there's been much talk of this holy grail of beer places with like a scillion beers, seemingly unapproachable from points a few metropoli and world's apart north. And now, after years of beers, we're finally on approach...

Upstairs, ignorey offish bartender from the get go, I guess cranky and tired after twelve, wah!, and a girl taking up 2 seats at the bar; her feet on one of them (I don't care if you did break your toe). But she is reading "Batman and Philosophy: the dark knight of the soul", so that makes her acceptably, strangely, mysteriously something all of a sudden, so please be comfortable, can I get you a little foot pillow?

12 seat bar, the shape most resembling a wrench. Bar back, liquor, some empties, the front plate from old pinball machines displayed above with TVs and tap handles displayed atop. 12 taps up on all sorts of towers, 1's and 2's, and the Delirium pink elephant on the bar, plus the hand pump dead 'cause it's not like SAVOR's this weekend, players in town, and you'd need to be up on your game. Not a bad selection, Some regional brews (Stoudt's Fat Dog Stout, Southern Tier Backburner Barleywine, Ommegang Witte), not nears (Bell's Oberon, Arcadia HopMouth Double IPA, Oskar Blues Mama's Little Yella Pils, Sierra Nevada Southern Hemisphere Harvest Fresh Hop Ale & Brown Saison, and 2 unlabeled entires on the tap list that douchtender told me were the Flying Dog Doppelbock & Belgian IPA, although I've never known them to keg the Wild Dog Collaborator Doppelbock or make a Belgian IPA), and a few imports (Tetley's, Unibroue Ephemere). No brainer, Bell's Oberon, please. Beer was fresh, and nicely Oberon.

Tables to the rear, a large roundie kind of with some sort of drama inlayed, and burgundy clothed tables to the rear and the side and a few in a row adjacent to the bar. Raised areas in the back right corner and the whole left side. Display cases on the walls of old cans & bottles, glassware and a mix thereof, and some brewery signage, not badly overdone.

And now an escape to downstairs. Up front, a 12 barrel stool seat "J" shaped bar offering views of glass front coolers running the length behind the bar spying the bottled selections. Flags of the world over the coolers, brewery signage & lamp pieces over the bar. Brick and brick, with cut throughs to a side room holds a few tables and a not full size (as had been described to us upstairs) ship behind glass, but a model at least 5 feet big; the wood wall around it carved into like a table at Rudy's, New Haven (the Paris of the 80's), and a side side room, holding 2 & 4 seat tables. Paneled windows up front, lit long horizontal display cases above all around with bottles & cans of old. Wall & post mounted lamps, faux barrel ends & mirrors, De Dolle posters on the walls, and an unused fireplace prettied up with flowers inside. A secret not-so room to the rear holds old repro'd brewery prints, display cases with glassware, boots, etc. Cans, cans, cans, and a fireplace, too.

Looking around, I comment that people are drinking Heineken and Leffe. "And Mythos", adds Phil, who scrutinizing the beer menu, adds, "Oh, and do you really need a Serbian beer?" Me, I'm thinking, "$14.25 for an Orval, really?" Well they've got Bell's anyway, but they're pretty much out of any of 'em I'd want. The server she says, "It's not on the menu but we have Founders". Really? Which ones? "Centennial IPA, Red Rye & Dirty Bastard", well, hello beautiful. We both opt for the Centennial IPA, the saving grace of the night, now early morning. Phil says, "I'm sure they have no Dieu Du Ciel", but sure enough, they have the Route Des Epices, lovely, lovely peppercorn ryeness, our next beer, and they long in the tooth having seen better days.

Pink Floyd "Coming Back to Life", and now "Echoes", helping the cause. Yes the 2:30 AM Gilmour works for me, yes. Says Phil "So far, DC is getting an 'F'", and I can't help but agree. It's not that I suspect, I know; they had a heyday here, many of them days of hey undoubtably, but I feel like they've sat by while the scene grew around them and outgrew them. I mean, the tap list is not so great and the bottles are uninspired or absent. What I want, you don't have, and what you have, you don't actually have. Best thing they've got going for them now is the complete set of De Dolle posters. Probs my biggest beer disappointment since ever.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
4.43/5  rDev +18.4%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4

What respectable beer lover living on the East coast of the United States has not made the pilgrimage to the Brickskeller? Come on, it's right in D.C. for Christopher's sake! An awesome, tiny, turn of the century basement bar with a wall of glass fronted refrigerators full of 900-1000 unique beers. AND, at fair prices! The food is OK, even very good, maybe even better... but the beer, man, the beer! If there's any chance you'll be in D.C. you have to make plans to stop by for a pint. But give yourself time; you're guaranteed to run into someone who wants to know what you think of the beer you ordered! And you're 100% guaranteed to want more than one beer!

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Photo of Gavage
3.58/5  rDev -4.3%
vibe: 3 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3 | selection: 4.5

I have been coming here for many years on my business trips to Wash DC, but the excitement I felt drinking here in the 90's is definitely gone. The atmosphere is typical college bar, a bit run down and definitely in need of a facelift. The stools are so tightly packed together in the basement you hope the place is empty when you arrive so you can sit comfortably. Plenty of tables in the basement, but waitress service is slow. The upstairs level is where the draft beers are and is more comfortable than the basement. The last two times here the bartenders have been leaving the bar area way too many times, so service is slower than one would like. The bartenders seem to have no personality and some look like they are annoyed to be there. But if you ask a question or two they are knowledgable about the beers.

Nice draft selection on my recent visit with Brooklyn Oktoberfest, Racer 5, Oskar Gordon Blues, DFH Festina, Oberon, Kasteel Rouge, St. Louis Framboise, Witkap Tripel, and Duchess deBourgonge. Drafts I had were steep at $7.50, and bottle prices were also a bit high.

As other reviewers have stated over the years, you may need to have several bottle choices in mind because there are plenty unavailable selections off the menu. I usually don't eat here, so no commentary on the food.

Anyone travelling to Wash DC should try this place at least once, but I have found myself frequenting RFD more often.

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Photo of John_M
3.8/5  rDev +1.6%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4

Most recently was here for the Port Brewing Company presentation. I thought I'd posted my review after this event, but now noticed that I have not. So, from my notes....

The layout of the Brick is a bit odd. As you walk upstairs, there is a nice size bar on your right with 5 or 6 beers on tap. This particular night, most were from Pizza Port, but with a few others as well. Anyways, the room opens up as you walk back, but the layout is pretty convaluted, with a number of nooks and cranies, odd twists and turns, throughout. There's sort of jumbled, hap-hazzard layout to the the tables and chairs, and with the low ceiling, the acoustics are not the best here. Still, the atmosphere is pretty relaxed, and there is plenty of room usually.

The Brick's claim to fame of course is their encyclopedic bottle collection. I believe they claim to have something like 500 beers available, and if you take a look at the list on line (or at the restaurant), it's quite impressive. On the other hand, as I'm sure others have noted, availability of the beers on the list is a completely different matter. Sometimes I'll get lucky and they'll have my first choice, but most of the time I pre-select at least 3 beers to order, as it's not unusual for the Brick to be "temporarily out" of my first two picks. Also, if you are hoping for a deal at the Brick, think again. This is DC baby and prices are high everywhere. So yeah, expect that bottle of Bridgport IPA from Portland to run around $5 or so for a bottle.

As for service, it's really up and down. I'd have to say that it's usually OK, but on several occasions I've had to wait a while to place an order, and at the Port Brewing event I think it took close to 20 minutes to finally get my check for the additional beers I'd ordered (the event was pre-paid for).

What can I say? This place is far from perfect, but it's still pretty decent. They usually have something pretty interesting on tap, and the bottle selection is good if not truly exceptional. I wouldn't make a habit of going here, but if you're in DC and you've never been here before, you need to at least check it out once.


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Photo of morebeergood
3.2/5  rDev -14.4%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3 | service: 2.5 | selection: 4

Stop number four on our DC pub crawl. Upstairs looks like the dumpiest dive bar you've ever been in. Downstairs, it's like a brick beer cellar with an entire wall of beer coolers. The pulley dumb waiter between the two was unique. The decorations grabbed me more downstairs, which seemed like it had the better atmosphere. Our waitress seemed to have that "don't care" attitude, not too friendly. Selection was pretty extensive, but of course the one beer that I ordered was not available, so the bartender just got me a different beer by the same brewer. Maybe ask if I have a different choice next time? Prices were all over the place. Pricey drafts all the way down to some cheap beer bottles. I can see how this place was maybe amazing at one point in history but other better beer bars in the US I have been to far surpass this old relic.

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Photo of Yetiman420
3.29/5  rDev -12%
vibe: 2.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 1.5 | selection: 4

The first (sweltering) week of August 2007, I was in downtown DC on business and had the pleasure of visiting beer bars Birreria Paradiso and The Brickskeller and brewpubs Capitol City Brewing, Gordon Biersch, and District ChopHouse & Brewery. These are listed in order of my ranking for each category. All three of the brewpubs were a tick above average and about the same in terms of quality.

As a point of reference, I’ve been to ~ 200 North American brewpubs (where they brew on site), I homebrew, and probably drink *too much* non-macro beer. I’m also a food snob and scout out the best local dining unless it makes sense to eat at the beer establishment.

I visited The Brickskeller on a Tuesday evening from 7ish to 9ish for some pre dinner drinks. My visit results in more bad then good.

The good - a large listing of beers. The majority of bottles are standard fare and I would have like to see more regional beers.

The bad....
The beer list lists each tap with the current and future beer. When the current beer runs out, they cross it out and go with the future beer. This is a nice idea except the beer description is for the future beer, not the current/first. This leads you to have to ask your server. In my case, I was sitting at the bar and the young female bartender knew NOTHING abouit the beer. The manager (I think it may have been the owner) was hovering around the bar area focusing more on ID'ing everyone who came in. She had to ask him and he would give the most basic answer - "pale ale" or "brown ale." They had a coouple of eastern taps (VT) so if you were local this may not be a problem. I found it to be a big disadvantage. Two other drawbacks were the place was very dirty. The bathroom was embarrasing and the whole place needed a major cleaning. It would have also been nice if they played music or did something to liven up the atmosphere.

DuPoint Cirlce is a great area to visit with a lot of excellent restaurants (try Hanks Oyster bar for the amazing fish tacos). If you're in the area, The Brickskeller is a good choice because of the very good selection. Make sure you temper your expectations.

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Photo of dirtylou
3.59/5  rDev -4%
vibe: 2 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.5

ah yes, the brickskeller. so called "legendary" by Blackie

arrived right at 6pm as they were opening. first impression is a foul and completely unsanitary bar. initial service was a bit questionable - and screw this "check everyones ID mentality" that DC has

the tap list was pretty dope - a bizarre Port stone beer, stone RIS (red wine old guardain was in the hole), sierra nevada harvest, southern tier mokah etc. i think 12 taps overall, and all were good. the bottle list was huge but i was told it was a crapshoot as to whether or not they were there

so to recap - pretty darn good selection at fair (for DC) prices but this place is an absolute crapper - the bathrooms have possibly never been cleaned. pretty unfortunate - i'm stunned that someone would order food here

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Photo of jjboesen
4.08/5  rDev +9.1%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 3

Having been a regular here, and seeing no need to expand upon the previous reviews, I'll simply cut to the chase and report the findings of my most recent visit: Bell's Porter, Bell Java Stout, Avery New World Porter, Great Divide St. Brigid's, Ellie's Brown Ale and Pyramid's Thunderhead IPA. Also listed was Bell's Brown Ale and Three Floyds. As long as one has several "backup beers" in mind, one can really expand their beer horizon. Excellent service performed by knowledgable staff. (Downstairs bar.) Cheers!

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Photo of Bierman9
4.33/5  rDev +15.8%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

Visited twice over the Memorial day weekend, first on Friday with Alewife, then again Saturday with Alewife, Artied2 and his friend.

Sat at the first level bar the first time. The bar is long and to the right, running about 1/2 way back in the room. Lots of tables seating anywhere from 2 to 8 people strewn about the room, some opposite the bar, and most in the rear and further back to the left. Place is medium to dimly lit, with lots of wood, both in decor and walls, etc. Decorations are a melange of posters, trays, bottles, cans, mugs, old bier-related pics. Real comfy, if you ask me; a nice place to chill and quaff.... I took a stroll into the downstairs bar area, and it had a similar look and feel to it, though perhaps a bit tighter quarters. Still a good vibe, regardless. Is there a third floor? Unsure... A few TVs were postioned about, displaying both the struggling Orioles as well as the Nationals. What, no Red Sox? ;-) There may or may not have been music playing, I just really never noticed it above the din of the contented revelers. Draft list was about 10-12 offerings, with the likes of Ommegang, Unibroue, and Bear Republic dotting the landscape. Alewife and I opted for some tasty Hofbräu Maibock. Hit the spot. Drafts were in the $6 range. The bottle list goes on and on, with some items well into the pricey side of things (a 22oz Smutty Big A for $15? Uh, no....). Still, something for everyone. Tried a Smutty Finest Kind and a Speakeasy on my second visit; both fresh and solid. As for food, Alewife tried the Steak and Cheese sub one night, then a burger the next. Burger was a bit overcooked, but she loved the Steak/Cheese. I had the Bricksburger both nights, and it hit the spot times 2. Food prices were lower than expected for the area, and biers were anywhere from reasonably priced to "no thanks, some other time". Service varied from night to night and serving location. Big Jeff at the bar was spot on, though business-like. Our server on night 2, when we were at a mid-room table, was a bit on and off.... so I split the diff and got a 4.0 for service overall.

Had heard of the Bricks for years, and glad I finally got the chance to partake.... didn't hurt that it was a mere 10 minute walk from my hotel, the Park Hyatt.


overall: 4.35
atmosphere: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4 | $$


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Photo of GCBrewingCo
4.35/5  rDev +16.3%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5

The Brick is located off 22nd Street just West of Dupont Circle. The entrance for the lower bar is the first door as you enter or travel up to the top.

The bottom is the bottle bar and the top has the drafts. The bartender at the bottom said they really were not supposed to send beers from the top down on the dumbwaiter so I'd suggest sitting upstairs. I counted 12 taps and 2 handpulls upstairs and with Russian River, Dogfish Head on Randall, Maudite, Ruination and several others on draft, how can you go wrong?

The decor is dark wood and beer memorabilia. The atmosphere seemed good, but I can see this place being a smokehouse at times, so be prepared. The service at both bars was quick and attentive, but the place was slightly dead on a Sunday night.

I'd go back to the Brick, but bring the wallet, the beers are not inexpensive, but there can be no denying that the beer list was awesome.

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Photo of francisweizen
4.26/5  rDev +13.9%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4

The famous brickskeller is located in a nice neighberhood in downtown Washington, D.C. bordering Georgetown. Personally, I think the atmosphere is fantastic, with multiple rooms, tons of breweriana and many nooks and crannies to explore. Very Belgian, very dark wood refined, very old world. I like it, Ilike it a lot. The quality of both the draft and bottled beers I tried here was very good, and unlike many people I did not find them to be out of many of their selections. The food looked good but I did not try any and the bartender who served me was very knowledgable and actually came out with 3 or 4 brews that I had not tried before, which when you are dealing with me is no easy task. I went to a lot of great places in D.C. on my last trip home in December of 2007, and honestly whilst this bar does not have the best beer selection around, it certainly is a great place to have a few. Recommended as a *must visit( when in the D.C. metro area, afterall, it is in the Guinness book of World Records!

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Photo of Slatetank
4.08/5  rDev +9.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 5 | food: 3.5

Recently visited the Brickskeller w/ gottajiboo2 and friends after seeing Ween at the Dar Constitution Hall. This was my 3rd visit to the Brickskeller and was pretty typical of my past experiences.

We went to the downstairs bar late -approximately 1am and found some barstools. We began to chat it up w/ the barmaid soon after and checked out the menu. The interior is like a breweriana museum w/ beercans, old photos and other souvenirs from back in the day. There are flags to represent almost every beer producing country, which is fitting since the bar is near several embassys. I like the classic/nostalgiac feel of the place that has been around over 50 years this year and has a Guiness world record for bottled selection.

The service w/ one exeption when looking for the restroom was friendly and helpful w/ several beer recommendations being made. The food was not great, but hit the spot and was honest. It tasted fresh and was served warm.

The selection is the reason to come to Brickskeller in my opinion if you want to try a new import or micro bottle. The value is a little on the high end, but for the history the Brickskeller is worth checking out.

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Photo of clayrock81
3.78/5  rDev +1.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4 | food: 3

This place could be a victim of its own hype, but it is not the Godsend of beer joints. It has a great selection but it is bulked up American macros and other brews a true beer bar normally doesn't carry. The atmosphere was great, a crowded Saturday evening but not too crowded with a mix of beer geeks and people just looking for a hard-to-find beer (although not too hard to find, since almost all of these brews could be found in specialty beer stores/Total Wines). I was a little disappointed in that I did my homework and had a list of beers and the first eight weren't even there. I am glad that smoking isn't allowed in there (DC law), or else this would be a horrible place to drink since it is cramped, especially the downstairs. As for the service, since it is crowded you have to be patient but the server was too dumb to seperate the check between my wife and I and our friend. She handed me the receipt and said circle what he ordered. Maybe I am being a little critical, since at other places on my vacation in DC I noticed that asking for seperate checks seems to be a rather odd custom. I ordered the wings and my wife ordered some cheesesticks - they were B- to be a tad generous. As far as the prices, I know some of the inflation is due to the place itself and you're in the heart of DC, but some of the beers on the menu I could find at other bars/liquor stores for half to 3/4 less. I would recommend going to this place once and if I lived in DC I would hit this once in awhile, but it is not the end-all and be-all. In fact, I like the sister bar RFD better.

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Photo of blackie
3.7/5  rDev -1.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4

wandered here one night after dinner elsewhere, not knowing what to expect given the polarity of what I've read on here about the place

atmosphere: entered down the stairs to the basement, unaware that an upstairs existed, surprised to find both a gruff doorman and a chain at the bottom of the stairway restricting entrance, crowd control I assume, which is a plus, but the use of a chain seems very unnecessary, atmosphere emulates pretty well what I'd expect a Euro basement bar to be, moderate lighting, a lot of exposed brick, paraphernalia here and there, everyone well-behaved, big cooler along the backside of the bar containing a wide array bottles

quality: I went with the Clipper City Balto Marzen, knowing it was probably a bit late to have an oktoberfest, but it seemed okay, but regardless it probably shouldn't still be around, every beer we had got the same service - some sort of miniature lager glass

service: went both ways, the bartender was very nice and quick, but the service was perhaps a bit overdone with the continual topping-up of my glass from the bottle in front of me, just a peeve of mine and nothing to deduct for, but in the end it led to her becoming confused and pouring the wrong beer into the wrong glass, leaving me a nice mix of oktoberfest and pale ale

selection: the back and forth I've encountered around these parts typically involves one side praising the selection and the other bringing up the very valid point that an intimidatingly large list is useless if not kept up-to-date or - at worst - honest, almost on queue, I was informed that my first selection was out of stock, for a place known for it's selection I really wasn't struck by many...though there were certainly good biers to be had, I've visited places with a tenth of the selection found here but of such quality that it was tough to make a decision

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Photo of shivtim
3.5/5  rDev -6.4%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3 | service: 3 | selection: 5 | food: 2.5

You have to like the Brickskeller just for the selection. Sure, it has crappy food and not-so-great service, but where else can you find all of these bottles under one roof? A lot of people have mentioned they don't have all of the bottles on the list, which is true. It's sometimes easier just to take a long look at the coolers and see if anything looks good.
Prices are halfway reasonable too, at least compared to what you pay on draft at other places around DC.
Also, avoid the food. There are a ton of great restaurants in the area, hit up one of those and then come here for a few drinks after.

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Photo of socon67
4.05/5  rDev +8.3%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 2.5

Was here while catching a Nats game in DC.

The vibe is kinda college scene, but it does come off tacky. Lots of old beer cans along the walls, but it makes the place look cheap morew than trendy.

The service was impressive. I've seen some negatives in other reviews. I guess it depends on the server; ours was very knowledgable. The selection is insane, though they will be out of some so plan on a backup.

The food was "okay" I guess, but clearly you are here to drink. Don't expect great food. The pricing was higher than normal but you are paying for the beer options.

I thought it was cool, and worth the trek.

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Photo of FightingEntropy
4.15/5  rDev +11%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 3.5

The Brickskeller has to be an almost Meccan stop for any true beer lover. This is my third visit over several years, and have had several very good nights at the brick. While the prices can be a bit high and on the weekends the clientale is clearly on the younger side, it's a fun place.

Downstairs is always open, bottles only with no taps. I tend to sit at the bar to get faster service, though it's not that bad at the tables--in fact, I think it's improved a bit this last trip. Peirogies are good, but we don't really eat there much anymore--we eat pizza around the corner at Pizzeria Paradiso.

On the weekends (I think-never have really understood when/why the top is open), the tap bar has about a dozen taps with a cask ale weekly but it was out by Friday night when I was there. I order taps up here, having an opportunity at several that are hard to find. If you want bottles, either go downstairs or don't order a bottle conditioned beer. The bottles come up through a dumb waiter w/ rope pulley, so the bottles are a bit shaken up Non-conditioned, no worries since it doesn't mattered if shaken. Staff seems stable--bartender Kim was the same person who served me three years earlier downstairs, and she remembered me.

One of the best things about Brickskeller is the relatively cheap (for downtown and Dupont circle) is the attached hotel. The first two floors are just over $100 and have bathrooms, and I hear are nice. I stay on the third floor for under a $100 with a shared bathroom. There are three bathrooms, two just renovated three years ago when we were there. I've had four nights at Brickskeller drinking 6 to 8 beers (thus why Kim remembers me) and all I have to do is crawl upstairs. No air conditioning, so don't do this during the summer, and bring the cash card to drink that much there.

Great place to go, but I tend more towards RFD and Birreria Paradiso if I'm not staying at Brickskeller that particular trip. A must go if you've never been, potentially fantastic drinking sets, hotel on sight, and a donut shop called the Fractured Prune around the corner is awesome for breakfast after closing the tap room at 3:00 a.m.

Just a couple blocks from the Dupont Circle station on the Red Line. Cheers.

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Photo of rhoadsrage
4.22/5  rDev +12.8%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3

Upon walking to the front of this building the red awning and limestone building made me expecting an uppity place. When I got in side I was very impressed.

The atmosphere was great. An old brick basement with a wall of beer fridges and old beeriana handing on the walls and ceiling. This is a great old neighborhood joint.

The beer was all served in small little stranges that were fluted at the top but they did brink tulips and chalices for fancy beers. The beer menu and food menu is photocopied on little booklets that are hand stapled and people help themselves to taking pages home. I went through several books to find the pages I wanted.

The service was fair, but both times I went in they were understaffed so they were running back and forth with food orders and beer orders so I had to wait a bit to put in my orders.

The selection is the best in the world, says the Guinness Book, but the popular rare beers were all out but I found some gems and lots of local beers I can't get in my area. Make sure you have a 3rd and 4th choice cause you don't want to wait for them to put you at the bottom of the beer serving rotation.

The food was fair but I only had cheese fries and the cheese plate. Nothing as fine as there beer selection but pub grub.

I was surprised to see most beers were the same price as what I pay for singles in the liquor stores. Beats Chicago prices any day.

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Photo of 86sportster883
3.85/5  rDev +2.9%
vibe: 3 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 5

The Holy Grail

I’ve been a frequently pleased patron of the Brickskeller over the past 10 years, so it pains me to write this review. The Brickskeller was THE place in DC to find rare and otherwise hard to find beers. And, it does still have the “World’s Largest Selection of Beer” in bottles and cans. But you won’t find much more than a half dozen beers on tap.

Now I hadn’t been to the Brick in about a year, and either I’ve gotten a lot more educated on beer prices, or this place has gotten way, way expensive. It’s not like you’re eating in some upscale DC restaurant where you can sort of expect to feel violated when you see your bar tab. You go there for the beer, the food is just standard pub fare to help slow your bodies absorption of alcohol.

The atmosphere is that of a grungy, old man’s beer bar that has been overrun by 30 something urban yuppies. Maybe they’re the only ones who don’t give a crap about the 300%-400% markup on the bottled beers they're ordering. Come on now, is a 2007 Stone Vertical Epic really worth $29.95 at the Brick, when you can get it for retail at $6.99?

The Brickskeller is still one of the only places I know of where you can order a Thomas Hardy Barley Wine from the late 80’s and 1990’s. Just be prepared to shell out up to $4.25 an ounce for the pleasure. Is that being served in a souvenir golden chalice? It wasn’t always this way.

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Photo of JohnW
4.03/5  rDev +7.8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3

As a visitor to Washington DC from England, was keen to try this recommended real ale bar. Used Metro to Dupont Circle and found it fairly easily after asking which direction the streets ran in!

Was there mid-day, and went to the downstairs bar, and was shown to a table, not many people there at all. By far the largest selection of beers I have ever seen, and found the menu list daunting! My mind went blank when I tried to remember what American beers I ought to try and had read about (maybe I should have written them down before going!) and in the end had one of my favourite German Wheat beers, followed by one of the American beers at pot luck. Both were fine.

Food was good though nothing special, but I enjoyed it and thought reasonable prices on the menu.

I was disappointed that they had no beers on draught (on tap) only bottles, I would have thought some local beers would have been available on tap, though maybe they do not have room for them! Enjoyed looking at the huge collection of beer bottles and cans, some ancient ones from England too that brought back mixed memories.

The atmosphere was OK, though it was quiet, but hardly a typical British "Pub" atmosphere. As another reviewer hinted at,
the Mens Room not one of the cleanest I have seen (but cannot comment on the ladies room!!)

I enjoyed my visit, definately would go again, but would go better prepared to know what American beers to try. Better range of German and Belgium beers than I have seen anywhere, and could spend all week trying those alone !

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Photo of Globetrotter
3.8/5  rDev +1.6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3.5

I have a love/hate relationship with the Brickskeller. I go every time I am in DC. The atmosphere is great, and the philosophy of the place is something any beer lover should support. The beer list is rightfully legendary. But... They frequently don't have what's on the list, and be very wary of the particularly rare (and therefore interesting) selections - they've been known to be skunky from sitting on the shelf too long. Service here is not great, but the food is good and, despite the problems raised here and in other reviews, there is always something available that you've never tried before. The Brickskeller is worth a visit.

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Photo of glid02
4.2/5  rDev +12.3%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 3

Was lucky enough to stay just around the corner from this place for a few days.

Atmosphere is really cool. It's a dive, but one of the coolest dives I've been to. Old beer cans and bottles go around the walls, and then there's the Guinness World Record plaque declaring that they have the largest bottle beer selection on Earth. I spent most of my time downstairs at the bar looking at all of the coolers and the fun stuff inside of them. There's a bar going almost the length of the building with an additional room of chairs and tables adjoining. Upstairs there's more of the same with darts.

Quality is good. Nothing was served in egregiously incorrect glassware, although there's certainly no specialty glassware.

Service was very good the first night. I was impressed with how much she knew off the top of her head that they had or didn't have, and she was very friendly. The tender on the second night I didn't really deal with as I ordered from upstairs, but he was a bit on the surly side. Regardless, nothing really turned me off in the service department.

Selection was great. Sure their list isn't as accurate as it's purported to be, but there were only a few selections that they didn't have that disappointed me. One guy that I talked to said they haven't had Russian River since he'd been working there, but I wasn't really surprised. They did have Peche Mortel and Southern Tier Harvest, not to mention a 2005 World Wide Stout keg and Sierra Nevada Harvest cask.

Food was average, I ended up splitting the chicken tenders and fries both nights and they did the job.

Prices seemed a bit steep to me, but based on other places I visited they were reasonable for the area.

Overall this place is definitely worth a visit if you're in the area.

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Photo of lackenhauser
3.7/5  rDev -1.1%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 3

This is probably my 5th visit to the Brick in the last 15 years and my first back in about 4.The atmosphere is decent but it could use a clean up or face lift.I love the basement "keller" feel to it and all the beer cans and signs but theres a lot of stains on the ceilings and walls.Bathroom could use an update.

Above average quality once they have a beer you ask for-as previous reviews noted its hard to keep everything in stock Im sure but they didnt have beers I could go out to any local DC store and find which is annoying.

Service was ok.When we asked if they had any casks which they occassionally do the server's eyes glazed over and she said "casks?"Guess she was absent that day at beer training school.She did handle our table of 14 with 4 kids reasonably well though once the ball got rolling.

The selection is incredible to say the least.For the initiated and uninitiated both.While I was dissappointed they didnt have several selections I wanted to try for the first time perhaps Id be better off going in with the attitude to have some hard to find old favorites.However,when Im paying their prices for a beer I dont feel I need to set the bar lower if you know what I mean.

Food is standard pub type food.Had the fish and chips which was fine.Have had the burger and the buffalo stew in the past-all are average-nothing to really rave about.

The Brick is well worth the trip-you have to see it and the beer list at least once.Why they offer 2 beers on tap upstairs and not down is INSANE.They had Old Foghorn on tap but you couldnt get it downstairs-thats plain assinine.Check it out when in DC.

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Photo of CuriousMonk
3.2/5  rDev -14.4%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 2 | selection: 4 | food: 3

After hearing about this place through locals and seeing that they have over 1000 beers, I was hoping that it would be wicked awesome and become my go-to pub as I don't really have one in the DC metro area. The beer list was a bit more mainstream of the more popular international brews. I was hoping for more rare gems, but that never happened. Maybe there's a brew or two on tap worth trying out. I didn't mind that the place looks like it is already closed by the way it is kept up and barely any lights on inside. The worst part though is the service. It seriously seems like everyone there either hates their job or just anyone that actually comes in and forces them to work. I look forward to checking out the Bier Baron for the first time ever and see how much this place has (supposedly) improved!

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Photo of DarkerTheBetter
3.15/5  rDev -15.8%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 1 | selection: 4 | food: 4

I made it down to DC for a conference and of course I had to check out a few of the reputable local beer places. I've heard a variety of things about this place, both good and bad, so I figured I had to see what things were all about first hand.

A short walk across town brought us to the bottom of some steep steps heading up into a dark brick building with a small awning over its door. Through a window on the right on street level, in what seemed to be the basement, I spied what was clearly a bar, so up the stairs we went. Once through the door, we took a hard right down a narrow stairwell to the bar area. We were whisked back to our left into a smaller room to a nice table in the middle of the room.

The room itself was a little on the dark side with dark brick walls decorated with the tail ends of kegs supposedly protruding from the walls. Around the tops of the walls were lit display cases full of vintage bottles and cans of mostly American beers. This gave a nice ambient lighting to the room. Our table and chairs were all dark woods, so this really gave a dark but cozy feel to the place.

For food, the beer brats seemed like a good call. I must say that they came out with an honest to goodness smoked grill flavor to them, so there must be some sort of open flame in the kitchen. This was very appreciated. The lady friend got a sandwich of sorts that was equally tasty.

On to the beer! The beer list was huge, but a few things about it really bothered me. The first was that they listed Rogue's 2IPA in 12 oz bottles. Last time I checked, these hadn't been bottled in three years or so. Checking with the waitress revealed that they really didn't have any in. Hmm. The next oddity was the sheer arbitrariness of the pricing. I ordered a Russian River Supplication, which is normally priced around $13 or so, but I paid a little over $17 gladly. But then, there's Bear Republic's Big Bear Black Stout, which runs for around $4 that is marked up to $13? That's just screwed up. Going back to the RR, I was sure it would not be in based on previous testimony as to what the menu says and what you'll probably end up getting. I just crossed my fingers and asked the waitress anyway. Lo' and behold, she brought out my first rare choice. This pleased me greatly. My buddy didn't have such good luck (as he looked into the Rogue 2IPA), nor did my girlfriend. Both ended up with second and fourth choices. So, their selection looks good, but in actuality, the randomness of their menu is nothing short of frustrating. That, with the "no standing" policy prevents you from empirically scoping out the beer cooler. They clearly get some tasty brews here, but the arbitrary availability is frustrating. Also, the unavailability of tap beers in the basement was odd.

The service here was terrible. My buddy and I ordered drinks but the server skipped my girlfriend. When she returned, my girlfriend ordered a drink, and the other two of us ordered dinner. Then, her drink came out with our meal. She was one step behind all night long?! Aren't servers generally aware that people who sit at a table together like to all eat and drink together? This was odd and frustrating and it really impacted our evening negatively.

My last thoughts are that the bureaucracy of ordering a beer here is just stupid. They proclaim such an amazing beer selection, but what they are really saying is that they have a huge beer menu. Lame! It seems that this place is really hit or miss in the truest sense of the term. Would I go back? Maybe if I was with someone who had never been.

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The Brickskeller in Washington, DC
Place rating: 3.74 out of 5 with 187 ratings