Courtesy Ryan Hackney
Courtesy Ryan Hackney

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Valor Brewpub, opening on Barracks Row next month under The Ugly Mug, is as American as its enormous burger dressed in smoked cheddar, smoked bacon, grilled mushrooms, and griddled onions. Owner Gaynor Jablonski says the brewpub’s slogan is “by veterans, for veterans.” 

Jablonski’s mission for supporting the military is three-fold. He says his business will hire as many local veterans as possible and he’s already reached out to D.C.’s Office of Veterans Affairs and provided the agency with job descriptions. Jablonski says they’ve hired ten veterans so far—the general manager and brewmaster both served in the Navy. 

Valor will also stock as many products as possible from veteran-owned businesses including wineries, breweries, and distilleries. The bar will also host frequent events supporting veteran charities. 

While Jablonski never served, he comes from a military family. His grandfather developed the fire suppression system used on Naval ships to put out fires. “He and another scientist spent their careers implementing them on naval ships all over the world,” he says. To pay tribute, Jablonski named one of his other restaurants, Jake’s American Grille, after his grandfather. Jablonski’s father was a Marine and Jablonski grew up in Annapolis, where his family sponsored 15 Midshipmen. 

The 2500-square-foot brewpub will be located where the original Ugly Mug set up shop before Jablonski moved it upstairs. The decor will have a few Easter eggs for those who remember the first iteration of the downstairs sports bar, but there will also be new design elements spread across the dining room that seats 20 at the bar, 60 at tables, and 12 on the patio. 

Jablonski tapped Chef Ryan Hackney to lead the kitchen as executive chef. He’s cooked at BibianaThe Bird, and Lucky Buns. The menu leans heavy on seafood, with a version of oysters Rockefeller dusted with Old Bay seasoning; a chilled seafood bisque with poached shrimp and Maryland lump crab meat; and fried calamari and gulf shrimp atop frisée lettuce with a smoked jalapeño romesco sauce.

They brought in rotisserie ovens, which Hackney will use to cook pork shoulder and Peruvian-style chicken. Selections also include Korean-style fried chicken wings topped with crushed peanuts and Thai basil and a steak & cheese sandwich starring flank steak. Hackney will also take control of the menu for The Ugly Mug. See the draft menu below. 

“Ryan’s a good fit for us,” he says. “He has a fine dining background, but he’s a local Washingtonian like myself. He understands the food scene and how it’s been changing … the days of bar food being chicken tenders, wings, and burgers are gone.” Those staples are still on the menu but they’ve been gussied up. 

On Valor Brewpub’s mission, Hackney says, “I have an unparalleled appreciation for our veterans, their work ethic, and the dangers they face in order to protect our country.”

The brewing equipment may not be in place when Valor Brewpub opens in mid-September. But Jablonski has a plan. “We’ve partnered with all veteran-owned breweries in the area and are going to highlight their beers,” he says.

They’ll start with three Northern Virginia breweries: Heritage Brewing based in Manassas, Brew Republic from Woodbridge, and Fair Winds Brewing Company from Lorton. In addition to beer and wine, there will be a cocktail program that features cocktails served in oversized French presses that parties of two to four can share.

Valor Brewpub, 723 8th St. SE

Menu subject to change: