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When Red Apron Burger Bar opens Thursday in Dupont Circle, there will be plenty to drink for beer nerds. Most notably, Neighborhood Restaurant Group Beer Director Greg Engert reserved 10 out of 18 drafts for Virginia beers, with eight beers making their D.C. debut.
Pen Druid is among the breweries introducing their suds to the District. Previously, Pen Druid pints were almost solely available at its brewery in Sperryville, Virginia. Engert traveled there to secure two of their beers, Mercury and Saturnalia, for the Red Apron Burger Bar menu.
“The Mercury is bright and fruity with some earthiness from the wheat and oats and the most deliciously hoppy beer we’ve made,” says Pen Druid co-owner and brewer Van Carney. “The Saturnalia is 100 percent all-Virginia malt, hops, yeast, bacteria, and water. Barrel-fermented for twelve months, it’s a wonderfully complex sour beer.”
Another big get, which whale hunters and beer tickers will appreciate, is a draft called Eternal Lord Shredder. Richmond-based brewery The Veil has just released this beer today.
On opening day, also expect beers from Allagash, Bluejacket, Commonwealth, DC Brau, Evolution, Great Lakes, Ocelot, RAR, The Answer, Triple Crossing, Union, and Wicked Weed. Though there will be a host of different styles of beer, Engert is going heavy on hop-forward brews such as pilsners, pale ales, and double IPAs to best match the food.
Serving Virginia beer compliments the food program because Chef Nathan Anda’s burger patties will be made of 100 percent Virginia beef sourced from farms focused on sustainability and responsible cattle rearing. The “Double Vision,” for example, comes with a double beef patty, pimento cheese, bacon, and tomato jam ($11.95).
Engert says he’s put in just as much effort into this beer list as he has into Neighborhood Restaurant Group’s full service restaurants. “The dream is to get the best beer possible anywhere sold,” he says. Of the fast casual competition he adds, “These places might have the ceremonial beer or two, but they won’t have the same attention to detail.”
For the best deal, visit Red Apron Burger Bar during happy hour (Monday through Friday from 4-6 p.m.) when a rotating group of three beers will cost $3, $4, or $5 for a full pour. Wine will also be available for $6 a glass and cocktails for $7. Outside happy hour, Engert says to expect full pours to land between $6-$9, with the occasional $10 outlier for a rare, sour, or barrel-aged beer.
Red Apron Burger Bar replaces GBD, which while known for fried chicken and doughnuts, also had a strong beer program.
The hours of operation are Sunday through Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. (kitchen closes at 10 p.m.) and Thursday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to midnight (kitchen closes at 11 p.m.).
Red Apron Burger Bar, 1323 Connecticut Ave. NW; redapronburgerbar.com