City Paper is not for tourists
D.C.’s next brewery, Right Proper, is close to opening its doors. Co-founder Thor Cheston, who directed beer programs at Pizzeria Paradiso and Brasserie Beck before starting the Shaw-based brewpub, is planning to open in early December.
Right Proper will serve eight beers on draft: six house beers designed by brewmaster Nathan Zeender and two lines for guest breweries. In addition, there will be four wines on tap, curated by Right Proper co-founder (and Cheston’s wife) Leah Dedmon Cheston of Ris.
Although Zeender is not committing to styles or recipes until he has gone through some test batches using Right Proper’s new system, he hopes to feature a mild ale, a dry-hopped aromatic pale ale, and a Baltic lean porter in his opening line-up. Those who have tried Zeender’s artisanal WildCraft Sodas have caught a glimpse into the types of ingredients he uses: botanical roots, less commonly used herbs and spices, and locally sourced fruit and honey.
It will take time to realize his vision for wood-aged, rustic farmhouse ales, but Zeender is equipped to start his barrel program. He has a large wine tank for blending and a cellar full of used barrels from wineries and distilleries, including an apple brandy barrel he loaned to New Columbia Distillers to age gin in and has now reclaimed for his own purposes. Zeender also has the help of newly hired assistant brewer Christopher Percello.
Right Proper’s house beers will only be available on-site to start—on draft and to go via different-sized growlers. Cheston plans to eventually send kegs to a few craft beer-focused restaurants and bars in D.C. and hopes to start canning by the end of the brewpub’s first year.
In the meantime, Zeender has been busy brewing collaboration beers at nearby breweries. Among them: Brimstone and Clover, a saison brewed with smoked malt, wildflower honey, and a mix of herbs at Baltimore’s The Brewer’s Art this summer. Zeender also recently brewed a Flemish Bruin-style sour beer at Devils Backbone and a Wee Heavy with buckwheat honey called Lost and Proper at Lost Rhino, neither of which have been released yet. Baltic Porter, a DC Brau and Right Proper collaboration, will be available starting this weekend at the brewery’s growler hours and featured at Meridian Pint on Nov. 19.
Cheston has brought on chef Matt Richardson, who spent the past few years working in Richmond but was previously at 1905 Restaurant, to head the kitchen. Richardson’s snacks and sides include blueberry and jalapeño corn muffins, oyster stew with spinach and ham over whipped potatoes, and for the braver souls, fried chicken livers, hearts, and gizzards. Right Proper will also serve a beer-brined roasted turkey sandwich with brie and raspberry spread and a wood-grilled brisket sandwich with grilled onions and bleu cheese. For mains, look forward to chicken and dumplings and grilled meatloaf, among other comforting dishes. All menu items, along with prefilled growlers of house-made beer, will be available to go.
Located beside the Howard Theatre, Right Proper has a 65-seat dining area that runs along one side of the long, narrow space. Along the other side sits a bar that looks into the brewhouse and is separated from the dining room by antique iron panels from a salvage shop in Baltimore. Most of the brewpub’s mismatched chairs and other furnishings are recycled.
A lounge and bar area at the front of the space will also offer first-come, first-served seating. A brick wall shared with what was once Frank Holiday’s Pool Room features a mural commemorating the history of that jazz club, which was an early haunt of Duke Ellington. The mural was painted by North Carolina-based artist and Cheston’s brother-in-law Nico Amortegui. In addition, local artist Patrick Owens will create a gigantic myth-themed chalk mural overlooking the dining area.
Right Proper will debut with an event benefiting Shaw Main Streets, an organization that promotes community and business development in Shaw. The event will feature free food, while patrons pay for beer and other beverages. Once the brewpub passes its last inspection, the owners will announce the gathering’s date. Stay tuned for updates.
Right Proper, 624 T St., NW; rightproperbrewery.com
Photos by Tammy Tuck