WASHINGTON — A popular D.C. brewpub now has a new space to brew its beloved beers.
On Dec. 3, Right Proper Brewing Company will officially open the doors to its new 6,300-square-foot production facility and tasting room in the Northeast neighborhood of Brookland.
“When we opened the brewpub [in 2013], we had no idea that we would get to this point so quickly,” says Right Proper co-founder Thor Cheston about the growth of the business.
But it did — much to the delight of local beer fans.
At the second location, Right Proper will be able to brew a lot more beer and distribute its product outside the brewpub to local bars and restaurants. Customers can also drop in to take a tour, fill a growler, or relax in the tasting room with a flight of their favorites.
Already planning your visit? Here are 5 things to know about D.C.’s newest brewery:
1. Right Proper will be able to brew a lot more beer.
The former auto repair shop at 920 Girard St. NE has been transformed into a shiny state-of-the-art brewing facility, complete with six 30-barrel stainless steel fermentation tanks and three 45-hectoliter French oak foudres. (Comparatively, the T Street brewpub operates on a five-barrel brewing system.)
The expansion will allow Right Proper to grow from brewing 1,000 barrels a year to up to 15,000 barrels a year, The Washington Post reports.
“We really did step it up here,” Cheston says about the new space. “This is kind of more the Mercedes-Benz.”
The eye-catching oak foudres, which are technically manufactured for the wine industry, will be used by Right Proper’s head brewer Nathan Zeender to make several of the brewery’s “wild” beers.
“The difference between fermenting in wood and fermenting in stainless steel is that the wood is porous,” Cheston explains. This means that when the yeast is added in the brewing process, some of it remains in the wood.
“They’ll become reliant on a regular influx of beer, and so each one of these foudres kind of becomes its own ecosystem.”
2. The brewery will keep its product “at an arm’s reach.”
The new production facility will not only allow Right Proper to make more beer, it will allow the brewery to distribute its product outside of the brewpub. Just hold off on alerting friends around the country to be on the lookout for your favorite suds.
Cheston says for now, Right Proper will focus on distributing to other bars and restaurants in the District — and it may stay that way.
“I don’t really have any aspirations of becoming the next Sierra Nevada or Dogfish Head. We love the District and we just wanted to make something beautiful for the District. … I think we’ll be happy just sticking around here,” he says, adding that he admires the Wisconsin brewery New Glarus for its stance on distribution.
“They want to keep all of their products at an arm’s reach, have more control over their freshness and quality. They truly believe that almost all beer should be [consumed] fresh. Right now we plan to follow that model, to try to keep our beers at an arm’s reach.”
Cheston says to start, Right Proper will launch its beers at Pizzeria Paradiso in Georgetown, Churchkey and Brookland Pint.
In the past few years, D.C. has grown from a city with zero distribution breweries, to a town with many, and finding numerous local beers on tap is becoming the norm. But that doesn’t worry Cheston.
“I think the city is nowhere near being saturated with its own homemade beer,” he says.
3. The Brookland brewery isn’t just for production — there’s plenty to taste too.
Cheston says creating a “pretty” tasting room was a priority for the brewing company. Customers who pop in to partake in a pint can belly up to the bar or claim a table — both are made from one cherry tree that fell in co-owner John Snedden’s backyard a few years ago.
“The first plan was to use it for the brewpub, but the wood wasn’t ready. It had to mature,” Cheston says. By the time the owners were ready to build the Brookland space, the wood was ready to go. “I just can’t believe how much we got out of it.”
A mural by Patrick Owens, the same artist responsible for the brewpub’s decorated walls, depicts a violent storyline of animals escaping from the zoo and taking over the world. “We don’t like to take ourselves too seriously; we like to have a lot of fun,” Cheston says about the idea behind the mural.
Behind the bar, a 12-tap system pulls directly from kegs in the production space’s refrigerator. Cheston says three beers will remain on tap, including a smoked pale beer, a slightly hoppy pale ale and “an extremely sour beer,” called Diamonds, Fur Coat, Champagne. “And then the rest will be limited release to the outside, but almost always available at the brewpub,” he adds.
Fans of Right Proper’s pickle dip and other Southern-inspired fare will have to get their snack fix before venturing out to Brookland. The brewery will not serve food in the tasting room, but Cheston says the new location will likely have food trucks come out on the weekends.
4. The bathroom hits all the right notes.
The Brookland brewery is equipped with a state-of-the-art sound system, but another feature will likely catch the attention of music lovers: an upright piano in the bathroom.
“This is what happens when permits and licenses are delayed and I have idle time,” Cheston says.
Originally, Cheston wanted to put bunk beds in the oversized bathroom, just off the tasting room, to create a dormlike ambience. However, his co-workers convinced him to drop the idea, so he bought a piano off Craigslist instead. Now the vibe in the bathroom is more “grandma’s parlor,” and less “college dorm room.”
And yes, the piano is tuned, so play away.
5. A patio is in the works.
Patio drinking may not be top of mind during the winter, but come spring, sipping on beers in the sunshine is a favorite pastime of Washingtonians — and Right Proper plans to accommodate the demand.
Cheston says the brewery has submitted all the paperwork and plans are moving forward for a patio space. Right Proper will build a retaining wall, install planter boxes with herbs, set up a small seating area and even dedicate a large section to bike parking.
Right Proper’s production brewery and tasting room is at 920 Girard St. NE. It will be open from 5 to 9 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays, and from 1 to 9 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.