As the story goes, three pioneering Seattle natives headed east to the nation’s Capitol looking for a cool spot for their dream endeavor. By March ’19, the entrepreneurial trio of Bryan Van Den Oever, Simon Bee and Cameron Raspet found the culturally diverse nightlife of Washington D.C.’s newly renovated NoMa district the perfect spot for an “East Coast meets open casual West Coast style” brewery.
At this bustling industrial office hub (north of Massachusetts Avenue), RED BEAR BREWING CO. began operations. Inside a red brick neighborhood mall near Union Station and close to the elevated trains, Red Bear takes up a medium-sized corner spot down the street-level stairs.
Inside, the rustic cement-floored pub features 20-plus taps (proprietary beers plus seltzers and ciders) at the centrally located bar while the surrounding area offers wood and metal four-seaters and community tables plus board games for the kids. Kettled brew tanks are at the far right. The superb pub food menu and a host of upscale liquors back up the wholly reliable brew selections (of which, I will discover five well rounded and widely differentiated elixirs reviewed below).
At the partially covered outside patio, my wife and I (with dog Roscoe) consume five diverse homemade creations on a rainy Saturday in May ’22.
Floral-daubed ginger cologne, mild carrot-pureed spicing and yellow grapefruit zesting coalesced for briskly clean cucumber-watered saison, 24 Karat, an effervescently offbeat springtime moderation.
Another Maytime endeavor, soft-toned pinkish amber Peak Bloom Cherry Wit, let subtle Pez-candied cherry tartness fade into soap-stoned guava and gooseberry brining over a delicate white wheat bed.
Sweet ‘n sour oated ‘cream pale ale,’ Floof, a glowing sunshine hued New England IPA knockoff, readied salty guava-passionfruit tartness for lemon meringue and peach cobbler confections above lactic acidulated malts.
Dry opaque salmon-tinted fruited gose, The Floor Is Guava, regaled lively guava brining and tart coriander-seeded raspberry sedation as well as white peach, cranberry and crabapple snips over feathery sourdough wheated pilsner malting.
Black malted dark chocolate and mild espresso tones reached the soily earthen bottom of DC Dirt Porter, leaving chalky dried fruiting on the tail end.
Lactose peanut buttered dark chocolate roast deepened by coffee-stained hop char of rich milk stout, Tall Dark & Nutty, picking up latent bourbon vanilla spicing to contrast oily dark-roast mocha nuttiness.