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The Opening Draft List at NoMa’s New Brewery Is Full of Punchlines for Beer Nerds

Its woodsy tap room opens this weekend in Northeast

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Tables, chairs, and a set of Connect 4 inside Red Bear Brewing Co
Red Bear Brewing is scheduled to open Saturday with 10 beers on tap.
Rey Lopez/Eater DC

Red Bear Brewing Company is scheduled to open this Saturday, bringing the NoMa neighborhood a 7,000-square-foot brewery and tap room with a vibe that attempts to take the snobbery out of craft beer.

Some descriptions on the menu read like they were written by a comedian, not a cicerone.

The blurb for the Swampoodle, an imperial oatmeal stout brewed in collaboration with Gill Brewery in Sligo, Ireland, says the brewers added a cup of Lucky Charms, and, “at 9.1% ABV you’re sure to see rainbows!” A Pacific Northwest-style Skookum Red Ale “is only brewed while listening to Pearl Jam, Soundgarden and Alice in Chains while wearing an appropriate amount of flannel.” The tagline for Cupid’s Black Heart, a chocolate strawberry bock brewed for Singles Awareness Day (SAD), promises “your loneliness will be fully repressed with the flavor of toffee, strawberries and chocolate. Don’t worry, we got you boo.”

The anticipated facility at 209 M Street NE is expected to open at 4 p.m. The strongest brew in the opening collection is a Twinsies double IPA (10% ABV).

There are 10 beers to start. Eventually, all 24 tap lines will be filled out by West Coast-style ales, ciders, and wine.

The cavernous brewery is modeled after a woodsy camping scene. Painted wood planks depict a snowcapped mountain, constellation-shaped lighting dots the ceiling, and patio-style lightbulbs hang in a “backyard” bar indoors. The design fits well into its NoMa nook, which includes outdoors tycoon REI.

One of its beers pays homage to the site’s former life as Uline Arena, where the Beatles played their first U.S. concert in 1964. Marmalade Skies Belgian Witbier refers to the supergroup’s song, Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds.

Co-owners Bryan Van Den Oever, Cameron Raspet, and Simon Bee met in Seattle and quit respective careers in healthcare, flight test engineering, and property management to move across the country and open what they say is D.C.’s only 100 percent gay-owned brewery.

Bathrooms were designed as odes to some of the owners’ irreverent interests. One is dedicated to actor Jeff Goldblum, featuring a painting of a dinosaur donning a dress as a callback to his Jurassic Park role. Another features art of cats in astronaut suits. The space boasts more than 100 board games and will host events including yoga, drag queen bingo, and comedy nights.

Initial hours are as follows: Saturday, March 9, from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m.; Sunday, March 10 from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m.; Monday closed (one time only); and Tuesday to Thursday 3 p.m. to 11 p.m.

Come spring Red Bear will debut a 25-seat patio and an order and pick-up window, with a kitchen led by a to-be-named chef.

Red Bear Brewing

209 M St NE, Washington, D.C. 20002 (202) 849-6130 Visit Website

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