Beer drinkers, prepare your arms: Bluejacket to open on Tuesday

When the much-teased and much-discussed Bluejacket debuts on Tuesday, Oct. 29, it will conclude a long journey that began more than five years ago when Greg Engert sat down with Neighborhood Restaurant Group founder Michael Babin and talked over the idea of creating their own brewery and restaurant. Not brewpub, mind you, but a full-fledged brewery and restaurant.

Bluejacket has dozens of kegs ready to roll for its debut -- and dozens more still to be filled. (Tim Carman/The Washington Post)
Bluejacket has dozens of kegs ready for its debut -- and dozens more still to be filled. (Tim Carman/The Washington Post)

With just days before its launch, Engert can now finally taste it — not the 20 original beers and five casks brews that he and brewmaster Megan Parisi have crafted for the opening — but the sheer excitement of seeing Bluejacket swing wide its doors.

"Sometimes, you put your head down so hard, you lose sight of what you're doing," said Engert, Neighborhood Restaurant Group's beer director, during a walk-through of the space on Tuesday night.

"I had a moment today when we finally named all of our starting 20 beers," he continued. "I started typing up the menu listings exactly how it's going to look on the menu, and I got a little bit of objectivity to step back. I was like, 'Oh [expletive], ' All of these things that I've lost sight of, I got a broader view of it. I kind of got excited again."

Bluejacket was built in an old boilermaker factory near Nationals Park. (Tim Carman/The Washington Post)
Bluejacket was built in an old boilermaker factory near Nationals Park. (Tim Carman/The Washington Post)

He's not the only one. Some days it feels as if the entire metro area has been chomping at the bit for Bluejacket's debut.

Housed in a former factory where workers once built boilers for ships, Bluejacket is the official name of the brewery, which has the capacity to produce 5,000 barrels a year, or roughly 10,000 kegs. Engert expects to sell about 60 percent of Bluejacket's production via retail, but as of now, the brewery does not have a distribution deal. Large-format bottles of Bluejacket beer will be available for take-away at the Navy Yard location. Bluejacket will not sell growlers.

"This is a production facility that's kind of hulking above a restaurant and bar, which makes sense," said Engert. "We're only selling part of it on-site; the rest of it is off-site. We just wanted to get through, get open, and then kind of go to that next phrase. Also, this is our first time. It's hard to say how much beer we're going to need" at the restaurant and bar.

Neighborhood Restaurant Group beer director will work with Bluejacket brewmaster Megan Parisi to create the line of beers sold inside the restaurant and for off-premise sale. (Tim Carman/The Washington Post)
Neighborhood Restaurant Group beer director Greg Engert has been working with Bluejacket brewmaster Megan Parisi to create the line of beers sold inside the restaurant and for retail sale. (Tim Carman/The Washington Post)

What beers will Bluejacket debut with? Among them: Forbidden Planet, a dry-hopped kolsch made with Galaxy hops; the Scarecrow, a hoppy saison; the Imposter, a session rye IPA; Tooth & Nail, an imperial IPA; Figure 8, a wee heavy made with local figs and modeled after pastry chef Tiffany MacIsaac's figgy toffee pudding; and James & the Giant, a Belgian strong blonde ale with local peaches.

The restaurant and bar inside Bluejacket will go by another name, the Arsenal, a moniker that draws on the building's history. It was part of the Navy Yard's ship and munitions manufacturing complex in the early 20th century. The husband-and-wife team of Kyle Bailey and MacIsaac will create the menus for the restaurant and bar. Chef de cuisine Dan Hahndorf, formerly of Vermilion, will be running the kitchen. Bailey told me his menu will put a modern spin on beer-hall food, with an emphasis on Mid-Atlantic ingredients. He'll also be using the spent grains from the beer production to make pastas.

Not to be outdone, MacIsaac will also be using spent grains for her bread program. What's more, she'll be offering her full line of cakes and cookies (as well as an expanded line of ice creams) at Buzz Bakery, the latest location of the sweets shop situated next door to Bluejacket. It'll sort of be one-stop-shopping for those who want craft beer and one of MacIsaac's perfect pies.

Bluejacket brewery and Arsenal restaurant, located at 300 Tingey St. SE, opens at 4 p.m. Tuesday. Dinner service starts at 5:30 p.m.

More photos from Tuesday's tour of Bluejacket:

The brewery employs a gravity-based system, in which the grains are mashed, lautered, heated and filtered on the top level, before moving to the second tier fermentation vessels. The beer will then be moved to "bright" or serving tanks on the ground floor. (Tim Carman/The Washington Post)
The brewery employs a gravity-based system, in which the grains are mashed, lautered, heated and filtered on the top level, before moving to the second-tier fermentation tanks. The beer will then be moved to "bright" or serving tanks on the ground floor. (Tim Carman/The Washington Post)
To create more operational space, Neighborhood Restaurant Group constructed mezzanines inside the 50-foot tall, 5,600-square-foot building. (Tim Carman/The Washington Post)
To create more operational space, Neighborhood Restaurant Group constructed mezzanines inside the 50-foot tall, 5,600-square-foot building. (Tim Carman/The Washington Post)
The space is divided into the bar, left, and the restaurant, right, which collectively will be known as the Arsenal. (Tim Carman/The Washington Post)
The space is divided into the bar, left, and the restaurant, right, which collectively will be known as the Arsenal. (Tim Carman/The Washington Post)
The brewery features 19 fermentation vessels, more than Bluejacket really needs. But the extra tanks give the brewery flexibility to ferment a product longer without the urgency to move the beer to make room for the next batch. (Tim Carman/The Washington Post)
The brewery features 19 fermentation vessels, more than Bluejacket really needs. But the extra tanks give the brewery flexibility to ferment a product longer without the urgency to move the beer to make room for the next batch. (Tim Carman/The Washington Post)
Among its 19 fermentation vessels, Bluejacket has installed special horizontal and open fermenters to make different styles of beer. (Tim Carman/The Washington Post)
Among its 19 fermentation vessels, Bluejacket has installed horizontal and open fermenters to make different styles of beer. (Tim Carman/The Washington Post)
Bluejacket has a massive walk-in refrigerated keg room. The photo to the left? It's of Christopher Walken. Of course. (Tim Carman/The Washington Post)
Bluejacket has a massive walk-in refrigerated keg room. The photo to the left? It's of Christopher Walken. Of course. (Tim Carman/The Washington Post)
Bluejacket stores all its beers at the same temperature, but serves them at three different temps, depending on which is optimal. (Tim Carman/The Washington Post)
Bluejacket stores all its beers at the same temperature, but serves them at three different temps, depending on which is optimal. (Tim Carman/The Washington Post)
Bluejacket has installed an Old World "coolship," which will allow brewers to create their own sour beers using natural yeast that will enter via open-air vents. (Tim Carman/The Washington Post)
Bluejacket has installed an Old World "coolship," which will allow brewers to create their own sour beers using natural yeast that will enter via open-air vents. (Tim Carman/The Washington Post)
Bluejacket has its own lab located on a middle mezzanine, where the brewmasters can analyze beer, propagate their own yeast and check temperatures of each fermentation tank. (Tim Carman/The Washington Post)
Bluejacket has its own lab located on a mezzanine, where the brewmakers can analyze beer, propagate their own yeast and check temperatures of each fermentation tank. (Tim Carman/The Washington Post)
Neighborhood Restaurant Group wine director Brent Kroll helped the Bluejacket team find used barrels from wineries and distilleries, which will be used to aged beer. These barrels will be used for non-sour beers only. Another aging room will be dedicated to sour beers. (Tim Carman/The Washington Post)
Neighborhood Restaurant Group wine director Brent Kroll helped the Bluejacket team find barrels at wineries and distilleries. These barrels will be used to age non-sour beers only. Another aging room will be dedicated to sour beers. (Tim Carman/The Washington Post)
The spacious kitchen at Bluejacket will prepare foods for both the Arsenal and the latest outlet of Buzz Bakery. (Tim Carman/The Washington Post)
The spacious kitchen at Bluejacket will prepare foods for both the Arsenal and the latest outlet of Buzz Bakery. (Tim Carman/The Washington Post)
Both Kyle Bailey and Tiffany MacIsaac, the husband-and-wife team behind the Arsenal, plan to use spent grains from the brewing process in their cooking. (Tim Carman/The Washington Post)
Both Kyle Bailey and Tiffany MacIsaac, the husband-and-wife team behind the Arsenal, plan to use spent grains in their cooking. (Tim Carman/The Washington Post)
Neighborhood Restaurant Group installed small, custom-made lights over the bar tables to help create intimacy inside this massive brewery and restaurant. (Tim Carman/The Washington Post)
Neighborhood Restaurant Group installed small, custom-made lights over the tables to help create intimacy inside this massive brewery and restaurant. (Tim Carman/The Washington Post)

A 45-foot-long zinc bar is the centerpiece of the Arsenal bar. A few TVs will be installed over the bar, in front of the stainless steel serving tanks. (Tim Carman/The Washington Post)
The exterior windows of the Bluejacket offer an amazing view into the brewery's operation. (Tim Carman/The Washington Post)
The exterior windows of the Bluejacket offer an amazing view into the brewery's operation. (Tim Carman/The Washington Post)

 

Tim Carman serves as the full-time writer for the Post's Food section and as the $20 Diner for the Weekend section, a double duty that requires he ingest more calories than a draft horse.

goingoutguide

going-out-guide

Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Comments
Show Comments
Most Read Entertainment
Next Story
Camille Kilgore · October 23, 2013