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RFD (Regional Food and Drink), 7th & H Streets at Verizon Center - Over 300 Beers in Bottle and 30 on Tap - Closed


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Time and again you see R.F.D. and Brickskeller touting themselves as THE places to go for beer in this town. As some of you already know, I call bullshit on them. My visits to RFD have shrunk to almost a trickle since they've opened because they never have any real ale available. Right now, their website claims:

"While we regularly feature Great Britians finest examples of cask ales we also contract our favorite American craft brewers to supply us with their favorite recipes brewed as Real Ales which we serve directly from the firkin thru our gravity pour tap at the proper serving temperatures."

There are a handful of folk here who enjoy drinking real ale. I would like to ask those of you who do, to please use this spot to post when you visited and what real ale they had on tap when you went in. Even if you're not in the mood for a drink, but you're walking by, I encourage you to just pop in and ask the friendly barkeep, "Hey, what real ales you got on tap?" Chances are you'll post something like I'm about to do.

Friday, December 23, 2005. 6:10 p.m.
"Hi, what real ales do you have tonight?"
"Oh, I'm sorry, we've got nothing on right now."

Let's hear your RFD/Brickskeller stories. As far as I see it, DA is full of BS.

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BFD indeed. I haven't seen any real ale there since shortly after they opened. Unfortunately, they don't seem to hook up "Randal the Enamel Animal" anymore either (that crazy fresh hop filter contraption that Sam C. from Dogfish built. He said he named it that because it would make the beer so hoppy it would strip the enamel off your teeth.)

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BFD indeed.  I haven't seen any real ale there since shortly after they opened.  Unfortunately, they don't seem to hook up "Randal the Enamel Animal" anymore either (that crazy fresh hop filter contraption that Sam C. from Dogfish built.  He said he named it that because it would make the beer so hoppy it would strip the enamel off your teeth.)

It was at the Brickskeller the other night.

Sorry I can't contribute to this this discussion. I only drink Belgian beer, when it's available.

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I don't mind RFD when I'm in the area. There's usually something decent on draft, and Highland Park 18 is, I believe, still $7.95 a shot. I miss the casks as well, but they don't get the turnover on them--I'd had several geriatric pints before they rolled back the program.

As for food, anything beyond the club sandwich is pushing it.

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Yes the food sucks...and no it's not on my rotation of bars...but they do kick ass beer tastings about once a month in the back room with lots of cool brewers...that's about the only plus I'll give the place

Edited by Tweaked
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I remember a sad Sunday night when my Dad was in town for a conference. I was planning on taking him to Matchbox for some good bar food, but alas it was closed. Before I knew what was happening, we were eating at RFD. I drank Sam Adams Light and had one of the worst chicken sandwiches ever (read: dry meat, soggy bun, lifeless fries). Return? Definitely not to eat.

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I tend to give RFD the benefit of the doubt. What they are doing with good beer is risky in general and downright insane at that location next to the MCI center and its accompanying crowds. Next time you go in there count the number of Miller Lites and other assorted mass-produced bottles in patrons' hands. Compare them to the folks drinking some of the truly great beers they get on draft. It's not even close.

The truth is that real ales are:

a) Very expensive to import (talking from across the pond here)

b ) Delicate and susceptible to spoiling if not handled properly during shipping and consumed in a relatively brief period of time.

Combine that with what I'm assuming is very low interest from a vast majority of the people who go there to drink and it's probably not worth it to DA. I still enjoy going there (and to the Brick whenever possible) just because they get stuff on tap that nobody else in this area has. I'd rather have him focus on that. Word is that the new taps upstairs at the Brick will be joined by a real cask system in the near future; the first attempt suffered some techincal setbacks. I think that they will do much better there.

Oh, and you can still get real ale in the district. The Reef has been doing an on and off again firkin night on Thursdays and they are getting some really good stuff. It's seems to be a completely random schedule, though. You can call ahead to see if they will have one on tap that night.

Edit: damn emoticons

Edited by TedE
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It's shocking to me that a city the size and stature of Albany, NY can have enough people with interest in real ale that they have a beer bar (Mahar's) with real ale from across the pond with regularity. But not us. At Mahar's, access to the product has been the difficult part, but they make do and consistently try to open every door to get a quality keg. They invest the time, sweat and money to have those kegs there regularly and that earns them the customers to drink it. Interestingly, I think he gets many of his real ale kegs from a distributor in our neck of the woods.

Finding enough consumers has never been a problem in Albany. If you serve it, they will come, and Mahar has built his clientele around the fact that he has these beers available. I believe Tweaked will concur (please say no if I'm wrong!).

As a beer lover, though, I think it's a shame that no one is willing to care about beer enough to serve real ale with regularity. (A firkin every other Thursday is nice but that's not regular.) DA and his Brickskeller and RFD succeed because he has no competition to the promotional mantra he's created. And its revolting that he continues to tout his "constantly rotating selection of the world's finest real ales in cask." Tell the lie long enough and people will start to believe it.

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Lo and behold, in two visits to RFD there have been cask-conditioned ales available. Most recently this past Tuesday when they were pouring Oakham White Dwarf. Light, with slight fruit and floral notes and even a bit of tang/sourness, these went down the hatch with ease. (The first one in about 60 seconds!)

If you're a fan of Cheez Wiz you'll love the nachos. Otherwise, you may be pleasantly surprised by the fried calamari (also served sauteed). While the batter was nothing to rave over I was impressed with the tenderness of the squid. Very nicely cooked.

But who in their right mind would eat anything more than a pub snack in that place? And even then, only if desperate. The rest room is a disgusting, piss-puddled, graffiti-strewn, rat hole. And you know what they say....if you can't keep the public spaces sanitary.........

It's shocking to me that a city the size and stature of Albany, NY can have enough people with interest in real ale that they have a beer bar (Mahar's) with real ale from across the pond with regularity. But not us. At Mahar's, access to the product has been the difficult part, but they make do and consistently try to open every door to get a quality keg. They invest the time, sweat and money to have those kegs there regularly and that earns them the customers to drink it.

A recent visit to Mahar's a couple months ago found six beer engines serving cask-conditioned ale. Five were filled with assorted selections from Middle Ages Brewing in Syracuse, NY. I forget the last cask which was from the UK. All delicious.

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If you're a fan of Cheez Wiz you'll love the nachos. Otherwise, you may be pleasantly surprised by the fried calamari (also served sauteed). While the batter was nothing to rave over I was impressed with the tenderness of the squid. Very nicely cooked.

But who in their right mind would eat anything more than a pub snack in that place? And even then, only if desperate. The rest room is a disgusting, piss-puddled, graffiti-strewn, rat hole. And you know what they say....if you can't keep the public spaces sanitary.........

i think that crescentfresh is being far too kind to this place. it was i who ordered the cheez whiz staturated nachos. twas the two of us that sat and watched the end of the france v. spain world cup match at this "restaurant" that is in my estimation devoid of a soul.

the nachos were terrible - whatever, it was my dumb ass fault for ordering them. what makes this place suck is that they have a clear mission and so routinely fail to make basic attempts to satisfy it. impressive beer collection sure, but try talking to one of the bartenders about the beer and you are met with a truly impressive amount of nothingness.

don't wear nice clothes to this place either, aside from the truly foul bathroons that were every bit as disgusting as crescentfresh made them sound, not a single time during the course of a few hours was the bar in front of us wiped down. this was after several beers were served with neither coaster nor bevnap, after the aforementioned empty calorie snacks had been pushed around thier plates. the bar was just waiting for someone to soil clothing. this is about basic pride in the work that one does, and they ain't got it.

during the entire time there, no bartender looked me in the eye, said thank you, or in anyway indicated that they were happy to have us at the bar.

p.s. the tartlets running around in clothes that would have made them more apropriate at hooters - that other soul sucking waste of space - didn't make it any better.

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i think that crescentfresh is being far too kind to this place. it was i who ordered the cheez whiz staturated nachos. twas the two of us that sat and watched the end of the france v. spain world cup match at this "restaurant" that is in my estimation devoid of a soul.

the nachos were terrible - whatever, it was my dumb ass fault for ordering them. what makes this place suck is that they have a clear mission and so routinely fail to make basic attempts to satisfy it. impressive beer collection sure, but try talking to one of the bartenders about the beer and you are met with a truly impressive amount of nothingness.

don't wear nice clothes to this place either, aside from the truly foul bathroons that were every bit as disgusting as crescentfresh made them sound, not a single time during the course of a few hours was the bar in front of us wiped down. this was after several beers were served with neither coaster nor bevnap, after the aforementioned empty calorie snacks had been pushed around thier plates. the bar was just waiting for someone to soil clothing. this is about basic pride in the work that one does, and they ain't got it.

during the entire time there, no bartender looked me in the eye, said thank you, or in anyway indicated that they were happy to have us at the bar.

p.s. the tartlets running around in clothes that would have made them more apropriate at hooters - that other soul sucking waste of space - didn't make it any better.

Danny is right. I was keeping my post short and sweet and preferred to note that they had a cask-conditioned ale tapped. But everything else he says is true. I differ with him only in that I had no objection to the tartlets, although they would have been even better dipped in honey and powdered sugar. :unsure:

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i think that crescentfresh is being far too kind to this place. it was i who ordered the cheez whiz staturated nachos. twas the two of us that sat and watched the end of the france v. spain world cup match at this "restaurant" that is in my estimation devoid of a soul.

the nachos were terrible - whatever, it was my dumb ass fault for ordering them. what makes this place suck is that they have a clear mission and so routinely fail to make basic attempts to satisfy it. impressive beer collection sure, but try talking to one of the bartenders about the beer and you are met with a truly impressive amount of nothingness.

don't wear nice clothes to this place either, aside from the truly foul bathroons that were every bit as disgusting as crescentfresh made them sound, not a single time during the course of a few hours was the bar in front of us wiped down. this was after several beers were served with neither coaster nor bevnap, after the aforementioned empty calorie snacks had been pushed around thier plates. the bar was just waiting for someone to soil clothing. this is about basic pride in the work that one does, and they ain't got it.

during the entire time there, no bartender looked me in the eye, said thank you, or in anyway indicated that they were happy to have us at the bar.

p.s. the tartlets running around in clothes that would have made them more apropriate at hooters - that other soul sucking waste of space - didn't make it any better.

Tartlets you say? World Cup games? I'm listening.

But seriously, I seem to recall, but could be horribly wrong, but Pizzeria Paradiso's in G-town had a cask conditioned ale in their back bar when I last visited. Of course I could be mistaken and that would be a DR sin around here, being wrong or something important like misspelling a French/Italian word is not acceptable. :unsure:

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Tartlets you say? World Cup games? I'm listening.

But seriously, I seem to recall, but could be horribly wrong, but Pizzeria Paradiso's in G-town had a cask conditioned ale in their back bar when I last visited. Of course I could be mistaken and that would be a DR sin around here, being wrong or something important like misspelling a French/Italian word is not acceptable. :unsure:

They do and that is the big plus of Paradiso is the bierria.

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RFD sucks. Plain and simple. I've been there maybe five times, and it's always been a disappointment.

Disappointing, because the place has enormous potential. From the realy bad food and inattentive service to the smart ass doorman whose attitude might get him slapped around a bit by the wrong drunkard, the place is simply unwelcoming. It really is a shame that a city such as D.C. doesn't have a first-rate beer bar with more taps than you can count.

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Unable to convince my colleagues/cohorts that we should go to birreria (BP's location killed it) I ended up at RFD again yesterday. They were pouring a cask-conditioned Clipper City Loose Cannon. While I'm quite thankful they were pouring a cask, and definitely had my fill, I can't say I particularly liked the beer. Way too hoppy for me to enjoy thoroughly. But for you hopheads out there, you may want to run in there in the next day or two while that cask is still on. Be careful not to eat anything (for your health's sake) and you may want to order two pints at once (for your sanity's sake due to their amazing disappearing bartenders).

I feel so wrong and dirty for leaving my money at RFD, but with too much traffic and tough parking at BP, RFD is still (for the time being) the only other game in town that's armed (seemingly more regular now) with a cask-conditioned ale.

Is it May 2 yet?

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If you like hops as much as I do, then yes. :P This does seem to be the current fad, though. Anyone get over to RFD this week to try the wet hopped ales (the ultimate hoppy beers) on tap?

Excessive hopping is so 2004. :D The new thing in beergeekery is wild fermentation (bleeding edge). Barrel aging in oak, bourbon, and wine barrels is also pretty huge (though that's more cutting edge). Both of these, I should add, are really nothing "new" per se, just resurrections of old school techniques and practices.

I missed the actual event itself, but leftovers are currently being poured at RFD's. Russian River Harvest and Sierra Nevada Extra Special Pale ale were on tap, with Pizza Port's and SN Harvest up next in the queue. $7 a pint, but cheaper than airfare.

I can understand the disdain for RFD, and share in some of it, but CFresh left out what I think is a most glaring problem: Where's the local pride? Even in you take a liberal view of what constitutes "regional," something like less than 15% of the total beers available are from this area (I'm generous and consider NY to VA be "regional"). The selection of taps that are local beers is less than stellar.

Nit, now picked.

I will say that RFD's and the Brick rock during tastings, but I eat elsewhere beforehand. Otherwise, I'll pop in for a pint or two ever so often because there is occasionally something different on tap.

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He said tounge firmly in cheek. However, as others said, shipping fresh ale is a chancy thing. RFD certainly has plenty of choices that even the most jaded beer drinker can find something they will like.

I know he was being tongue in cheek :D I was being equally dry. :P

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RFD has to be the only place in town where heavy amounts of cigarette smoke would actually make it smell better. They've got the funkiest, queasiest, nastiest smells of godknowswhat -- death and decay? -- anywhere you sit near that bar. And always be sure to ask when they tapped their cask of real ale. With them, it's probably even more important than knowing what kind of beer it is. Let's just say that if you go in there tonight and they're still serving the cask of Centurion Ghost, don't order it. That ghost should have died a few days ago.

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"They've got the funkiest, queasiest, nastiest smells of godknowswhat "

I know what it smells like - Sigma Chi (or which ever frat name you want to insert) at 2am on a Saturday night. I was in RFD one time - in addition to the smell and stickiness of the table, we were please to find large shards of broken glass under our table. Drinking on a fraternities dime, well, ok. Paying to drink in a restaurant, never again.

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When RFD first opened, I sent a long, detailed note to DA describing some of the place's issues. Like most beer drinkers in this town, I was so hoping for a place like this to succeed. Sadly, many of the issues I cited then are still there, many of them worse.

Boy, it'd sure be nice to have a burger-and-beer joint in that part of town. I mean, other than Corduroy :lol: .

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Had a really bad service experience at R.F.D. last night. We were a large group (about 15 of us), coming in from bowling, celebrating my husband's birthday. Waitress glared at us the entire time. My husband accidently left one of his (rather large) gifts behind, which we realized about ten minutes after we left the restaurant. Unhelpful manager. We ended up finding the gift in the trash, thanks to the busboy. I asked the manager if it was general policy to throw items left behind in the trash, instead of waiting to see if the owner showed up. He "suggested" that I make it a policy not to leave things behind. What? If it was my purse, they would have thrown it away? I told him I would have to speak to the owner, and he told me to "go ahead." Says I'm supposed to ask for Josh? Isn't the owner's name Dave?

Whatever. My friends and I are never going to this place again. But I'll definitely be calling Monday, when the manager said "Josh" would be available.

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I think it smells worse. Like Sigma Chi the morning after. Really, I can't fathom how this place passes inspection, and the idea that RFD is allowed to cook and sell food is appalling.
Had a really bad service experience at R.F.D. last night. We were a large group (about 15 of us), coming in from bowling, celebrating my husband's birthday. Waitress glared at us the entire time. My husband accidently left one of his (rather large) gifts behind, which we realized about ten minutes after we left the restaurant. Unhelpful manager. We ended up finding the gift in the trash, thanks to the busboy. I asked the manager if it was general policy to throw items left behind in the trash, instead of waiting to see if the owner showed up. He "suggested" that I make it a policy not to leave things behind. What? If it was my purse, they would have thrown it away? I told him I would have to speak to the owner, and he told me to "go ahead." Says I'm supposed to ask for Josh? Isn't the owner's name Dave?

Whatever. My friends and I are never going to this place again. But I'll definitely be calling Monday, when the manager said "Josh" would be available.

Yikes! If this place really smells that bad how can people actually go in here and actually order and eat?

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Yikes! If this place really smells that bad how can people actually go in here and actually order and eat?
Actually, I can't say that I've ever noticed a smell. Though it should be noted that they are allowing smoking on the semi-enclosed heated patio, so it definitely reeked out there.

I did indeed speak with Josh today, and he apologized, and said that the manager admitted to him earlier that he had a bad attitude. His apology doesn't change my mind: we're not going back there.

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I've been to RFD twice with a group of online friends. The first time was over the summer and was pretty enjoyable. We were at a large table on the patio, the weather was nice, people who smoked were allowed to...and it was QUIET. We were actually able to converse with one another. Have to give them good marks for that visit.

Second visit? Not so good. The waitress, while nice, was obviously tasked with too many tables at once so ours was undervisited (end result - luke-warm beer that wasn't meant to be served luke warm, and congealed mozzarella sticks). Also, it was substantially colder, so we were forced inside. Too damned loud for a social gathering - the table was pretty much divided into two areas - if you wanted to pass a message to the other side, semaphore was your best option. RFD is what it claims to be - a place you can get a lot of beer...it just doesn't seem to be much else.

Anyone got a place in DC with plenty of beer - but not the goddamned ruckus so a group of people can actually get moderately blitzed and not have to yell to communicate?

Also...the beer served luke warm that isn't ever *supposed* to be was Yuengling. For those who don't know, Yuengling is a very salty lager. If it's not served cold, it literally DOES taste like piss. =/

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Anyone got a place in DC with plenty of beer - but not the goddamned ruckus so a group of people can actually get moderately blitzed and not have to yell to communicate?

I've had luck entertaining a group of around 10 at the Brickskeller on my birthday over the last three years, but your mileage may vary. Depending on the server you end up with, you just might get relatively quick, attentive service from someone who knows their glassware, who is knowledgeable enough to make great recommendations to every member of your party despite their level of beer snobbery, and who knows exactly what on the beer list is in stock without having to check on it first. Other times, you might end up waiting 20 minutes for your server to return, only to tell you that the beer you ordered 20 minutes ago is out of stock. And like RFD, don't bother with the food. The burgers and fries aren't half bad, but that's about it. But we've mostly had a blast every time we've been there.

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Small Craft Warning in cask last night.
That Ommegang Ommegeddon "Funkhouse Ale" that I see on the list is some crazy stuff (also on tap at Birreria). Made with brettanomyces, I thought it was fairly nasty. To me it had a weird blue cheese taste to it :angry: Others liked it, though.
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Y'know, I probably can deal with brett in wine way more than the next guy. But I don't get this beer-made-with-brett thing. Enlighten me?

B. bruxellensis and B. lambicus are naturally-occurring yeasts native to the areas of Belgium that produce lambic ales. Obviously, there's quite a bit of variation in the degree of sourness and pungency among spontanously-fermented beers, now attributed in large part to the balance of Brettanomyces/Lactobacillus/Saccharomyces particular to the location of each brewery's fermentation vessels.

Most beer styles, and nearly all industrially-manufactured beer, rely solely on Saccharomyces for fermentation, as even small quantities of the other flavor elements are considered to be defects and/or challenging to most consumers. But the Belgians celebrate the added complexity, even at levels that I find difficult to drink. De gustibus...

On a tangential note, Ommegang is presently owned by the Belgian firm of Duvel/Moortgat, whose flagship product is the tantalizing Duvel ale (which is not a lambic). According to Michel Moortgat, the origin of the Duvel yeast remained a mystery for many years, other than that his grandfather had acquired it somewhere in the UK in the early 1920s: Duvel itself was intended to be an English-style ale and was originally named Victory Ale. However, in recent years the yeast strain has been positively matched to...one of McEwan's strains. Yeah, go figure.

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But who in their right mind would eat anything more than a pub snack in that place? And even then, only if desperate. The rest room is a disgusting, piss-puddled, graffiti-strewn, rat hole. And you know what they say....if you can't keep the public spaces sanitary.........

Two bits of good news about RFD. The rest room....(at least the one behind the door I go through)....has been renovated. It's still not the greatest thing. But how difficult can it be to improve upon a room where even threatening to bring in a can of Lysol would have been a major upgrade?

News bit number 2. Some good English cask ale being poured. Not only served properly but also served fresh. More should be tapped soon. All from Moorhouses. Earlier this week it was the Premier Bitter. A very easy drinking, tasty, low alcohol brew. Yesterday they tapped a cask of Pride of Pendle. A bit hoppier than the bitter. Again, delicious. I understand that the next one to be tapped will be Pendle Witches Brew. I am looking forward to trying it.

(Still no way I'm gonna eat anything there though!) :blink:

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RFD continues its upward climb (which isn't that difficult considering how bottom level they were). There is now regularity of cask-conditioned ale from England (most recently Williams Brothers Joker which I found to be the best pint of real ale I've had in the area in years) and they're turning it around quickly, so you're not getting it stale like you used to. And at only $6/pint you're paying a helluva lot less then Rustico or BP and getting real UK ale the way it was meant to be served (albeit gravity pour and not pump). I'm told that Rustico will be pulling in more UK and I'm anxious to check it out. (But I think their pints start at $8 or $9!).

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Have there been any improvements in the food department?

Nope - The lady and I watched the Redskins v. Seahawks game there and we ate a quesadilla and the spinach & artichoke dip and we felt so disgusting and ill afterwards that we just went home and passed out...and not in a good way. It was truly awful.

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