Bluejacket & the Arsenal
300 Tingey St. SE

Washington, DC 20003

GALLERY: Take a look inside Bluejacket & the Arsenal

Kyle Bailey has become the beer chef for Neighborhood Restaurant Group. After presiding over Birch & Barley, ChurchKey and GBD, all beer-friendly, if not -focused, establishments, the 2012 Restaurant Hospitality Rising Star now adds the massive Bluejacket & the Arsenal to his list of responsibilities.

He handles the menu—“think hearty, killer beer food,” the executive chef says—while NRG beer director Greg Engert, named One to Watch by RH in 2010, takes care of the beverages. It all comes together in a stunning 12,000-square foot facility that was once part of the Navy Yards ship and munitions manufacturing complex.

Bluejacket, the brewery, has the capacity to produce 5,000 barrels with 19 different fermentation vessels, including a coolship. A coolship, you ask? It’s an Old World-style vessel that allows for the making of superior sour ales, and only listed here as one example of how technical and intense these guys are about making their beer.

The Arsenal is the restaurant and bar, with approximately 200 seats. The two form what Neighborhood Restaurant Group describes as a modern-day beer hall—one that has been “insanely busy” since opening in October, Bailey says. And, when baseball starts in April, with Nationals Park blocks away, it’s going to be “bedlam,” he predicts.

His menu has been created to pair perfectly with the beer from Engert. It features updated beer-hall food made with seasonal ingredients, even heartier than at Birch & Barley. A prime example is the Rotisserie Half Chicken, brined for 12 hours and then served with pretzel stuffing and roasted root vegetables ($19), which matches up with The Expat, an elderberry biere de garde, Bluejacket’s contemporary take on the French classic. Its description—“malt-driven notes of toffee, almonds, dark bread and golden raisins spiked with elderberries and a hint of elderflower”—is enough to make you jump on a plane to Dulles.

“We’re not just making an IPA or red ale,” Bailey says. “We’ve got all these cool styles and bought a ton of great equipment so we have a lot of room to play.”

Bluejacket serves 25 different beers, all brewed on site, and nothing else. If you come looking for a Bud Light or even a popular craft brew, you’ll be out of luck. But what you can get is Bailey’s fine food, and a beer “made by real people with real products that tastes better than what you’re looking for,” he says.

We’ll drink to that.