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First Visited

March 11, 2017

Bluejacket opened in October 2013 in the old boilermaker building at the Navy Yard. It stands less than two blocks from the historic Washington Brewery site (1805–36) at the foot of New Jersey Avenue and what was once the Washington Canal. Nearby is Nationals Park.

“Bluejacket is something that Michael [Babin] and I were discussing since 2006,” said Neighborhood Restaurant Group beer director Greg Engert, who joined NRG that same year. The group specializes in creating restaurants that pair quality food with innovative drink menus. They wanted something “beyond wings and beer,” Engert noted. Babin and Engert had their eye on the dilapidated boilermaker building at the Navy Yard when Nationals Park opened in 2008.

Megan Parisi is the brewmaster at Bluejacket. Her husband got her hooked on homebrewing—an interesting case of opposites (many brewers remarked that they got started when their girlfriends or wives bought them a home brewing kit). “I took to it like a fish in water,” she said, and she home-brewed for the next ten years. Parisi was a clarinetist with the United States Navy Band stationed, ironically, at the Navy Yard. When she was ready for a career change, she decided to take coursework in brewing and worked at the Cambridge Brewing Company in Massachusetts. Greg Engert hired her in 2011 to run the brewing operations at Bluejacket—two years before the place actually opened. “We met Megan, and we knew this was going to be it,” he said.

Bluejacket is a beautiful space that harkens to the neighborhood’s industrial past. It’s named for the blue-jacketed sailors of the U.S. Navy. The brewery is stacked vertically, with the restaurant, Arsenal, below offering incredible views all around. Brewer Megan Parisi called it “a dual-purpose brewery—we put it in the air where nothing existed.”

One thing you’ll see almost nowhere else is Bluejacket’s coolship (from the Flemish koelschip), a bathtub with a long surface area for the newly boiled wort to quickly cool while wild yeasts float in through the air to start fermentation.

Bluejacket is part brewery, part brewpub. The five-thousand-barrel-a-year operation has ambitions to distribute 60 percent of its beer to bars, restaurants and retailers around the region. At that point, Bluejacket will no longer be a brewpub but a full-fledged production brewery.

At any given time, twenty beers are offered. Often they are experimental, such as the spicy and nearly black Doppelbock called The Butcher for its use of meat seasonings. Having such a diversity of beer ensures that most people can find something they want to drink. “We have something for every palate and something for every plate,” said Parisi, noting the importance of pairing the beer with Arsenal’s food. “The menu isn’t a sideshow to the beer,” she said.

Expect beers that range from intensely flavored to subtly nuanced; that offer something distinctive and satisfying for every palate and every plate; and that reflect equally the past, present, and future of genuine craft brewing.

Beers Tried

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