Right Proper Brewing Company started out of a vision that centered around DC as a hometown, with each neighborhood defined by a different culture and not one that relied solely on museums and monuments (though we love those too). It was a vision that you could go to your local pub, have a glass of beer that is fresh, brewed on premises, and without the DC price tag. The beers would be defined by the yeasts used to ferment them as opposed to the hops that bittered them. The bar would be a gathering place for the community, one that evoked conversation and lit by candles instead of TV screens. A projector would be available for viewing events that bring the community together. The staff would be happy and friendly, and of course, awesome. These are the things that would bring you in, but then you would be pleasantly surprised by the food. Good, real, food flavored food that costs less than 20 bucks. So you could come back, night after night, because the beer list is always changing, the food is delicious and affordable and the staff couldn’t wait to see you.
The vision belonged to Thor Cheston, a DC native who ditched medical school at Georgetown University to follow a passion for beer. After working in the beer industry in DC for 10 years, and after falling in love with someone with an equal passion for the industry (enter Leah then Dedmon now Cheston), Thor built up the courage to quit his job and follow the dream. He ate a lot of barbeque and met the owner of Rocklands Barbeque and Grilling Company, John Snedden. The two realized they had similar goals, so they set out to complete the vision. They opened a brewpub called The Right Proper Brewing Company Shaw Brewpub & Kitchen, which opened in December of 2013. Thor and John picked a location that would be part of a community, where those who lived nearby could stop in to meet friends for a beer and a bite.
Established on the spot where Frank Holiday’s Pool Room once stood — next door to the Howard Theatre and where Duke Ellington learned how to play jazz as a teenager – Right Proper embraced the rich culture and history of the neighborhood. Inside, a mural on the only remaining brick wall from Frank Holiday’s Pool Room, plays homage to Duke Ellington and the rich jazz history of the space.
We are fortunate that in our first year of opening the Shaw Brewpub & Kitchen, the 5-barrel brewing system allowed us to barely keep up with demand in the brewpub, but we wanted to share our beers with our favorite DC restaurants. We decided to embark on a second home away from home, a production brewery. We picked another location where we knew we could become part of the community, only 2 miles northeast of the brewpub, in Brookland, DC. The Brookland Production House and Tasting Room opened it’s doors on December 3, 2015.
The production house is equipped with a 15-barrel brewhouse, six 30-barrel stainless steel fermentation tanks and three 45-hectoliter French oak foudres. With Chris Percello at the helm, the production house will maintain the two brewing programs: wild fermentation beers fermented in oak and controlled fermentation beers fermented in stainless. The Tasting Room, a cozy space filled with reclaimed cherry wood and a mural featuring animals taking over the world, offers the brewers’ latest offerings in flights, half pours, full glasses or growlers to go.
The 5-barrel brewing system at the Shaw Brewpub is the perfect size to experiment with new beer recipes, thus our brewpub offerings change almost daily. Some are made in a more classic style while others are open-fermented with wild yeasts and housed in our barrel room. Regardless of how they’re made, you can always see where they are made, just on the other side of the bar.