All words: Mitchell West, All photos: Morgan Hungerford West
Bardo Beer Garden feels less like a bar, and more like the cool guy down the street has had everyone over to drink in his post-apocalyptic backyard. Also, this cool guy may or may not be Mad Max. Shipping containers, stacked and rusted, serve as backdrop for nightly movies, tree stumps make for tables and stools. An epically random assortment of chairs surround the sun-warped picnic tables, dogs roam freely amongst brewery equipment, cornhole games, and a gigantic skull made out of beer cans. And re: beer: there’s plenty of it.
Bardo originally opened in the 90s in Arlington. They brewed beer there until 2000 when they put all the equipment in storage and the bar became Dr. Dremo’s. Dremo’s closed several years ago, but last summer they moved to Bladensburg Road NE and opened the beer garden. They also got their old brewing equipment out of storage and on Friday they debuted their first beers in 14 years.
They began serving their house-brewed beers along side 5 other craft options Friday night. Right now, you can try their Bardo Pale Ale, Zeus IPA, Buffalo Stout, and Bundaberg Ginger Beer. I’m told there will be many more options available in the coming months, including the District-centric “Marion Berry Ale” brewed with marionberries (I didn’t know those were a thing).
My personal favorite was the Buffalo Stout, nice and roasty, with a noticeable creaminess that blended well with the acidity of the malts. I also enjoyed the Zeus IPA, a single-hop beer showcasing quite a bit of the Zeus varietal – which happens to be one of my favorites. It was bitter, with nice flowery and grassy notes.
While the beers were very good, they are not cutting edge compared with locals like 3 Stars or Bluejacket. They are solid versions of classic styles. Maybe they’ll experiment more in the coming months, or maybe not. They don’t really need to; their beer garden is an awesome and unique place to enjoy a beer or three. I’m sure they’ll have no problem keeping the biggest beer garden in DC full of thirsty patrons.