Best Brewpub

The Public Option
1601 Rhode Island Ave. NE, (202) 397-5129
Photograph by Darrow Montgomery
The beer world is full of contentious terminology. (“Craft” comes to mind.) “Brewpub,” however, is as straightforward as it gets. It’s a place that serves beer it makes on site. Easy. But The Public Option in Langdon from wife-and-husband team Cathy Huben and Bill Perry is about much more than that. The Frankenstein of a building, which once housed a jazz club/recording studio, is an accidental architectural protest against feng shui with a sitting area that’s more living room than bar and a bathroom sink that almost hovers over the toilet. On my last visit, Perry told me how he measures the District’s evolution by beer-related milestones: the legalization of homebrewing in ’78, the myriad trips through the Brickskeller’s beer book, the first time he had a rare beer at ChurchKey. He offered me a tall, smooth English porter, and Huben served me pretzels in a cereal bowl. We talked, complete strangers resembling old friends, our elbows resting on a bar that the two cobbled together themselves. It is the most neighborly pint you can order in Washington. Now that is a brewpub.