A few minutes north of all the busy development and big box stores, there’s a signless bar on an unassuming block of Columbia Heights. They serve beer in cans, brunch on weekends and they’ve got board games if you are so inclined.
Red Derby is identified by the little red hat painted above its black door. Outside they’ve got some patio furniture and bars on the windows. On a nice sunny summer morning I am sure you could convince the bar staff to pour you a Pabst-mosa while you enjoy the outdoor scene.
Inside, you’d think that a bar identified by only a symbol would be a little more divey, but the high ceilings, candles on the tables and cool red walls makes me think more Rock and Roll Hotel than the Raven. Truely the only real grasp for this dive cred is in their choice of beverages. No taps, just cans. And lots of Schlitz in front of patrons.
Luckily once you get beyond the Schlitz cans you’ll notice that that’s where divebar beer selection kinda ends and the cool craft beer can revolution begins. Brooklyn lager in cans, Butternuts IPA, Porkslap and Moo Thunder Stout, lots of Oskar Blues beers like Dale’s and Mamma’s Little Yella all line the shelf above the bar and are innumerated on the bars chalkboards. The owners of Red Derby understand the need for both $2 Natty Boh’s and $6 cans Gordon Double IPA.
Sticking with cans also means that a bunch of their good beers are $4 which by DC standards is on the cheaper side for specialty beer. Since they’ve got 30 or so to choose from you can get a few in without breaking the bank too bad.
As for food, they’ve got standard bar food but it should be noted that they’ve got 1/2 priced burgers ($5ish) on Mondays. As noted above, Red Derby also serves brunch on weekends.
You can find Red Derby at 3718 14th St. NW just north of the Columbia Heights metro. (Perfect for after those ironic trips to Target, right? -yeah I brought that up again.)