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Have a Beer with…Megan Parisi, Neighborhood Restaurant Group Head Brewer

The specific details of the Neighborhood Restaurant Group’s brewery in planning are few and far between. We do know: that NRG is planning to build the quintessential beer hub along the water in southeast DC; the brewery will be close to Nationals Park; and it will feature a traditional Belgian-style coolship. Outside of that, few details exist about their new venture. One of the other details known thus far is perhaps the most critical one in that the woman behind the beer will be Megan Parisi. Megan is the former lead brewer at Cambridge Brewing in Massachusetts. In her seven year career, Megan brought home a total of five GABF awards and built a stellar reputation as a progressive brewer.

While, NRG has been tight-lipped about this project thus far, we recently got the opportunity to talk with Megan about her brewing style and what specific plans she has for what is shaping up to be an amazing destination for beer fans new and old. Let’s see what details DCBeer can squeeze out of Megan about her new role with the Neighborhood Restaurant Group!

DCBeer: You have been in the area long enough to form some opinions about our local beer scene. Any favorites or standouts aside from the great NRG locations?

Megan Parisi: I’m embarrassed to admit that I have not taken much advantage of all that DC has to offer in its beer establishments.  Instead, I’ve been spending my time at our local breweries, with which I am very impressed, not only with the beers, but with how kind and generous my new colleagues are with their time and advice on helping me pull everything together to get started.  Everyone has been so welcoming and encouraging – I feel like that has been the best ways for me to spend my time right now as far as getting acquainted with the area.

DCBeer: Tell us more about Project Venus and how that experiment ended? Will you have the creative leeway to experiment like this at NRG?

MP: Project Venus was a collaboration between myself at Cambridge, Laura Ulrich from Stone, and Whitney Thompson of Victory which resulted in a delicious Belgian Dubbel with oranges, orange blossom honey, and saffron – rich, malty, citrusy…just a lovely beer!  This is exactly the kind of thing I am hoping to do here – brew delicious, unique and interesting beers, as well as working with friends and colleagues around the industry to come up with flavor ideas that otherwise none of us might have thought of on our own.

DCBeer: What do you think the next horizon is for experimental beers in the US? Have the uber-hopped ales run their course? Will innovation in brewing move from less ingredient focused and more process focused? Will the Nats make the playoffs? We want answers, Megan!

MP: Hops aren’t done – the consumer still demands them.  But we as brewers hope that we can have some influence on new trends by introducing our customers to the new things that we love.  Ingredients are still going to be a huge focus – many of us are very interested in exploring as many local ingredients as we can find.  The trend in the local food movements is just as intriguing in the brewing community.  Brewing and aging processes are always being improved or innovated – you can expect to see a combination of interesting processes and ingredients in the future.  As for the Nats, they’ve done a good job of spending their money in the offseason.  And, in a tough division, they finished in third place, their best finish yet.  So, it looks like things could get pretty exciting around Nationals Park this season!

DCBeer: Spring is around the corner, and along with it, that god awful humidity. What style will you be craving around this time of year and what makes the Megan Parisi version unique?

MP: I will be craving something refreshing, perhaps along the lines of a tart Berliner-Weisse or a Keller Pils.  The “Megan Parisi” Berliner may have a unique syrup other than only traditional raspberry or woodruff…definitely something made in-house!  An unfiltered pils will have far more hop presence than traditional styles. With the legendary humidity in the area, I think what I will really be craving is a different type of hair – humidity is not kind to these curls!

DCBeer: Production time for sour beer is typically long. If you look at breweries with big sour programs, they all have non-sour flagships. Russian River has Pliny, Damnation, etc. What percent of your portfolio will be sour or otherwise need extended fermentation time, and how will you keep up with demand on those styles?

This far in advance of production, it is hard to pin down numbers on portfolio balance.  We will have far more stainless production capacity than wood for extended aging, so at first, most of my production will have to be non-aged beers for the shear reality that those will take “time.”  We will definitely serve more non-aged beers first, but you can expect to see the number and variety of sour and aged beers to increase over time.

Thanks to Megan for taking the time to answer our questions! Stay tuned to DCBeer for all the latest news on the new NRG brewery!

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