Barrett Lauer, formerly of District Chophouse, will assume the title of Director of Brewing Operations at Right Proper Brewing Company. In doing so, he’ll take over at both the Shaw brewpub and Brookland production facility, supervising brewers at both locations. Welcome back to DC, Barrett!
On its face, the move is somewhat surprising for several reasons. First, Lauer hasn’t had packaging experience–Right Proper is about to purchase a canning line–since his days at the late Baltimore Brewing Company some twenty-plus years ago. Second, District Chophouse has but five core beers (Light Lager, Amber Ale, Nut Brown Ale, Oatmeal Stout, and IPA). We’ll make no claims to objectivity here when we note that the light lager, brown, and oatmeal stout are the best examples of those styles in the area–and it’s not particularly close–but Right Proper brews more kinds of beer in any given month than Chophouse does in a year. Third, Lauer has minimal experience with mixed fermentation beers, the hallmark of Right Proper. To that end, he addressed these challenges head on in a phone interview with us on Monday night.
Lauer struck a humble tone, noting that he’ll lean heavily on Jasper Yeast, which operates out of Ocelot Brewing Company’s facility near Dulles Airport, with regards to yeasts and bacteria. Travis Tedrow of Jasper Yeast worked alongside Lauer for years; Tedrow was the head brewer at the Gordon Biersch Navy Yard location until 2018 and the two brewers frequently worked together behind the scenes as Chophouse and Biersch share the same parent company. In addition, Right Proper’s outgoing head brewer, Bobby Bump, will be on site for an orientation into all things foeder and mixed fermentation. “Right Proper already has a tradition,” Lauer said. “Keeping the tradition that Bobby and Nathan [Zeender, the original head brewer] created with regards to mixed fermentation, high flavor, and low alcohol by volume is important.”
Lauer is appropriately excited about working in a production brewery. “I like looking in the walk-in at the end of the day and seeing six pallets of beer, having that go onto a truck,” he told us. It’s certainly not a feeling he got to experience at Chophouse, which had extremely limited bottling runs and rarely sent kegs outside the brewpub.
Hiring someone as Director of Brewing Operations may also signal that Right Proper will survive the pandemic–the brewery could have continued to operate without someone in this role, but chose to spend the money–and there are additional changes afoot. Brookland will play the hits; the flagships, mainstays, and cans you can buy at retailers will come out of that location. Shaw is about to get even funkier, with all small-batch production coming out of the brewpub, including some bottles and cans.
As for Chophouse, worry not, it’s in good hands. Rock Bottom Bethesda’s Geoff Lively will handle brewing at both these brewpubs, again, owned by the same parent company.
The press release from Right Proper is below.
Barrett Lauer, formally of District Chophouse, is coming on board to replace Bobby Bump as the Director of Brewing Operations. Bobby Bump has retired from the brewing industry to focus on his family. Barrett has been an integral part of the brewing industry for many years. Barrett was involved in spearheading the development of DC Beer Week, the annual Solidarity Brew and the DC Brewers’ Guild.
“Barrett is one of the guys that I looked up to back when I was breaking equipment at Gordon Biersch and getting the beer bar open at Pizzeria Paradiso. He is so knowledgeable and helpful that I do not think the DC Beer Scene would be where it is today if it were not for his presence. I can honestly not think of a better person to take the helm and continue the work we started almost seven years ago.” says Thor Cheston, co-founder of Right Proper Brewing Company.
“It is a great pleasure to be joining the Right Proper team and I look forward to helping them achieve their goals and continuing their success, quality, and innovation. Knowing and working with the Chestons for years, make this an even more exciting opportunity. They have both been dynamic and integral to the growth of the DC beer scene. I am grateful for the continued hard work, passion, and dedication that my predecessors Bobby Bump, Nathan Zeender, and all of Right Proper’s Brewers and Staff, have provided over the years. I’m also very proud to remain a brewer in DC and plan to continue to be a part of the DC brewing community of which I have been highly involved with for over 16 years. Most of all, I’m really stoked to be part of this awesome team and can’t wait to get back in my rubber boots and brew some great beer!” says Barrett.
Barrett has over 24 years of brewing experience in both brewpub and production facilities. With his help, Right Proper Brewing will continue to streamline production at its Brookland Production House, producing mainstays such as Raised by Wolves, Häxan, FEAR NO ART, Li’l Wit and Diamonds, Fur Coat, Champagne. The Shaw Brewpub will continue to be the home of experimentation and funk, producing 80 to 100 recipes a year, including dry farmhouse ales, sours, foeder fermented and open fermented beers. Starting in 2020, all small batch production will be moved over to the Shaw Brewpub, exclusively, so the Brookland Production House can focus on keeping up with production of the core brands. Expect small batch cans and bottles to flow from Shaw. It’s gonna get weird over there.