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Rock Bottom Brewery

Submitted by on February 22, 2010 – 12:50 PMNo Comment
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4238 Wilson Blvd.
Arlington, VA
703.516.7688
http://rockbottom.com/

Hours of Operation: Sun. – Thur. 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 a.m.
Fri. – Sat. 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Best time to visit: After work, Happy Hour (especially Tuesdays)

These places are springing up all over. A cynic would say it cheapens the experience of brewed-right-there beer-drinking; that it makes generic what is meant to be unique. But to others, wider access to small-batch brews can’t be a bad thing.

That is, as long as the beer is good. Rock Bottom, with a brewmaster at each of its pubs, has a solid batting average. The branch in Arlington lives up to expectations – even if it is attached to a mall.
The style is dim and woody, like a good pub should be. Unfortunately, most of the space is occupied by the restaurant. The bar section is exposed to the mall, and this can’t help but sap some of the warmth out of the place. Just face the bar and order a couple pints, and you can ignore the plastic, consumer world behind you.

Expect five or six beers on tap at any given time, changing often enough to warrant repeated visits. Some brews you might come across in Arlington include the El Jefe Hefeweizen – a fine interpretation of a German Wheat Beer – and the Ballston Brown, deep, slightly sweet, and chocolaty. Samples are free, so try a bunch and pick whichever suits you. You won’t go thirsty.

You won’t go hungry, either. The food menu offers plenty of options, though, with a few more gimmicky appetizers, Rock Bottom might run the risk of becoming the next ubiquitous, uninspired feedbag, á la Chili’s or TGIFriday’s.

Then again, the “Titan Toothpicks” are both tasty and filling.
Happy Hour varies, but Tuesday is a good night to plan a long stay. In addition to a pub quiz in a back room, $4.95 gets you a pint. No, that’s not a great deal. But $2 refills follow, and the night slips away quickly. Wednesday is a good day to call in sick to work.

No one wants to see a personal pleasure become mainstream; the spread of brew-pub chains could be, for the beer enthusiast, something like having your favorite local band sign with a major label, and start producing sickly, wan, pop hits. But Rock Bottom, by having a master brewer responsible for each branch’s beer output, keeps a high, nigh-indie standard.

Pros: Beer made on the premises; wide selection; good specials.

Cons: Slightly generic

Rating: 3.5 out of 5