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Big Adams Morgan News: Asylum Rebranding Upstairs Bar Into a “Craft Beer Establishment”. Win a $1,000 credit in a contest to name the new space

by Prince Of Petworth March 16, 2011 at 10:22 pm 107 Comments

Lot of news coming out of Adams Morgan this week. And even more BBQ news this week.

Yesterday I received a panicked email from a reader titled, “Asylum leaving top space?!” citing a brief City Paper post via The 42.

For those not familiar with Asylum it is one of the older bars in Adams Morgan located at 2471 18th St, NW that has been around since 1991 – from their Website:

Asylum offers a vegetarian/vegan friendly food menu, daily drink specials, an internet jukebox, and live entertainment in a low-key atmosphere. Happy hour runs from 5-8pm daily that includes $1 off rail drinks and draft beers, .50 wings and $1.50 tacos. Asylum offers meat selections as well, a great place to go to satisfy everyone’s palate.

Best known for the vegan brunch on Saturdays and Sundays, please come by from 11-4pm and enjoy the weekend chef specials and our house-made bloody mary’s, vegan huevos rancheros, pancakes and French toast. Voted best vegan brunch by VegDC.com and Best of Washington. The Saturday Natty Light countdown is legendary.

On Wed. afternoon I had the opportunity to talk with Asylum owner (and Meridian Pint owner) John Andrade to get all the details.

So first of all it is true that changes are on the way – Asylum will be rebranding the upstairs bar. But for those concerned that another jumbo slice purveyor would be filling the space, fear not, it is going to become a craft beer establishment featuring BBQ. But perhaps equally important is that Asylum the bar will remain in the basement space.

All the details including a chance to win a $1000 credit to the upstairs bar after the jump.

Since Asylum is “an incredible institution for 20 years now”, Andrade says, it’s not going anywhere and will continue to reside in the basement bar. However, with the craft beer scene exploding in DC, Andrade, believes that the transformation of the upstairs is essential to continue to be successful. Asylum’s downstairs space will have one slight change – the pool table will be removed in order to make some room for more seating. Aside from that and a “fresh coat of paint” the downstairs space will remain the rock and roll, veggie serving bar that it is today.

Now for the upstairs. It will take a new name. And here’s a pretty cool opportunity – John will host a competition for you guys to name the bar. And you get a lot more than bragging rights, the winner gets a $1000 credit to the new space. You can leave your entries in the comments here and/or a new facebook page for The New Asylum.

More about upstairs. As I mentioned it will be a craft beer establishment but in contrast to Meridian Pint it will not only have American craft beers but international ones as well. There will be 30-35 beers on tap and the size will remain the same with an occupancy of 75. While the space will continue to have its own separate entrance it will also continue to connect to the downstairs on the inside as well. The two spaces will share the same upgraded kitchen. Ah the kitchen. While downstairs you can still get the classic Asylum fare – upstairs will be BBQ-centric. While the emphasis will be on craft beer, Andrade sums up the upstairs as focusing on “beer, bbq and whiskey”.

Now – when is it gonna happen? Andrade is going on his honeymoon in early June and plans on starting the upstairs facelift soon after he returns. The facelift is expected to take 3-4 weeks so the new space should open around late July.

In the meantime Asylum upstairs and downstairs will remain open and you have until May 1st to come up with a winning name for the space upstairs.

So, do you guys think a craft beer establishment focusing on bbq will be a good fit for the upstairs space? Do you think the basement space will be able to maintain its character?

  • Marketing Genius


    Your welcome.

    • Anonymous


  • anan

    Great news for the many of us boycotting the black squirrel.

    • Beer Dude

      And great news for us who frequent the Black Squirrel

      • John

        yup. soon you can rest assured that you are in good company (grade A bigots) when tossing back pints at the black squirrel. Hell you guys will be able to throw Glenn Beck on the tube without a worry someone will take issue. Enjoy.

        • MtP

          He may have voiced an opinion you disagree with, but he’s no WTOP commenter. It’s easy to throw the term bigot around on a comment board, but it makes you sound almost as simple minded as the above mentioned commenters. Thanks for boycotting though; I love my seat at the bar.

  • Yusuf

    How about calling it “Cuckoo’s Nest”

  • zet

    So will the vegan brunch disappear?

  • Paul

    How about Chickass?

  • vbonham3


    Refers to the prominent middle ages poet Durante Alighieri who wrote Dante’s Inferno. I don’t why but that’s the first thing that came to my mind when I saw this place.

    • Tres


      • Anonymous

        Dante’s was the name of the bar that became the black cat (and it’s principal owner) They wont likely step on recent history like that.

        • saf

          No, Dante’s was down a block or two and on the other side of 14th.

          • Anonymous

            Not the physical space at 14th and Church but the same people…

          • saf

            OK, agreed.

  • Sean

    My vote: Blue Scholar

    Reasoning: The new place should be branded as the opposite of an asylum (vegan/beef polarity) and since Asylum will remain on the bottom floor it can be heaven-and-hell-esque. The opposite of an asylum would be a place for the un-insane. Also, DC is an educated town, and how much more scholarly can a beer and BBQ place’s name be? Vote Blue Scholar!

  • bloom


  • Oh, I Wish I Had


  • dmv

    Simply “Bedlam”, or “Bethlehem Beer”.

  • The Situation


    • Dirty



  • Me

    terrible idea!

    this isnt an original idea, the bar won’t be set apart from the other establishments opening up doing the same shtick.

    stay with the vegan brunch, it makes you unique

    • Kalorini


      On one hand, I love the openness of the top space, especially for vegan brunch. Eating Asylum’s amazingly delicious brunch in a basement just seems wrong.

      On the other, I’m glad there’s a new craft beer refuge for us Black Squirrel boycotters.

  • Sue


  • Anonymous

    Asylum is one of the older bars in DC? That’s sad. Asylum hasn’t been on 18th since 1991. Probably more like 1997. It was down on U Street before that.

  • Dan


  • LisaT

    Not a fan of this plan. I’ll miss the upstairs, the jukebox, and sitting in the window.

    • Kev29

      Pretty sure that they’ll still have the window

      • LisaT

        Pretty sure I won’t be sitting there since we don’t drink beer or eat bbq. :)

        • Kev29

          Guessing they’ll have a fully stocked bar as well as beer. Or water, or whatever it is you like to drink ;)

        • Anonymous

          What else is left in life without beer and bbq? Seriously, I’ve drawn a complete blank…..

  • Bear

    A veggie place is sharing a kitchen with a BBQ place? That seems odd to me.

    • Ian

      Asylum has never been exclusively veggie, so that kitchen has always been shared for preparing vegan, vegetarian, and meat-containing fare.

  • jchohio

    Beer Hunter

  • Anonymous

    I love “craft beer establishment”s, but I gotta say I’m very disappointed about this. Asylum is one of the few Adams Morgan bars that I find tolerable.

    If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

  • LL

    Hop Heaven

    i.e., hog and hops // bbq and beer

  • The Douche Bag Hotel

  • N


  • Greg McE

    Madhouse Craft Beers.

  • m


  • jt

    Apolitical (i.e. apolitical asylum) and therefore a nice break from the typical DC theme/scene.

    • jt

      for those of you that didn’t get it, this is a play on “political asylum” as well.

      just thought i’d clarify that.

      • Lord Pie

        We got it chief. How is bringing politics into it a nice break from the typical DC theme/scene?

  • 99vmi

    Rehab “I’m going to Rehab. What!”

    the title hollywood would come up with = Asylum II

    • CTK

      The Electric Boogaloo

    • PG

      Or Moderation. “I only drink in Moderation.”

      • Tres

        Ha. If Asylum doesn’t take that, someone else should.

      • Anonymous


    • Kate

      There’s already an Asylum II. It’s their bar in Honduras.

  • The Scott Rattler portrait must not come down!

  • Anonymous

    Pop Up

  • Jason

    Horrible news. What about the live bands, the zany cast of characters that you see during $1 beer saturdays? The DJs? The punk rock vibe? All of this will be lost. The downstairs is great and all.. but its too small (I’m aware that was the original configuration but still). With Toledo being revamped and now the Asylum… all my favorite DC bars are dying a most shameful death.

  • Brian

    The Maltorium
    The Tertiary Fermenter
    The Airlock
    Rack and Cane/The Racking Cane

    A) Can you tell I’m a homebrewer?
    B) Is this cheating?

    • jt

      well by that measure i’d propose “blowback” as well

    • saf

      Are you the Brian who made that tasty Belgian that was at the homebrew meetup the other night?

  • The Big Takeover

    like the bad brains song

    • Kev29

      Fearless Vampire Killers

  • jamie

    charlie sheenanigans

  • Jason

    Devontavius Jackson’s Palatial Temple of Ribs

  • 1314


  • JS

    “Flown Over”

  • PG

    A Dr. Seuss/Beer themed bar called Hops on Pop

  • Andy(2)

    Bellevue (asylum hospital in NYC)

  • Chris

    Mash Tun


    Swine/Stein (if the BBQ bit holds)

  • Kalia

    The Big Swig

  • Anonymous

    St. E’s

    • Anonymous


  • Wong Tong

    1. BeereVue
    (play on Bellevue for asylum theme and the obvious)

    2. Arkham

    3. Vulgar Display of Pilsner
    (play on panera bread coming to neighborhood)

    • Wong Tong

      one last: flyover country

      and only include beers from middle earth

  • Wong Tong

    when did the countdown shift from highlife to natty lite? yuckers.

  • Chris p


  • Bonely Herpesce

    The Albino Squirrel

  • SB

    > McMurphy’s

    > Ward 1

    > Solitary

  • BDale Res

    Adam’s Taproom

  • Hop Therapy

    Hop Lobotomy

    Being and Nothingness

    The Kirkbride Plan

    Head Shrinker’s Haven

  • Anonymous

    Is it just me or is there no option to post on their facebook page?

    • SB

      You have to “Like” the page first. God I hate facebook.

  • greentdc

    “On one hand, I love the openness of the top space, especially for vegan brunch. Eating Asylum’s amazingly delicious brunch in a basement just seems wrong.”

    I know – I hope they continue the brunch upstairs. I go 2-3 times a month – friends go vegan, I go not. And the wait is already “20 minutes” every time I go. If it is now going to be only in the basement… this will crush their brunch.

    But, I sat through the first change, when they expanded.. I guess this will be whatever … but … they expanded to open up more room for Asylum… does the bar not need the room?

  • PG

    Nurse Ratched’s
    R.P. McMurphy’s
    Chief Bromden’s

  • Tres

    The Queen’s Cask. (Depicted as a foxy queen.)

  • DC Girl

    My vote: Sentinel

  • John

    Cask & Stave

  • Pete

    “The Spitted Piglet”

    Man, that would make for sweet signage :)

    • jt

      ha, or “Spiglet,” though that’s far from vegetarian or animal-friendly.

      • jt

        er, Spiglot (combo of spigot and piglet)

  • Marcus Aurelius

    I can’t help wondering whether BBQ is joining designer cupcakes, pizza, and burgers on the list of “everybody and their cousin is opening a restaurant selling it.”
    I wish them the best. Hopefully, they and others on the BBQ train realize that there is a big difference between calling yourself a BBQ joint and actually being a BBQ joint. I am interested in hearing exactly which of the many styles of BBQ they will be offering.

    • Wong Tong

      the difference is that burgers and cupcakes are actually pretty easy to make. good bbq, on the other hand, isn’t. you can taste an impostor on the very first bite.

  • MB

    A Brew Above

  • MK


  • LW

    One brew over the cuckoo’s nest

  • dantrag

    Shock Therapy

  • mt


  • unclegrandfather

    High Brau.

    • Pete


    • jamie

      i smell a winner

  • wat



    The Flavor Of The Month

    Or maybe,

    The Weekly Special

  • DLCinDC

    “Roger Keith’s” (that’s Syd Barrett’s first and middle names, a fitting compliment to Asylum)

  • Anonymous

    Free Beer

  • admoprincess

    Redemption Brews

    • admoprincess

      and don’t get rid of the grilled cheese!!!

  • OrlyNowai


    • Anonymous

      and Hail.

  • Brew Hog Hog




    Punky Brewster’s

    The Spinal Tap Room

    The Watchtower

  • Ryan

    Local 91

  • Steve Lambert

    Awesome, one less place for live music in DC! Keep it going! Whew, I was getting tired of all the tunes. We need more craft beer bars, because there aren’t any of those in the city, and we need to make sure DC is a musical black hole forever. Yes! Awesome! I’m totally cool with going to Baltimore for all my independent music needs.

  • Leo J

    Refuge. As in “asylum and refuge.”


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