I count 29 different cans of beer. Yes, 29. No beer bottles, no tap handles, just cans. Sure, The Red Derby has a fully stocked liquor selection, and six wines at $6/glass, but really, the comfort beverage of choice here is the canned beer.
The Red Derby’s canned beer list runs the gamut from the inexpensive light lager category (Schlitz and Natty Boh are $2) to the American micro category (Dale’s Pale and Brooklyn Lager are $4) up to the relatively more expensive imported cans (Old Speckled Hen and Young’s Double Chocolate are $6). As for bar food, The Derby offers a quality selection ranging from mac-and-cheese wedges and sweet potato fries to foot long fish dogs and grilled boursin and american cheese sandwiches.
If you’re worried about enjoying your beverage or food in a dingy environment, don’t be: although the decor is sparse, the music is eclectic (customers can plug in their iPods to be played on the sound system) and a projected movie always seems to be playing sans-audio on a side wall.
Due to the location (a good walk either north from the Columbia Heights metro or west from Georgia Ave-Petworth), the customers seem to consist primarily of local residents. Despite all the things that make The Red Derby unique, it’s the neighborhood feel that makes me wish I lived nearby. Hipsters certainly are a presence here, but they are far from dominant: either they haven’t discovered it yet, or the Derby’s location is far enough away that they don’t frequently make the trek. The Derby only opened a year ago and for now, it’s a nice mix of patrons and a great beverage program to boot.
Bring your ipod and you’re the DJ- make everyone listen to your favorites.
Apparently sells a lot of canned microbrews:
Citysearch Editorial Review. Situated among the unassuming shops and laundromats of upper Columbia Heights, the Red Derby is easy to miss--look for a red derby hat above the door--but worth the trip up 14th Street. The divey, neighborhood favorite specializes in cans of beer; find expected hipster brews such as PBR and Natty Boh, but some rare cans too, including Pork Slap, Brooklyn, Strongbow and Young's Double Chocolate Stout. The restaurant and bar offers plenty of entertainment; look for movies projected onto a wall next to the bar, as well as an impressive selection of board games to play while noshing on the bar's beloved mac and cheese wedges. There's also a dart board and pool table at the end of the narrow hallway toward the back and past the kitchen.
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