The Berliner Opens: First 100 Get a Free Beer

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At right: The Berliner's owner, Omar Popal, salutes Georgetown's newest restaurant. Photo by Bill Starrels.

A new wurst-and-beer hall opens today, Thursday, Dec. 13, at 5 p.m.: The Berliner, in the former space of Malmaison at 3401 Water St. NW. If you are one of the first 100 customers, you get a free beer.

The transformation from a French to a German concept was a smooth one, since Malmaison’s owner, the Popal Group, carried it out. The family-run restaurant group is behind Café Bonaparte, Afghan restaurant Lapis (a recent Bib Gourmand awardee) and La Pop “cultural salon.” The Popal family was the subject of a July 17, 2013, Georgetowner cover story.

“It’s not every day that culinary talent, conceptual ingenuity and a historic venue converge in one setting,” says owner Omar Popal. “The Berliner undoubtedly upholds President John F. Kennedy’s famous line declaring us all Berliners at heart.”

Popal is emphasizing the 4,200-square-foot beer hall — in one of Georgetown’s last original warehouse spaces on Water Street (or K Street), now sporting a Bauhaus-inspired design and industrial decor — and the Berliner’s chef, a sausage-making whiz.

Here’s the business’s take on the details: “Inspired by family ties and modern Berlin comfort food, the menu includes Bavarian classics such as bratwurst, schnitzel and homemade pretzels with beer cheese, in addition to modern fare such as kofta kebabs and falafel. The Berliner will also feature 24 beers on tap with a variety of domestic, international and seasonal brews ranging from larger producers to to smaller German breweries rarely found on U.S. menus.

“The Berliner will spotlight the decade-long sausage-making expertise of Chef Mike O’Brien, with a menu that includes six styles of sausages — three of which will rotate throughout the year. O’Brien was formerly the chef at three of the world’s top-rated beer-focused restaurants: Mikkeller Bar (San Francisco), The Trappist (Oakland) and The Monk’s Kettle (San Francisco). He has also worked at popular D.C. eateries The Salt Line, Cityzen, Birch & Barley and Churchkey.”

The Berliner has recruited two graffiti artists, Michael Pacheco and Rodrigo Pradel, to create unique murals for the space. Hours are Wednesday to Sunday from 5 to 11 p.m. except Friday and Saturday, when it closes at midnight.

At right: The Berliner owner, Omar Popal, salutes Georgetown’s newest restaurant. Photo by Bill Starrels.
Bill Schmidt tries one of many beers available at the Berliner. Photo by Bill Starrels.
The new beer hall at the Berliner on Water Street. Travis Vaughn Photography.
The new beer hall at the Berliner on Water Street. Travis Vaughn Photography.
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