Greg Engert is the Willy Wonka of beer. The restaurant where he's beer director features a fun house of brews from around the world, including super small batch production from local beer guys and gypsy brewers based around the world. Who needs sweet when you've got suds? Indeed, Engert's collection of brews makes Churchkey and Birch and Barley the beer drinker's mecca.
He has rigged a system of 50 taps grouped at three temperatures-42 degrees for pilsners, 48 degrees for lagers and more complex beers and 52 degrees and stouts and the richest brews.
He has a fleet of Churchkey-owned kegs that he ships around the world to bring in beer not sold or distributed in the area.
He carries five cask ales on any given night, many from local brewers, since when it comes to casks, he says, "fresh is best." He stocks 500 bottled beers at a time, ensuring what's listed is available.
Engert has written the book on beer pairing for D.C. and has honed his palate to complement the menu created by chef Kyle Bailey and pastry chef Tiffany MacIssac, the duo who culled experience at Cru, Blue Hill at Stone Barns and Allen & Delancey in New York.
So who better to hit up for a primer on beer tasting? Without further ado, we introduce you to Greg Engert, who will juxtapose a pilsner against one of his favorite holiday brews.