Welcome to “Ask a Beer Pro,” a monthly feature where we ask Greg Engert—the craft-brew maven behind D.C.’s Birch & Barley and ChurchKey, as well as the forthcoming Bluejacket brewery—to help us discover new suds to try. Got a question? Tweet it @churchkeydc and @firstwefeast.
There are guys who know a thing or two about good beer, and then there’s Greg Engert, the precocious suds expert behind D.C. craft-beer havens like Birch & Barley and ChurchKey.
In 2010, Engert became the first beer professional to be named one of Food & Wine‘s “Sommeliers of the Year,” and earlier this year he was nominated for a James Beard Foundation award in the “Outstanding Wine & Spirits Professional” category. These days, he continues to be a driving force behind the D.C. suds scene, and he’s working on his own brewery and restaurant, Bluejacket.
We hollered at Greg to school us on his favorite holiday beers because, frankly, it takes a true expert to navigate the Christmas brew offerings. Unlike fall pumpkin beers, which are very much an American invention, winter warmers have a rich heritage in France, Belgium, and elsewhere, so sorting through the classics and worthy newcomers takes a keen eye.
Here, Greg breaks down six standouts that you’ll want to crack open in the coming weeks.