On Sunday, I went to a beer tasting event at LivingSocial’s 918 F Street led by Greg Engert, the beer director for ChurchKey and Neighborhood Restaurant Group.
I can confidently state that I have never met anyone as knowledgable about beer as Mr. Engert. He certainly brings his academic education and experience to his craft. For two hours or so, he was able to discuss the history, economy, science, and societal aspects of beer. More importantly, he had picked seven beers that even I, a beer novice, could easily tell apart.
A veritable professor of beers, Greg Engert introduced us to seven exceptional brews.
We started the first round with three beers:
- Jolly Pumpkin Bam Noire
- ChurchKey’s Flavor Category: Tart & Funky
- Beer Name: Bam Noire
- Brewery/Origin: Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales, Michigan
- Style: Saison – Dark
- ABV: 4.3%
According to Engert, the Bam Noire is what beer tasted like for 99% of its history. Tart, sour, and a slight vinegar smell at first. It had a clean aftertaste with a hint of smokiness.
- Schlenkerla Weizen
- Flavor Category: Smoke
- Beer Name: Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Weizen
- Brewery/Origin: Brauerei Heller-Trum, Germany
- Style: Hefeweizen
- ABV: 5.2%
BACON. That’s all I could think of when I smelled, and then tasted, this great beer. The extremely smokey nose and flavor comes from the beechwood it’s fired with.
- Stillwater Cellar Door
- Flavor Category: Fruit & Spice
- Beer Name: Cellar Door
- Brewery/Origin: Stillwater Artisanal (at DOG Brewing), Maryland
- Style: Saison – Blond
- ABV: 6.6%
Fruit nose with a hint of sage. The sage comes out more in the taste…white sage was used to flavor it. This beer is contract brewed by Stillwater at DOG Brewing in Baltimore.
The first three brews. My favorite from this round was the Schlenkerla Weizen, in the center.
At this point, we got a break to collect some charcuterie. Good selection that went well with the rest of the beers.
Don’t mind the plating…I put this one together myself. I need to remember to eat before going out to these things.
Round two consisted of these four beers:
- Victory HopDevil Ale
- Flavor Category: Hop
- Beer Name: HopDevil
- Brewery/Origin: Victory Brewing Company, Pennsylvania
- Style: American IPA
- ABV: 6.7%
Fruity nose and taste. Orange/citrus notes.
- Duck-Rabbit Doppelbock
- Flavor Category: Malt
- Beer Name: The Duck Rabbit Doppelbock
- Brewery/Origin: The Duck-Rabbit Craft Brewery, North Carolina
- Style: Dunkles Doppelbock
- ABV: 8.5%
I wasn’t sure what to peg the flavors in this as…I thought soy sauce, and somewhat similar to the next beer. More intense flavors than the Hitachino, and a little more bitter, especially at the finish. From what I gather, for a hoppy beer, this wasn’t that bitter though. As I don’t normally drink a lot of beer, I have more taste testing to do before I can figure that out on my own.
- Hitachino Nest Sweet Stout
- Flavor Category: Roast
- Beer Name: Sweet Stout
- Brewery/Origin: Kiuchi Brewery, Japan
- Style: Sweet Stout
- ABV: 3.9%
As mentioned above, I found this similar in taste to the Duck-Rabbit (although I’m not sure I should’ve with the different flavor categories they fall into). I found this one to be a little bit mellower and sweeter. Cleaner finish than the Doppelbock.
- Tuppers Keller Pils
- Flavor Category: Crisp
- Beer Name: Tuppers’ Keller Pils
- Brewery/Origin: Tuppers’ Hop Pocket Beers (at St. George Brewing), Virginia
- Style: Kellerbier-Zwickelbier
- ABV: 5.0%
Bready nose and taste with a hint of grapiness. I don’t know how something that tastes doughy can also be crisp, but surprisingly it was.
The last four beers. Hard to pick a favorite out of this group, but I’d probably say the HopDevil (the one on the left in the top row).
Some additional bullet points from the evening with Engert:
- Local isn’t good just because it’s local.
- Hungarian oak barrels are the best.
- There are more U.S. brewers today than at any time since 1889.
- The people who brought you ChurchKey will be opening Bluejacket around March 2013. Location will be near Nationals’ Stadium.
I haven’t made it yet to ChurchKey, but after this class, and my subsequent rediscovery of beer, I will be dropping by in the near future to try some more.