When Greg Engert’s father extolled the virtues of microbreweries to his young son, he hoped he would instill an appreciation for good beer. Little did he know he would plant the seed to Engert’s veritable obsession and career in the sudsy stuff.
While pursuing his undergraduate degree in English literature, Engert made frequent trips to nearby Burlington in order to drink at the Vermont Pub and Brewery, one of the first and most recognized brewpubs in the country. His study abroad experiences at both the Goethe Institute in Munich, Germany and Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, helped cement his passion for international beer styles as well as the history of craft beer, breweries and the brewing processes.
Upon graduation, Engert enrolled at Georgetown University to pursue a graduate degree in English Literature, but the beer industry came calling. He secured a job waiting tables at the venerable Brickskeller in Washington, DC, in order to glean all aspects of beer education that he could from their 1200+ bottle list. He quickly rose the ranks, from server to manager, and in the process, developed a love of the malty English and spicy Belgian ales they featured.
In 2006, Engert signed on as beer director for Neighborhood Restaurant Group’s beer-centric restaurant, Rustico. Engert worked closely with his chef to develop food and beer pairings and help promote beer’s societal acceptance in a wine-obsessed world.
In October 2009, Engert helped open ChurchKey, a beer bar featuring 555 beers, and Birch & Barley, the sister restaurant where he and the chef are elevating the notion of craft beer and food. Since opening, ChurchKey has quickly become the premier beer destination in DC, and Engert has been named one of the Ten to Watch in 2010 by Restaurant Hospitality magazine. He has also been featured prominently for his efforts in numerous local and national publications. In April 2010, Food & Wine named Engert as one of its Sommeliers of the Year, the first time the publication has ever selected a beer professional for this prize.