Published April 12, 2017
It may be before 2 pm on Monday, but that doesn’t mean it’s too early to drink. ChurchKey bartenders rush to fill water glasses and test brews while a crowd of people line up down the block. Inside, Neighborhood Restaurant Group Beer Director Greg Engert, one of Washington’s top names in beer, is subsisting on five hours of sleep and two cups of coffee—the “rocket fuel” kind. People keep handing him unusual beers wrapped in plastic bags, gifts from visiting brewer friends to be cracked open later.
This is just the first of 24 events Engert will help host at nine restaurants and bars over four days. Welcome to the Craft Brewers Conference, the Super Bowl of beer events.
“I’m orchestrating and organizing a lot, placing a bunch of orders, dropping off things as needed, and talking with the staff,” Engert says, as he responds to an email and glances over the latest beer list. “[Navy Yard brewery] Bluejacket is already packed because all the brewers are hanging out there, and they like to get started early.”
At least 15,000 people are expected to come in from out of town for the country’s largest craft brewing industry gathering, including hop-growers and glassmakers. This is in addition to the local “geeks” looking for beers they can’t normally get in the area. With its welcoming brewing laws and burgeoning craft beer scene, DC has turned into an ideal city to hold the Brewers Association conference. I’m following Greg as he shuttles between his bars, restaurants, and brewery with bottles of rare beer stuffed in the trunk of his car as he checks in on his staff and makes sure everything’s running smoothly…read more here.