Yeah, we’re calling it. At least for now. Draft only.
If you’ve been to any Neighborhood Restaurant Group (NRG) establishment in the District proper (Churchkey/Birch and Barley, Eatbar, Hazel, Iron Gate, The Partisan, Red Apron at Union Market, The Sovereign) over the last few weeks, you may have noticed beer from a sought-after brewery gracing tap lines.
In the winter of 2014, Adams Morgan bar Bourbon poured a variety of Vermont beers, including some from Hill Farmstead. Brewery owner Shaun Hill was none too pleased with Bourbon taking advantage of DC’s “gray laws” concerning alcohol sales and asked that the bar not serve the beer. They did anyway, and in the aftermath Hill noted, via email, that NRG partner and beer director “Greg [Engert] seems to be a great guy, and a very thoughtful and honorable retailer =).”
Engert had previously poured Hill Farmstead beers at Churchkey during the 2013 Craft Brewers Conference, and with the 2017 meeting again being held in DC, Hill Farmstead sent a few kegs to NRG. Via email, Engert wrote that Hill Farmstead “sent us a big shipment last April for our two events at Sovereign and BBCK [Birch and Barley and Churchkey], and then shipped us a larger order of mixed-fermentation kegs at the end of December,” to be featured at NRG restaurants in the District. “They don't have enough beer to distribute consistently anywhere really. So they're choosing with whom to work when they have some additional beer, or the desire to ship further afield. And we're excited to pour these brews for D.C. when this occurs!”
Engert was able to obtain these beers thanks to a friendship with Hill and one of his earliest employees, Bob Montgomery. Per Engert, conversations about sending beer to DC began at Shelton Fest, a beer festival that both he and Hill attended in late 2016, then continued with a visit to Hill Farmstead in the summer of 2017. In December, Montgomery began holding kegs for NRG. We asked the loquacious Hill about this via email. His reply was “Not much to add here!”
As for a steadier supply beyond the spring, Engert offers that “We are extremely excited to be able to offer Hill Farmstead with consistency at our NRG DC spots during this time and are hopeful that more will make its way to us come springtime, and beyond… There have been discussions, for sure, and we shall see….”
Here’s what to look for, and note that there are multiple kegs of each of these beers.
Anna: Bier de Miele, brewed with honey and fermented with house saison yeast (6.4% ABV)
Arthur: Saison (6% ABV)
Grassroots Brother Soigné: Saison with lime, hibiscus, and blood orange, mixed fermentation (5% ABV)
Grassroots Convivial Suarez: Saison with lime and hibiscus (6% ABV)
Good Life Provisions Farmer Wave: Saison with oats, lime zest, lime juice, and salt (4% ABV)
Florence: Saison with wheat (5% ABV)