Photograph by Darrow Montgomery
Show up to a weekly brewery-focused draft night at ChurchKey, and it’s as if someone has announced, “Class is in session!” At ChurchKey, you’ll receive a place card describing the featured beers and assigned tasting-sized pours of each one. Even those who don’t get cold-called by the professor himself, beer director Greg Engert, may find themselves listening to his enthusiastic lectures on anything from the influence of geography on German beer styles to the “real” history of craft beer in America. Attending one of the monthly pairing dinners or tasting seminars at downstairs restaurant Birch & Barley is like enrolling in a master class from some of the biggest names in beer—like Brooklyn Brewery’s Garrett Oliver. But it doesn’t take a fancy event to impart beer knowledge. ChurchKey’s 50-plus draft list and 500-bottle-strong binder are organized in a way that prompts drinkers to form opinions and make connections about which brews they like. ChurchKey isn’t the only place to get your beer degree, but with a constant stream of events and its educational bent, this institution is in the Ivy League of beer schools. And the homework has never been so easy to stomach—assuming you don’t overdo it, that is.