Beer Sessions Radio – The Importance of Good Hospitality With Greg Engert

The following is a beta transcription of Beer Sessions Radio on Heritage Radio Network.
The Importance of Good Hospitality With Greg Engert
Episode 680 Aired: Friday, July 14th 2023
NOTE: This transcription is a beta test created by Travis Melvin for example only.


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Jimmy: Hey, hey, hey. Welcome

Jimmy: to Beer Sessions Radio on Heritage Radio Network. I’m Jimmy Carboni. I’m the host. It’s our 14th year on Heritage Radio Network. It’s Wednesday, June 28th, 2023. We’re doing a remote recording. I’m talking with a special guest who I know from the beer industry for a long time. Greg, will you introduce yourself please?

Greg: Sure. Hey Jimmy. Thanks for having me on. Again, I’m Greg [00:01:00] Engert beverage director and partner for the neighborhood restaurant group. We have Ton of places in the DC area, but also in New York grand and most recently down in New Orleans with brew St. X.

Jimmy: Yeah, I’ve never, I’ve never done a one-on-one with you, so this is gonna be fun.

Jimmy: You know, the people in the beer world know about Church Key. And I first met you when you opened Grande a few years ago. One thing I I’ve always noted about you besides your beer knowledge is, is your hospitality. And we’ve, we’ve done recent shows about Master cone and, and, and other higher level, you know, skills of, of this industry.

Jimmy: But for me, number one is hospitality. And you know, there’s a lot of us work in the industry, A lot of us have our own places, but to see that, you know, where you’ve grown from DC to New York and now New Orleans, it’s quite amazing. [00:02:00] Just give us, since we’ve never really done this, just give us your little backstory and, and how you got involved in the first place because you, you are an inspiration for a lot of people.

Greg: Thank you for saying that. It’s awesome. I mean, you know, it’s, it’s so funny, like the hospitality thing is most important. You know, no matter how much we all love beer or wine or cocktails or food or food pairing with beverage or, you know, at the end of the day, making people. Have an amazing time is why all of us are in this business.

Greg: And at the end of the day, that’s why everybody goes out to eat and drink. They, they wanna know people. They want to get to know their bartenders, they wanna get to know the, these managers, the servers, and they wanna, they wanna come back away from everything with like a really memorable experience.

Greg: And that’s something that I think has been driving me for over 20 years now and, and definitely something that. We [00:03:00] strive for every, every single day at all of our restaurants. I, I’m a, a failed academic, I guess you could say. I moved down, I moved down to DC in 2002 to pursue, you know, graduate work in English literature.

Greg: I was supposed to be a, an English professor, I guess kind of burn out quick on that. And then ended up working at the famed brick Keller, which is unfortunately no more, but, You know, it was America’s first beer bar. It opened in 1957 in the DuPont Circle neighborhood of Washington, dc. Even back then, it had like 30 different beers in bottles or cans.

Greg: And they continued to just do great work with beer for, for almost well for 50 years. And you know, they had when I started working there in 2004, I. When I left grad [00:04:00] school, we had like 2000 different beers and bottles and cans on the menu, which is so incredible now because people, you know, really don’t serve bottles and cans as much as they used to.

Greg: They, they, we didn’t even have draft beer at the downstairs bar. Wow. But yeah, that’s where I cut my teeth. I mean, I, I was able to, To meet everyone there. Michael Jackson, when he would come to the States to do his annual tastings, you know, the first beer tasting sit down beer tasting that was ever hosted in, in the US was hosted at the Brix Keller in the early eighties.

Greg: And so. Garrett Oliver, Sam Koni, Tommy Arthur, Vinny, za, you name it. Ken Grossman. The, the, the best of the best. They were coming through Kim Jordan. And I was able to to meet them, pick their brains. I mean, this is before the internet, right? Like in the early two thousands, like I, I was reading Celebrator Beer news and, and, and [00:05:00] Mid-Atlantic you know, beer news and reading all of Michael Jackson’s.

Greg: Books and Roger Pro’s books and all this stuff is just like getting obsessed with beer. But remember back then people, it wasn’t a, a profitable thing right? In the early two thousands. Like, it was like as you know it wasn’t like a thing that, it was a, a bunch of us crazy kinda zealots pushing for this thing, hoping it would become big.

Greg: It did, and there’s been some good and bad with that. But you know, it’s it was just something that that all alerted me. But all but, but, but all along the way, it was always about, Talking to people, making ’em happy and, and, and, and, and knowing that they would go home being like, that was, that was fun.

Greg: I want to go do that again. You know? And that’s how I got my start. Then I met Michael Babin, who’s the founder of our of Neighborhood restaurant group. And we hit it off and, and just kind of went from there opening all these different places over the next 20 years. But[00:06:00] yeah, that’s kind of my start.

Jimmy: Oh, it’s, it, it’s a great, it’s a great start. You know, it shows that you really did cut your teeth and you really got to know the industry and, and the craft. I remember the first time I met you was, was right when you were opening Grande in New York City and you, you were met. We, you know, I was, I was.

Jimmy: You recognized me right away. And of course you had something like, just a wonderful kind of amber lager that, that was in the perfect glass. And you, you made me feel at home. And then it turns out that you had some really great people working with you, which is seems to be a big part of your success For sure.

Jimmy: I mean, how, how do you do that with, in the different roles? You have different partners, you know how, how do you divvy that up? Because a lot of people starting out, and I remember stories of friends at opened bars and, and you know, they had never quite worked out who really was good at what.

Greg: Yeah. I mean, you, you, again, it’s, it’s, you know it’s [00:07:00] about making people happy, but it’s about making your staff.

Greg: Happy, making them love coming to work every day. And to your point, you know, I mean, Alex Ley is one of the guys that helped us sober. Grand de Lancia, a close friend of mine, and a great guy. And you gotta find the right people. I mean, especially for us. I mean, we have, we have 24 different restaurants, bars, wine shops.

Greg: You know throughout the DC area, plus New York and New Orleans. Like for us to be able to do that, it all comes down to finding incredible talent. You know, people who are gonna be able to work with us and, and execute the vision, but it’s a shared vision. It’s not like we’re, we’re going to start being like, this is what we want.

Greg: And they’re, you know, perfunctorily just like going through with this. They, they, they believe in the same. Goals. Cause as you know, I mean like in in restaurants, there’s great restaurants, there’s okay restaurants, there’s mediocre restaurants, [00:08:00] but some of them get it and some don’t. And we’ve been incredibly lucky to, to, to make a lot of friends in the industry like yourself and and you know, just to, to, to to know who’s, who’s out there, who’s looking to, to share the vision and go along with us.

Greg: And without them, it wouldn’t be anything. Like we have, I mean, in, in DC for instance, we have. Tim Liu is our beer director. I mean, he’s running the beer programs for seven years now. Bruno SMOs is the assistant beer director. I mean, you know, we have rod Zel, our director of brewing operations that oversees both of our breweries.

Greg: Plus Alex Flores down in, in New Orleans running the show at Brewery St. X. We could not do everything we do without, without these people. And they’re, they’re, they’re the heart and soul of our business every day. So I think, you know, it, it, it, it can’t be overstated how important it’s to be able to find these great you know people to work with [00:09:00] and, and to have them share in, in the efforts.

Greg: And and I think for our group too, we’re really excited. ’cause a lot of our people have been here for years and years and years. So I think we’re doing something right. That regard.

Jimmy: No, that’s great. And you guys weathered covid and everything and you’re going strong. It, it was a thrill a few months ago to get email from someone on your team.

Jimmy: About a, a place that you’re opening in New Orleans, and I’ve never been to New Orleans, but it is got this mythic imaginary, you know, imaginary world in my head because of chefs, I’ve known chefs that have come from there to New York that I’ve met. One time I sublet. A kitchen to some New Orleans guys.

Jimmy: So I got a, I got a real sense of the, the old school cooking veal stocks and, and other things. I never, I never had a chance to go down there and have a drink. Our good friend Ray Dieter who CoStar this podcast with me years ago, his D B A I I, I think they’re still going strong down there in, in New [00:10:00] Orleans.

Greg: One of


Greg: greatest places in the world is T B A in, in New Orleans. I mean, it’s just like incredible. I can’t believe you haven’t been there. I mean, we gotta, we gotta fix that.

Jimmy: I gotta go, you know, it’s, it’s also like, it’s one of those things, you know, when you’re in the industry, I usually had one place, and when you’re in one place, you know, you, you do tend to not go too far from home.

Jimmy: Yeah, yeah. Totally. You know, usually take it away and New Orleans. Yeah. So you know, le let, let’s talk about the charm of it and how that project happened, because for sure Brewery’s saying X and it’s on my, it’s on my list now.

Greg: Yeah. And I would love to have you down. I mean, I, it would be, you would, you would love it, but it’s, you know, it’s a, it’s a it.

Greg: There’s no place like it. I used to say there’s no place like it in the US but I, I really believe there’s no place like it in the world. And I, I, I mean that with the utmost respect and adulation for New Orleans it’s, it’s an unbelievable place now. And I’ll say too, you know, Ray [00:11:00] Dieter, you just mentioned it, it is so interesting.

Greg: You know, I mentioned Michael Jackson earlier, and Roger Pros and, I mean, we could go on and on with these old names from the, from the business, but, I think, you know, Ray, what Ray did for, for craft beer was massive, obviously in New York with the original D B A, but even now, you know, down in DC or I’m sorry, down in New Orleans, you know, when you go there, D B A is on.

Greg: Frenchman Street. It’s, it’s one of the, one of the greatest music venues in New Orleans. There’s incredible music happening there every night. But, and you’ll love this, you can get Sheme red on draft at this place. Wow. It’s like you can get bottles of Orval even now. ’cause you know, obviously when they first opened it was like a beer bar.

Greg: Beer bar, but it’s becoming rarer and rarer to find. You know, [00:12:00] bottles of Cezanne DuPont. It’s just like at a, at a one of the world’s best music venues. That’s like, I mean, you know what I mean? So, so we go in there and we, we go down there, we go to, we go to D B A you know, especially around Mardi Gras, but I mean, you name it, we’re always in there and we’re just drinking our.

Greg: And it’s, it’s crazy. Out of the bottle, you know, in, into the Red Glassware while we’re watching stuff. So anyways, I mean, new Orleans is is singular. There’s no, there’s no place like it in the world. We started going there. I, I mentioned Michael Babin, my partner, who’s the founder of our company. He’s from Baton Rouge or originally, and his parents taught at L Ss U and.

Greg: You know, he, he went to school up north and, and, and settled in the DC area, but he’s had you know, huge roots on there, lots of family, and you know, so I had never been to New Orleans, you know, 10 years ago, and he was like, you gotta go. It’s unbelievable. Let’s go down. And we started going down.

Greg: [00:13:00] One of the reasons we went down was because with Blue Jacket, our original brewery in DC we were doing this collaboration beer every year with a great brewery outta Shreveport, Louisiana. In northern Louisiana called the Great R Brewing Company, and we would do a collab every year, and then we would launch it on the balcony of the Avenue Pub, which was one of America’s.

Greg: Most amazing beer bars for a long time. It’s changed hands recently and maybe doesn’t have exactly the, the crap your focus at once did, but Polly Watts was, was just crushing it there for so many years, and so we started going every single year down there for the first weekend of Mardi Gras and. I just fell in love with it.

Greg: And, and we always said to each other, it was like, man, we’d love to do something down here. And as, as it turned out, we were able to, and, and it was great. But I mean, you won’t really find everybody knows about the, the, the food and beverage in New Orleans. It, it’s just [00:14:00] the most amazing and impressive thing, but the people are, are, are, are really what, what, what, what makes New Orleans even more incredible?

Greg: It’s great. It’s

Jimmy: just a great place. Yeah. So who’s, who’s on your team down there? Fa If I go down, who am I gonna ask

Greg: for? Well, yeah, so I mentioned earlier, Alex Flores is our, our, our, our head brewer, our lead brewer. He’s amazing. And then Matt Gabriel is our general manager. He’s, you know, worked at the Donald Link restaurants for years and years, which is, I mean, our.

Greg: Those guys are heroes to us. Kone, Kone Butcher herb Saint PEs, some of the best restaurants around. So, you know, Matt is an just a, a wonderful guy. He, he runs a great operation down there. But then, you know, our chef is, is this guy named Shannon Bingham. And, you know, we’re, so, we’re, we’re operating Bruce St.

Greg: X side by side with a, a, a barbecue concept called Devilman Barbecue. Oh, that’s cool. It’s [00:15:00] really cool. We share a kitchen and Shannon Bingham is the chef in charge of both. So if you go to Devil Moon, you can just get like, fantastic barbecue. You know, obviously it’s leaning towards central Texas with a hint of, of Carolina like most do now.

Greg: But we’re also folding in like really incredible, you know, Louisiana. Styles, smoked meats and things like that. And played around with that. So he’s Shannon, Shannon’s not it all. He’s a fantastic guy, super smart and a great, a great cook, a great chef. So he did that. And then the restaurant, you know, it’s a fullblown brewery bar and restaurant for St.

Greg: X’s. So

Jimmy: it’s, it’s one, it’s all in one. You’ve got. You can go in and get, get food and drink in one space. Oh, for sure.

Greg: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Exactly. But yeah, so brew state x’s, like, it’s not like it’s, it’s not like one of these places where, you know, people just. Brew some beer, put out a [00:16:00] couple folding tables and some t-shirts and, and just saw beer.

Greg: No, it’s, it’s a, it’s a full blown restaurant and bar. It’s, it’s a gorgeous place. It’s

Jimmy: so what, what, what’s the aesthetic? I always think about these grand old New Orleans places and someone’s got at least a smart. Smart apron and, and a roll up the sleeve shirts or something. Yeah,

Greg: I mean, that’s the thing.

Greg: ’cause because of the French influence down there it, it does tend to lead lean a little bit like bistro brasserie. But we, and, and, and then that’s kind of how we went, but we wanted to modernize it a little bit. So it’s not quite that serious, but it has a kind of modern brasserie look to it. And, and, you know, Hundreds of bottles of whiskey on the wall.

Greg: Incredible cocktails from my spirits director Nick Ferrell up here in dc fantastic focus list of natural wines from my wine director, Aaron Dudley. You know, it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s a [00:17:00] restaurant bar that happens to make world class beer. That’s how I would, I would say it, you know and. And there’s not a lot of that in New Orleans.

Greg: I mean, it’s, there’s a lot of great breweries down there. Parlo being one of my favorites. And Courtyard’s fantastic as well, but they’re not, you know, they’re, they’re like breweries with Taprooms. They’re not like trying to offer that whole I. Experience and, you know, and honestly, maybe we’re wrong to do that.

Greg: It seems like the world has, has moved away, but a lot of our guests are loving it right? So far. So it’s been great. No,

Jimmy: it, it seems like you’re, you’re getting all the angles. So the brewery itself, let’s talk about the beers and then we’ll go back over we’re different concepts. Mm-hmm. You know, what, what’s, what’s on the top list?

Jimmy: Are you only serving. The brewery, Xanex beers there.

Greg: Yeah, for sure. Yeah. Only, only brewery Xanex. I mean, we have the ability to serve other beers if we wanted to, but we’re really focused then on, on the, the beers that we produce in house.

Jimmy: [00:18:00] And now is, it’s a, is a full range of styles or are there certain styles that, that he’s focusing on?

Greg: So it, it’s definitely a full range. ’cause you know, that’s one of the great things about craft beer is like we can offer so many different flavor profiles for, you know, so many different people. But the focus really is on classic styles. So we have, you know, five side pole taps. That we dispense long aged, naturally carbonated step mash into cocktail lager from, and then we have so there’s five of those.

Greg: Then we have an additional nine beers that we serve just, you know from, from draft as well. A lot of hot forward beers. Some hazy, some not. Classic saan and vice fear. Some stouts, things like that. And then even fruited sours. So we love those all natural ingredients. We’re not messing with, you know, marshmallow [00:19:00] you know, flavorings and things like that, but we’re do, we’re, we’re producing incredibly thick, amazing fruit-based sours that we source the fruit from, you know Pacific Northwest primarily.

Greg: And then a couple of British style Catskills. Traditional real a at all times. So, you know, the, the focus really here is on lager and British style ca beer. But of course we make and love making and drinking, you know, some of the other fun stuff that’s come around over the last few years, like hazy, i p a fruited sours and like.

Jimmy: Wow. Yeah, we, we I did a couple cask episodes in May and that everyone kept bringing up your name. So let’s talk about the cast programs that you’ve done before and you know, why it’s important to you, because I know that we’ve pretty much figured out that you really have to do it well. Yeah. Or it’s not worth doing at all.[00:20:00]

Greg: Exactly. And, and it’s so funny, I. Excited to hear my name was brought up, but it’s also like, I wish more people’s names would come up. Like, it’s so funny. Cas is, you know, I mean, as Americans we’re constantly borrowing things from, from other places, right? We’re a nation of immigrants, always have been. And that’s one of the best things that makes us who we are.

Greg: We are all coming from someplace else and all hopefully able to include opinions, voices. People, you know, from other places. And, and that’s what I think is so cool about the crappier industry, at least it once was was that we’re drawing on all these different traditions and, and adding our voice to it for sure, but still drawing on them and still paying proper homage to, you know, the fact that.

Greg: The Britts make fantastic mile ale, or, or that the checks make incredible lager [00:21:00] you know, Belgians make bone dry, hopefully bone dry, hop forward, you know, caans and things like that. So cask has been one of those things. We just won’t let it go. I think I would say when I, when I started back in the early two thousands in all this.

Greg: CAS was bigger, but a lot of times it was just because, you know, again, we didn’t have the, the huge amount of American breweries that we have now. Right? I mean, probably back in the early two thousands we have like 1200 breweries in, in the US maybe, I don’t know the exact number, but now there’s almost 10,000.

Greg: So we had to draw on influences from around the world and we had to. Showcase flavor profiles from around the world. I wish more


Greg: still did that. I wish more brewers still tasted those things when they’re, you know, so many times people are coming out with like rock beer or, or Milds, or bitters or, or, you know, you name it.

Greg: And I just can tell that they’ve never actually tasted those things locally.[00:22:00] But anyways, I digress. The, the, the thing is, is that with British style, Cash scale, it’s a re, it’s something you can’t do at home. So even as, you know, the, the, the tradition of retail beer has really taken off in the US and 60 ounce cans and everything else, and everybody was lining up for a time and bringing things back to their house.

Greg: You never. Pour a cask at your house. I mean, some people could, but very few do. And I was kind of stuck on that. Like, this is what the publicans are still here for. If we can properly dispense Cask Gale and people like it, which is part of the thing, you know and and understand it, they’re gonna come to us for it.

Greg: And, and that, and that’s been the case. I mean, we still pour A ton of Cass Beer in DC at places like Churchill you mentioned. But we have a low A b v beer bar called Shelter blue jacket pours ca scale. We have ca scale, of course have Perx in New [00:23:00] Orleans. It’s just, it’s amazing. It, it, it delivers flavors in a way that no other dispensing method.

Greg: Can, and even though it’s kind of a historic accident that we ended up with this thing, when you drink British style, bitter on cask. It just, it’s the roundness of the malt. It’s slightly chilled, but not too cold. Not too warm. The aromatics are there, but it’s just, it, it, it hits differently than, than it would on draft or from bottle of can.

Greg: And I can tell you also, you know, we’ve been leaning on our, our buddies from Sierra Nevada, one of the greatest breweries in the world to send us palle casks. And they do from time to time. And drinking that on cask is just like it, it, it’s, it’s, it’s unbelievable. It’s just so good. How is, how is that

Jimmy: on cast?

Jimmy: Because I would think that there’s this American hoppiness to it.

Greg: Yeah, it’s all, everything is subtle and that’s the thing about cast it, [00:24:00] it brings everything down. Five notches. It, it, it, it subdues all the flavors. It brings everything into focus. You know, ’cause cast gale is like, it’s all naturally carbonated.

Greg: So, so it’s just creamy effervescence that’s not too intense, but it’s certainly not still or flat. And, and at the temp of about 52 degrees, which is what really we aim for 50 to 52, a little bit colder than I think some do these days. It’s just so cr like creamy, drinkable delicious. And it softens the bitterness.

Greg: You know, I, I mentioned earlier side poles and we can talk about that later. But you know, when you pull, when you pull a logger through a side pole, it also kind of softens the bitterness. And I think that’s what CA does for Sierra Nevada Pal. It’s, it’s amazing. Wow.

Jimmy: So, back to Cas. So is, is drinking ca is that a thoughtful.

Jimmy: You know, [00:25:00] way to drink.

Greg: Yeah. I mean, I think it has to be, ’cause it’s not like, it’s certainly not a popular way to drink, I would say.

Jimmy: I just imagine, I think about, you know, you’re, you’re, you’re having that drink. It’s, it’s a perfect cast. In my case, it’s been an English cast that made it over, you know, Conant bidder or something like that.

Jimmy: And just knowing that, that it was, it was right on the temps, right conditioning’s. Right. I, I can say I’ve only had something like that a few times in my life, and which, yeah, I think reached the point like a lot of people, maybe 10, 12 years ago. And I just didn’t wanna even see a cask, cask, anything in American Pub.

Greg: Right. ’cause you knew it was probably gonna be off. And that’s the thing. It’s like we really, we really strive not to serve a double i p a or a triple i p a on cask with a bunch of adjuncts in the cask. And, you know, so there’s two things going on here in the old days [00:26:00] ca scale. Was a way before brewers started to like, release new cans every day.

Greg: It was the way to take your existing beer and spike it with something interesting and cool, and I’m not, I’m not hating that. I, I, I thought that was fun, you know, so you would take an I p A, and you might put it on cask. Five different ways, you know, with different ingredients and things like that. And then eventually people got hit to the idea that people love that and they just started canning different variations and things like that.

Greg: But that’s what CAST did for a long time, and I’m with you. It it, that wasn’t really that interesting. That wasn’t, it was just a way, basically, I think for American brewers to highlight different ingredients. So it got away from that. And then for, for like, for people like us, we always loved classic styles.

Greg: You mentioned Conan. You know, I think of like when I go over there to England and stuff, having like Timothy Taylor landlord or. The greatest bidder in the world, which was just the Harvest Harvey’s bidder. [00:27:00] That’s different. And, and, and you’re right. And, and Harvey soon from Scotland would send over some amazing casks and sometimes they would be great, but other times they’d be, they would get old or they wouldn’t sell through on the, on, on the pumps as much as they should have.

Greg: And they would have to like, you know, be Tossed out. So I think that I’m with you. I mean, I, I, I realized why people kind of were like, I, I’m done with that. But I think there’s a small group that’s rapidly growing of, of American brewers and Republicans who are interested in cask. Again, making cash scale, serving it, and then doing it the right way, making sure that it tastes fantastic all the time.

Greg: I mean, I would say good word, brewing company. Is one that’s doing cask really well. And then also brick store pub in, in, in Duluth Georgia, outside of Atlanta. They’re, they’re really committed to it as well.

Jimmy: We, and those are the guys we had on the show in May. [00:28:00] Oh yeah, there you go. They love you.

Jimmy: But I could talk more about cast, but we did on that episode. I wanna go back to hyping up New Orleans. There, there is a mystique to it. Yeah, I, I don’t think of it the way most people did. I don’t think of it as beads and that I, I think of it as a really rich cultural place. And I think about the food I have.

Jimmy: I knew someone that was, For a nonprofit that was really trying to, to get chefs in New Orleans to, to cook with the, the native fish and even some seafood that was invasive. Mm-hmm. I don’t know how much of this your menu is seafood and, and. Do, you know, there’s obvious ones. What are the obvious seafood dishes that are there?

Jimmy: And you know, what, what are you guys doing with the menu?

Greg: Well, I mean, like, you know, there’s new Orleans is again like I said, it, it, it is like an incredible place for food and beverage, but also for [00:29:00] music and also for like people. It’s one of the places, you know, after the, after the pandemic hit I can tell you DC and, and I think in New York too, it lost a lot of its service industry people, you know, people who were like interested in bartending and serving and cooking, washing dishes, running food, making restaurants hum.

Greg: It kind of, it, it, it definitely went away a bit and it’s still a struggle to find the right people in these areas. New Orleans. Didn’t as much in my opinion. And I think one of the reasons for that is that in New Orleans, people respect and appreciate the food culture and the restaurant culture in a way that’s been really, really kind of, Mind blowing to me.

Greg: I, I didn’t realize that when I going down there, I knew the food was amazing. I mean, the corner bars have fantastic gumbo. You know what I mean? It’s [00:30:00] like one of those things. Yeah. But I didn’t realize that. And now it’s like if you’re a server or bartender in, in New Orleans, that’s like a, a profession.

Greg: It’s, it’s lauded. People respect you for that in a way that they, I wish they did around the world more, but in New Orleans, it’s still like that. So it, I think it’s drawing in a lot of, you know, people who want to, who want to make food, serve food, serve drinks in a way that you don’t see around elsewhere.

Greg: So that’s what I, one of the things it has going for us for it plus. It is kind of better weather. I mean, it’s warmer, but now I think it’s like 120 degrees there today. But you know what I mean? And and, and you can afford to live there. That’s another thing that’s really important about New Orleans for the time being.

Greg: But yeah, as far as food goes, you know, on the barbecue side for Devilman Barbecue we’re all meat based. But on the, the restaurant side yeah, we’re, we’re, we’re working with everything mean. Shannon is, is, is going [00:31:00] all in on local sourcing. Utilizing great like you said, like seafood and stuff that’s, that’s, that’s local.

Greg: But, you know, it’s, it’s, it’s an incredible place for, for not just for, for food and you know, like ingredient driven food, but also just for technique. It’s amazing. Yeah. No, it’s, it’s okay. The, the big quiz is, do you know what barbecue shrimp is? Oh, yeah. What’s barbecue shrimp? Because there’s no, it doesn’t go in a smoker.

Greg: Oh yeah. It has nothing to do with barbecue. I mean, it’s like, it’s like a kind of a sweet and spicy sauce over the, the shrimp that’s been seamed,

Jimmy: right? Yeah. And, and it’s, it’s got a really rich butter sauce. So that’s how it’s supposed to be. Exactly. And it’s, it’s, it’s quite amazing. You pick it out and you peel ’em and you have, you know, crusty bread and you dip it in [00:32:00] Something fun.

Jimmy: Something fun for everyone. I.

Greg: Your palate is, is a disaster. It’s, it’s totally overwhelmed. Like all the food in New Orleans is just like big. Everything is big. You know what I mean? Like from, from gumbo to Etsu Fe to Poe boys, like everything is massive in flavor. And when I come home from, from work trips down there to DC I have to like eat, you know, basic stuff for a while.

Greg: It’s just to like come down from it. I mean, it’s that intense. And it’s just, it’s, it is truly remarkable what they do down there.

Jimmy: It’s like a high culinary iq.

Greg: Oh yeah. Kind of. Oh. Oh no. Like beyond a doubt. Like, and like I said, they’re drawing chefs. I can’t tell you, you know, the amount of chefs I run into down there that used to work in DC or New York is, is like astonishing.

Greg: It’s so cool. [00:33:00] They’re like, yeah, you know, we cut our teeth at, you know, you name it, Jean George or whatever. And then we came down here and these people, these men and women, they’re, they’re, they’re cooking your food daily in New Orleans. I mean, it’s, it’s really unbeliev. It is so cool. So, well you go in there,

Jimmy: neighborhood restaurant group opening in New Orleans is significant.

Jimmy: And, you know, I wanna, I want give you guys put you in the spotlight because, As I said when we first started talking hospitality, you guys as operators, I mean, you, you came up when you did Grand Delany in in New York. I mean, that was a space and a new development and, and I didn’t know any New York City based operator that was really up for the challenge of that.

Jimmy: And, and you guys did, did a great job.

Greg: Thank you. Yeah, I mean we, we want, we want all in. I think that’s always our thing is we’re trying to figure out ways. To open cool spots like across the country [00:34:00] in places that we love and that we feel like we can contribute to. You know what I mean? Like when we opened Grand Olan New York and when we opened Bruce St.

Greg: Exxon in New Orleans, we felt like it was missing. Like there wasn’t something like that. And, and I think that that’s really what we’re trying to do. You know, it’s, I mean, never say never, but we don’t typically go to some of these places that have. A million beer bars or a million breweries, or a million barbecue joints or, you know what I mean?

Greg: Like we’re really selective about where we go. But we want to be a part of the scene that we really appreciate as well.

Jimmy: Well, listen, Greg, we’re off to a great start. We’re gonna take a few minutes. We’re back on Beer Sessions Radio.

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Jimmy: Hey, hey. Welcome back to Beer Sessions Radio on Heritage Radio Network.

Jimmy: Hey, support us and become a slash donate. There’s over 30 [00:36:00] podcasts from the world of Food, farming Cocktails, wine and Beer. On Heritage radio or so, I’ve got Greg Angerer from the Neighborhood Restaurant Group. You know, ’em as church key or in New York Grande, but they just opened up in New Orleans the brewery St.

Jimmy: X, and we’re having a great one-on-one our first time getting to talk to each other. So, Greg let, let’s talk about some of the different kind of beer styles and categories since, since we kind of got an overview of Brewery St. X and why you guys went to New Orleans. So you’ve been talking side lagger.

Jimmy: They’re, you know, I’ve been to notch brewing up, up here. What is it about that side? Pour? I mean, I know it, it, it, it tastes great. What is it about the style and the history of side pour and why is it, why is it, I mean, I wanna drink that all the time.

Greg: It’s you know, it, it’s something, again, it was just so fascinating.

Greg: It’s like 20 years ago when I got started in this, nobody [00:37:00] had even heard about a side pole faucet from the Czech Republic. I mean, at the same time it was like, Czech beer really wasn’t all that known or discussed. So it’s an amazing influence on the craft beer seen in America. And what it does is it dispenses beer again, like, just like ca in a way that is unique, is singular.

Greg: So, When you pull a a side pole of, of vlogger, you actually bring out foam first and then the rest of the beer. Which is I important because it tells you how much, how important foam is. But there’s a there’s a small like screen in the side pole faucet that causes some agitation. So as you’re pulling the beer through, you’re getting this really incredible like moose like.[00:38:00]

Greg: Head on the beer. It’s big, it’s foamy, but it’s soft and, and, and rich on the palette, and it’s something that you simply would not generate from pouring a beer through a standard. Tap or out of a standard bottle or out of a standard can. So that’s really cool. Also, we find that when we bring our beers through these taps, they kind of soften up.

Greg: They, the bitterness is not as pronounced. And I think that has to do with the fact that carbonic acid and, and foam and carbonation exacerbates or accentuates bitterness in a way that when you pull it through this side pole, you just get the soft, creamy. Head that that kind of creates nuance and subtlety where it may not have been there before.

Jimmy: Yeah. It, it’s amazing the different ways support, but it’s also that you wanna drink that head.

Greg: Yes, exactly. And, you know, some of these things, I think it’s become this [00:39:00] I don’t know. I would say it may be a little bit. Geeky or trendy to, to, to do this thing where you do the milco pours where it’s all foam or like have lingo, which is partially foam and stuff like that.

Greg: We don’t really get into that as much. But. People love it. And that’s the thing, like obviously one of the reasons that this has become so big is because it makes for great pictures and great social media posts and, and everything else, which is not, not a knock to it at all. I mean, we need to market everything we make and, and make people interested.

Greg: So that’s been another thing that’s been great about it.

Jimmy: Well it’s, it’s like what you said about ca it’s another reason to get you outta your house to the pub.

Greg: Yeah. Talking to other people, you know, drinking in public and, and drinking session. Be sessionable beers in public. That’s the other thing that’s so cool about this, like ca scale, most of the casts that we serve are sub four point percent.

Greg: Most of the lockers we serve are sub [00:40:00] 5.2%. You know, these are beers that should be consumed in large glasses with friends and responsibly of course, but also sessionable. So you can get on with your day.

Jimmy: Wow. You’re really get selling me on, on Brewery St. X. The, the show we did a few years ago was about lambic.

Jimmy: It was a really cool episode and I know for one of the New York City weeks at Grand Yeah. You guys hosted kind of a. You can’t not. I like that. We started talking about Belgian beers. You remarked on D B A and New Orleans having on on tap, always having DuPont. When we talk about different Belgian beers the same way we’re talking about cask beers or side pool laggers, I feel like there, there, it’s not necessarily that it’s a a craft beer thing as much as it’s a component of a good beverage program.[00:41:00]

Jimmy: And I wanted to get your, your thoughts on that because I, I was thinking about a time I was at a bar in, in Amsterdam and they had their full gamut of different. You know, boutique artisans ops vie they had their, their standard Dutch pilsner, but then they had a whole section of just of, of the top Belgian traps in bottles.

Jimmy: And people thought that was normal. You know, that you had, you had, you know ako and, and a few others in, in bottle available. How do you feel. That, about that as a way to think about bars, because I feel like if you’re not a craft beer bar, you’re not gonna have a Belgian beer.

Greg: Right. And honestly, nowadays there’s fewer and fewer craft beer bars.

Greg: And even those that have craft beer, they tend to focus on American styles. You know, I think it’s, it’s, it’s crazy. ’cause like, I mean, in the old days, I, I’ll never forget this, when [00:42:00] I first got started in the business, when Ro. Would come into the country and we would have it on the menu, and it was just as expensive back then as it is now.

Greg: It would fly off the shelves and rose for, it’s one of the greatest traps. Breweries. They make incredible beers like the, you know, they, they make the, the six, the eight, the 10. Now they make a triple, but it would fly. And over time, people’s interest in, in, in, in, in, in Belgium. Beer has waned for sure. And.

Greg: I think to your point, I agree with you. I think a, a, a great beverage venue at a bar, not just a beer bar, but just a bar would have a certain amount of imports and, you know, domestic or, or local beers. That, that makes perfect sense. But it, it seems to be, It almost even harder, maybe I’m just looking back at this with like, you know, nostalgic eyes, almost even harder to find some of these beers around [00:43:00] than it used to be 20 years ago.

Greg: And I think partially that’s because, you know, it’s all about American breweries and, you know, small little. Tap local tap rooms. But I, I’m constantly telling people like, we need to keep drinking these amazing beers, like you said, like, and, and learn from them and, and, and, and be like them. But you know, the other thing is, As classic styles have come more in vogue, right?

Greg: Like over the, over the past few years we had a lot of hazy, i p a fruited sours and pastry stouts that dominated. But now things are kinda shifting back and we have lager coming around hugely, but also classic styles. It’s lager adjacent. It’s not a lot of bells and stuff. You know what I mean? Like we’re seeing British style beers being made, we’re seeing lots of laggers, whether it’s, you know, pale lager or you know, in Czech styles like TAVI or TAVI or things like that.

Greg: You’re not seeing a lot of brewers making [00:44:00] Belgium blo dale or triple or Cezanne as much as they did back in like the eighties and nineties, like you mentioned. So, It, it, it is, it is interesting. I hope it comes back. But I don’t know. Yeah, I think places like D B A that serve Orval might be their days, may be numbered, you know?

Jimmy: Yeah. It, it, it reminds me of, you, you, you were talking first about, you know, your early days and meeting Michael Jackson, the great writer. When one of his best books came out, people said that him writing about Cison DuPont, for example, saved that style.

Greg: Yep, totally did. That’s what I mean. That’s why you know, my friends Don and Wendy at Van Berg and Dul started importing that beer.

Greg: I mean, they c DuPont wasn’t even making very, very much of Cison at that point. They were making mostly Monet, the blonde [00:45:00] and the Bruin, the stronger beers. So it’s, it, it was interesting that that revived the, the style and then of course that went on to inspire so many beers in America and beyond.

Greg: But, Yeah, I don’t know. I mean, like when you were doing your places in New York as is just a different time, wasn’t it?

Jimmy: I mean, we, that Jimmy’s four three opening. 2005 and having at least a decent lineup of, of classic Belgians was kind of the only option. You know, you had a, I had a couple American craft, but you know, I always had sheme one sheme on draft.

Jimmy: You know, I had things like Avan as well. But it, it, it rounds it out, you know, I, I remember. Typical draft list we had in the early days, and it had like, you know, two different types of wheat, two different types of pilsners, two different types of i p a, two different types of dark, but, but it always had at least two or three different Belgians on.

Jimmy: Right. So yeah, I mean it’s, [00:46:00] it’s, it’s, it’s not gonna go away, but like, like we just said about Michael Jackson, that, that some breweries can die out, you know, if you don’t drink them. So I guess if you, if you love something, you have to drink it, but I wonder. Yeah.

Greg: But I wonder though, like for us, I mean like, I get, I get, so, I get concerned about it ’cause it’s like, I don’t know who’s drinking this stuff anymore.

Greg: Like Argentina is, is one of the greatest fears in the world, and it’s a shame that that’s not available to more people like it used to be. I don’t know. It’s just, I,

Jimmy: I think, I think like a lot of things, like, I feel like that, that people, as they get more sophisticated, it’s, it’s, if those products are available, there’s always gonna be people that, that’ll discover them and come back.

Jimmy: We’ll take them on as long, as long as, as long as they’re available, you know? So on that note, I’d like to just say that if I have my choice of beers right now, you’re, you’re making me think about, about drinking a good Belgian right now. [00:47:00] I, I’m gonna seek one out and I was gonna propose perhaps at, since I’m up in Grand Delany, or, or if I visit you somewhere, maybe you put together a kind of your vision of classic Belgians like a one night, a simple little taste in Greg’s style.

Jimmy: That would be pretty cool. That’d be awesome. I travel

Greg: for that one. And that would be like, I mean, it’s funny, I mean, there’s, the breweries that immediately come to mind are of course, like de Lacent from Brussels Durka, which is from, you know, west Flanders, and then Canon from Brussels as


Greg: Which is one of the best, you know, farmhouse hale producers from, from Hano es depal.

Greg: We talked about Orval. I would love, I would love to do that, but I, I wanted to ask you, I mean, like, You make a good point about people, you know, maybe progressing to this, but I get nervous. I mean, I, you know, there’s been a lot of, of, of, of American brewery closures [00:48:00] recently and I think this just like the, you know, the correction for the market.

Greg: But I wonder sometimes if, like, we haven’t, if, if people, young, younger people now don’t just associate beer with like a tap room. That they like are around. ’cause think about this, like when I was a kid when you were a kid, there was no such thing as craft beer as we know it today, really. So we were reacting against our parents when we chose craft beer.

Greg: It was a cool new thing and it was weird, it was niche. It was, you know, somebody you gotta seek out. But now, 20, 20 year olds 25 year olds, they have never really lived in a world that didn’t have craft beer. You know? Yeah. So I wonder like, is this all going to even out? Like, is it, is it, are people gonna be interested in things like ment or, or Belgian beers if they just equate drinking craft beer with whatever local beers around?[00:49:00]

Jimmy: I don’t know. I, I think, I think that they’re classic but for a reason. And I, I think that. I think that there’ll be people drawn to it. As long as there’s people like you that, that, you know, you don’t have, you don’t have to feature ’em all the time, but you know, maybe you have a seasonal Right. You know, like Todd at, at Good Word has his little beer fest, which is amazing for that category.

Jimmy: You know, I, I used to do a Battle of the Belgians event. Going back to maybe 2008 where I got to meet a lot of the, the, the Belgian importers. I didn’t realize how many different Belgian beers there were. And it was we, Wendy Littlefield, that called me out on it. So, you know, I, I think that’s, I.

Jimmy: This is also why we’re talking, is that Yeah, yeah. You, you’re the Republican and you, you are a taste maker. I can say that and then smile, because you know, you’re not just a brewery, not just a brewery pumping out your brand. You know, you’re, you’re putting a lot of products in front of people for sure.

Jimmy: [00:50:00] And you know, perhaps there’s a person that’s gonna, it, it, it’s not like they’re gonna go to the Belgians that you’re gonna put it in front of, and they’re gonna have that epiphany which they’re not getting from an I P A. Or, you know, or, or a sour, like a regular fruited sour, or that’s a lagger, you know?

Jimmy: Totally. And it, it works, you know, at the end of the night, it’s like, I remember myself, it, it was more about pacing and it’s like I had a couple drinks or, or, or regular beers, and then I wanted like a Belgian triple. Belgian quad. Yeah. To kind of close it out. So I was drinking that instead instead of a whiskey.

Jimmy: So, you know, it’s, it’s, it’s, it, it’s something that you, you’re good at. And I know, I know you’re gonna wrap your head around. So I’m gonna, now you’ve got cast down, you got side, side pulls down. We’re gonna do, you’re gonna do it, and I’m gonna come to it. Some really cool Belgian tasting. All right,

Greg: well, yeah, for sure.

Greg: I think we should do it together. Maybe we should revive the Battle of the Belgians, you know, maybe down in New Orleans. [00:51:00]

Jimmy: It’d be fun. For sure. You know, all the importers were there and There’s a lot of good people. Cool. So that’s, love to do that with you. Maybe in the winter that would be a fun time to go to New Orleans.

Jimmy: What, what’s it like? Talk about the season. It’s 120 degrees there now. Yeah, I know people, I know like taste tales of the cocktails coming up end of July. It is indeed. Yes. And that’s gonna be a wild blast. But let, let’s talk about, but winters there because it, it’s

Greg: winter’s perfect there. It’s great. I mean, look, you’re down there in November through May.

Greg: It’s, it’s beautiful. It, it really is. I mean, it’s, it’s, it’s, you know, it’s temperate. It can be a little bit warm, maybe a little stormy, but it’s amazing. So that’s, that’s really the time to be there and, you know, good for them too. ’cause Mardi gra t typically always, you know, falls in February and March, but yeah, that is the time to go.

Greg: Summer times are a little bit harder unless you’re going down for tails of the cocktail, like you said. [00:52:00] But yeah, it’s, it’s it’s

Jimmy: beautiful. Yeah. So let’s we’re, we’re, we’re gonna sign off soon, but let’s say maybe January. We’ll do something with Belgians. I’d go down to New Orleans in the, the mid to end of January.

Jimmy: I think that’d be a good time for you. Yeah, yeah. It’ll be great. So Greg, anything else you wanna say before we go? ’cause this brewery is an x I’m just so happy I opened that email because Did not know you were opening a place in New Orleans and now it’s another reason to go down there for my first time.

Jimmy: For sure.

Greg: I mean, I think, you know, it’s like we’re just happy to be able to, to kind of Add to the, the really the incredible food and beverage scene that’s down there already. And in the Bruce Xanax, you know, we’re, we’re a stones throw from, from the Superdome. We are a 15 minute walk from the heart of the French Quarter, like we are, we’re in the warehouse district.

Greg: It’s incredible. We, we do really, really fantastic beers [00:53:00] there. Alex and his team are, are punching out in really, really beautiful loggers and cascade scale and everything else Shannon’s doing an amazing job with, with food. So I think, you know, I think we should be on the on the list when you come down to New Orleans.

Greg: Everybody tends to go to New Orleans from time to time. Definitely check us out. I think we’re, we’re providing a beer. Food experience that is unlike any others and really, really excited to be there.

Jimmy: Wow, man. Well thanks so much. Thanks, Greg Engert of now of Brewery Saint X in New Orleans for joining me here on Heritage Radio Network.

Jimmy: Big shout out to Matt Patterson, our our engineer. And I’m Jimmy Carboni. I’m your host on Beer Sessions Radio. We’ll catch you next time. Thanks so much guys. Woo. Thank you. Beer Sessions Radio is powered by simple cast. Thanks for listening to Heritage Radio Network, food Radio, supported by you. Keep in [00:54:00] slash subscribe.