Featured Seminars at DC Craft Beer Festival - Spring Seasonal

Seminar Synopsis

"How America Became the King of Beers" By Tom Acitelli

Aft. Session 2:15 PM, Evening Session 7:15PM

When was the double IPA invented? Who started the first new craft brewery in the U.S. since Prohibition? What was the first American-grown aroma hop? Where did the first brewpub open? How on earth did we end up with extreme beer and what is it, exactly? Get answers to these and many other questions from Tom Acitelli, bestselling author of The Audacity of Hops: The History of America's Craft Beer Revolution ("A book for the craft beer nerd who thinks he or she already knows the story" - L.A. Times * "Excellent" - Slate * "Exhaustive chronicle ... lovingly told" - Wall Street Journal). Beginning in the 1960s and running through today, Acitelli will weave a tale of American craft beer full of characters and events nationwide sure to surprise even the most discerning of aficionados.

He will also host a tasting of three beers illustrating key pivots in the American craft beer movement since the 1960s.

And copies of The Audacity of Hops: The History of America's Craft Beer Revolution will be available for purchase and signing. Learn more at

"Charcuterie, Craft Beer & the Confluence of Flavor" By Greg Engert

Aft. Session 3:00 PM, Evening Session 8:00 PM

Beer's propensity for food pairing has become well-established, rising from the mundane matching of pub grub with macro lagers to the increasingly ubiquitous service of full-flavored craft beer with all manner of cuisine. As the irrepressible ascendency of craft-brewed ales and lagers continues, an ever expanding arsenal of flavor proffers a brew to suit each and every palate and each and every plate. 

As Beer Director for the Neighborhood Restaurant Group, Greg Engert has long been campaigning for the phenomenal felicity of craft beer and great food. In this seminar, Greg will investigate the beautiful interaction of craft beer and charcuterie, a pairing with myriad possibilities that has rarely received the attention afforded other high end matches, namely cheese. Birch & Barley and Bluejacket Executive Chef Kyle Bailey has prepared his signature, house-made charcuterie for the seminar, and Greg will offer delicious pairings for each distinctive style, including cured & dried sausage, mousse and terrine. 

“A Heady History of Brewing in Washington, D.C.”
By Garrett Peck 

Aft. Session 3:45 PM, Evening Session 8:45PM

Break out the pint glasses and pop the cap on the sudsy story of capital brewing.

 Washington, D.C. may have only opened its first production  brewery in fifty-five years in 2011, but brewing in the capital  region goes all the way back to 1770. Author Garrett Peck will  speak about his hot-off-the-presses new book, Capital Beer.  He’ll lead an entertaining and informative seminar, rich in  historic and modern images, about the Washington Brewery  (one name, seven locations); who first brewed lager in  Washington; how Prohibition nearly destroyed the brewing  industry; and the recent resurgence of production brewing  since the Christian Heurich Brewing Company closed in 1956.  He’ll also lead a  three-beer tasting of historic beer styles that  put Washington on  the brewing map. 

 A Q-and-A will follow Peck’s seminar, and there will be an  opportunity to purchase signed copies of Capital Beer: A Heady  History of Brewing in Washington, D.C. and Prohibition in  Washington, D.C.: How Dry We Weren’t

Seminar Leader Bio's

Tom Acitelli is the Author of "The Audacity Of Hops" : The History Of America's Craft Beer Revolution (Chicago Review Press; May 2013), the first history book of the American craft beer movement.

 He is a regular contributor to Town &  Country and is the founding editor of  Curbed Boston. He was a senior editor  at The New York Observer for five  years; and has also written for The New  York Times, the Wall Street  Journal,, the New York Post,  Redbook and All About Beer, the  leading trade magazine for the  American brewing industry. He earned  degrees from the University of North  Carolina at Chapel Hill and the  Columbia Journalism School; and lives  in Cambridge, Mass., with his wife, an  art historian.

Greg Engert, Beer Director, Neighborhood Restuarant Group. 

After receiving his undergraduate degree in English Literature from Middlebury College, Greg arrived in Washington, DC over a decade ago to pursue a masters degree at Georgetown University. The restaurant industry came calling, and he soon found himself immersed in a wholly new discipline: craft beer. Now Greg uses his extensive knowledge and experience to craft unique beer programs for the Neighborhood Restaurant Group’s fifteen restaurants, bars and retail outlets, including the acclaimed beer bar ChurchKey and its sister restaurant Birch & Barley. Recently, Greg spearheaded the opening of Bluejacket, an innovative boutique brewery consistently offering an impressive list of 25 house-brewed ales and lagers on draft and cask. Greg has traveled across the country for various speaking engagements and presentations on the subject of craft beer, has been nominated by the James Beard Foundation for “Outstanding Wine & Spirits Professional” and was the first and only beer professional to be named a “Sommelier of the Year” by Food & Wine magazine. Most recently, Imbibe named Greg Engert their "Beer Person of the Year" for 2013.

Garrett Peck is an independent historian and author of Capital Beer: A Heady History of Brewing in Washington, D.C. (The History Press: March 2014) his fifth and latest book.

 He leads the “Temperance Tour” of Prohibition-  related sites in  the nation’s capital, which has been  featured on the  History Channel program “Ten  Things You Didn’t  Know About” with punk rock  legend Henry Rollins  and on C-SPAN Book TV. 

 Peck was involved with the DC Craft Bartenders  Guild in lobbying the DC City Council to have the  Rickey declared Washington’s native cocktail in  2011. He researched and pinpointed the historic  Washington Brewery site at Navy Yard. He has  lectured at the Library of Congress, delivered the  Ruth Ann Overbeck Lecture, and often speaks at  historical societies, literary clubs and trade  associations about Americans and alcohol. A native  Californian and VMI and George Washington  University graduate, he lives in Arlington,  VA.