A Festivus for All of Us: Rustico’s Christmas Beer Cornucopia
Rustico celebrates the Advent season by offering their customers a gift they won’t want to return; some rare and delectable holiday beers.
Rustico calls its annual holiday beer bash Festivus after a made-up holiday from the TV show Seinfeld. However, Greg Engert, beer director for the Neighborhood Restaurant Group (which includes both Rustico locations), draws his inspiration from a more traditional Christmas celebration.
“The 24 brews represent an Advent calendar of sorts, with each ‘day’ promising something more elusive and exciting than the ‘day’ before!” Engert explains.
Twelve holiday beers will be featured on Monday evening, December 19 at the Rustico in Ballston. A totally different lineup of a dozen seasonal brews (along with what Engert describes as some “amazing glassware,” from Mason jars to goblets) will be offered the next night, December 20, at the Rustico in Alexandria.
The piece de resistance for Monday night will be a cask of 4 Calling Birds from The Bruery, a tiny microbrewery in Placentia, California. There are only three kegs of this rare offering in the entire northern Virginia market, Engert says, and Rustico got the lone cask. “It tastes of Belgian strong dark ale drizzled over gingerbread cookies,” comments Engert on this holiday treat.
Other selections for Monday evening will range from the dark and hoppy New Belgium Snow Day to Great Divide Brewing Company’s strong and soothing winter warmer, Hibernation Ale, to classic imports like Belgium’s St. Bernardus Christmas Ale and Germany’s Einbecker Winter Bock.
Rounding out the beer menu are Mikkeller Santa's Little Helper, Schlafly Christmas Ale, Brasserie des Géants Noël des Géants, New Holland Cabin Fever, Ridgeway Very Bad Elf, and Oppigårds Winter Ale.
On Tuesday evening, you can enjoy Lagunitas Sucks Holiday Ale, Ommegang Adoration, Nøgne Ø Winter Ale, Tröegs Mad Elf Holiday Ale, Bell's Christmas Ale, Ridgeway Bad Elf, Mahr's Christmas Bock, Scaldis Noël, Delirium Noël, and Sierra Nevada Celebration, plus two strong Belgian-style ales made locally: Port City’s Tidings and Lost Rhino’s RhiNoel.
Festivities begin at 6 p.m. on both nights. There is no admission fee, and beers will be priced according to full pours.
Engert himself plans to attend both nights of Festivus, so you’ll have a chance to talk to him and ask about his ambitious projects for 2012. Engert is still working on a small boutique brewery, bar and restaurant in southeast Washington, not far from the Nationals’ ballpark, but there is no word yet on when this will open or what beers it will make.
In the meantime, though, Engert is setting up a Beer Academy for the New Year. He elaborates, “I will be holding a tasting seminar one Saturday a month from 1 to 3 p.m., focusing on a different theme to be covered during each class. Within each seminar, I will cover all facets of the particular theme—ranging from flavor evaluation and food pairing to historical and cultural relevance—while students taste no fewer than six different beers appropriate to the specific theme. Each class is $24 each, but we will be offering incentive for our ‘students’ to sign up for a full scholarship (12 classes) and get a discount.”
Possible topics include Farmhouse Ales of the World, Sour Ales, and Real Ale: A Cask Primer.
You can win a full scholarship! Those attending both nights of Festivus will have their names entered in raffle. Prizes will include Rustico gift cards, hand-picked rarities from Engert’s stash of holiday beers, and a “full ride” to the inaugural 2012 Beer Academy.
So remember to get your Festivus badges stamped, and maybe you’ll get an early Christmas gift.