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Neighborhood Restaurant Group beer director Greg Engert is always up for a challenge. First it was curating a massive beer list at ChurchKey. Then it was brewing beer at Bluejacket. Now he’s putting the finishing touches on the beer list for a community tavern and beer garden opening Oct. 17 in Montgomery County’s Pike & Rose development near the White Flint Metro station.
Owen’s Ordinary will not only be the first place to serve Bluejacket beer off-site, it will also boast a list with at least 200 beers. Seventy-five of them will be from Maryland, including Montgomery County itself, which is having a craft brewing boom.
“The Maryland craft brewing scene has been great for a long time thanks to classic brewers like Brewer’s Art and Oliver’s,” Engert says. “They’re joined now by up-and-comers that are outstanding like RAR and Manor Hill.”
Engert’s other Maryland favorites that can be found on the list include Burley Oak, Denizens, Union, Stillwater, Flying Dog, Heavy Seas, Jailbreak, and Evolution. “You’ll get not just one beer from each brewery, but a deeper selection,” he says.
Adding to the allure, many breweries from across the country and around the world will be making their Montgomery County debuts at Owen’s Ordinary such as Drie Fonteinen, Jester King, Fantome, Prairie, and Struise.
To bring this beer list to fruition, Engert had to work closely with Montgomery County’s Department of Liquor Control (DLC), which has long been maligned by bar owners. Until recently, all booze had to flow through the department, but a law passed in July 2014 (thanks in large part to breweries like Denizens) now allows smaller breweries to self-distribute. Removing the middle man dramatically reduces transport time, which means fresher beers for customers—something especially important for hoppy beers like IPAs and pale ales.
That said, only a small number of breweries are self-distributing, so Engert had to team up with the DLC to get the majority of the beers on the Owen’s Ordinary list.
“The DLC in MoCo is evolving every day. It’s been great working with them on this place,” Engert says. “A lot of people think their system is difficult, some think it’s antiquated, but it’s evolving, changing, transforming.” He continues to say they are adding staff, are very responsive, and are consistently expanding their selection.
Engert says the experience of working so closely with the DLC wasn’t jarring because he’s used to going the extra mile to bring in beers no one else is pouring. “Really in some ways, people just have to be willing to put in the effort and work more at it to get things you want to showcase,” he says. “Far too often with craft beer today, you see the same stuff on all these lists.”
The beer at Owen’s Ordinary will be poured from 50 draft lines, all set to the appropriate temperature for each style of beer, much like at ChurchKey and The Sovereign. Light, crisp beers will be poured at 42 degrees, while big, heavy beers will come out at 54 degrees, for example.
The food menu at the 175-seat restaurant that also has a 60-seat beer garden pairs well with beer and appeals to families—think burgers, salads, and several types of fondue.
Owen’s Ordinary, 11820 Trade St., North Bethesda; (301) 245-1226; owensordinarymd.com