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The first beer that Rustico’s Greg Engert ever served the late Michael Jackson was a bottle of Stone Ruination IPA from California’s Stone Brewing. At the time, Engert was working at the Brickskeller, and he remembers that the “Beer Hunter” had just dropped in for a cold one after a trans-Atlantic flight. Jackson said he needed a “hit of hops.” Instead, Engert gave him a 22-ounce wallop of the so-called “hop monster.”
“He drank it in like two minutes,” Engert recalls.
Engert plans to raise a glass of Stone Ruination to Jackson’s memory at 9 p.m. on Sunday as part of a national toast to the “Bard of Beer,” who died on August 30 from a heart attack. You can join Engert; he’ll be selling 12-ounce bottles of the IPA for $5. A percentage of sales will go to the National Parkinson Foundation; Jackson had suffered from the disease for years.
Jackson’s work had particular meaning for Engert, Rustico’s beer director says, because the Beer Hunter focused a lot of his attention on Belgium, where drinkers not only enjoy their suds by the pint but also paired with meals. Under Engert and chef Frank Morales’ direction, Rustico has become the go-to restaurant for beer-and-food pairings.
The Dogfish Head Alehouse in Gaithersburg is also taking part in the toast, serving up half-priced pints and free apps for guests. (Speaking of Dogfish Head, its new alehouse in the Seven Corners center opens up tonight.) No one at the Brickskeller or RFD could confirm that beer houses will be taking part in the nationwide toast, though one believed the Brick will likely do something, whatever it might be. Why do I think Michael Jackson would favor Rustico these days if he were still alive?