Foam Party

Reserve rare and cellared beers at Birch & Barley and Churchkey in Logan Circle

Since opening last fall, Logan Circle's Birch & Barley restaurant and its upstairs bar, Churchkey, have drawn attention for an ambitious list of 555 beers curated by Greg Engert.

Now, Engert is quietly unveiling his most precious bottles with a new reserve list of his 55 rarest and most interesting brews.

For several years (dating back to his start at partner restaurant Rustico), Engert has been setting aside bottles from favorite batches to mature. While most beers are meant to be enjoyed fresh, cellaring enhances the complexities of finer varieties.

"Many wines are meant to be aged, but beer is more democratic than wine," Engert says. "You can drink beer now, a year from now, or three years from now to see how it changes and becomes delicious in different ways."

Engert's list includes both vintage beers and rare new releases; he also plans to add large-format beers, in bottles that hold up to nine liters (let the party begin!).

Due to the low quantities of each bottle, Engert will update his list daily. Here are his current favorites:

Oerbier Special Reserva 2008 ($25) This Belgium brewery encourages natural fermentation, using processes similar to aging wine. The 2008 vintage was aged in Bordeaux barrels to add a winelike complexity to the ale.

Tokyo 2010 ($30) Scotland's BrewDog produces this rich, chocolaty stout, which gets its 18 percent ABV thanks to fermentation with extra Champagne yeast and sugar. Using an old tradition, the brewery also adds local cranberries and jasmine to the recipe.

Goudenband 2005 ($25) This complex (and extremely rare) ale from Belgium's Brouwerij Liefmans is a blend of three consecutive vintages, which balances sweetness from the younger beer with acidic notes from the older barrels.

Birch & Barley and Churchkey, 1337 14th St. NW (between N St. and Rhode Island Ave.); 202-567-2576 or birchandbarley.com