An education in beer

Tomorrow I start my second semester teaching a college writing course. I’ve found that this experience has given me greater appreciation for opportunities to learn.

There’s not a whole lot of  chances in adult life to sit back and absorb knowledge, much less something you’re interested in. It’s a luxury.

And it’s an even bigger luxury when when the subject is beer.

So to get myself in the educational mindset, I attended Sprecher Brewery‘s tapas and beer tasting along with my wife tonight. It’s not every night you can spend almost three hours learning about how different beers bring out certain food flavors, and vice versa. It was satisfying homework.

Sprecher president Jeff Hamilton led the educational session as he narrated a sampling of a dozen Sprecher beers paired with 70 flavors including artisan cheese, nuts, fruits, snacks and the occasional pickled beet or smoked trout. As a bonus we also tried the new bourbon barrel root beer, which was like nothing I’ve ever had before. It was a sensory roller coaster.

As we tried Sprecher’s Hefe Weiss on the lighter side to an Imperial Stout at the heaviest, Jeff explained how different beer properties brought out extra smokiness or bitterness or sweetness or other flavors. Now it’s hard to have a beer without thinking about how it would taste with popcorn or dried strawberries.

Sprecher holds regular beer pairing as well as reserve tastings, and after this event I can highly recommend one or something similar at your own favorite brewery. Just like the best education, it’s not about memorizing terminology or trying to impress someone. It’s about expanding your boundaries — and recognizing the limitless possibilities.

Posted on Monday, January 14th, 2013