That’s how I came to be stumbling around outside Great Lakes Brewery in the dark, looking for the door. It might be close to the lights of the highway, but their parking lot still gets pretty dark once they turn the store lights off. I bumped into a few other people in the course, and we found our way up to a space on the second floor.
Roger Mittag, the teacher, is both knowledgeable and engaging, so the time went quickly. Most of this first class was taken up by going over the ingredients and brewing steps. It felt like review after reading Tasting Beer by Randy Mosher, but repetition of concepts is never a bad thing.
The last half hour was what I had been looking forward to the most – tasting concepts. It’s easy to read about aroma and taste, but so hard to put into practice without some guidance. What does banana, coriander or biscuit really smell or taste like in a beer? Expanding my knowledge about my palate and developing the language to describe it are going to be critical in this pursuit of a job in the beer industry.
I liked the group dynamic, being able to talk through the aromas and tastes. My notes on what we tried:
- Sleeman Cream Ale – Colour: golden, clear. Aroma: grape/wine. Flavour: low impact, slight biscuity/grain taste
- London Pride Pale Ale – Colour: clear honey, off-white foam. Aroma: toffee, apple, fig, honey. Flavour: low impact, slight nutty/grain taste, like grandma’s walnut bread.
- Guinness – Colour: black with ruby hints. Aroma: coffee, burnt oatmeal, molasses, smoke. Flavour: molasses, smokey campfire.
- Great Lakes Crazy Canuck – Colour: gold, hazy. Aroma: heavy citrus, pink grapefruit pith. Flavour: grapefruit peel. I had a real problem with this one. A sinus infection was making itself known and the headache was making me feel nauseous. It was all I could do get it down, between that and over-the-top (for me) grapefruit bitterness. It might be a while before I can drink anything like this again.
I took the transit home with two of my classmates, Jen from Ltd Supply Kitchen Brewery, a blog I’ve been reading for a while, and another Jen, this one from Beerlicious, the event group behind the Toronto Beer Festival and the Ontario Brewing Awards.
It was great to talk to women interested in beer as much as I am. I’m looking forward to more conversations.