Day 80 – Friday, Nov. 21

This was the second early morning sensory class. My system is just not sure about ingesting beer before the coffee has even had a chance to wake me up yet. It will get used to it just in time for the semester to be over and the schedule to be shifted around.

It was all about hops this morning, and we rubbed, smelled and tasted the noble hops (Hallertau, Tettnang, Saaz and Spalt) and near-noble hops (East Kent Goldings, Syrian Goldings, Hallertau Herbrucker and Fuggles. My favourite is Fuggles – I like its earthy and slightly floral notes the best. Plus,I like to say Fuggles. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to say or think Fuggles without a little inner giggle.

Intro to Brewing was next, and we had Mark Murphy from Left Field as a guest speaker, talking about the trials and tribulations of contract brewing and then of building a brewery. I can’t wait to see it when it’s done, and so glad there is more east end beer action! It was a quick presentation; we went over past tests and assignments afterward and had a chance to voice any concerns about the program so far. The slightly scattered nature of the curriculum was discussed, how we learned hops first thing in one class, four weeks ago in another and just now in Sensory. I also mentioned concerns about the lack of detail in the midterm assignment which was basically one sentence, with no indication of how it was being assessed.

Jon took all our concerns and issues seriously and agreed to do what he could in terms of scheduling, and to give more detail in assignments. So we’ll see.

I did get my midterms back in Intro and Basic, and did well even though the vagueness completely stressed me out.

Early class dismissal was appreciated, so I could rush home to sit on on the QEW, the Gardiner and then on Overlea. Finally got home at 6-ish. The novelty has definitely worn off of commuting.

School, Day 0, in which I thank a lot of people

How to explain how I felt yesterday as I sat in a classroom for orientation, listening to people talk about the program I spent so much time and effort getting into. I think giddy covers it best.

(We’re going to gloss right over the nerves, anxiety, self-doubt and near-crippling panic that I experienced in the preceding 48 hours. The less said about that the better.)


Yes. We drank beer during the orientation info session. I can safely say we were the only program that did. They had 5 styles, but I felt that trying all five with no breakfast might be a mistake so I settled for samples of the NC Teaching Brewery saison and Septemberfest. Both made me wish I’d had breakfast.

I met most of my classmates. It appears that I am the only estrogen-based life form, which should make the next 16 months interesting. As well as from Ontario, there are two guys from the US, one from Calgary and another from Fredericton. I was as chatty as a nervous former teacher could be, so I’m pretty sure they know more about me at this point than I know about them. Note to self: sshhhhh.

Today is the first day of classes, and a fairly light one at that; an hour of Math of Finance at 11:30 followed by two hours of Computer Applications, which seems to be basically a self-learning software to guide one through the basics of MS Office. As someone who has taught it for the last 12 years, I am really hoping I can fast track through it.

I should go and have breakfast then shower and get dressed. But I can’t help but linger here over my coffee and think about how fortunate I am.

First and foremost, I have to hand it to my beloved. He was the one that planted this little seed in my mind by replying “Brewmaster Goodale has a nice ring to it” when asked what I should be when I grow up. He has been nothing but supportive and wonderful throughout the last year while I was recovering from having the rugged pulled out from under me and then planning and working toward this next stage. He is quietly sacrificing much. He is shouldering a larger financial burden while I’m a student, has seen his vacation cut short from 2 weeks as planned to 5 days to accommodate some work that came up for me, and is keeping the home fires burning solo while I’m at my mid-week home across the lake. He is, in a word, wonderful, and I am quite lucky to have him in my life.

While Keith keeps telling me I made it this far due to hard work, I could not have done it without a lot of help in one form or another from just about everyone I know.

  • my brothers Brian and Doug, and my sister-in-law Linda. They have been my cheerleaders in unexpected ways and have offered much needed moral support and offers of financial assistance (which I hope I don’t need). I am grateful for how they have my back.
  • The Moose, our friend who is graciously renting me a room in his house in Winona. I hope he still wants to be my pal after being my mid-week landlord for the next while!
  • The “beer girls” – Erica at Black Oak, Jen Murphy at Beerlicious and Jen Shute. I met them at the Prud’homme beer course and they have been invaluable sources of information and assistance whether it be a letter for my Second Career application or connecting me to beer folks so I can make some extra money doing LCBO tastings. You guys rock!
  • Bella Dodswell of The Career Foundation, who helped me navigate the paperwork minefield that is a Second Career application. My application would not have been successful without her cheerful advice.
  • Juliette, who is still willing and able to pick up the phone and talk me off a ledge, even though we live on opposite sides of the world from each other and are separated by a half a day’s worth of time zones. The woman has mad skills and I am proud to call her friend.
  • Lori is another friend from far away who is kind and generous with her time and herself. I appreciate her more than I can ever say.
  • Caroline, aka the Hoppy Beer Witch, who is funny and interesting, and who has been instrumental in whetting my interest in the BJCP.
  • Robin Le Blanc, the Thirsty Wench. I have only spoken with her a few times, but we have many common thoughts on social justice and equality. She has given me much to think on in terms of working to expand the diversity of brewing, while introducing me to people in the industry.
  • Toronto brewers, who helped my application by taking time to complete my survey: Steve at Liberty Village, Tomas from Spearhead, Jeff from Indie Alehouse, Mary Beth at Granite, Mandie at Left Field, Dave at Kensington and Doug at Junction Craft. Shout outs to Tina from Junction Craft and Paul from Flying Monkeys in Barrie who have patiently answered my many questions about the business on several occasions.
  • Nate Ferguson and Alan Brown of Niagara College, for giving me a tour of the college and patiently and promptly answering all of my email questions, no matter how big or small.
  • The women at the Admissions department of Niagara College. They gave me invaluable advice during the application process and their emails were always fun and friendly.
  • my derby pals, my former colleagues, former students, friends and friends-of-friends, and perfect strangers, all of whom said “wow cool” when I told them of my plan to become a brewmaster. No one said I was too old, too female, too unexperienced or too anything; everyone has been amazingly supportive and interested.

And for this, I thank you all from the bottom of my heart. I quite honestly could not have done this without you and I am grateful.

Let me buy you a beer next time I see you.

(cross posted from my personal blog, It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time)

Long weekend

My beloved and I made the 4-hour trek north to my nephew’s cottage near Killarney for the long weekend. I love it there because not only am I blessed with family that I like hanging around with, the cottage is completely unplugged and off the grid so we can all focus on enjoying our surroundings and time with each other.

My favourite part of going up there is sitting in this chair on the dock and talking with my family:

dock chair
Best seat in the house

while watching sunsets like this:

This has not been PhotoShopped in any way.

and drinking beers like these:

Left Field Eephus Oatmeal Brown Ale: This was the big hit. We all liked the nutty and malt notes, and wondered why I didn’t bring more of this.

Local 7 Session Saison: Still not loving it. As my brother said, it’s nice but it doesn’t make me want another glass of it

Missions Springs Bombshell Blonde: tasty but not exceptional. Great with snacks on the dock.

White House Honey Ale (homebrew): I was not impressed with this when I first tried it in December. All of the harsh notes I remember have mellowed and made a drinkable beer. Again, everyone wondered why I didn’t bring more.

Mill Street Spring Thaw Maple Ale: I was surprised at how much I like this. The maple is a low sweet note at the beginning that’s nicely offset by a slight bitter finish. Much nicer IMHO than other maple beers I’ve tried with a heavy cloying finish.

Mill Street Portage Ale: “Pretty mild but thirst quenching” was the campfire consensus.


Toronto Beer Fest

Honestly, how am I even mobile after yesterday? It’s a mystery. I wonder at my constitution when I think of how much beer I drank (16 tokens worth), how little water I drank (um, none), and how I forgot the time-tested preemptive 1-2-4 remedy before bed (1 big glass of water, 2 pieces of buttered toast, 4 Advils). Perhaps this is one of the side benefits of middle age that they don’t tell you about.

I had a wonderful time at the Toronto Festival of Beer Spring session. I got there around three, and luckily caught the last of Tennessee Voodoo Coupe’s set. I had read that a reggae band was playing (shudder, not my genre at all), so to walk in to good rockabilly was a very pleasant surprise.

I started with a Beau’s Kissmeyer Nordic Pale Ale, and loved the crisp freshness of citrus and hops. The next sample was a Black Pepper Saison from Big Rig. Holy smokin’ moley, this hit my taste buds just right – great balance, smooth, subtle, highly drinkable. So drinkable in fact that I had it three more times during the course of the evening. The guys at Big Rig were great to talk to and were super sweet, cheerfully dumping what tasted like ginger-spiced bandaids from another brewery that shall remain nameless, and re-filling with their amber goodness.

Other beers of note were

There were a few missteps too, like the overly sweet berry beer from Flying Monkeys, and the aforementioned ginger-spiced bandaid beer. We shall not speak of them again.

The best part of the day was hanging out with Jen who I had met in the Prud’homme Level One class. We get along like a house on fire (what an odd analogy, now that I think of it), and she brought some of her friends who I hope to see again.

There was much laughter as we talked about beer, motorcycles, knitting, cottages, men, how you know you’re a grown up when you buy your first couch and/or real bed, and the weird things that happen to you as you get older. The time flew.

Fun to hang out with!
You can't take your beer into the smoking area.
You can’t take your beer into the smoking area.
Backlit black pepper saison from Big Rig
Backlit black pepper saison from Big Rig