My First Beer Workshop



That was mostly the sounds coming out of me when I got in to my house just 20 minutes before I was supposed to start my first ever Thirsty Wench Beer Workshop on Google+ (concept mentioned here) at 9pm with some folks from scattered parts of the globe in attendance. The hours leading up to that involved grocery shopping, picking up the Two-Fisted Stout provided by the wonderful Amsterdam Brewery and going to C’est What for a Spearhead Brewery sampling of their Hawaiian Style Pale Ale which was a good idea in theory.  Of course I got in to a nice conversation with the sales reps and of course I ended up leaving later than I planned and by the time I got home I felt, even though I had gone through what I was going to talk about countless times, that I was pretty unprepared.  By the time my friend Cheryl came by to share the webcam with me, I had Gilbert & Sullivan playing at high volume, the beers were in the freezer and I was washing glasses with all the composure of a speed addict.  But one of the things Cheryl has always managed to do is stop me in my tracks and order me to calm down. So I did.  Kinda.

And then it started.  A little after 9pm people started trickling in and within the hour we had about six people all there to drink and talk about beer! The topic on this night was Stouts so I asked people attending to bring two different types of stouts, one Guinness (which anyone can get to act as a sort of base) and one local or “different” stout.

Aside from a few hiccups the meet went really good and the progression from one beer to the next ended up being pretty natural.  I did my best to talk about some of the more common tasting notes associated with stout and how brewers can deviate from all they want with some incredible results.  Then we tucked in to the Guinness.  What made it interesting was that we had a group of people who had occasionally had Guinness, never drank Guinness or it was there go-to drink at pubs, so to get the sometimes different taste impressions from a group of people drinking the same things was interesting along with the group coming to a general consensus on how the drink made them “feel”, which was that it represented a kind of comfortable hominess to them.

Then the second part of the workshop came to order and we all got our local/favorite stouts out.  One person brought a Yeti Imperial Stout from Great Divide Brewing Company, another bought Bluegrass Brewing Company’s Bourbon Barrel Stout and I brought along the Two-Fisted Stout from Toronto’s Amsterdam Brewery.  And hearing about the tasting notes as well as the aroma, getting a good look at the appearance of the beer int he glass (hooray for webcams!) and hearing about the personal likes and dislikes spoken not like we were all pushed in a line and forced to, but spoken as a fluid conversation with friends.

So all in all the workshop was a success!  I was relieved that so many people showed up and that I didn’t, as many first-time teachers worry about, have to spend the whole two hours talking with no interaction.  Alan, David, Max, Ian and Cheryl, you were a solid group of people!

So next up I’ll be taking down some of the notes I made from the suggestions given on how to improve the workshop as well as the dynamic.  I’m confident that the next one (I’m thinking Pale Ales) will be a lot of fun.

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