As far as I’m concerned, everyone should know something about beer. Even if you don’t like it or drink it you should be able to hold at least a brief conversation that doesn’t involve the words “Beer tastes like piss”. Because that’s just juvenile (even if you think it’s true). Besides, few people start out actually liking the taste of beer. Especially with some of the crappier beers kids these days start out on.
Side rant: There are few things more irritating than someone professing how gross or disgusting whatever it is you’re consuming is (bananas, mushrooms, beer, whatever) simply because they don’t like it. I mean, honestly. No one says you have to pretend to like said item but you do need to pretend that you have more civility and social grace than a 3-year-old. Thanks.
Anyhoo, through LivingSocial I signed up for a beer class at Papago Brewing because I’ve never taken a beer class before. I’ve taken a wine class or two back in the day, but no beer classes. And like I said, I should know something about beer – other than it involves hops and that PBR got its hipster rebirth by accident through bike polo. So I ventured on over to Papago Brewing to see what’s what. While their website leaves something to be desired, their award list from over the past 10 years shows they do know something about brewing beer:
- 2010 AZCENTRAL’s Critics’ Pick – Best Brewery
- 2010 RateBeer “Best Beer Bars”
- 2008 New Times “Best Of” Best Brew Pub
- 2006 Great American Beer Festival Silver Medal for Hop Dog IPA in the first ever Pro-Am Category. Hop Dog was developed by our local homebrewer; Barry Tingleff
- 2005 Great American Beer Festival Bronze Medal for El Robusto Porter in the “Other Strong Ale or Lager” Category
- “Spirit of the Homebrew” Award, Zymurgy 2005
- “Top 50 Places to Have a Pint” 2003 & 2006 & 2010 Beeradvocate.com
- “Best Beer Selection” 2003 New Times Best of Phoenix
- “Best Place to Drink Beer” 2002 Rep’s Best
- “Best Porter” 2001 Rep’s Best
I’ve got my drinking cap on, I’m ready. So there are maybe 18 of us in this very first beer class, mostly couples and one group of dudes. We settled in, anxious to get
drinking learning. Our instructor Ron is the beer equivalent of a sommelier – a cicerone. This means he knows exactly what he’s talking about when it comes to beer. He imparted some of his knowledge. For instance, did you know there are only two categories of beer? Ales and lagers. That’s it.
Do you know what the difference is between lagers and ales? They’re distinguished by the types of yeast used in brewing – top-fermenting for ales and bottom-fermenting for lagers. And did you know that beer used to be used to pay part of people’s wages waaayy back in the BC days? Kinda like this but exponentially cooler. And amusingly during medieval times beer was even used for tithing. See? Even God likes beer.
During class we went through 5 different beers:
Pilsner – North Coast Scrimshaw
Golden Ale – San Tan Sunspot Golden Ale
Pale Ale – Epic Brewing Company Copper Cone Pale Ale
India Pale Ale – Hopago Pale Ale
Vanilla Porter - Breckenridge Vanilla Porter
(I evidently enjoyed this too much to take my own photo)
Ron told us a bit about each beer and what was involved in making them and what made them different, how hops were added and how frequently. He had bags of hops and grains so you could see and smell the origins of beer. Mmmmm beer.
I must say the class was pretty cool and I definitely learned some things about beer – sufficient for a brief conversation about beer. I suppose if you’re gonna twist my arm, I’d be willing to take some continuing education courses in the future.