Friday, 28 September 2012

Beer Academy Adventures

So I received a Direct Message, on Twitter. It felt like an invitation to some sort of secret society. The much loved Matt Kirkegaard (what a great name!), had extended an invitation to me. To attend "Beer Academy". Yep, this is a real place. Well, it's more of a concept. But it is held in a place.

Our introductory beer

Beer is one of those things that people seem to either love or hate, and some - with very little knowledge of the subject. I'm in the middle. I thought I knew a fair bit about beer - but Beer Academy proved me wrong. I've never been one for fancy beer, or even particularly trying new things, but I do enjoy a beer. And my interest had been piqued recently by ending up at "Scratch Beer Dive"  with my friend Danielle in Milton, and trying a beer called "Mike's Organic Heavy Petal" (HA! I just got the pun!) - that tasted, overwhelmingly, of rose petals. Now that's not something you usually expect to associate with beer, is it? But it sure opened my mind up.

Beer, on the whole, has a pretty tough job. We all assume that every working man drinks it (sweeping generalisation, I know), but it tends to end up in a male-dominated market, relying upon base-level marketing, and concepts of "mateship", rather than taste or ingredients. It's often a social thing. Or we view trying and critiquing "fancy" beers at some bizarre, uncomfortable, male bonding exercise. But how wrong we can be...

I don't quite know what it is about wine that makes people wax lyrical, and brings out the inner poet in everyone (perhaps it's the alcohol). I do like wine, but being completely honest, I'd have to say - I don't quite "get it". But beer is accessible. Perhaps too accessible.

Beer Academy was a wonderful experience. Matt knows his stuff. And I mean, really. There's a lot to know. There's not an ounce of pretentiousness in Matt, and he really strives towards his mission - part of which is to make beer "a conversation". where individual experiences and thoughts are valued and encouraged.

The list of what we tasted.. and what professional placemats!
We tasted a number of beers - including a wittily named beer from Burleigh called "My wife's bitter", and I was surprised at the depth of flavour and the variety in so many factors of the beer.

I have to admit that I started out taking it all very seriously, but by the end, I was pretty tipsy (OK, drunk). I hadn't had anything to eat that day, had done a fair bit of exercise, and was pretty dehydrated. Enough excuses - it attracted a good group of people, and beer's true nature did shine - in the end, I felt like I was sitting around, having a beer, and some conversation, with mates - despite the fact that I didn't know these people at all.

Contrast in colour. And what incredibly different tastes and character.

Beer Academy would be a fantastic adventure for anyone with a slight interest in beer - and I think it would appeal to a real broad cross-section - I can't recommend it enough, it's unlike any "tasting" you've ever been to. Thank you, Matt, for the invitation. I'd love to come back again.

We tasted some of the different varieties of ingredients found in good beer...

As an aside - being quite tipsy afterwards, and then joining May King and her husband for a drink, and having driven my car into the city, I ended up having to abandon it, and I was picked up by a friend on the way to dinner. We had such a fabulous time at dinner that I completely forgot my car was still in the city. Hours later, quite late, on a Saturday night, James and I got into bed, I had sobered up - and all of a sudden - it dawned on me that I had left my car in the city. And I couldn't remember where it was, other than it was parked SMACK BANG out the front of a stripper club (what do they even call them? a boob bar?) in the city, near Spring restaurant. Gee, I wonder why that was the only car park left in the city... So I had to get up, get re-dressed, and catch a cab into the city to somewhere near the stripper club (I was too embarrassed, and didn't know the name, to go there directly). Feel sorry for poor, long-suffering, sleepy James. What a sight that was at night - and the ladies were trying to get us inside. Surprisingly "no thanks, we're clearly gay" worked a treat, and we drove back home again. But it was so worth it.

I think I was just drunk and feeling artsy by the time I took this...

 Beer Academy runs a number of classes, aimed at beer-drinkers of varying levels of interest and knowledge, that I highly recommend. They're easy-going, comfortable, approachable, and most-of-all, enjoyable. The class I attended was a 90 minute "tasting", aimed at those that like beer but don't know much about it. For more information on Beer Academy and upcoming classes - see their website - and for any questions, you can (and should!) follow the host, beer writer Matt on Twitter @goodbeermatt.