08 Mar 2010 @ 9:30 PM 
 

A book club, but for beer.

 

What I needed, more than anything, was another project to work on.

My brain has delivered unto me another idea.

Back in February, a buddy and I went up to Winston-Salem for the Foothills Sexual Chocolate Release Party. There, we ran into the gents from Hop Cast. Nice guys. I mention them as gents, however, because of their participation in The Fellowship of Gentlemenly Gentlemen. It is a group of people who get together on a general basis with a plan for tasting beer, cigars, and liquors in a social setting. As it’s been described to me, it sounds like a good time, and in our brief conversation we said – maybe we should start something up. After all, “Southern Gentlemen” has quite a ring to it.

Then my brain started working on it, which is never healthy.

Sometimes, when I’m working on something but not moving on it, the idea kind of ferments in my head: starts off as one thing, I add beer, it kind of works around in there, I add more beer, and then three weeks later it emerges from its alcohol-soaked chrysalis as some sort of… insect, I guess.

Here’s what came out:

I want a tasting group.

Stuff that’s somewhat similar to my idea already exists in my local area. There’s TriBeer, but it seems to be about just showing up and socializing where there is beer. While that’s cool, it’s not what I’m looking for. There’s the classes put on by our local homebrew mecca American Brewmaster. They focus on styles, how to taste them, and how to make them. They’ve got one coming up on Belgian Ales. It’s definitely a good resource, but I’m not really looking for another homebrew event or how-to-brew information necessarily. And that tasting panel is really wide. “All Belgian beers”? Holy moly. That’s quite a target.

I want something like this:

A group of people show up at a bar. They know ahead of time that there’s a theme. Tonight, we’ll be drinking porters. Someone (who was prepped ahead of time) gets up and talks a little bit about the history of the style, what people generally expect when they drink porters, maybe a rundown of the BJCP style and the BA style. Then, you drink a porter. You talk about what you just had. What flavors did you taste? What components of what you just talked about did you notice in this porter? Then, you drink a different porter. How did it compare the previous porter? How as it different? How was it alike? How do either of these beers relate to the style overall? Then, you drink a third porter. Same questions. Talk, educate, taste, learn.

Basically, I guess what I want is a book club, but for beer. I want it to be educational, and I want it to be for people who are not necessarily beer geeks. I want to help people explore their palates, and learn new things. I want them to be able to talk about it and not be afraid of sounding stupid. I want people to learn what they like and what they don’t like. I want people to grow and help craft beer grow at the same time.

So I’m putting one together.

I’m putting the wheels in motion next Monday. I’m planning on doing it at Tyler’s Taproom in Durham. The first week will most likely focus on IPA, mainly because – after perusing their menu – that’s what they have three of. Until I can get permission to actually bring beer in somewhere and create a more customizable flight, that’ll be the easiest thing. I hope to be able to put a handful of people together and I hope to god that there will be somebody there that I don’t know. Bonus points if they also don’t know beer (or IPA) and are there to learn.

I don’t know. The whole thing could be a bust. It might just be me hanging out with friends drinking IPAs on a Monday night. That doesn’t sound so terribly bad, though. But I’d really like it to be the start of something great.

Next comes the huge question: What do you call it?

Tags Tags: , ,
Categories: appreciation, RDU
Posted By: erik
Last Edit: 09 Mar 2010 @ 11 44 AM

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Responses to this post » (18 Total)

 
  1. christopher says:

    I dig it – this is the sort of thing I’d like to practice so I can improve my beer design. I’ll be there and I’ll bring someone you don’t know. I may not make the first meeting cuz I’ve got company but maybe I can talk them into it.

  2. erik says:

    I’ll send you more info (like exactly when, etc.) when I get it figured out. Probably in the next.. oh.. 24 hours.

    • Moises says:

      Anybody here have their pilots lscenie or dreaming of getting one someday? The older I get, the more i’m seriously thinking about paying up the bucks to take flying classes. When I look up and see a piper cub or cessna flying along, the first thing that comes to my mind is freedom. Maybe thats why the thought of flying is so appealing to me. This is something I’ve been thinking about for the last 15 years. The only thing that I have now remotely close to flying is a flight simulator that I play on the computer. I want that in real life.My older brother was taking these classes out at Harvey field in Snohomish, Wa. He was about halfway through with the course when 9/11 happened and grounded all planes. He never went back to finish.

  3. As the aforementioned buddy, you can certainly count me in. I’d like to know what folks think about expanding this idea beyond style (as we talked about) to include tasting certain ingredients (a particular malt or hop or additive eg. brown sugar, oak, anise, etc) across beer styles to see how ingredients can influence flavor profiles specifically.

  4. Mike says:

    This sounds like an awesome idea. I’d go on Monday and I bet my gf will come along to.

    The first rule of beer club is….

  5. Jimmy says:

    Hrm. As long as I can wear a smoking jacket, refer to shieldsy as “my good man” and drink from a tiny glass with pinky finger extended, I guess it will be ok.

  6. erik says:

    Jimmy, I would be disappointed if you didn’t.

    Chris – totally and exactly and also – woo!

    The real trick is finding a spot where we can bring stuff in; most places won’t have the variety we need to be able to do this whole thing right.

  7. Tom from Raleigh says:

    Sounds like a lot of fun. Count me in. What time are you thinking?

    This type of thing seems better suited to a private home than a bar, though perhaps Tyler’s selection could make it the exception.

    If you did this as a guided tasting, you could hit Sam’s and pick up a single or two of each bottle that represents what you’re going for and not be limited to the selection at the bar.

    You could also have cool spins on the straight up topics like: American IPA through the decades: start with Anchor Liberty, hit Hop Devil, a few others and end up with a big dry West Coast IPA like Green Flash and talk about how the style has gotten bigger and more over the top since Fritz first introduce Liberty.

  8. Kevin says:

    Is this a weekly thing, or a monthly? I can’t do weekly, but will come whenever I can, no matter what… this is a great idea.

  9. Kevin says:

    Tom: your idea is great. I like tying the BJCP and history discussion back to the beers you are tasting.

  10. erik says:

    Monthly.

    I can’t keep up with weekly.

    I’m working with the events coordinator at Tyler’s to hammer out where, exactly when, and how many people we can accommodate.

    I’ll post more info here before midnight. Before next month it’ll have its own website.

  11. erik says:

    Announcement coming today. Keep an eye out here. I’ll post a new post.

  12. Nathan says:

    Sounds good! I’ll be there and should have a buddy with me.

    I’ll throw this idea out there. Whoever is “hosting” the beer style for that month picks the location. This could be a place like Tyler’s (like the Apex location : – ) or another beer bar.

    Also, I think Tom has a good idea about gathering at someone’s home. Might be more conducive to learning and broader variety within a style!

    That’s just my 2 cents. Great Idea and see you all Monday.

  13. erik says:

    My problems with hosting at someone’s home is that it really limits the amount of people that can be involved (I quite plainly cannot fit more than about 6 or 8 people in my house at once.), and it could be fairly intimidating for anybody who’s new and wants to learn, but isn’t super confident.

    Can you imagine going to someone’s house that you don’t know to talk about something that you don’t know much about without knowing anything about the overall dynamic of the group? Yikes. It also puts the burden of purchasing beer on the host, rather than spreading it across the group.

    Public = safe.

    Tyler’s in Durham was very open to the idea of hosting a group, and is being really gracious about putting space aside, setting up tasting glasses, a little bit of food, etc. They also said they’d be open to helping get beers in that aren’t necessarily on their tap list – being able to pick from the bottle list, the tap list at the Speakeasy, or maybe even arranging some stuff coming in from their bottle shop if we plan ahead correctly.

    I’m in full-on planning mode. It’ll work. 😉

    • Nathan says:

      Shame-on-me for doubting your planning skills!

      I hear ya on the “intemidating factor” of holding it at someone’s house. However, if everyone brings a bottle or two (or 6-pack) of the beer style, it would be cheaper then what you’ll spend at a bar.

      Anyways, Looking Forward to It!!

  14. I think having the beers planned and prepared is more conducive to a stronger educational component. Having everyone bring a six-pack may prevent everyone from fully trying each selection (depending on attendance) and may not explore the style or flavor etc as fully.
    I guess my point is that the goal is less about just trying/sampling various beers (which we can do on our own) and more about delving into styles/ingredients/regions etc. and learning about the process of crafting beer in a social and informative environment.

  15. erik says:

    Yeah, exactly. We can call up a bunch of friends and each bring a six-pack anytime.

    Organized education is the key.

    I wonder if I can get accredited.

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