I am pleased to announce a springtime course in beer information and appreciation, timed specifically for use as a study group for the upcoming Cicerone® exam on April 8th at the Raleigh Times, but most certainly not limited to those interested in taking the exam.

What is covered in the course of the class?

The entirety of the Certified Cicerone® Course Syllabus (opens a PDF, all non-blue sections) and a few pieces of the Master Cicerone® topics, if they seem to show a full picture of any given topic. Each class will last 1.5 – 2 hours and will be split between a discussion section and a tasting session.

Here is a sample breakdown of how the course will run:

Week 1: Intro, Beer Ingredients, How to Taste Beer, Style history and tastings.
Week 2: Hot-side of Brewing (from milling through mashing, boiling and lautering), Off-flavor tasting.
Week 3: Cold-side of Brewing (yeast and fermentation), Style history and tastings.
Week 4: Post-fermentation brewery-side handling (clarification, filtration, souring, and conditioning). Style history and tastings.
Week 5: Beer packaging, shipment, storage, and aging. Off-flavor tastings.
Week 6: Serving beer: draft systems, casks, bottles, glassware, and the rest. Style history and tastings.
Week 7: Beer and food. Style history and tastings.
Week 8: Everything we’ve missed, questions, and review. Off-flavor tastings.

It’s not “how to brew” (though that’ll be covered), it’s not a drinking class, it’s “About Beer.” You’ll learn every step of the process between field and mouth, it’s history, and it’s care and handling. It might best be labeled “How to Enjoy Beer” or even “How to Help Others Enjoy Beer.”

When does this class happen?

Sunday evenings at 8PM, starting February 13th.

An astute observer will notice that there are fewer than 8 weeks between February 13th and April 8th, so there will be at least one week where we double-up somewhere and either have a long class or two classes; most likely the week of the exam. A full schedule will be posted on the first day.

Where does this class happen?

At the location of the soon-to-be Mystery Brewing Company.

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Who’s teaching this class?

Yours truly, Erik L. Myers of Mystery Brewing Company. Full disclosure: I am also studying for the Cicerone® exam and while I can teach most of this content off the top of my head, this class will also be a learning opportunity for me. It doesn’t mean that you’ll get any false or bad information, but it does mean you might catch me having to look up the answer to question now and again.

How do I sign up?

The class is $85 per person (+ Eventbrite fee). It covers off-flavor tasting supplies, style tasting supplies, other supplies (like paper, cups, etc.).

Note! I am not affiliated with the Cicerone program, I’m just working toward become certified, myself and so am using their syllabus as an overall guideline. Cicerone®, Certified Cicerone® and Master Cicerone® are registered trademarks of the Cicerone Certification Program.

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Categories: appreciation, cicerone
Posted By: erik
Last Edit: 31 Jan 2011 @ 11 03 AM

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 25 Jan 2011 @ 3:14 PM 

And before you ask me to never use the word “sluice” again, here’s a lovely picture of a sluice from Wikimedia Commons:

I would also like to relay that “sluice” is a surprising safe Google Image search.

We will now carry on with our regularly scheduled blog post.

So, what’s coming down the sluices!?

I’ve been conspicuously silent across both this blog and Mystery’s blog (where this, incidentally, is being cross-posted, if you’re reading this at Mystery’s blog, you may want to check out Top Fermented), for the past couple of weeks and that’s primarily because my days have been turned into a twisting mass of odd jobs, manual labor, staring at the wall waiting for inspiration, and alternately burying myself so deep into work that I forget to eat. A good chunk of this has been keeping me away from writing.

But it hasn’t been keeping me away from the computer. More on that in a sec.

I’m on a more regular schedule now, where I’m actually spending 3 days a week “at the office” so you should be seeing a few more blog posts popping up here and there.

Also popping up should be the fruits of (some of) my labor, so here’s a little preview of what to expect in the next couple of weeks:

Educational Opportunities

In case you haven’t heard, myself and a couple of excellent friends organized and hold a monthly beer Meetup here in the Triangle in NC called Taste Your Beer for lack of a better, more inspiring, name. It’s been received pretty well and people seem genuinely excited to learn more about beer – not how to make it, but how to enjoy it, and just more about beer in general. So when I heard that there were upcoming Cicerone exams coming to Raleigh, I had the idea to make a study group for it.

However, after thinking about it, I thought – why limit this to just people who want to become Cicerones? Lots of people want to learn about beer but don’t necessarily have the desire (or the work experience and wallet) to become Cicerones. That’s why, starting in February, I’ll be offering beer education classes at my location at Mystery Brewing. It’ll be an 8 week class meeting once a week (with a few exceptions) covering beer from ingredient cultivation to serving and food pairing including off-flavors and style samples. It will cover the Cicerone exam content thoroughly so if you, like me, want to take the Cicerone exam in April or June, then this should act as an excellent study guide. However, if you just want to learn about beer then that’s cool, too.

Look for more information about these classes popping up in the next few days. We need to get going soon to be ready for the Cicerone exam AND the World Beer Festival.

New Website

With a new brewing company comes a new website. The blog over at mysterybrewingco.com will soon be going away for a more robust website with some features that I think will be fairly interesting to people. Among them are the normal kind of website things: discussion boards, a news feed, info about the brewery, social media and that sort of crap. But here’s a little preview of some of the other things I’m working on (not all of which will be up and running immediately):

  • A check-in point/badge system specifically for Mystery Brewing. Think FourSquare, or Untappd except you actually have the chance to get REAL REWARDS if you earn the right badges: Discounts on brewery merch, beer, private brewery tours, beer, t-shirts, beer, stickers, and probably, at some point, beer. This should launch with the new website, even if beer won’t.
  • A Mystery beer genealogy tree. I am quite proud of the fact that all of my beers started as homebrew recipes, and I am telling you now that they are all going to evolve over time. Recipes I have now may spawn other recipes in the future. This beer genealogy tree will be a way to find out how all Mystery beers are linked together, batch to batch over time. It will serve as a means as helping people find out both what they enjoyed about a beer and what new beers they might enjoy. Once all the equipment drops into place and Mystery beer starts hitting bars and restaurants, this will also serve as a way to track which batches of which beer are out in the public and where you can find them.
  • An ongoing art contest. I am a big fan of the arts in general. I went to an art school for my undergraduate experience and was, shall we say, intimate with the art school, even though I was only a performing artist, myself. I would like to take the opportunity to showcase art through Mystery. In specific, I will be announcing an ongoing art contest of sorts through which artists of any sort – professional, amateur, painters, web comics, whatever – can submit artwork for use to represent beer in our repertoire. The artist who’s work is chosen will receive money in return for the use of the art, as well as a royalty for every piece of (non-packaging) merchandise sold using the artwork. (Since we won’t be in bottles for a good long time, we’re talking posters, t-shirts, etc.) More details on this later in the spring, but artists, start thinking Evangeline.
  • Weekly updates on progress in the brewery. Things are starting to pick up speed and while anybody who is part of the classes up above will be able to see things starting to pop up around them, a lot of people don’t know what exactly is going on in there, so we’re going to get into some detailed updates on how we’re progressing toward getting beer on the market, even if that update is why progress isn’t being made. Back when I started Top Fermented, this is one of the things I really wanted to do is get into the nitty-gritty of what goes on behind the scenes when a brewery is opening. For the most, especially when it’s come to financing, I’ve felt like it was either a little boring or getting into detail would get into confidentiality issues with my partners. Now that we’re moving past getting money and into (*whimper*) spending it, I feel a little more like I can let people behind the curtain. Prepare yourselves to see week after week after week of.. ermm.. well… pictures of an empty cement box. Yaaay!
  • More from me about the industry in general. I’ll be folding Top Fermented into the new website. It’ll still exist on the original domain and function independently, but it will also be integrated into the new website as the brewer’s blog. It means no more separation of sites and it should mean a more rigorous update schedule. It might also mean that I piss more people off that I probably want to retain the respect of as I voice my opinions, but.. ermm.. well.. that sucks.

    Okay – this part isn’t nearly as exciting to you as it is to me. Still. I’m excited.

Kickstart-y Goodness

And no, that doesn’t mean that I’m starting another Kickstarter project (yet), but Kickstarter backers will remember that there are still homebrew recipes to go out, Irregulars memberships to revel in, beer dinners to eat, and video chats to watch. I haven’t forgotten, and there will be movement on a couple of these things soon.

And more.. much, much more.

If I’m running into any sort of problem, lately, it’s the fact that I have more ideas for things to do than I have resources and, frankly, spare neurons for processing. The important part that my next blog post should be a snark filled rant about some sort of craft beer segment piece and not one of these lame update sessions.

But! The future is bright and there’s beer there. Join me!

À votre santé,


Dear Stone,

I get it. I do. I am wlel vresed in codemy, I haev a bakcgruond in perfroming it adn witring it adn for a ltitle whiel I was even tyring to carft my own gradatue dergee in “codemy” as a cocnept. I aslo undersnatd iorny adn, proabbly unspurrisingly, agrroance. I see waht yuo’re donig heer, but I can’t get beihnd it.

I thuoght abuot witring tihs hueg gradn psot abuot teh toen of teh laebl. Abuot how teher’s tihs gaint risk of pishung teh fuax agrroance jsut a ltitle too far adn coimng off as atcually agrroant, even teh wohle bit abuot how “We ralieze it’s hmaun nautre to bleeive taht pregorss trowads getreanss is one’s own ieda.” has teh pobissility of bieng tracigally iornic, esecipally beecaus I supsect it’s plecad in tehre for iorny. Woudln’t it be iornic if an iornic statenemt tunred out to be iorny beecaus it was atcually ture? It’s liek meta targic iorny.

But I doutb taht’s teh caes. teh worsdmitihng is too naet, rihgt down to teh fatc taht teh olny wodrs speelled corretcly on teh bakc of teh laebl (asied from teh hepler wodrs taht hold teh whole tihng togetehr or wodrs taht are too sohrt to missepll) are “banal” adn “sheeple.” It’s too naet adn caclulated for yuo to not get teh chaenc of teh triple iornic tiwst, esecipally sicne teh produtc itslef is a belnd of trhee diffneret agrroant beers. Smrt! I see what yuo’re donig heer!

I thuoghtt abuot witring a ginat psot abuot how gorlifying teh misues of lagnuage is an afwul tihng, adn tehn I thuoght: wlel, taht’s jsut studip. (And look waht it’s gievn me!) Yes – gorlifying teh misuse of lagnuage IS a terbrile tihng, but tihs isn’t a gorlification, tihs is poikng fun at it. See (for teh peolpe flolowing alogn at hoem), tehir beign agrroant in teh toen adn text of teh laebl, but tehy can’t even be botehred to splel teh wodrs rihgt – thus teh homur! AH AH! It’s iorny (sotra) beecaus tehy’re so convicned of tehir own getreanss – atfer all, tehy tell yuo all abuot how awesmoe tehy are on teh laebl – but tehy can’t even spell wodrs right. Get it?

Taht laeds me to teh last poitn taht I was giong to brign up: Ameircans don’t get iorny. Liek, really. Tehy jsut don’t understadn it. Yuo’re fithging a losign baltte on tihs one. Tehy think it maens sacrasm or coinicdence or sometihng otehr wrogn tihng. Blaem graed scoohls, blaem Alasin Mossriette, blaem it on teh rain, whaveter. It’s a fatc.

I wuold bet taht most peolpe don’t get why teh entier laebl is speelled wrogn. Hlel, tehre are proabbly a lot of peolpe taht don’t even know taht all of tehse wodrs are speelled wrong adn yes, yuo’re right in bevieling taht tehy are proabbly not teh ones taht will be buying teh procudt, eitehr, so kuods on knoiwng yuor tagret audeicne. I wuold bet taht tehre is also a hueg chukn of yuor tagret audeicne taht don’t really get why yuor laebl is speelled wrong, eitehr. Tehy proabbly thikn, “Oh, taht’s Stoen agian, bieng wakcy.” Adn yuo know what? taht’s cool – I don’t mind taht if yuo don’t mind taht. It fits wiht yuor bradn, so… awesmoe.

But for me tehre’s a wohle difrefent leevl taht I jsut need to verlabize: It took me a monht of seieng peolpe reveiw yuor beer to rezalie taht tehy weern’t spleling it wrogn, taht it was intletionanly Lukcy Basartd. Adn yuo know why taht botehrs me? Beecaus I watn to corretc tehir spleling eveyr signle danm tiem. Wehn it coems to spleling, I am an agrroant basardt.

Tihs is jsut– it’s fcuking mandeding. I can’t NOT raed tihngs. Hunams are awesmoe liek taht – once we laern to raed, it’s complusory. Yuo look at a sign, a psoter, or whatveer: yuo read it. It hanpeps eveyr tiem I see taht Lukcy Basardt laebl, adn it maeks me cry isnide whatveer wierd spleling cneter is in my bnair.

So, tihs is bascilaly jsut a letetr to say: danm yuo, yuo susseccful basartds for makign me haet lookign at yuor laebls adn yet still watning to drikn yuor beer. Danm yuo to hlel.


 07 Jan 2011 @ 12:38 PM 

I think it’s fair to say that I’ve been a little lazy about getting this post out. In my defense, not only was the Concise Course closely followed by Thanksgiving and then those squirrely winter holidays (whichever of them you celebrate, they’re all at the same damn time), plus there’s that whole “new brewery” thing.

However, since those two weeks in November and all of my posts, I’ve had a lot of questions posed here and elsewhere on the Internets that need to be addressed. So here are my answers:

Did you pass the Big Test?

Quite, yes. I don’t really want to go into details about this and color future classes, but suffice to say that if you don’t pass the Big Test you really shouldn’t be in the room.

The second question, and by far the more important one, I think is:

Would you recommend this course to others?

Absolutely… with caveats.

Let me say this in the most convoluted way possible: Had I know what the content and format of the course was ahead of time, I probably wouldn’t have spent the money on attending. However, I am extremely glad I did. I didn’t learn how to brew in this class. Turns out, as I had hoped and suspected, I already know how to brew. I did get a really nice overview of science, physics, and business considerations that I have already put to use in a number of ways, and I hope to be able to make future use of the contacts that I met there.

The staff and (99% of) the instructors were fantastic and I hope to run into them time and again in the future and catch up. I also plan on taking future courses at Siebel on more targeted topics. They know their stuff.

In addition, by passing the Big Test and receiving my Certificate of Attendance (yeah – I showed up!), Siebel agrees to refer and/or sponsor students to join the MBAA and ASBC (not that I think that you necessarily need said referral or sponsorship, but hey – nice!).

Here are the caveats:

If you know your way around a brewery, you’re going to bored for a good chunk of this class. There are some good pieces of information in here, but since you’re getting a broad overview of the process, there’s going to be a lot you already know.

If you don’t know your way around beer, this could be pretty challenging to keep up with. I think most homebrewers are probably up to the task, but I can tell you that 4 years ago – as a homebrewer and not as well-read as I am now – I would have been totally overwhelmed. Even a few days working in and around a brewery would probably give you enough information.

Lastly, experience is the best teacher. After two weeks in this course, you still won’t know how to do day-to-day tasks in the brewery, you’ll just have an overview of, probably, why they need to be done (which is good) and maybe some tips on how not to totally fuck them up (which is great).

So, my overall answers is: Yes, go to. But know what you’re getting and be ready for it.

Isn’t that the most general recommendation, ever? Here: I enjoyed it.

I’m also happy to answer any more questions people have about the course, in specific.

Tags Tags: ,
Categories: industry
Posted By: erik
Last Edit: 09 Jan 2011 @ 09 20 AM

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