While wine connoisseurs have been on the earth for thousands of years, being a beer aficionado is a relatively young phenomenon, especially in the U.S. This is because every beer in the country once tasted exactly the same. Beer was considered the drink of the common man, it was not something you judged by its “nose” or flavor characteristics. It was something you guzzled from a red plastic cup.
Beer is grain, water, yeast and hops. The grain is heated in water and the starches are converted to sugars in the process and the resulting sugar water is eventually boiled to get rid of contaminants. At or near the end of the boil, hops, which are the flowers of a certain vine, are added to create a bitter balance to the sweetness leftover from the grains. This mixture is then cooled and yeast is pitched and shaken to create a fermentation whereby the yeast digests the sugars and spits out alcohol. Each stage of this process creates different flavors. Grains can give off grassy, roasted, or sweet flavors while hops create bitter, floral, and citrusy characteristics. Yeast provides earthy and bready flavors in some beer varieties and the resulting alcohol adds certain characteristics like heat to the mixture.
In the 1970’s and 80’s the microbrew revolution began sweeping the country. In the three decades since, a grassroots movement has turned craft beer into a big business. Microbreweries have gone from nowhere to slurping up 10% of a market worth $100 billion. The internet is the greatest ally of the craft beer movement since social media has allowed brewers to talk directly to drinkers.
In May and June, the Markeim Arts Center will be hosting an Art of Beer class. Use your palate to taste (not paint) these liquid masterpieces. The class will educate and celebrate the world’s best beers. As part of this experience, you’ll identify beer styles and ingredients, learn the brewing process, explore the breweries, and the history of beer. Taste up to five beers each class with a perfectly paired menu of food.
The Art of Beer will be taught by Chris Thomas, a trained professional in the alcoholic beverage industry specializing in the service and knowledge of beer. Classes will be from 7:00 PM to 8:30 PM on Monday nights, May 18, and June 1, 8 and 15. The tuition for the class is $110 for non-members and $100 for members. There is also an additional $10 food fee each week. Call Markeim Arts Center at (856) 429- 8585 to register now! Space is limited.