I like to think I know a thing or two about beer but I probably know diddly when it comes down to it. I go on here and yak at other people's blogs but have I really been put to the test? Well, I have been invited to lead local folk in the hospitality trade through an introduction to good beer and I took up the challenge seeing both that the stash needs a little culling and I need a break from shopping. Even though they are rookies to good beer, I was actually getting a little nervous about what I would say... but then I realized that I am the guy bringing all the free beer and, in the world of guys, that makes me the greatest guy in the room if not all of the town. Here is what I have learned so far:
- Good beer is cheap. I have only about ten people coming and in gathering my part of the gift of good beer I probably spent 75 bucks to gather about 50 or 75 generous sample servings splitting 500 ml two or three ways. We grumble sometimes about the LCBO but we are pretty lucky to have that as well as borders you can cross to get the rest.
- We have good beer available to us even if beer hounds hunting for the next tick might grumble. The selection include London Pride, Ontario's 10W30 by Neustadt, Beau's Lugtread, Unibrou's Maudit, Westmalle Dubbel, Brooklyn Chocolate Stout, Aventinus Eisbock, Weihenstephaner Weissbier as well as one smokey bottle of Schlenkerla Rauchbier, my ribeye marinade. I decided to lean on the available as it does no good to get people revved up and then tell them how they can't buy it.
- I plan to illustrate usefulness. For all the talk on travel, styles, authenticity, ticking or pairing at the end of the day all that matters is whether your beer is useful. And the use of beer is generating conviviality. At it's best it is a easily bought, readily accessible, social lubricant that enhances the moment with ease. That moment may include good food, attention being paid to the beer or it may be a moment where people stand around and talk or watch the game. It is all convivial.
- I plan to cheat. I am taking my laptop as well as Oliver's Brewmaster's Table, Beaumont's The Beerbistro Cookbook, McFarland's World's Best Beers and a few more gems by Stan, Lew and others to illustrate how much information there is available to restaurateurs - and, again, on the cheap. Two hundred bucks gets the start of a good beer library for any bar and even its customers.
There may be more beer, too, as I will raid the stash for some examples of the pricier stuff - you know, those bottles that cost about as much as an Australian mass marketed plonk - and we are praying that the box with Panil and other fabulous samples to make it here via FedEx care of the continuing kindness of Roland and Russell.
The goal is to see if I can start help my town take it up a notch by helping spread the news to those who can, in turn, share it on. I am planning to talk about simple and complex, price and value, import and local, bottle and tap, temperature and glassware as well as simply versatility by having a beer with an egg, a piece of cheese or chocolate as well as a bunch of other stuff. I may be no fan of "pairing" but I sure do like eating and drinking. So, my question to you is this: what else would you talk about and make sure was in the room? Even if this is more of a working session than a tasting - whatever that is - it needs to tell the story well. What would you want me to tell people who can start rolling out the barrels if they get the message?