So, Ash and I spent the evening last night at “Beer Appreciation Night” at BJ’s Brewhouse in Woodland Hills. For those of you not from the West Coast, BJ’s is an upscale micro-brew, where they make premium and distinctive beers on-site. Beer appreciation night works a little something like this: they pick a topic (last night was Belgian beer), they bring in an expert, the expert brings in a lot of beer, they pour the beer, we drink the beer, the expert talks about the beer. For those of you who weren’t able to make what I’m quite sure will be the first of a monthly event, let me sum up for you what I learned last night:
1) Don’t order a shot of bourbon to start – there’s plenty of beer coming.
2) In Belgium, the boy scouts go door to door selling ale as a fundraiser instead of cookies.
3) Belgium may be voting soon to split into two countries, Flanders and Wallonia. (I wanted to ask the speaker if they intentionally chose their new names based on Simpsons characters, but Ash waved me off)
4) If you hire a brilliant brewmaster, and put him in charge of your brewery, you have to let him use the brewery to make side-projects, even if, when you serve them at Beer Appreciation night, there is a collective gasp of horror at the prominent sherry/apple/buffalo-chilli flavor in the beer, because, well, he’s the same guy who brewed the 4 beers amazing that followed, one of which of which would have gotten a standing ovation if we were capable of standing.
5) In Belgium, they serve beer in school cafeterias. It’s cool though, ‘cuz it’s only like 2% alcohol.
6) If you’re planning your own Beer Appreciation night, go from light-and-sweet to dark to light-and-sour. It’s a good arc.
7) Do not taunt the drunk racist guy in the corner. Seriously. He’s bigger than you, and he learned to fight in Montana. Against, like, moose. Or whatever.
8) Two kinds of people come to beer appreciation night – the kind who bring a pencil, and the kind who don’t. Everybody makes fun of the pencil-bringers, until the end of the night, when they’re the only ones who remember if it was the Guflertzengrumtlar that tasted like angel tears dipped in honey, or the Gahzterumflarfner. Turns out the Guflertzengrumtlar tastes like skunk-farts.
9) There is such a thing as bad beer.
10) The piss-tasting american beers (The words of the brew-master, not me!) taste that way because they were trying to make a German pilsner, but substituted corn for grain because it’s cheaper. Thanks, Budweiser. Proud to be an american.
11) This is not a sipping event – we drank 17 beers in 2 hours. You have to bring your “A” game, and by “A” game, I mean you have to sit on your can and drink beer, in a hurry. Good thing Ash and I have been training.
12) Hops cure cancer. Drink up, you chain smokers!
13) It is always a good idea to go listen to someone who is knowledgable and passionate about a topic. There is something infectious about it, in a good way. As we were sitting there, listening to the Belgian expert talk about his love for the 5,000 year old craft of brewing, and about how the temperature of the yeast affects the growth of the bacteria, and how certain flavors have calendars to when they emerge in the beer, I realized that he talks about beer in the same way that Chad and I would sit around and talk about a vocal mic selection, or the way Rosy talks about ply-layer construction on his studio kit, or how to time a snare flam in a funk groove. He loves making beer. Which work out well, because, as it turns out, I love drinking it.