Down here in Jacksonville, craft beer is king. There are so many local breweries that it feels like a sin to not have a favorite. It feels like anywhere you go, there is some crazy beer on tap. With names like "coffee stout" and "wheat ale" sometimes you get a little overwhelmed with your choices.
And if you're like me, you have no idea what you're doing.
When I was growing up, I always saw my dad, brother, uncles, and cousins drinking the typical beers - Budweiser and Miller. Anytime we had to go to the beverage barn, I felt like there were so many crazy packages on the shelf.
During college, I stuck with those old typical beers. I considered Shock Top to be something new and creative to drink. Since then, I've stuck with ciders. But, whenever we all go out for the night, it's difficult to look behind the counter and have a clue what the options are. I'm scared of looking like an idiot by asking the bartender what things taste like (the horror), so I stick to what I know best.
Luckily, The Silver Cow knew my pain (not really, but let's pretend), and have started hosting these "Beer 101" classes. I grabbed my friend Jesse and headed out for the first one so I could learn what I was doing. They'll be hosting themed ones in the future, so check out their site if you're interested in participating!
What is there to possibly learn about craft beer?
As it turns out, a lot! We went through the history of beer, the definition of craft beer, and exactly what constitutes an ale versus a lager. We even got to look at and smell (gross) malt and hops, and I'm really impressed that anyone can brew hops into something that doesn't smell like poo.
So, what'd we drink? During the class we had samples of a few types of beer. I'm happy to report I didn't hate all of them! Usually if I'm feeling brave, I just order whatever sounds good. This tactic usually fails miserably. Being able to sample different types of beers taught me there's an art to drinking beer - don't chug a stout, and pick the right food if you're eating with your drink.
We had the following beers:
My favorite part of the class was learning which foods to pair your beer with. Asiago cheese makes a good addition to a darker beer like the coffee porter, and the spicy chorizo was awesome with the Left Coast. Since I love to cook and bake, maybe now I'll be a little more willing to toss some beer into my dishes.
Did I learn anything new? Absolutely! I also learned to stop being a little wuss when it comes to ordering beer - I didn't think I was going to like the coffee porter (dark beer is at the bottom of my list), but I would probably order it if I saw on the menu somewhere now. There are so many craft beers out there that you owe it to yourself to try at least one or two of them.
What's your favorite craft beer? Any recommendations for a fruity/cider lover like myself?
I'm Jenn! I'm a baker, blogger, sorta-runner, and writer living in Jacksonville, Florida!