When I was in Stratford a couple of weeks ago for the 2010 Culinary Festival, I had the chance to attend a beer tasting and lecture, led by Mirella Amato. Mirella is a Certified CiceroneTM and the woman behind Beerology. And she runs a hell of a fun workshop.
Not only did we get to taste a wide range of beers, but were also treated to a history of beer production, in a way that made it interesting. Like, did you know that the process of making beer has remained relatively unchaged in 4000 years of brewing history? Or that malt is just barley that has been sprouted then kilned? I didn't. One of the more interesting items to me was that, unlike wine, oxygen degrades beer.
I've spoken before about my quest to find beers that I can enjoy, despite a long distaste for the beverage. Well, this Beerology session helped in that search, in that it's further cemented that I prefer a more malt-heavy flavour.
I don't know what it is about the particular style of bitter in hops that I can't stomach, because it's not like I don't like other bitter liquors. Campari, for example, I enjoy quite a lot. But there is something in beers like the Koningshoeven Dubbel Trappist Ale or this session's Black Irish Plain Porter that leans more towards a dark, bittersweet chocolate. And that I like. The smell on the porter was a lovely blend of malt, chocolate, coffee and Marmite, while the taste was pure coffee with a hint of pleasant sourness.
Here are my rough notes on the other beers we tried. By the way, if you're looking for something unique for your next gathering, Mirella does private tastings, so look her up.
- Mill Street Lemon Tea Beer
- Not much hops to this at all, with a light lemon flavour
- Nice sweetness from the Earl Grey tea
- Stratford Common
- caramel corn on the nose
- very dry finish, with a heavy bitterness at the back
- Creemore Springs Traditional Pilsner
- yeasty smell with citrusy aromatics
- slight bitterness, but more acidity
- sweet at the back
- Black Oak Pale Ale
- vast difference in flavour between front and back of tongue
- goes from soft and citrusy to strong bitterness
- sweet smell
- woody, herbaceous taste with a very dry finish
- Flying Monkeys Hoptical Illusion
- extremely sugary nose
- reacts on the tongue much like the Black Oak
- not fond of the very hoppy bitterness
- Highballer Pumpkin Ale
- smelled amazing - gingerbread, mauby, anise
- tastes like pumpkin pie, especially at the back
- better cold
- this could be my holiday beer