Last weekend my husband and I went to a class in the Artisan Series at Montrio Bistro in Monterey. We found it particularly interesting because, although we love beer and have visited microbreweries, we had not been to a seminar on the art and craft of making beer and studying the different types of brews.
There were two different presentations on beer and its production and distribution. The first speaker represented English Ales Brewery in Marina, and gave a presentation while we tasted eight different beers they made, each placed on a chart in front of us, so we wouldn’t forget which beer we were drinking. This was a nice touch, since the beers were quite different. We learned about the difference between ale and porter, two types of yeast cultivation (top-fermenting aerobic ale and bottom-fermenting lager), and a rich vocabulary for describing beer–something we had not been exposed to before. Now we can say that a beer is “hoppy” (has a bite) or ” malty” (roasted, smoky) , “nutty”, “peppery”, “salty”, and “bitter”. We also got a chance to touch and smell samples of hops and barley, the hops a lovely dried flower and the barley a nice nutty snack in its own right.
After the English Ales Brewery presentation, a husband-wife team from BeerGeek.com talked about the regional differences in breweries they visited throughout Europe with a planned trip to Asia later to study their beer production processes as well as distribution. This was an entertaining travelogue which demonstrated that one can plan a trip around visiting breweries and having tastings just as easily and with just as much fun as wine tasting. A great idea for our next trip!
And finally, we had lunch–an appetizer of Wicked Lizard sausage with a mustard tinged with beer and a small cup of cheddar soup spiked with one of the local beers we tasted (Dragon Slayer IPA). We then had a wonderful green salad with nuts, cherry tomatoes, and pickled purple onions. Our main course was an outstanding lamb shank in a delectable mushroom reduction, on top of a very creamy polenta with tidbits of corn. For desert there were tiny minced meat pies! The price is $45 per person and includes lunch. Feel good about what you eat!