What a beautiful turnout of beer tasters Wednesday night, July 17th! From average beer drinkers to industry professionals and even a Certified Cicerone. Thank you to my friends who came to support me even though you hear me talk about beer often. Thank you to strangers who showed up to support the beer community and/or learn about the beer in front of you! And thank you to Truckee Philosophy for taking the risk to host a beer tasting facilitated by yours truly, a regular ol’ beer-obsessed gal.
We tasted four beers: 1) Americana Lager from Ol’ Republic, 2) Citra Solo IPA from Lead Dog, 3) Chocolate Hazelnut Porter from Heretic, and 4) Danger Zone Gose from Seismic. I wanted to provide a range of styles of beers that each displayed unique character to discuss.
For the Americana Lager, a light lager, we focused on the crisp and clean character of a beer without fermentation flavors to complicate things—a super light, low intensity beer to open up our palates.
Then, I wanted to provide a hoppy beer to focus on hop flavor and aroma. The Citra Solo IPA allowed us to concentrate on just Citra hops because of its balanced malt character—there’s nothing else too distracting about the beer.
I wanted to throw in a fun beer and I love the Chocolate Hazelnut Porter (on nitro!) from Heretic anyway. For that one we focused on the difference nitrogen as a gas makes in a beer compared to just CO2. We also noticed the flavorings (chocolate, hazelnut) and the huge shift darker malts create in a beer’s taste and appearance.
Finally, I wanted a sour—something approachable, like a Gose or Berliner, but with some complexity to maintain interest. I wanted them to focus on what malted wheat does to a grain bill—and to try to identify the other uncommon ingredients in a Gose (coriander and salt). They did well!
I avoided saying too much about each beer besides what I wanted them to notice. I think of it like wine (because I know jack shit about wine)—if someone says “dried apricot” or “dark chocolate and cherry” notes, I’ll start tasting those things. I wanted them to evaluate the beer themselves. Maybe next time we’ll go deeper into ingredients and processes.
I winged my script most of the night, despite having practiced a two-page outline for weeks in advance. This is very unlike me. I left out my intro of brewing processes because, well, I could tell people just wanted to dive right into the tasting. And that was fine—I’m not a professional brewer and they’re not learning how to brew beer.
Throughout evaluating each beer, I assessed the group and found that telling little narrative tidbits about each style boosted engagement. People seemed genuinely interested in these weird stories about, for instance, the controversial history of the IPA or how Porter got its name or the Bavarian Purity Law. I agree—this stuff is interesting!
I’m a major introvert, by the way. After 1.5 hours of speaking to 13 people in a restaurant, I wanted to eat a pizza and drink a beer in a dark hole. But I sincerely loved meeting those who showed up. I may be more of a behind-the-scenes writer but hosting events like these are worth witnessing people engage with each other and the beer in front of them. That’s the mission.