I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. I used to want to be a race car driver, then it was a professional soccer player, then a pro snowboarder (okay I guess there is a theme here). When I went to college I tried SO hard to be good at science so I could get a pre-med degree (I cry-laugh thinking about this now). Then I thought, maybe physical sciences? I loved bones and forensics. But then that got to be too black-and-white. And then, just when I thought nothing would stick—I found creative writing.
Of course, I’m not going to make the 6-figure salary I want to by doing “creative writing” (an unfortunate truth of our society), but at least now I know writing is the one main skill I have and love. So I decided on (mostly content) marketing—which involves copywriting and other forms of creation—for now because I am practical and strive for stability. What this has allowed me to do is be flexible with passion projects on the side. Enter: beer.
I used to be a hophead. I used to be so baselessly snobby about my (only hoppy) beer. If I were to meet that me today, I’d roll my eyes outta my head. I realized I needed to learn more in order to be purposely snobby. The funny part is, the more you know, the more you recognize you don’t know, and the more humble you become. So I embarked on the Cicerone study program and have crammed beery information into my brain every day for 1.5 years straight. Every. Damn. Day.
It’s been awesome to say the least. I’ve been able to have meaningful conversations with folks in the beer industry which is especially helpful when conducting interviews for my stories. I’ve met other beer lovers in my region. Besides writing about beer, my next favorite thing (well, besides drinking it of course) is to talk about it with people who are willing to learn.
This week was our first beer education session at New Moon Natural Foods in Truckee, CA. This shop has the best craft & specialty beer selection in the Truckee/North Tahoe area. Being a beer nerd, I made fast friends with the head of their beer department, Kevin. And after a few years of knowing me and what I can do, Kevin invited me to teach a series of classes for their beer staff from both North Shore stores.
For the first class, I kept curriculum basic but detailed: I discussed the brewing process and why the main four ingredients are so important and variable. I brought mosaic hop pellets and two-row malt from my favorite homebrew shop (hi, Brewchatter!) for them to smell and taste as they learned. Then, we tasted 6-8 basic American beer styles (cream ale, IPA, Porter, etc.) and Kevin brought out a case of Beer Camp from SIX years ago that he’s been “aging” in his temperature-fluctuating garage. One beer, a hoppy pils, was so oxidized it was to the cardboard point. Another pale ale held up a little better but the malt had gone totally sweet caramel and no more hop character. The third, a robust stout, actually wasn’t so bad. Sherry and alcohol notes made it feel like just an okay-cellared big stout. We had so much fun.
So what I’m trying to say is: I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up, but I’m going to continue to do these fun things that feel right and make me feel good about myself and the people around me. These folks know they run an amazing beer program, and they want to learn as much as they can to serve their community best. I respect that kind of passion, a kind that seems to be across the board in the beer industry.
Stay tuned for next session. We are diving into Belgium!!! 🤤😋