Experiences in the Beer Brewer Professional Certificate Program at the University of Richmond School of Professional & Continuing Studiesweek two:
Week two we continued our study of craft beer history. Week one we studied the history of craft beer up until the American history of beer began. In week two we discussed history as it related to the [craft] beer movement in America.
One of my favorite parts of this class was how the Ben Madden integrated the assignments that we were all given on a major influence in the world of craft beer. While he was going through the history chronologically, mentioning specific dates and events, the names of the influencers came up and each of us would find ourselves teaching the class for about 2 minutes on the individuals we were assigned.
I’ve been in history classes where the teacher just read a list of facts and dates about historical figures and events and I was bored to tears. These past two weeks have been engaging and interesting. Maybe it’s because we were talking about beer; maybe it’s because there were so many small facts that I hadn’t connected to each other yet; maybe it’s because an instructor who was genuinely excited about what he was teaching was teaching us; but whatever the reason, this was honestly one of my favorite history classes I’ve ever taken. I enjoyed the classes so much, and the interesting stories of the brewers that we were learning about, that I found myself ordering many of the books that we were discussing during the break. (I cant’ wait for The Craft Beer Revolution by Steve Hindy to get here).
The pace of the class was perfect. There was a lot of information, but it was never overwhelming. It was incredible to learn about how any why people were getting brewing and owning breweries, and what their background was prior to brewing beer. Prior to 1978, it was illegal to homebrew in the US and even illegal to write or own books about the homebrewing process. While today, most of the brewers I know started out homebrewing, it’s incredible to think that many of the people who started craft breweries prior to 1978 had never brewed on their own before.
I want to reiterate how invested the instructors are to the success of their students. Ben said that he would show up Stone Brewery on Thursday night to talk about beer and answer any questions that we might have over a pint. It wasn’t a requirement, but several of us took advantage of it and learned a lot. For example, I knew that India Pale Ales (IPAs) were named such because they were over-hopped English beers that were brewed specifically to survive the six-month journey to India. That said, you’ll find most fans of craft beer today will tell you that IPAs should be enjoyed as fresh as possible. Stone Brewery even has an IPA they have named “Enjoy By” to make sure that you are drinking it fresh.
While talking about beer at Stone, I learned that IPAs can be aged and some should be aged. Given the history of the beer, I was shocked that I hadn’t considered that before. It turns out that IPAs with an ABV over 8% that use bittering hops (as opposed to aroma-type hops) will provide a uniquely, desirable flavor profile after aging for 6-12 months.
Next week, we start Module 2 – Introduction to Brewing Terminology. I’ll write more about that class next week. Cheers!