Sunday, April 7, 2013

MAY THE CIRCLE BE UNBROKEN

In 2005 my wife bought me a "beer appreciation" one-night class at a middle school in San Francisco, and, as I recounted here in my first beer blog post back in 2006, it was the trigger event that set me on the beer bloggin' course I'm still on eight years later. It moved me from passive "microbrew" fan and drinker to obsessive/compulsive researcher, drinker and documentarian. The guy that ran the class was awesome - a total aesthete with regard to beer; absurdly knowledgeable; well-traveled, and not afraid to call a duck a duck. While I didn't aspire to be him - a hacky sackin' hippie homebrewer - I aspired to be like him. Eight years later, as of last night, I can consider the circle of beer life to have been completed.

You see, last night it was me pontificating in front of a crowd, telling them whatfore and wherehow about the great beers of Belgium. Yes, I hosted a paid ($50 per head) get-together at my house called "The World of Belgian Beer". The beneficiary of my wife's and my largesse was not ourselves, but was instead Grattan Elementary School, where our son goes. They have a unique fund-raising mechanism in which people host paid events, often at their houses, and often around themes. All money goes to the school and hopefully back into our children's brains and personal growth. I reckoned I'd learned enough about beer over the past near-decade and could both curate and speak intelligently about Belgian beer, and that I could raise a few hundred bucks for the cause & help my guests drink some knockout beers in the process.

It didn't hurt that I was one of the few who luckily got one of those Trappist Westvleteren 12 six-packs last year or whenever that was. I'd only had one so far, so I made the uncapping of a few bottles of these one of the cornerstones of the night, in order to entice people to come. No worries at all there: "The World of Belgian Beer" was the first of several dozen parties to sell out (!). The guests were parents that I knew and liked, all of whom mixed well and who had an appreciation of what was being served, with one or two having had a passing knowledge of Belgian beer in their lifetimes to date. It's not like I educated them particularly well - we mostly hobnobbed and gabbed the way people gradually being filled up with amazing high-alcohol beer do - but hopefully someone walked out ready to take the baton from me and start their own belly-busting and time-consuming beer obsession/"hobby".

I themed it around styles, as one likely should. I picked six styles, and other than the Westvleteren, tried to make sure that the other five beers could be found fairly easily and were among the best in their class. To that end, here's what we had, in order:

Saison: Saison Dupont
Tripel: Westmalle Tripel
Dubbel: St. Bernardus Prior 8
Flanders Red: Cuvee des Jacobins Rouge
Belgian Strong Dark Ale: Brasserie Des Rocs Triple Imperiale
Quadrupel: Trappist Westvleteren 12

I provided notes, which not only explained the styles but also recommended other fine beer in those styles. Eight years ago, not only could I not have remotely pulled that off, I hadn't even HAD a Belgian beer before, outside of Duvel, Chimay Red and a lambic somewhere. Seems like the hit of the night was that St. Bernardus Prior 8, which is truly a miraculous beer. Maybe it was the happy grinnin' monk on the bottle, maybe it was the sweet, malty, and yeasty plum/fig flavor, but whatever, I'm pretty sure that was the one people are still talking about. Now that I've done this, I'm putting some thought into my 2014 elementary school fund-raiser: "The Tongue-Scorching Double IPAs of The West Coast". Send my kid's school some money and you can come too!


1 comment:

Beer Rover said...

Thanks for the write-up, what an excellent idea. I may have to borrow it.