Sunday, July 1, 2007

The Beer Enthusiast Group

We all know, or should know, that beer is not merely a drink to be consumed - it is an art, a craft, a science and a story yet to be shared. I am fortunate to be part of an active beer drinking group, a beer enthusiast group that is, who enjoy gathering for a good conversation and a few great beers. Recently a dear friend was in town, a member of our group who moved the the Northwest, a man we all love to see when he finds his way back down, and this in itself was cause enough for celebration. The meeting place and time was set, and we all knew beer would be in order.

Now, I am going to list the beers we sampled last night, but I guess I need a little disclaimer here - actually, this is a main point for the story here, so if you're wanting to start up a beer enthusiast club that enjoys a lot of variety, pay attention.

In attendance last night were 7 group members. When a beer is opened among us, it is for group enjoyment and there is no hogging of good beers by anyone in attendance. This typically means each of us is served a few ounces, never a whole pint and rarely a half pint. If you'd like to create a beer enthusiast group in your area, you must understand this. If we each had a pint of all of these beers, we'd be pretty useless on an average Thursday. For tastings like this you don't need a whole glass, the point here to to sample as many good beers as you can, all while making sure to enjoy the conversation and the finger food that should be available.

The Beers:
- Klaster Dark
- Lodi Beer Company's IPA
- Full Sail IPA
- Belhaven Twisted Thistle IPA
- Lagunitas Lucky 13
- Bear Republic Red Rocket
- Lengthwise Triple Hop Red
- Bear Republic Tribute Brown Ale
- Brew It Up Mai Bock
- Blue Frog Mai Bock
- Sequoia Buzzsaw Double IPA
- Lagunitas Maximus IPA
- Green Flash Imperial IPA
- Moylans Hopsickle

It was a good lineup to be certain. Each person responable for bringing a beer to share with the group. Shopping priorities are simple - if you have never seen it, never tried it, buy it. Not all new beers are great, but you just never know. Beyond that, shop for your favorite beer you don't get to try every day.

Next, food. We almost always have a fresh baked loaf picked up at a local grocery store, cheese, salami or other finger food type meats. Interesting note on cheese too, we shop for cheese the same way we shop for beer, often bringing in a cheese we've never tried. Now, we're not cheese experts and can't really tell you what makes a great cheese, but we've found some wonderful pairings with this method.

Finally, the parameters. Enjoy yourselves, then enjoy the beer. We will often speak about the beers, afterall, we are a beer enthusiast group, but it all seems secondary in the overall scheme of life conversations.

So, if you have friends you don't see often enough and you all like beer, start your own beer enthusiast group in your area. Our group started mostly as strangers some years ago, and today we are all good friends. Beer enthusiast groups are a great way to discover more beers than you can on your own and a fun way to spend an evening. I think you'll agree.

- Rick Sellers