Beer is complex and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. There’s a lot behind this deceptively simple drink and if you want to learn about its history, the vast number of styles, brewing science, how to analyze it or pair it with food, hundreds of books are waiting to be consumed. One of the most comprehensive, The Oxford Companion to Beer, was published last month with over 960 pages of material to digest. While it’s certainly a tremendous resource, sometimes you need to learn by drinking and eating!
When it comes to learning about beer this hasn’t been easy to do in a formal setting. Rich Higgins, brewmaster at Social Kitchen and one of only three Master Cicerones, is addressing this problem in a series of eight beer and food pairing classes hosted by the Boothby Center for Beverage Arts in San Francisco. The classes will take place primarily on Sunday evenings over the next four months and are broken into two different sections, the World Beer Traditions Series and the Beer and Food Pairing Series.
According to the press release here’s what you can expect:
Each class in the World Beer Traditions Series will cover a different beer tradition (United Kingdom, German, Belgian, and American) and will include a lecture, discussion, and lots of sampling of great beers. Rich will cover the basics of beer styles and flavors, how to evaluate a beer, and how technology, taxation, taste, and terroir have affected the flavors of the beers and the evolution of the beer traditions. (Cost: $55 per class or $200 to attend all four.)
Each class in the Beer & Food Pairing Series will delve into the pairing of beer with a different food tradition (Thanksgiving food, Italian cuisine, Superbowl eats, and Valentine’s chocolate & candy) and will include a lecture, discussion, and lots of sampling great beers and foods. Rich will cover the basics of beer and food flavors, how to evaluate a beer, and how to pair beer with food. Students will learn how great pairings of beer and food are better than the sum of their parts, and they will learn when to order which beers while eating at restaurants. (Cost: $65 per class or $240 to attend all four.)
These classes are a unique opportunity for the casual aficionado or the seasoned beer nerd. In addition, part of the proceeds will help support the Barbary Coast Conservancy for the American Cocktail, a non-profit organization that houses the Boothby Center for Beverage Arts, which is striving to preserve the “cultural heritage of saloons and their cocktails in San Francisco, while also preserving California’s culinary philosophy and tradition.”
Rich Higgins / Photo © Brian Stechschulte