Our final session of the Prud'homme Beer Certification came to a close last week with a re-cap of all we've learned, some pre-exam beers to ease the tension of our final exam and my favorite part: the beer pairing.
Belgian beers were the theme for the final tasting, a great way to take our minds off the impending exam. The favourite of the night seemed to be Sofie, a Belgian Style Ale from Goose Island Beer.
After pouring out our recently acquired beer knowledge into our exam, we toasted a great 4 weeks with a beer and food pairing, with our instructor, Jeff O'Reilly leading us through the proper way to complement, cut and contrast flavours in beer and food.
After it was all said and done, I had the chance to ask Jeff some questions about the course.
Ottawa Beer Events: How has the industry changed since you first started with D'Arcy McGee's?
Jeff O'Reilly: People are definitely more educated and more interested in what beer has to offer. From proper glassware, presentation, storage, serving and food pairing opportunities I think people are realizing there is a whole world of beer options to explore and discover.
Since this was the first time this course would be offered in Ottawa, what were your expectations going in?
Prud'homme founder Roger Mittag knew that there was a lot of interest in his class outside of Toronto and a lot of requests to see Levels One, Two and Three available more readily available. The course is a really well thought out and a great way for students to learn more about all facets of beer appreciation, so my expectation is that it will be very well received here. Response from students of the first Level One course I taught in Ottawa was incredibly positive.
Were you surprised to see so many women registered in the course?
Not really – especially when I see how active women are at local beer events. It was really nice to see 4 Barley's Angels attending and 6 of 14 students in the first class being ladies, but I can think we'll see that number continuing to grow.
How does the Prud'Homme course differ from Cicerone?
Well the biggest difference is that I'm not teaching the Cicerone (laughs). The biggest difference that I can see is the Ciccerone appears to be a self guided learning course with a focus on creating an encyclopic knowledge of beer and a big emphasis on blind tasting. The Prud'homme course is a very well rounded course focussing on beer appreciation with an emphasis on facilitation and being able to share that passion for beer with others. Knowledge is power, but sharing knowledge with others is just plain awesome!
Will you be continuing to deliver future sessions?
Definitely. A second Level One course will be hosted at the Clocktower on Bank Street in November and plans are in the works for more Level One and hopefully Level Two classes to be available in Ottawa next year.
If you were stranded on a desert island and could bring only one beer – what would it be?
Well – if I knew I was going to be stranded I'd definitely choose a beer that I could make a boat out of the empties with. That being said – ask yourself if you could only listen to one song for the rest of your life or look at one piece of art forever and I'm pretty sure that you're glad you have so many options. Beer is so diverse – and I want to continue to explore all it has to offer.
I'm happy to say under Jeff's instruction we ALL passed our exams! I really loved the sessions and was sad to see them end. For me not only did I gain some great knowledge of beer but met some great people who share a love of beer. Congrats to my fellow beer school classmates and hope to see you in the Level 2 session when it makes it's way to Ottawa!
If you are interested in taking Level 1 in November when it comes back to Ottawa – you can sign up here: http://www.beercertificate.ca/level-1.html