Prud'homme Beer Certification 5
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
Week 3 of The Prud'homme Beer Certification had us discussing the proper storage and handling of draught beer. A lot of work goes into making sure someone gets the perfect pint. There's a plethora of different lines and do-hickeys that can be used to regulate the temperature and pressure of a draught system – in a bar with multiple draught lines it can look like a game of cat's cradle if they're not properly organized.
Aside from the proper setup and overall cleanliness, you then need to figure out how to properly pour a beer (this does not involve scooping out foam with a plastic spoon) and serve it in the appropriate beer glass. Many beer glasses are designed specifically for a specific style. One of my favorite being wheat beer, which was the focus of Week 3's tasting.
Tasting as a group is definitely one of the highlights of this program for me. It's great to share in the learning experience with other beer lovers. I got the chance to chat with a few of my fellow classmates about why they chose to sign up for Level 1, what they were surprised to learn from the session, what their favorite beer tasting was, and learned their favorite beer.
Amanda Barriage – Barley's Angel and aspiring home brewer
I've started brewing on my own at home and can't get enough knowledge of beer. I currently read books on brewing and ingredients and found the section on the draft system the most interesting. My favorite beer tasting was Sofie from Goose Island Co. a saison farmhouse ale. One of my favorite beers to drink at home is most of the beer from Unibroue, which brews Belgian style beer.
Scott Paterson – Student and beer lover
I mainly took this certification because I love beer and wanted to expand my knowledge of beer as well as to get back into home brewing. I enjoyed the section on draft systems and how they operate and my favorite beer tasting in class was the Kostritzer Schwarzbier. At home my go-to beer is Steamwhistle Pilsner and I enjoy Trappist beers.
Kensie Mailloux – Student and beer lover
I'm a home brewer so I wanted to learn more about beer and I'm also a waitress and want to be able to properly describe beers to customers when serving beer. Overall I found learning the terminology most interesting as it will help me when describing beer. It was also great to have a few tastings before our final exam! My favorite beer that we've tasted is the Liberty Ale by Anchor Brewing. One of the best beers I've had is HopWired IPA from 8 Wired which had a nice piney flavour.
I wanted to learn about the semantics of beer and brewing, as its important for someone working in the beer industry. The most interesting for me was learning how the taste of the alcohol can be hidden within a beer. My favorite tasting in the sessions was Sofie from Goose Island Co. and my favorite beer is Dogfish Head's Midas Touch.
Pasi Nuutilainen – Beer geek
Knowledge and general interest of beer is what made me sign up for the program. I have a fairly good knowledge of beer and would like to increase my knowledge. I enjoyed learning how to describe a beer in a more in depth manner when tasting and the ability to interact and share with other students while tasting. My favorite tasting in the sessions was Sofie from Goose Island Co. and one of my favorite beers is Enbars.
Stay tuned for next weeks post which will re-cap the 4th and final session, where we pair beer with food as well as an interview with Jeff O'Reilly, our knowledgeable instructor.
Week 2 of the Prud'homme Beer Certification in-class sessions started off with a quiz, testing what we'd retained from the week before. As it turns out, even in beer school there are no exceptions for your birthday when it comes to quizzes! I should have done my homework!
We then dove into the history of beer, which, of course, was discovered by a women! This certainly doesn't surprise me. I know that in Ottawa alone there is a large population of women who love craft beer. This is evident from the fact that 6 of the 14 participants in the class are women and some are members of Barley's Angels Ottawa, a chapter of a world-wide organization dedicated to encouraging education and interest in beer among women. Girl Power!
Before moving on to the beer tasting, we touched on the importance of beer glasses and how they can affect the taste of a beer – who knew!? I did know that beer glasses are made in different shapes to reflect the type of beer, however it was enlightening to hear how each glass is designed to bring out the flavours/aromas of specific beer. In June I attended the American Craft Beer Festival in Boston and while there got to visit the Sam Adam's Brewery where they've perfected their very own lager glass. So much is taken into consideration to enhance a beer lover's experience, from the shape of the glass to where your hand is positioned on the glass to prevent heat transfer.
This week's beer tasting featured lagers, and I found a new favorite in Kostritzer's Schwartzbier, a black lager that reminded me of a milder version of one of my favorite beers; Spearhead Moroccan Brown. Between rounds of chomping on dry saltines and swishing our mouths with water, we tasted 4 very different lagers.
It goes without mentioning that the beer tasting is my favorite part of the sessions, but it's not only because after talking about beer for over an hour, I'm craving one like nobodys business, but it's actually fun to compare amongst us what each of us are smelling/tasting. It's a type of learning process that I definitely can get used to!
Next week is proper pouring/storing techniques and wheat beers so stay tuned!
The Prud’homme Beer Certification is a sommelier-style program for beer and the first of its kind in Canada. Last month we interviewed Roger Mittag to find more about the program and learned that for the first time Prud’homme Level 1 would be offered in Ottawa this fall.
Level 1 is considered to be for the Beer Enthusiast and includes 12 hours of classroom instruction or 6-8 hours of online learning. I opted for the classroom in order to learn amongst other beer enthusiasts in the community. It is an introductory course in beer education designed for participants interested in furthering their knowledge and interest in beer.
The focus for Level 1 is on brewing ingredients and processes, tasting concepts, pouring and serving concepts (including an introduction to draught systems) and food and beer pairings.
I jumped at the chance to sign up for various reasons, the main being to increase my knowledge of beer. As a beer reviewer and active member of the beer community, I felt it was important to educate myself on the finer points of brewing.
I showed up for my first class last Monday with my notepad and highlighter in hand, ready to learn all about the brewing process, which was the focus of the first session. Having gone through many brewery tours, I expected this to be a summary of what I already knew but was pleasantly surprised. Our instructor, Jeff O’Reilly’s experience and knowledge of beer added a great value to the session.
After the introductions and pleasantries were taken care of, we moved on to the meat of the first session, which involved breaking down the 5 components of beer and how each of them can change the profile of a beer depending on various factors in the brewing process. It was interesting to have some of the misconceptions that some of us that had explained. For me it was mainly how the roast on malt changes the flavour of beer. I’m ashamed to say I thought coffee was physically added to give that roasted flavour!
Then came the moment we’d all been waiting for – the beer! We put our newfound understanding of beer tasting to the test by testing our palates on 4 very different beers. From Labatt 50 to Mill Street’s Cobblestone Stout we practiced identifying the components that we’d learned about earlier. I have to say, after just one session, I felt much more comfortable reviewing my weekly beer for “Katy vs. Sasha” and I’m sure in the coming weeks under the tutelage of Jeff I’ll my comfort level will improve even more.
Stay tuned next week to find out what I learned in Week 2 of Beer School!
The Prud'homme Beer Certification program offers three levels of certification from beginner to expert and covers an in-depth look of history, styles and taste profiles of beer as well as cooking with beer and food pairings.
Starting in September Prud'homme Beer Certification will be hosting a four week level one (beer enthusiast) class at Kichesippi Beer Company. To learn more about the program we talked with its creator, Roger Mittag.
Ottawa Beer Events: How
long have you been working in the beer industry?
Roger Mittag: 15 wonderful years. I started with Oland
Specialty Beer Company in 1997.
What made you create a certification program?
knew that people wanted more information – it wasn’t really the certification
side of it that intrigued me, I was more interested in the learning and
development components – someone also suggested to me that if I didn’t do it
soon, the window of opportunity would close.
What is the Prud'homme Beer Certification and how does
it differ from other courses on the market?
It is a very comprehensive beer program that
focuses on providing the learning with an opportunity to learn with
others. The program is geared toward all beer – I would argue that it is
more complete and thorough than other programs and it is not just a test to
asses knowledge. It actually provides hands-on experience
In the level one class hosted at Kichesippi Beer Co.
what can (beer) students expect from the four sessions?
The course is split into 5 topics – brewing concepts, understanding beer (with some tastings), draught beer quality, pouring and serving and beer and food. A break down of what is covered under those topics and the learning outcomes can be found on the Prud'homme website.
Who will be teaching the level one class?
Jeff O’Reilly from D’Arcy Magee’s.
Will students be able to continue with the Prud'homme Certification
with an Ottawa Level Two class?
Absolutely – we just haven’t figured out how
this will look. Right now, it will be a combination program that includes
the online theory portion and an in-class sensory session. I’m testing
this concept out right now and will be hosting it in Vancouver later this year.
There are a limited number of seats available for the level one course hosted at Kichesippi Beer Company starting on Monday, September 9. There are 4 classes in total with a fee of $249 (plus tax), registration can be done online.
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