Talking about beer can sometimes be almost as good as drinking it. Even better if the two things accompany each other in a relationship which is “educational”.
So thirty members of Lunesdale CAMRA discovered this week in a tasting tutorial which combined pleasure and enlightenment. The Good Beer Guide-listed Borough pub in Lancaster was the ideal venue for a session aimed at describing, defining and recording the distinctive qualities of a range of ales.
The purpose was a practical one. The Lunesdale area has several independent breweries producing a rich variety of beers, but very few have been officially tasted for the aforementioned iconic Guide. The aim of the session was to equip CAMRA members to put that right.
Expert and experienced tutors Stuart Johnson and Lynda Johnson, who is CAMRA’s Regional Tasting Panels Co-ordinator, and Chris de Cordova (Brewery Liaison Officers Co-ordinator for the area) led group discussions on each beer.
Sipping thirds of a pint rather than slurping full tankards was a new experience for many. In the course of it they discovered interesting things about appearance, aroma, bitterness, fruit, malt, and the length (or shortness) of a beer’s finish.
Snatches of dialogue give a flavour of what went on. “Who got some fruit?” asks the tutor. (No, “Well, I brought an apple with me,” is not the right answer.) “No one’s found any sweetness? If you’re not getting any put the tip of your tongue in.” “Crikey, there’s a lot going on in here” (Brodie’s Prime — and he’s right).
At the end of the evening participants were well educated rather than well oiled, which made a pleasant change. It was a fascinating and enlightening training session. Our thanks to the tutors and to the Borough staff, in particular Russ Daley who looked after us splendidly and worked hard all evening on our behalf.