Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Those Who Can't, Teach...

Well, I kicked off my Art & History of Brewing class last week; the second session is tonight. In the end, I had 16 folks sign up, which makes for a pretty good class. Small enough to keep things pretty intimate, yet big enough to support having the class. While teaching it can be a bit stressful, it's always great to be able to stand up in front of interested people and get paid to talk to them about beer.

Tonight we'll be covering the history of brewing in the US, from the mid-1800s until about 1970. To support that, I'll be showing about the first 45 minutes of The American Brew DVD. If you haven't seen it, it's definitely worth a look if you can find a copy. But as I was prepping for my class, it made me think about what are some of the best "beer documentaries" out there?

For my money, the first and best was the late great Michael Jackson's The Beer Hunter series on the Discovery Channel. Twenty years old, but still interesting, the series consists of six half hour shows, each focusing on a different brewing nation. As he did in so many other areas, Mr. Jackson blazed the trail in doing a serious television show on beer. Unfortunately, the series has never been transferred to DVD and even the VHS tapes can only be bought second-hand these days. (If you're listening Discovery, get on the stick!!!).

Just as an aside (and so I can name drop), I had the great pleasure and honor to meet Michael Jackson on two occasions. Both times we were actually at whiskey events (London in 2001 & Islay in 2003), but he will always be first and foremost The Beer Hunter to me. The world of beer has seemed a bit smaller and drabber since Mr. Jackson passed in August of 2007.

More recently, I caught an episode of How Stuff Works on The Discovery Channel entitled "Beer 101". I found it very interesting and pretty well done. I'm on the look out for a copy of it to use in my class. I've also seen episodes on Modern Marvels and even Dirty Jobs, dealing with brewing and hop picking. Seems like brewing and beer are all over the place, these days.

The one place I haven't seen that much beer talk is on the Food Network, which is a bit sad when you think about it. They did have beer as the secret ingredient on Iron Chef recently (with Garrett Oliver as one of the judges), but you'd think they would talk a lot more about beer on a channel dedicated to good food. Oh well...

On the beer front, I'm still working on recovering from killing a growler of Midnight Sun's Zeus single-handed on Super Bowl Sunday. See my earlier post for details on what a fantastic beer this is. I'll likely have something new next week to talk about.

Until then, Cheers!

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