Beer & Chocolate

It’s that time of year again – the Oregon Chocolate Festival is coming right up. And yours truly is again presenting lively & delicious chocolate and beer tasting sessions.

For the past 5 years (this year = 6th) it’s been a pleasure to be part of this event at the invite of my fine colleague, Karolina of the Neuman Hotel Group. As I look back at the previous years, I like what I see.

OCF 2012

2012: First year invited to the festival by Karolina. My Fine Husband is a brewer in the same town and he was invited to make a beer for and talk at the Friday night Chocolate Makers dinner. Yum! I was lucky enough to go along and enjoy the hospitality and get a glimpse of what was ahead. We also were given a booth in exchange for my presentation, wherein we sold WEB goodies.

It’s always fun to see returning guests like Michelle.

2013: On the grow – the festival keeps attracting return guests and new guests into the flavor fold. I’m invited back thanks to our success last year and it’s a great time again, this time with an even fuller room (2 sessions, one Sat & Sun) that last year. Returning guests provide a humbling bonus.

Felicia enjoys the festival, with a fresh beer in hand.

2014: Getting bigger! And our last year in the actual room inside the hotel. We’re bursting at the seams and I give away a few tickets to the event – even better to help the Hotel generate more enthusiasm for a consistently well run and well done event. Felicia is the Winner and I’m so glad to have her the other 40 – 50 guests for each session. The Hotel Group has a terrific team, year over year, too so that makes the life of a presenter so much easier and more fun.

2015: Last year at the Ashland Springs Hotel, Downtown Ashland. In the tent we had a ball with as many guests would fit on Saturday, as well as a robust audience on Sunday too. Still with chairs only, we can snugly fit 60ish guests seated, with a few standing in the back. Thankfully I had enough of everything to serve the groups. Even better, my filmmaker Sean and PR pro Erika are in the house to capture all this tasty fun (clip above).

Join us at the Hills for the Festival

2016: We made a big leap forward to the new location, Ashland Hills Hotel, where the room can seat significantly more. We set up for 80 (seats & tables) and had big overflow of likely 100 = 120! While it’s a thrill to get that many people in the room who want to take part, it’s a disappointment to not be able to fully serve everyone who wanted to be there.  Big thanks to my team, Stacy & Russ, for working with the NHG crew to make it sing for me and our fine guests. I also gave away some private beer & chocolate tasting sessions (only 1 of 3 was redeemed…).

Soon: March 3 – 5, 2017. We’ll seat 100 people only, making sure that those who get there in good time have a literal seat and chair to enjoy the fun. Saturday & Sunday will allow for two different sessions, separate menus and as likely a few surprises. I’m deep into the throes of menu planning and development – creating a fun and delicious & enlightening menu for the 100 guests we’ll have Saturday and the other 100 we’ll have Sunday. Plus Karolina has given me the opportunity to be the moderator of a panel of beverage & food specialists – can’t wait!

Paula, Cassie, Ginger & Karolina are ready for you to join the fun!

Why am I walking down this chocolate memory lane today? Because in a world of sometimes feeling like I didn’t accomplish anything some days, these events are incredibly tangible and real. They’re like my fairway: a successful event like this helps me keep moving forward, knowing what I do matters.

  • Thanks to all the guests – one timers, repeats and stalwarts.
  • Thank you to Karolina and my crews – you make it all the better and successful for everyone.
  • Thank you for my flavor partners, including Dagoba Organic Chocolate and Larry/Brewer and others.

I’m relishing the upcoming festival and hope to see you there. Here’s the agenda. Please, come join us.

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Love to Read? 3 Great Books Every Beer Pro Should Read

Think Like An Entrepreneur: 3 Books Beer Pros Need to Read in 2017

In our world where the sea of written work is growing exponentially by the day and our time grows ever more precious, how do you determine what’s worth your time?

For us it’s pretty simple: Do we enjoy it? Is there a useful lesson or applicable message in the pages? Are we recommending it forward?

Here are three books we recommend beer pros – and anyone in business – read now to improve their business.

  1. Creating Customer Evangelists, How Loyal Customers Become a Volunteer Sales Force by Jackie Huba and Ben McConnell. Huba and McConnell write that successful early phase businesses are paying attention to the early adopters of your products and services, which leads to buzz and sales. Their conversational style and case studies of who’s doing it right make this a fast read.
  1. Uncommon Service, How to Win by Putting Customers at the Core of Your Business by Frances Frei and Anne Morriss. If it were really common, then there wouldn’t be a need for this book. Service is fundamental to success from the very beginnings of business. Practicing the ideas from Uncommon Service starting Day 1 helps create great brands.
  1.            Read & apply.

    Drive, The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel H. Pink. Motivation is a fascinating realm that Pink has dived into head first, gone to the bottom and then comes up to share his eye-opening findings of what moves people. The brief history of motivation and correlating eras is interesting and, more importantly, useful.

So What?

Plain old knowledge isn’t power: applied knowledge is. It’s up to you to do something with the knowledge you gain. And it’s as easy at 1-2-3.

  1. Use these books in personal and staff development: give, review together, apply the principles – readers are leaders.
  2. Give these books as rewards in your training and education programs.
  3. Develop an in-house, in-business library of hard copy books for check-out and development.

That’s what.

 

Valentine’s Day Bonus

Order the book, How To Market Beer To Women: Don’t Sell Me A Pink Hammer, today till midnight & receive a delicious bar of Dagoba Chocolate as a bonus with every book (yep, everyone you order). It’s our sweet little thank you.

 

The Fifty Percent is a project Using Data To Improve Our World by co-founders Meagen Anderson and Ginger Johnson. Syndicated data, consumer insight, consulting, speaking, writing.

Ginger: 515.450.7757 PST  g@thefiftypercent.com

Meagen: 972.821.6983 EST m@thefiftypercent.com

The Fifty Percent, On The House, V1 #1 Feb17

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Michigan Brewers Guild Comment

Thank you for giving a great session*. I really enjoyed your entire lesson. The thing that stood out the most to me was your suggestion on how to get a better understanding of what flavors people like to transform them into a beer drinker. I never really thought about asking a wine drinker what flavors they like in their wine and use that as a gateway to beer. I have always tried to start with a blonde, amber, etc and work my way up, typically finding that wine drinkers usually tend to go with something more flavorful anyways. I’m excited to have the opportunity to try my new technique.

Megan Scheerhorn, Marketing Coordinator

Saugatuck Brewing Company

Douglas, MI

*Beer & Sex: Marketing Beer To Women, Michigan Brewers Guild Winter Conference, Kalamazoo MI January 2017

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Michigan and Back

Happy New Year All ~

It’s always a good time to welcome in ‘new’ and shake things up.

I’ve been to Michigan and back – where (accordingly to my last post) the work of an event has transpired. The Fermenta crew hosted a superb event, the guests were fully engaged as was the host location, Arcadia Ales. My thanks to them all.

This is an example of being in a learning pattern, not a holding (stagnant) pattern. The invite to join them stretched them in new ways. Ways I wanted to support and accommodate. It’s the working together , in new ways – hence new pattern development – that stimulates and motivates.

A learning patterns means minds are open to escort the open eyes and ears of the learning.

As you sally forth into 2017 with beer, beer and food and all other culinary adventures, I’d encourage you to do the same. Consider life one continual learning curve. Out of the stale, into the possible.

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Happy New Beer!

Events are a lot of damn work.

So I’m always grateful for client partners who understand a few things:

  1. They want to work together to further beer education, for the beer and for the education.
  2. They understand we both have skin in the game and anticipate – ne expect – to pay me for my services.
  3. They are on top of the details. Logistics are involved and time-consuming – no wonder people specialize in events management!
  4. They forge ahead and make it work.

So my new year goblet of beer is raised today to the hard-working, smart and clever people with Fermenta today. I’ve the pure tasty pleasure to being their guest for a special January event coming right up on the 11th. Here’s the link – save your seats today (space is very limited and it’ll be a tasty blast into the new year).

I’ll even be bringing some bootlegged Women Enjoying Beer koozies as gifts for all guests. The company Kolder stole my logo this summer and called it a mistake’… (more on that another time).

This event is open to all flavor enthusiasts, all makes and models. We’ll have a grand time in Michigan Winter tasting, talking and learning together.

Like I say in the opening of my book, this is one of those occasions: “Lotta damn work, made easier with help.” Thanks.

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How To Put Together A Women’s Beer Group

Over the yeas I’ve been asked a number of times: So, how do I put together a women’s beer group?

Today’s the day I want to shed some light on successful components to planning and executing a women’s beer group.

  1. Education has to be the primary purpose. Educating a new segment in a population to an idea must drive the endeavor forward.
  2. Single gender education has some unique benefits so do it right. Full respect, no pandering or pinking and by all means make sure it’s worthy of the time you put into it.
  3. Title: this is the easiest and toughest for some people. What do I name it? Easy: use the words “Women” or “Females” for starters. Simple and descriptive rule the day here. Check to make sure the name you think you want to use isn’t being used by others as well (trust me, says the logo-infringed upon business owner). If it is, think again for another choice.
  4. A well planned women + beer group is a smart investment for businesses who want to properly attract more women to beer.

    Conversely, never use denigrating or less-than-full-respect terms for women & beer: babes, broads, girls, chicks, and all other ilk of slang terminology holds everyone – and beer – back.

  5. A regular schedule is in order to get any sort of momentum. Whether you design a 3 part series or year round program, hold it consistently – day wise, time wise, location wise. Consistency builds brands.
  6. Charge guests for it. Part of the value proposition includes monetizing the education. Create a budget expressly for this effort and follow it. More guests will show up and take it seriously when you have a fee attached. $$ = investment of time and effort for everyone.
  7. Provide goodies. Free doesn’t make the world go round, but goodies can. I often get small glasses in tip-top shape at the thrift stores, put my vinyl stickers on them and give them away at tastings. Meaningful mementos of use are a great incentive and fun for all.
  8. Invite select media and press to attend, one at a time. Make M&P seats as valuable as the others. Budget 1 seat per event for proven press pros to enjoy, record and report. Show them a good time – just as you do all your guests – and do not expect glowing press in return. The job of the press is to report, as they see fit professionally to do so. Give them a good story and news they can use.

This gets us started today.

Want more tactics and strategy on how to put together a women’s or men’s or general beer enthusiasm group? Call me. I can help.

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Fermenta Flavor Trip

With a nod to the Ancient Mariner, one of the very best aspects of beer is flavor – hands (and pints) down. And one of the reasons is that we all enjoy flavor.

Do we all enjoy the same flavors? Oh goddess, no! That’s not important. What is important to is to enjoy beer and the beer community for all it offers, all beer flavors and characters included.

In my travels and adventures of beverage and food, I frequently lead beer and food pairings – often beer and chocolate. This eye-opening and often unexpected partnership of two everyday goodies is met with skepticism and enthusiasm. “Really, we’re going to have chocolate with beer?” Yes, really. Here’s why.

fermentablackBeer’s grain bill – the actual grains in the beer recipe – has so many affiliations with flavors in various chocolates. In fact, since they both have a prominent base ingredient (beer = grain, chocolate = cocoa), they are naturally set up to deliciously co-exist. While I may sound bias, I can tell you that the light bulbs I see go on in a room experiencing beer and chocolate make the effort so incredibly worthwhile.

Teaching to flavor, opening minds by starting with our palate is gratifying and satisfying. Gratifying because there are always people in the room who have epiphanies. Voila! “Whoa – who knew??!!” reactions that in turn make me grin. Satisfying because I get to refresh my taste buds with beer and chocolate at the same time, thereby renewing the joy of flavor exploration.

Join us January 11th as the fine Fermenta folks and I host a lively educational event at gracious host Arcadia Ales in Kalamazoo. I’ll be giving the talk, HerStory: The Story of Women & Beer, with the bonus goodies of fresh beer, Dagoba chocolate and Rogue Creamery cheese. Bring your open mind and open palate, good humor and a friend. Space is limited so register today.

See you soon in the Great State of Michigan for a flavor filled night. Cheers till then!

g

this article was originally written for Fermenta, 2017.

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Beer Alphabet

Fill in the blanks:

What word does each letter mean to you as it relates to beer? (you can have as many for each letter as you wish).

A

B

C

D

E

F

G

H

I

J

K

L

M

n

O

P

Q

R

S

T

U

V

W

X

Y

Z

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Milestones

The power of getting where you’re going is a milestone.

“Milestones are constructed to provide reference points along the road. This can be used to reassure travelers that the proper path is being followed, and to indicate either distance traveled or the remaining distance to a destination.” – Wikipedia

Where is it you want to go? What do you want to measure? What road are you creating that you’re heading down?

Milestones in beer are infinite. What was the first beer you tasted? What was the first beer you really connected with? Who were you with when you enjoyed a special beer? Where were you? How do all of these experiential milestones factor into your beer life going forward?

A few milestones for me include:

  1. First sips of beer in the company of my parents. Curious, though unremarkable. No big deal.
  2. First beer at college parties. Socially more of a big deal, taste wise – unremarkable to my taste buds.
  3. First taste of a sour or wild beer. Life changing, I loved it.
  4. First brewpub I patronized, though for the vibe & food, not the beer.
What are your milestones? Where do they lead you?

What are your milestones? Where do they lead you?

And so on.

As a researcher of women and beer, I find it interesting to learn about others’ milestones in beer. Finding out what resonates and what is benign. Hearing stories and tales of their experiences.

It places Women Enjoying Beer in a singular space, with an insight library of personal recollections and opinions unique to the entire beer world.

When beer makers, importers, distributors and retailers want to really know the milestones for women and beer, were at the ready to serve. Sharing the information through our services is how we are aiming to complete the milestone of a gender-free beer community. One in which gender is irrelevant (because it is) in relation to beer.

What are your beer milestones?

Beer for everybody. Everybody for beer. That’s a milestone worth aiming for.

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Ditch The Appetizers, Sell Them Beer

To everyone who helps operate a beer with food establishment:

Ditch the Appetizers, Sell them Beer.

Why do so many places feel compelled to cut into the already thin margins of food as attractant for business for ‘happy hour’ or other reduced price events?

This practice makes no sense – in fact it can only damage the business. And never mind reducing prices on beer. That’s sacrilege in real life. Good grief.

Here’s what we need to all focus on: VALUE.

Value is the worth we place on some thing, experience and all other whatevers in our lives.

Are they worth our time? Our money? Our attention? Our repeat business? Our talking about them? Our sharing them? Our buying them to give as gifts?

Value is what matters most.

Value is what matters most.

Value is the true proposition we can all embrace and really sit back and ponder. It’s how we perceive worth. It’s also a smart business practice: to price on value.

For instance, I don’t offer my services by the hour – that’s simply encouraging the practitioner to keep you in the loop for longer to make more money. Is that really an ethical idea? No. Is taking care of your customers within one project rate better? Absolutely. Will you sometimes spend more time and others spend less in accomplishing what you agree to do? Yes, and it all evens out in time.

Appetizers are teasers. They warm up our palate and theoretically get our (literal) juices flowing to entice us to order more food. Is offering a reduced price appetizer the best way to get people to come to your business? It may get them in but it won’t keep them. There’s no value in discounting.

Don’t ask for a reduced price and don’t offer one. Offer value, in all ways, all the time.

Beer deserves to be a full value for everyone, all the time. Get the appetizers, order a beer and simply let it all be.

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Beer Companies Changing Hands

Do you respond or react when you learn of information which startles you into the reality of life?

Case in point: many beer companies are selling to other companies and entities these days. This pattern will likely continue, as does any industry that experiences robust growth as the beer making industry has.

So do you react – or do you respond?

First of all, let’s consider one very important facet of businesses selling to other businesses. The business that chooses to sell is the seller. There’d be no sale if the seller wasn’t interested. So for people who get irked or high and mighty about their favorite brewery being ‘bought out’ is a misnomer: the seller has to agree to that first. Start with them, the seller, before accusatorily getting righteous.

Whatever the case may be, I'll have another beer.

Whatever the case may be, I’ll have another beer.

Next, if the plan of the ownership of a brewery – like any business – sees their business plan and exit strategy as selling to another party, good for them. That is strictly the business of the ownership, not ours as the consumers or observers. If that’s your plan, go for it.

A reaction is a response to an influence or event.

A response is an answer or reply.

They’re similar yet still different.

Everyone needs to withhold judgement before seeing what actually unfolds with a change of ownership.

Here’s the newsflash: when one company sells to another and a spokesperson for either entity comes out and says, “Nothing Will Change”, they’re lying. It may be innocent lying, but they are lying all the same.

The business has changed hands – how could it possibly remain the same!? It can’t, literally – it’s now changed. So before you blow up when you perceive that the business or beer did in fact change (whether it actually did or not), remember: the first thing that changed was ownership so of course operations will change.

Change seems to be something resisted with a great deal of effort. We’d be better served to simply observe, consider and then experience before judging and shouting.

Beer companies will continue to change hands. Breweries will continue to come online and grow into attractive enterprises to buy. It’s the way business can work for all of us. Simply enjoy what you enjoy, go with the changing-hands flow and be nice. There will always be more beer.

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Empty Fridge Space

When you have empty space in your fridge, what do you fill it with? Is beer automatically one of those goodies you stock up on or is it more of an impulse or purpose purchase?

Kind of low on beer right now...both tasty & waiting all the same.

Kind of low on beer right now…both tasty & waiting all the same.

Since I’m in the beer business, as well as being married to it (My Fine Husband is a long time pro brewer), it’s rare when we don’t have beer in the fridge. People bring us both beer as gifts and we are happy to buy beer when the spirit moves us. It’s part of our every day lives.

We rarely go out simply to buy beer, and it’s still one thing we do in fact enjoy and treat ourselves to.

Empty space in the fridge is almost a myth around my house too. As an avid cook and buyer of all things edible, our kitchen fridge (only) is kept happily stocked. From beer to pickles, from jam to soup, from bacon grease to vegetables…..

I could justify it by saying that a full fridge is more energy-efficient than a slightly or empty one. That seems realistic. If it’s on, it should be working to keep items cold, not just chill the space. All the same we use and therefore justify the fridge by keeping its belly abundantly full, beer included.

What I will justify is supporting brewers across the globe by enjoying the beers we choose to buy. Empty fridge? Not so much.

Keep your occupied with beer made by hardworking, flavor focused and fun folks. Cheers ~

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What Will The Vote Tell Us?

NOTE: This post is a personal reflection of my own ideas today. Back to the ‘usual’ next time.

Today is an herstoric day in America: we’re in the final hours of a truly powerful presidential election. Day 0. What will we learn at the end of the day, when the votes have been tallied, when the polls are closed and the pundits (for once) are as quiet as the rest of us – awaiting the final count and outcome.

Some of the keys to me include the facet of how people have shifted their focus from gender to credibility. Thankfully, we’re past the gender garbage of wondering what that means. It simply means another person will be in office. That’s it.

Another key is that ethics have entered the public conversation, accompanied with ugly rearings of racism, sexism, and gross categorization and demeaning of certain members of our populations. It’s a double whammy when we remember that ALL people in the USA are immigrants, every single one. Even the native populations had to migrate from elsewhere at one time. Populations don’t simple materialize, they move and relocate.

So why am I writing about the presidential election on a site focused on women and beer?

Because the relationships are unmistakable to me.

  1. Ms. Clinton could be our next president; thereby raising the profile of the overdue full respect of women in America, ne – everywhere. One by one, example by example, with more and more women speaking up & stepping up and holding their own as humans – not as women – we make progress across the globe. Whether you like her or not is irrelevant. She’s qualified and understands the gigantic job ahead of her. She’s dedicated her entire life to public service, for better and for worse. And she’s weathered some remarkable storms.
  2. The denigration by Mr. Trump of so many people is almost unbelievable. Dictatorships, Democratic Republics, Authoritarian, Oligarchy, Totalitarian and so on. These systems could show up in different ways should he be elected, based on style of running his life. The lack of ethics and big think of the people, by the people and for the people. I have no beef with him personally – rather it scares the living crap out of me that anyone, of any make and model, gender, background and age, could potentially be set into one of the most powerful offices in the world. We’d go inevitably and damningly backwards, immediately.

There are so many more reasons why this particular presidential election is at the surface for me today. I woke at 2 by my dog barking and found myself wondering, “are the candidates already up or can they actually sleep right now?”

While we’re voting in a new president, we’re also voting in (and reelecting) many thousands of other individuals to carry forth our governing of this great country.

The country is already great. Yes, we have all sorts of ills to cure and correct. And it’s still one of the greatest countries in the world. We can go to the polls safely and in no fear for our lives. That’s great indeed.

So today, I’d make a request of you: Vote.

That’s what we can all do. Vote and encourage – do what you have to do to get the people you know to vote as well. We take for granted that we can do so freely now – that many, many people put their lives on the line – with some losing their lives in the interest that we may be able to do so freely and in an unharassed manner.

Never take freedom for granted. The election today is a crystal clear example of democracy in working order. Listen, inquire, challenge, question, appreciate, speak up, activate, do. Vote. Whatever you do, exercise that hard-earned right.

If you feel like you’re choosing between “a lesser of two evils” then I’d ask you to consider who is at least experienced and successful in the profession and world of politics.

The dominoes have been lined up and finally been tipped. I sent in my ballot a week ago. My fingers are crossed. I’ll be anxious to see what tomorrow brings. Thank you for reading.

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Have We Gone Overboard?

There was a time when we simply described things as they were: carrots, beer, cars, songs. Hot cold, spicy, bland, fizzy, flat, red, blue and green.

Now it feels very different to me. Words like craft, artisan, farmhouse, and custom are bandied about with a carefree nonchalance that the most hardened foodie may find appalling.

And to what end? Are all these words used in context to what we put into our mouth merited? Does it truly matter to you where they came from or is it trendy? Said another way, do you think you need to be aware and care or do we fundamentally and genuinely care? Do we use the words because they really matter or because we’re keeping up with the organic-farm-eating Jones’? Here’s a few food words to consider.

Case in point: Paired.

Paired is a “craft beer + food” event offered to attendees of the Great American Beer Festival, fall every September. What was once titled Farm to Table is now Paired. Why the switch of the name, is my first question. Are we in a day and age where single glib or seemingly gravitational words are how we want to sum up an entire experience? Do we want the feeling of something or do we want to enjoy the literal fruits of someone else’s labor? Farm to Table is straight forward and descriptive.

Paired menu 2016

Paired menu 2016

Don’t get me wrong: the Paired event is quite a show. The host organization, The Brewers Association, has deemed me worthy of a media pass several years, for which I’m grateful. Trappings of that badge include admittance to this event. Any time I get to eat with drink I’m happy. The planning and effort that goes into this one event, for example, looks to be a remarkable undertaking. Kudos.

So let’s look at the menu. Read one way, we can safely say it’s chock full of learning opportunity! An overflow of words that are new to me, so no doubt a collection of new vocab to others as well. Take for instance: rillette, mignonette, tataki, fromage fort, taleggio, membrillo, fish headcheese, chorizo seco, duck pipian, loukaniko...and on it goes. A crash course in Italian and French in many ways. Cool! I love to learn so there’s a build in homework option.

And if we’re looking at keeping it real and every day, this isn’t the event for you. I honestly think that someone looking for everyday food they cook (in a broad general sense) would not fully enjoy or appreciate. Words that are unfamiliar and to some unpronounceable don’t really engender new ideas; they engender fear of mispronunciation and sometimes, due to that, simple avoidance.

I’ve found the best way to navigate this event is to simply wander and ask lots of questions. The crews present are always very knowledgeable and it’s a good way to make new connections. Simply know that the next person in line will likely also ask some of the same questions of the crew. It’s gotta be a long repetitive day, and that’s what this is about: meeting, talking & educating on a redundant soundtrack to help people learn more about what they are eating, beverage paired with food.

To that end it’s a smash. Again, I enjoy it. I also find that by the time I’m ready to go all I want is a plate full of one food I know and recognize and to fill up on with a full glass of beer.

Have we taken the beer & food pairing too far?

Likely it’ll get pushed farther still. So be it. For me it’s about knowing what I’m getting into, embracing it for what it is – Italian lessons beforehand be damned – and then coming out the other side. Enlightened, fuller and perhaps more curious, “Woman overboard!” an infrequent call.

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