Summer School: CAMFA

A few years ago I introduced CAMFA, a beer learning concept I based on 5 elements of enjoying beer: Color, Aroma, Mouthfeel, Flavor, and Alcohol.

As we head full on into summer, I’d encourage you to use this fun, easy & memorable concept to fully enjoy your beer.

Enjoy using CAMFA with your summer beer adventures

Enjoy using CAMFA with your summer beer adventures

Here are a few things to keep in mind when using CAMFA:

  1. Color. Color is only color. Said another way, it’s not flavor so lets your taste buds speak to flavor, leave the color for your eyes only (, James).
  2. Aromaaaaahhhhhh! It’s one of the most delightful and oft overlooked elements of beer – aroma. Really breathe it in. It’s lovely to smell your beer.
  3. Mouthfeel, aka Texture. Mouthfeel is that surreptitious friend who enables us to really get our oral sensory receptors fully engaged. Put them to work.
  4. Flavor, aka Taste. Flavor is the number one reason women engage in beer (WEB research 2008 – present). Learn to try every beer you have opportunity to do so.
  5. Alcohol. Moderation is Alcohol best friend and is ours too. Beers full glory can be best appreciated when it’s consumed and therefore enjoyed in a modest fashion.

Enjoy your summer schooling in beer with CAMFA. I’d love to get your “What I Did This Summer” essay come fall – send ’em my way! And tell me all about your beer, CAMFA adventures.

Cheers ~

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ABC’s of Women, Beer & Food: Letter H

One of the four primary ingredients in beer is today’s featured letter: Hops!

Hop bines just before harvest

Hops or hop, depending on who or whom you ask, is the cone flower bearing plant that’s included in beer making to add flavor, aroma or both as well as stability in beer (read this). It’s an extraordinary plant to witness live. Growing on bines 18 to 20 feet in the air, spiraled around their supporting lead, all the way up to the sky!

Have you been to a hop farm before? Do you grow hops at your home? Have you ever smelled or rolled fresh picked hops in your hands, still sticky and damp? It’s ethereal.

Hop plants started getting used in beer following Gruit and is widely used globally in beer production (with a few exceptions). Here are a few more hop terms to increase your vocab.

The connection with beer and food here is that hops can accent different foods differently. Think of the crisp bite of a well balanced beer and how it pairs deliciously with cheeses, can liven up a mild dish and can mellow out a hot and spicy one.  Like any ingredient, the hop profile will best complement food when intensity is matched.

This fragile ingredient must be either used almost immediately after harvest from the hop yards or dried as a whole cone flower or pelletized for storage. Cold is needed to best preserve this beer beauty as with any agricultural crop, it starts to degrade as soon as it’s picked.

The hop farmers and growers are some of the most hospitable, smart and thoughtful people I’ve encountered in the beer community. Some exclusively grow hops, some grow other complementary crops. You can learn more by visiting the American Hop Museum too – check it out!

Gayle Goschie of Goschie Farms, Nancy Frketich of OR Hops & Ginger at the Goschie Farm, 2011

Support your local hop grower if you have one. Support your own hops should you choose to plant and grow them. They’re rhizomes and spread in the right setting so plant them accordingly (read: provide LOADS of room to climb and spread). They make great sun shade on a South facing rise, properly trained with twine.

One tip colleague Gayle Goschie, of multi generational Goschie Farms told me in growing my own: when you see the heads popping up in the spring time, cut them off – behead them. If you let them grow in that first blush, you’ll get lots and lots of leaves, which takes energy away from the flowers. Beheading them forces the plant to regenerate and send up more efficient bines focused on flower production. So if you want leaves, let them grow. If you want cone flowers, behead them.

While I can go on and on about hops, I’d also share that there is a growing faction of hop education opportunities. One example: I was invited to attend Hop & Brew School by HopUnion in Yakima Washington last September. What a fabulous treat and a big eye opener! Great people, passionate, plugged in, and passing the information forward. All to the end benefit of high quality hops in the beer we enjoy.

My glass is up today to hops and more especially the growers, farmers, brokers and researchers of hops.

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ABC’s of Women, Beer & Food: Letter C

If A is for Aroma and B is for Brewing, C is for cooking with beer.

Cooking is what brewing is and it’s what we often do with our food to prepare it. When you look up the definition of Cooking, here’s what you might find:

“The process of preparing food, often with the use of heat.”

And while all cooking does not require heat, it’s an integral part of some cooking methods. What would a cake be for want of an oven, a stew be without heat from an element and a creme brulee without company of a live flame? They’d not the same things at all.

Beer is the same way. With no heat, you entirely change the process and everything about what it is – beer and food both. Some sources cite the higher nutritional value of cooked foods and some say raw foods are the way to go.

As with techniques, it’s all in perspective, what’s available, tools, setting, and preference. Remaining open to both (with or without heat) leaves you set up for flavor opportunity that you may otherwise close yourself off to. And that’s no fun!

Wherein lies the heat in cooking? Baking, roasting, sauteing, simmering, broiling, braising, poaching, barbecuing, smoking, broasting, broiling, frying, grilling, searing, steaming, and reducing….and brewing. There are oodles of techniques and methods of cooking using heat. Indeed, our intake and nutrition landscape would be dramatically different if we had no heat to cook with.

What’s your style? How do you like to cook? What ingredients do you like to cook with? What beers do include in your ingredients lists?

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ABC’s Of Women, Beer & Food

Welcome to a new series: The ABC’s of Women, Beer and Food. These may well be 3 favorite things of many folks so it’s time to dig in with a glass, fork & spoon!

A is for Aroma.

One of the first things we notice when enjoying beer and learning more about it is aroma. Lately I’ve come to know that aroma can contribute something like 90% of our overall flavor experience. Since our nose and mouth are inseparable, this makes sense (pun intended).

When you have a beer in front of you, be sure to examine the aroma. I like to teach a few methods that I have learned from other beer professionals.

1. Drive by: Take a fresh pour of beer and draw it evenly under your nose while inhaling normally, once slowly from side to side. Repeat as desired. If the beer has been sitting a while, refresh the aroma by agitating the carbonation in a swirling motion, with your hand on top of the glass to prevent spilling. Swirl and before lifting your hand away be sure to breathe in the aroma.

2. Bloodhound: Take a freshly poured beer and stick your nose deep into the glass. Take a few average size smells, being sure not to be a vacuum cleaner or a hamster. One’s too deep (scent simply runs down into your lungs), one’s too light (not enough strength to get aroma into your oral cavity for a proper sniff).

Aroma applies to your foods as well as other beverages you want to enjoy. Smell them all. They all have aromas to offer.

1. When eating foods, get a hold of the goods at hand with fingers, fork, spoon or tongs, lift to your nose and try the same methods listed above.

2. Explore the food aromas in different temperature ranges: cheeses cold, cheeses slightly warmed up, cheeses room temperature. You’ll experience a vast range of aromas. NOTE: make sure to watch for food safety – don’t leave sensitive food items sitting out too long as to sacrifice safe consumption.

Women and men can learn volumes about beer by doing something as simple as smelling beer before consuming it. While there is a bit of info out there on how women and men may taste differently, WEB is mostly concerned with the simple exercise of actual participation. We’re leaving the science to others.

And in the end, who cares if we do or don’t. What is key to remember is that EVERYONE enjoys aromas, flavor and therefore beer.

Extra Credit Exercises:

  • Pour a fresh beer into various kinds of glassware and see how different the aromas can be, per shape and size of glass.
  • Set a timer after pouring the same beer into 3 – 5 different glasses (same style or different) and smell them in 5 minute intervals.
  • Write an essay if you wish, share with friends. Better yet, do these exercises with friends. Beer brings people together – be the facilitator.

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CAMFA Series #5: Alcohol

We’ve been digging into the concept of CAMFA, an educational tool developed by Women Enjoying Beer to teach some beer enjoyment basics. Today we’re on the last letter: A

CAMFA C = Color, A = Aroma, M = Mouthfeel, F = Flavor, A = Alcohol

The alcohol in beer is the product of the brewing process wherein alcohol and CO2 are the result or fermentation. Brewers determine, within their recipe making, what resultant alcohol content they are aiming for. And while brewing certainly is a science, it’s equally art and the final outcome may or may not be as precise as they desire. Beer is a living organism and brewers are excellent manipulators of the wort and beer to get the results they desire.

The alcohol content of beer is commonly referenced as ABV, or Alcohol By Volume. It’s familiar to many and you should be able to find it in all beer labeling. If the beer you get or serve comes from a cask or keg, the staff of the dispensing body should absolutely know what the ABV is. It’s a responsibility factor for both the serving or selling party and the consuming party. Equal onus here, folks.

Alcohol is the reason some people drink, and in moderation, that’s acceptable. Hopefully more people than not partake because of all the other wonderful reasons there are to drink beer: camaraderie, education, entertainment, support, and curiosity.

Beer is the result of an extraordinary investment. Of resources in people, time, equipment, supplies, money, and passion. Enjoying it responsibly reflects the respect you also hold for it while simultaneously recognizing the investment of the brewer/y.

Cheers to all parts of CAMFA: Color, Aroma, Mouthfeel, Flavor and Alcohol. Cheers to the brewers round the world who allow us to partake of this universal beverage.

CAMFA Series #1: Color

CAMFA Series #2: Aroma

CAMFA Series #3: Mouthfeel

CAMFA Series #4: Flavor

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CAMFA Series #4: Flavor

CAMFA is a program developed by Women Enjoying Beer to educate all beer consumers, all internal and external customers.

Today we’re up to the F.

CAMFA C = Color, A = Aroma, M = Mouthfeel, F = Flavor

Flavor is perhaps the most commonly known or familiar aspect of beer. When you ask someone why they either like or don’t like beer, many will say the flavor/s. It’s one of the most obvious sensory parts in the beer experience.

Flavor is a wonderful part of beer

And there’s a few good reasons why. Whether you like the flavors of the beer or not, you notice them right away. Many people still don’t pay much attention to the beauty in the color of beer, or the smelling of their beer or even the texture of their beer. Flavor is a common denominator.

  • What do you taste?
  • What kinds of flavors are you identifying?

Being able to label the flavors you taste, like identifying smells, is a powerful tool to building your beer knowledge. Flavors of beer are as diverse and limitless as any beverage can be.

Part of that is due to the fact that with at least 4 basic ingredients and potentially scads more, there are infinite flavor combinations that can occur. Add to that: Beer is a living organism (most beer is not pasteurized). Hence it’ll stay alive and the flavors can change subtly or remarkably depending on a few factors.

You want the beer to stay alive, to not have the yeast die or get killed off, to really enjoy the beer as the brewer meant it to be. Fresh, full of flavors and aromas for you to relish.

Flavor is the (so far) result of the color, aroma, and mouthfeel of your beer. The flavors are a kind of metaphorical tie that brings them together in your mouth. And such wonderful ties they are!

p.s. talk about flavor – get into pairing beer flavors with foods...

Tomorrow: Alcohol

CAMFA Series #1: Color

CAMFA Series #2: Aroma

CAMFA Series #3: Mouthfeel

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CAMFA Series #3: Mouthfeel

We’ve covered the first 2 letters of CAMFA so far. Let’s dig into the next one: M.

CAMFA: C = Color, A = Aroma, M = Mouthfeel.

Mouthfeel is defined as “is the sensory impression of a food or other substance, and is determined mainly by the chemical senses of taste and smell.” by Wikipedia

How the beer feels in our mouth, the texture, lushness or leanness, is the whole idea and we can really start to full-on experience our beer once we get to mouthfeel. With the first steps being looking at your beer and then smelling your beer, the mouthfeel of the beer helps to start filling out the intimate knowledge of the beer in our mouths.

It’s important to know that mouthfeel is an integral part of enjoying beer. That it’s generally something that takes a bit of time to get to know. And it’s not necessarily the same for your ‘lawn mower’ type beer drinking, wherein you’re looking to primarily quench your thirst.

Be patient, try, linger. Learn to really embrace the mouthfeel of your beer and where it can lead. Hopefully to wanting to do it again with another high quality beer with friends.

Tomorrow: Flavor

CAMFA Series #1: Color

CAMFA Series #2: Aroma

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CAMFA Series #2: Aroma

Yesterday we launched the further explanation of CAMFA – a program WEB developed to help educate all beer enthusiasts. Welcome to part 2.

CAMFA: C = Color, A = Aroma

Please smell your beer

Aroma of beer is one the the first sensory aspects to truly learning about and enjoying beer. Scent tells us so much about the beer and you should always smell your beer before drinking it.

Why? Because the ingredients have so much to offer your nose!

If you don’t smell your beer yet, if you’re staff needs to learn how to smell their beer, then today’s the day to start. WEB always teaches smelling your beer at events. Without scent, flavors don’t have the same significance or impact either.

Rebecca Newman taught me a few methods of smelling beer: Bloodhound and Drive By. And that’s precisely what we share at all events. Teaching them the how and why equally solidify why smelling your beer matters to the entire enjoyability.

For many consumers, even though they may smell wine or foods, it’s never occurred to them to smell their beer first. It’s a terrific entry into your helping educate them via your own staff.

It’s important to keep in mind that smelling requires practice, just as other skills do. One thing to teach and encourage people to do is to name the smells they are sniffing. memory is an extremely powerful mechanism. When you can put a name to a scent, you can better recall that scent and keep the learning rolling forward.

So the next time you get invited to or host a “Beer Tasting” cover the smelling part first. Chances are good your nose will get to it before your taste buds do.

Tomorrow: Mouthfeel

CAMFA Series #1: Color

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CAMFA As Part Of A Successful Beer Event

If you’ve already seen this video about WEB’s signature CAMFA program, here’s how you can apply it to a beer dinner. WEB has a sold out beer dinner this month that we’ll apply it to.

The beauty of CAMFA is it covers basics bases for all levels of beer enthusiasm. From the just learning novice to the well versed. Everyone benefits, including those giving instruction because you keep learning more from the audience.

  • Scene: 5 course inaugural beer dinner at a well established and reputed multi tap restaurant.
  • Agenda: Treat guests to 5 well planned out courses of matching beers and foods.
  • Purpose: Expand knowledge of beer and how it partners with food. To endorse and reinforce that beer needs to reclaim its rightful place at the dinner table.
  • Outcome: More knowledgeable, beer and food savvy folks who will repeat the experience and spread the information. Hardworking breweries develop more educated and engaged followers. Further increased development of satisfied beer market share.

C = Color. For the beer talk about the colors of the beers, where the color comes from, how it’s not intrinsically entwined with stereotypical flavors, share how it’s tied to ingredients. For the food you can talk about colors of foods, nutritional implications of certain colors, how color of foods can be an enticement and complement to their beer.

A = Aroma. For the beer talk about what the beer smells like, how to actually smell your beer (bloodhound, drive by), why smell is important to the beer experience and help ID the beer’s ‘health’. For the food, smell is usually one of the most important factors and indicators both of safe food and potential flavors. Talk about smell memory and naming flavors you taste to help with that flavor memory.

M = Mouthfeel. For the beer, talk about what the beer feel likes in your mouth, also known as body. Discuss texture, offer suggestions on words to describe mouthfeel (toothy, lush, chewy, slick), and encourage words that frame beer in a positive way. For the food, same idea. Talk about how and why different foods may have unique textures to them and how that affects the other aspects of the eating experience.

F = Flavor. For the beer talk about flavor identifiers, how to actually label the flavors we taste, what they may mean and where they can come from. Discuss major off flavors of beer (cardboard, butter, etc.). For the food, talk about how particular flavors may evoke memories, why they like some flavors and why others turn them off. Also discuss how different foods taste on their own AND when in your mouth simultaneously with different beers.

A = Alcohol. For the beer, teach Alcohol By Volume (ABV) and what that exactly means to them, as consumers. You can also discuss Alcohol by Weight and how that is different, as well as moderation in really learning how to savor your beer, as it was intended. For food, you can talk about cooking with alcohol – beer hopefully! How alcohol can dissipate in some cooking processes, what kinds of flavor characteristics alcohol in food can provide, and suggestions of successful recipes with beer.

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Introducing: CAMFA

CAMFA is a concept that Women Enjoying Beer has developed to help beer businesses further beer education with consumers and staff.

Take a look at this video for a introduction to what CAMFA is all about.

CAMFA: C = Color, A = Aroma, M = Mouthfeel, F = Flavor, A = Alcohol

CAMFA will help more consumers learn some basics about their beer and training and education professionals about helping consumers understand more about their beer.And that’s good for everyone.

Call on WEB to come provide this kind of training to help grow your business.

videography by Mike Sansone

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