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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Embrace The Taste

“It takes a lot of guts to learn in public.”

This is so true. And yet who cares…

When you’re learning about anything, a certain level of initiative is required. Take beer for example.

Beer is universal. It’s also attracted a pretty astounding amount of attention from consumers and media. The sheer number of breweries open and opening, the vast array of choices of beer on menus and in stores, and the avalanche of flavors can quickly cause overwhelm.

So what’s a drinker to do? How do you learn about beer in a comfortable and easy way that fits your style?

Rest easy, my friends. Because the idea of learning about beer is as relaxed as you wish it to be, as formal as you want to gussy up for, and the beer itself is very forgiving as a teacher.

Follow these steps and you’ll be mighty fine.

1. Close your eyes and take a deep breath. Do this 3 – 4 times before you open them and begin tasting beer. Clearing your head for any exercise is key to starting with a fresh and receptive brain.

2. Make sure the glassware you’re trying beer from is clean, “beer clean” as the industry calls it. The foam lacing needs to stick to the sides of the glass, which indicates there is no residue (oil, detergent, sanitizers) on the surface of the glass. If the foam doesn’t stick, send the glass back or rewash it if you’re doing this at home.

3. Use my concept CAMFA to guide you through the tasting: Color, Aroma, Mouthfeel, Flavor, Alcohol. More on the concept can be found here.

4. Taste 3 to 4 beers per setting if you’re really wanting to embrace the taste. More than 4 can easily fatigue your palate, especially if you’re unused to extended tasting experiences. Have a glass of water to sip on between, as well as unsalted crackers or bread to clear your tastebuds and mouth.

Enjoy frequently tasting beers new to you.

Enjoy frequently tasting beers new to you.

No matter what you try, enjoy them all for what they are. Preference is different from experimentation. Tasting naturally begets an array of flavors, some you’ll embrace and some you’ll leave alone. All the same, the purpose of tasting is to expand your mind with your palate and appreciate beer as a whole.

Doing this exercise can be more enjoyable and engaging with friends. If you do taste with friends, ask everyone to remain silent until you’ve fully experienced the beer; don’t allow comments to color what you think about it before you’ve had the opportunity to really consider your beer.

Above all – enjoy. Beer is simple, fun, and meant to be social. Like what you like, respect what others like and become the diplomat the world needs.

Cheers ~

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CAMFA & American Craft Beer Week

CAMFA = an educational program developed by web which stands for Color, Aroma, Mouthfeel, Flavor and Alcohol.

American Craft Beer Week = celebration of the contributions of American craft brewers.

Declare your ACBW Beer Independence

Put the two together and VOILA!! It’s a winning combination. In honor of ACBW, as beer enthusiasts may call it, here’s a tongue in cheek new iteration of CAMFA, dedicated to ACBW.

  • C = Craft beer. While to some it may be a state of mind, there’s no doubt that well crafted beer of any sort is worthwhile tasting.
  • A = Assortment. With well over 1700 craft breweries in American and 600+ more on the way, the variety is incredible.
  • M = Moderation. Savoring the Flavor, as the BA promotes – as do we, is the key to truly enjoying your beer and the precious universal beverage breweries put into every batch.
  • F = Females. With under 30% of women currently partaking of beer AND with women making 80% of purchasing decisions across the buying board, now is absolutely the time to get them involved. They are the future of American Craft Beer.
  • A = Accessibility. With the majority of Americans within 10 miles of a brewery, there’s every reason to hop on your bike, scoot the skateboard and otherwise get your self to the local brewery with friends.

Supporting your local brewery goes well beyond you and them. It’s good for our country and the international community.

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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 Series #1: Color

CAMFA is a program Women Enjoying Beer created and developed to help teach internal (within your company) and external (consumers) customers about beer. Educated beer sellers, servers and tenders as well as educated consumers are a boon to us all.

Today is the first of 5 in this series to dig a bit deeper on why CAMFA is important, can make a big difference in the knowledge base of your internal and external clients and therefore support and grow business.

CAMFA C = Color

When people think about color of beer, hopefully it’s more of the ‘colors’ of beer – plural. Beer color comes from the ingredients and primarily from the grain used in the process. Of course the other ingredients can play a part as well, albeit much more nominally.

When WEB hosts events, speaks, and educates, we encourage people to not be a beer racist. That is – to not judge your beer by its color. That’d be just as bad as any other color racism.

Color can give us some ideas of what MIGHT be in the glass, what flavor/s we MAY encounter and enjoy, or be indicators of other characteristics of the beer experience we’re going to engage in.

That said, color is only color. Color is not necessarily flavor or body or mouthfeel or alcohol content or aroma. WEB feels it’s very important to make sure people don’t always equate certain colors of a beer with anticipated or expected flavors and so forth.

Would you agree that someone asking for a ‘dark beer’ may or may not really understand what they want? Are they making the assumption that all dark colored beers are robust, high in alcohol or otherwise all lumpable into the same narrow definition? That’d be incorrect, shortsighted and opportunity missed.

Don't judge your beer by the color

The same goes for ‘light beer’. One thing about using the word ‘light’ in beer descriptions is that there is a misnomer that light beer is only light color and light flavor hand in hand. Once again, implementing beer racism of any sort, dark to light and back again, is something the beer community needs to continue to work to change.

With all the chatter and discourse, writing and blogging that swirls around craft/beer these days, to pigeon hole any kind of beer because of its color is doing yourself, your tastebuds and of course the beer a disservice.

What a great idea it’d be if we all drank our fresh, high quality beer – no matter what it was – from opaque vessels or were blind when we partook? Then we wouldn’t have any beer racism.

For now, be sure to educate on what color of beer means, how it got there and how diverse your beer can be no matter what color it is (in relation to other aspects of the beer experience).

Tomorrow: CAMFA Series #2: Aroma

Recommended Resource: Brewers Association Beer Style Guidelines



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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