The Individual Beer Learning Plan (IBLP) is an idea to help you learn about beer, whomever you may be and however advanced or beginner your knowledge is.
In the original post about IBLP, we posited several facets of the plan. The next few days will take us through some of the big information pockets of your plan. Today = Topics.
Topics as they relate to beer can go in infinite directions. Since we’re all unique and our beer experiences are therefore singular to us as well, we can start with big components that will inherit everyone’s experiences and allow room for all.
Let’s break it down.
What do you want to learn? What do you specifically want to know? Are there general things you want to know or do you want to dig into the particulars? It’ll be very helpful to yourself and anyone you tap into to help you learn if you can answer this first. Saying “I want to learn everything!” is too broad to begin with. Do your homework, figure out where to start. The great thing is you can start anywhere. You’ll double back eventually, no matter what, anyway.
What's your plan?
The brewing process? Learning the actual process of what it takes to make beer is an excellent foundational place to start. When you know the basic steps of brewing, you can add more of the subtleties and then go as deep as you wish with the science part of the process.
Ingredients? Start with the basic 4 – water, grain, hops, yeast – and go from there. There are loads of other ingredients brewers currently use and have previously used – and will use in the future! With as wide open as the recipes are this day in beer, there are almost no limits.
Pairing tips? Ahhhh – beer and food together. This, my friends is where the Magic Happens. Flavor is where the whole “what should I drink”, “what should I eat” conversation begins. When you know what you like to drink and what you like to eat, then it’s time to play Garanimals with them together. Mix and Match, Try and Taste. The best case scenario: you’ll want to share it with everyone you know and repeat it. Worst case scenario: you simply won’t repeat it and move on.
The herstory behind it all? Women have been brewers for literally ever. Once you get that crucial piece of the puzzle placed, then dig in. Find out and read about the personalities, characters and folks who’ve been in the landscape, at whatever stage it might be. Chris’ book, Fermenting Revolution, is a favorite of mine for this reason. ‘History’ has been pretty one-sided. Get all sides covered by investigating the female side of beer as well.
Industry information? Do you know what Distributors do? How many ‘tiers’ are there in the American Alcohol system? How many should there be? Besides the consumer, who can buy beer and how so? Do you know some of the many intricacies of the American system? Learning more will elevate your beer activism – just make sure you seek out all sides of the conversation. It’s easy to villanize or neglect a side you’re not very open to, which may be human yet is grossly unfair.
Consumer information? How do consumers in America, and all other places for that matter, get their information about beer? Is it freely available? Do you have to seek it out? Can you get it to come to you? There are tuns of app’s alone on beer, although I’m not sure there’s anyone looking at accuracy of info vs. opinions. If a brewery website stinks, tell them! Call the brewery and ask them your questions that aren’t being answered online. It’s startling how many beer companies are poor at the info they put out there. Some are good, very few are excellent at it, many are sorely in need of professional help (not from a friend or relative who will work for beer). Tell them what you like, what you want to know and what they need to include. If they are glad for the input, keep supporting them. If they’re offended or do nothing, find another brand. Seriously.
Do you want to get into beer as a profession? Start contacting brands that appeal to you and get to know them before you ask them for work. Before you call to do any kind of informational chit chat though, do your homework. Know the basics of the business be researching them online and at your local library and wherever else they can be found. Never be a know-it-all. That’s a turn off and arrogance is never attractive nor a quality hiring bodies are looking for.
Do you want to be able to impress your friends with your knowledge? Then get a piece of paper and start drafting your IBLP today. Doodle your notes and soon enough you’ll have a jumping off point. Impress yourself by getting organized first, then jump!