^ Beer statesman, Joe Wilson, at Homestead Beer Co., Heath, Ohio.
Twelve of us sat at picnic tables in the brewing room at Homestead Beer Co at high noon anxiously waiting for our Beer 101 class to begin. Muffled conversations among attendees who came, and sat, together contrasting the silent rubber necking among those of us who came alone. Settings of clean glasses were positioned at each place while Joe Wilson, Homestead’s secretary of state, prepared his PowerPoint projected against the near drywall of the accessible restroom.
“Let’s drink some beer,” Joe announced as he turned to face the lunchtime gathering. Joe is both a commanding figure and a welcoming sole. His voice, deep and clear, with a Seth Rogen laugh. All eyes face forward. Although Joe is not a brewer, he has a deep appreciation of brewing science and sociology, with a genuine passion for beer’s history and its present. Beer 101 is a class Joe has delivered to servers and bartenders in central Ohio and Columbus numerous times. Today’s attendees are simply beer fans who seek enlightenment. We have signed up to understand how beer becomes beer and what gives beer its range of characteristics and flavors. Joe is perfect for this.
^ Beer 101: Class of 4/18
For the next hour and a half we sample eight different Homestead Beer Co. beers, light to dark. We are introduced to the core ingredients of water, malted grains, hops, and yeast. We learn that yeast plays the most important role, and we learn how to distinguish the yeast varieties in lagers, ales, Belgians, and stouts. We realize by our fifth sample we are all getting more talkative, a natural by-product. We know to smell first, before we drink. We know the effect of esters. We appreciate lace in our head. We learn to wash our hands after using the restroom.
By the seventh, or eighth, beer sample you will know the others at your table on a first name basis. You have a deeper understanding of craft beer, enough to impress others, but not so much to come off as a snob. You also appreciate the value of a public house, without electronic distractions, as connections and conversations emerge as naturally as yeast on the wind.