Third Space Brewing’s new monthly Beer School kicked off on Thursday evening in a corner of the taproom with a sold-out class of nearly three dozen folks.
Co-founder and head brewer Kevin Wright led the class, which explained how to taste and evaluate beer.
The roughly 90-minute class included a free welcome beer, along with six 5-ounce pours of beer related to the class topic.
When asked why folks attended, one explained he wanted to increase beer knowledge for his new YouTube video podcast about beer. Another said, “because my wife always says I should go back to school,” drawing laughter.
Wright – who earned his Brewing Diploma from UC-Davis – opened with a 15-minute introduction on the basics of tasting and the science behind it.
He discussed the differences between drinking for enjoyment, tasting and sensory evaluation, talking about the five-step process for tasting developed by the Siebel Institute that he uses at Third Space with this fellow tasters to evaluate each batch of newly brewed beer.
A “Skittles test” offered a clear example of the fact that nearly 80 percent of “taste” is actually scent perception.
The goal of the class, Wright said, is to improve beer knowledge, increase sensory vocabulary for explaining and describing beer, make good choices when confronted with the embarrassment of riches in the beer aisle these days and gain a better understanding of the beer that we love.
“The whole idea is engagement,” he said, “and conversing about the beers.”
After the intro, students each received five pours of demonstration beers that were tasted, evaluated and discussed by the entire group.
During the tastings, Wright dove into the ingredients in beer and what each brings to the final brew.
We tasted Third Space’s Upward Spiral IPA and its barrel-aged German Chocolate Cake: The Cake stout, but four of the six beers were made by others.
They were Good City’s Home lager, New Glarus’ Two Women country lager, Central Waters’ Mudpuppy Porter and Guava Gose fruited sour from Ontario’s Collective Arts, which is actually brewed at Octopi in Waunakee.
“We love showcasing the amazing beer made in the state,” Wright says, adding that by law, the brewery taproom can only sell beer made in Wisconsin.
For some classes, Third Space also doesn’t brew enough relevant examples for the classes.
Take, for example, April’s upcoming Belgian beers class.
“We don’t make six different types of Belgian-style beers,” Wright says. “So we rely on our friends in the industry and bring in their beer.”
The class was informative, interesting and included a nice variety of beers. Plus, above all, it was fun.
The classes are open to about 35 students each and cost $30 per class. You can sign up here.
Although the goal is to continue the monthly series, only six initial classes have so far been announced. They include IPAs on Feb. 24, ales of the British Isles on March 31, Belgians on April 28, pairing beer and chese on May 26 and sours on June 30.
Classes begin at 6:30 p.m.
“There is a deep and vast catalog of beer knowledge to explore and Brewmaster Kevin is ready to dive in,” says Third Space Events Coordinator Kara Olds.
“We are hoping these classes will bring knowledge to those who are new to the beer world as well as beer aficionados in an equally engaging way,”
And, don’t worry, there is no final exam.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.