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Since 2010, I have been preparing and hosting the Ontario Brewer Podcast series for the Ontario Craft Brewers Association. These podcast feature interviews with Ontario brewers on a range of different topics.

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A different kind of beer tasting

Posted November 2, 2011 | 7:49 pm, by Mirella

Usually when I organize guided beer tastings, I am trying to find the tastiest, most fun and contrasting selection of beers possible. Off-flavour sessions are something else entirely…

These troubleshooting classes that I’m organizing are different. They are about exploring what can go wrong with beer because it is a complex and delicate beverage. Although brewing beer is easy in theory, brewing it properly and consistently requires a lot of care and attention. Something as innocuous as a speck of dust can completely wreck a brew.

Sure, it’s a bit weird to spend a few hours tasting beers that have gone bad or have been mistreated along the way but it’s also kind of fun! It’s like solving a puzzle… learning to zero in on different off-flavours and understanding what went wrong instead of simply declaring a beer “skunky” and undrinkable.

Here’s the thing about off-flavours in beer: we don’t come across them every day (thankfully!) The best way to get to know these flavours and learn to identify them it though dedicated tutored beer tasting sessions, like the ones that I’m running this fall. In my training as a BJCPJudge & Cicerone, I sought out these classes over the years and have found them to be super-useful. With the beer industry in full bloom here in Ontario, I thought it would be helpful to offer troubleshooting classes for those who haven’t yet had the opportunity to acquaint themselves with common off-flavours.

So, how does it work? Simple! I take beers, I either spike them with off-flavours or mistreat them and then serve them. As a group, we discuss the flavour of the beer and how it compares to a “clean” sample. We then talk about what this off-flavour is called, how it was produced and how to correct or avoid it moving forward. I know, geeky stuff!

Are you intrigued? Join us! Find out about upcoming off-flavour tastings by signing up for the Beerology newsletter and checking the “industry” option, or check the upcoming events page.

For people who work in pubs or who work closely with beer, it is so great to be able to identify and address an off-flavour when it comes along and, as a consumer it’s super-cool to be able to send along constructive feedback when served a pint that doesn’t taste right… Whether you work in beer or simply enjoy it (or both!) attending these sessions will definitely open your eyes to a whole new dimension of flavour…

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