Pensacola, Florida
Wednesday October 22nd 2014

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Thirst for Knowledge (and Beer)

By Jeremy Morrison

Step into the classroom. Have a drink.

Ever want to learn about beer? About the varieties and styles? Serving techniques? How it’s brewed?

“All the little fun facts,” said Maria Goldberg, of the Great Southern Restaurant Group.

Beginning in February, Atlas Oyster House will be hosting a series of classes focused on beer. Craft beer, specifically.

“Whether you’re a home brewer yourself or whether you want to know more about craft beer,” explained Goldberg.

Atlas is teaming up with the Lewis Bear Company to offer the educational series. The classes run from February through June, with each featuring a presentation and three selections from a different brewery.

“You can do one, you can do two, you can do all of them,” Goldberg said.

In January, Atlas conducted a class featuring the local Pensacola Bay Brewery. It proved a hot ticket.

“It is the most popular draft beer that we pour, “Goldberg said, explaining that seats in the Bay Brewery class filled up fast. “It was sold out, there was a wait list.”

Based on the success of that initial venture, Atlas decided to expand on the concept. Brewers from around the region will be making a visit to share their knowledge about craft beer.

Craft beer traditionally refers to smaller-batch beers, usually hailing from a small, independent brewery. It denotes quality over quantity.

Over the last few decades, craft beer—or, microbreweries— have seen a sharp increase in popularity in America. Once considered a delicacy relegated to the mountains of Colorado or the Pacific Northwest, local breweries now dot the country.

While the term ‘craft’ or ‘micro’ refers to smaller operations, the definition has expanded over the years. There are now many so-called microbreweries that distribute their product to national and international audiences.

Goldberg said she’s noticed craft beer gaining increased traction locally over the past few years. She credits the brewery across the street from Atlas.

“I think really it has a lot to do with the guys from Pensacola Bay Brewery,” she said.

Pensacola Bay Brewery opened in October of 2010. The local brewery infuses the beer with regional flavor: there’s the DeLuna, the Riptide and the Conquistador.

The local brewery will be hosting the final class in the Atlas Beer Class series. It’s a June 6 lecture entitled Food and Beer Pairing.

The series begins Feb. 7, with a presentation by Capital Brewery called Ales vs. Lagers.  Capital is a brewery from Wisconsin with beers such as Island Wheat, Supper Club and Jack Maibock.

The next week, March 7, a Louisiana brewery will present a class entitled Hops and Barley. The Bayou Teche Brewery was founded in 2009, when the Knott brothers decided to convert a railroad car into a brewery that pumped out beer to pair with Cajun cuisine.

Victory Brewery Company is based in Downingtown, Pa. The company uses 345 photovoltaic solar panels to harness the sun’s energy to brew beer. On April 4, Victory will present the class Firkins and Yeast.

Craft Beer Alliance, based in the Pacific Northwest, is a coalition of three different breweries. Widmer Brothers Brewing, Redhook Ale Brewery and Kona Brewery joined forces a few years ago in an effort to share knowledge and strategies. The CBA will present a May 2 class on Beer Glassware and Serving Techniques.

Following the Pensacola Bay Brewery’s June class, students with perfect attendance will be invited to attend a meet and greet—featuring, of course, beer—with a brewmaster on the Deck Bar. Even students without perfect attendance may also come. Tickets are $25 a person.

The monthly classes will be an hour long. Each month, the featured class will be offered twice; the first class begins at 5:30 p.m., the second starts at 7 p.m.

Classes cost $10 per person. This gets you a six-ounce glass of each of the featured beers. There will also be pop-quizzes, where participants stand to win t-shirts, glassware and gift certificates.

Goldberg suggests that interested persons reserve their seats soon.

ATLAS BEER CLASS
WHEN: February through June
WHERE: Atlas Oyster House, 600 S. Barracks St.
COST: $10 per person per class
DETAILS: goodgrits.com, reservations may be made by calling 433-9450

February 7: Ales Vs. Lagers featuring Capital Brewery
March 7: Hops and Barley featuring Bayou Teche Brewery
April 4: Firkins and Yeast featuring Victory Brewery Company
May 2: Beer Glassware and Serving Techniques featuring the Craft Brew Alliance
June 6: Food and Beer Pairing featuring Pensacola Bay Brewery