Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Rave reviews of Trois Pistoles and Unibroue 15

Today was a red-letter day for Unibroue press. First, Josh Rubin of the Toronto Star published a well-researched and thoughtfully-written review of Trois Pistoles. I am glad Josh's review included a few insightful quotes from our Master Brewer, Paul Arnott. Later in the day, William Brand of the Oakland Tribune penned a piece on Unibroue 15 (and he also blogged about it), raving about how this vintage ale has improved with age. For those keeping score at home, Unibroue 15 was bottled on 6 January 2006, so it is only about 15 months old now. Like its predecessors 10, 11, Edition 2004 and Edition 2005, Unibroue 15's flavor profile will undoubtedly exhibit more palate-pleasing complexity with the passage of time... a phenomenon that I'll discuss a future posting.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Of beer, blogists and Boston

I was in Boston during the past week to attend the Learning Management Colloquium, part of The eLearning Guild's Annual Gathering. Nearly all of my gurus/mentors in the practice of workplace learning (and the technologies that enable it) attended the Colloquium. Since they have so often inspired me with ideas, practical insight and great storytelling, I attempted to respond in-kind by conducting a private tasting on Thursday evening featuring selected beers from Unibroue.

Richard DelMonico, Unibroue's Regional Sales Manager for New England (and whom I affectionately call "Th' Godfatha"), hooked us up with one of his best on-premise accounts, The Publick House in Brookline. This marvelous Belgian-inspired beer cafe and eatery recently expanded to include another bar and a small dining area called The Monk's Cell, which offered us a cozy space to sample six of Unibroue's core brands: Éphémère Apple, Don de Dieu, La Fin du Monde, Maudite (on draught), Chambly Noire and Trois Pistoles. It was a privilege to present and describe these beers to several notable participants, including: Tony Karrer, Lance Dublin, Jay Cross, Mark Oehlert, Brent Schlenker, Stephen Downes, Judy Brown, Silke Fleischer, Clive Shepherd and Mark Prasatik, who are among the blogosphere's most prolific and well-respected thought leaders. (Okay, so Lance rarely blogs, but he talks enough to keep all of us occupied...) =)

During the event, I briefly described the styles and sensory attributes of each beer, which we tasted in ascending order of color (lighter to darker) and strength. Additionally, I discussed the inspiration for the brand names, including Quebec-centric historical and geographic references and in the case of Maudite and Trois Pistoles, the Québécois legends of La Chasse-galerie and Le Cheval Noir de Trois-Pistoles, respectively. It was my momentary contribution to the timeless art of learning-through-storytelling, which was well-suited for this group of verbose(!) learning evangelists whose attention seemed enhanced, rather than diminished, by the potency of these deliciously complex brews. Following three days of individual and panel presentations, idea-sharing, networking and some spirited debate on the topics of learning and enabling technologies, a few hours of relaxation with great beers and great friends was a welcome reward.

I must offer a toast of gratitude to the marketing staff at, who generously sponsored our private tasting; my friend and mentor Tony Karrer, who encouraged me to conduct the event; and David Ciccolo, owner of The Publick House/The Monk's Cell, and his superb staff (especially Remi and Dave) who made our group feel welcome during our first visit to Boston's most impressive shrine to the beer gods. Santé!

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Feature in Drive-Thru, a Gapers Block Production

Gapers Block is a Chicago-centric Web publication offering insight on news and events around the Windy City. The site content is written by Chicagoans with diverse backgrounds who share two common threads: a deep love for this great city and a wish to share it with the world. Tim Lacey, Bar Manager/Beverage Director for the Spring Restaurant Group, is a regular contributor to Drive-Thru, the foodie micro-site within Gapers Block.

Tim knows wine. Tim knows beer. And he surely knows a beer geek when he sees one... ;)

Monday, February 5, 2007

Return to Rosemary's Restaurant

On Thursday evening, I conducted a beer and cheese pairing seminar at Rosemary's Restaurant on the west side of Las Vegas. The event featured five of Unibroue's core brands (Ephemere Apple, La Fin du Monde, Maudite, Seigneuriale and Chambly Noire) and eight selected cheeses from Whole Foods Market in Las Vegas. I was hosted by my friend Michael Shetler, Director of Operations for Rosemary's, who is one of the savviest, hardest working restaurateurs in Vegas. And Michael knows beer. A total of 20 guests attended the event, most of them residents of Las Vegas, but four participants deserve special mention.

I was in Las Vegas last week for ASTD's TechKnowledge® 2007 Conference & Exposition, a gathering of 1300+ thought leaders and practitioners of workplace learning and performance improvement. I attend this conference annually and through the past several years I've become well-acquainted with several leading experts in the topic of e-Learning and the technologies that enable it. One of those leaders is Tony Karrer, CEO/CTO of TechEmpower (El Segundo, CA). During this week's conference I attended a couple of Tony's presentations on collaborative learning and blogging and I credit him with inspiring me to create this blog in his Creation Station session. So, I invited Tony to the pairing seminar and he, in turn, invited Jay Cross, Harold Jarche and Clark Quinn, all of whom are prolific bloggers. What a pleasure and a privilege it was to share my enthusiasm for Unibroue and cuisine a la biere with four highly influential leaders in e-Learning.

The participants seemed to enjoy all of the beers and some of the beer and cheese pairings. In retrospect, I should have changed the order of presentation (for example, serving Chambly Noire second instead of last) and pairing one of the cheddars with the Ephemere Apple would have been perfect. Ah, but through practice we learn and improve our performance and that seemed to be the implicit theme of the evening (especially with such collective expertise in the audience), but really it was all about the beer and cheese. The most rewarding aspect of conducting pairing seminars is that I learn something new from the participants and collectively, we all learn to appreciate beer as a highly appealing culinary beverage that enhances the eating experience. Two years ago, I presented my first beer and chocolate pairing seminar at Rosemary's Restaurant and it was a pleasure returning to conduct another event at this classy yet comfortable fine dining establishment.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Tasting seminar at Lee's Discount Liquors

On Wednesday evening, I conducted a tasting seminar at Lee's Discount Liquors on the west side of Las Vegas. The store staff was very welcoming and helpful; the email blast sent to their customers attracted over 50 attendees, which apparently was one of the best-attended seminars Lee's has hosted recently. Next to the retail store is a tasting room that is well-suited for presentations and sampling. After a brief introduction by Scott, the store's GM, I spent a few minutes summarizing the brewery's location, history and operations and then spent the remaining time pouring samples and discussing all of Unibroue's core brands. The participants asked several good questions which led me to describe the origin of the brand names (and their correct pronunciation) and the sensory attributes of each beer. Overall, it was a fun and rewarding event for me and it seemed that everyone enjoyed sampling the beers. Great store. Great customers.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Blog launch


This post marks the official launch of my blog, Unibroue: The Art of Brewing. The name reflects our recently republished brochure, which is the traditional medium of communicating information about our brewery and brands to our wholesalers, retail buyers and loyal customers. If you have not yet seen it, the brochure is highly eye-appealing (bravo, Asaf!) and informative but many customers have expressed an interest in receiving real-time insight into Unibroue. So, this blog will serve as an occasional snapshot, a digital postcard, and an ongoing narrative about my activities, observations and experiences as Unibroue's Culinary Attaché. Your continued support of Unibroue is sincerely appreciated. Merci beaucoup!