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.