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 Learn.com, 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!

4 comments:

jay said...

Jim, this was my second Unibroue tasting. Both events suffered from the same problem: the beers are so damned good that it's impossible to pick a favorite. It's like going to a tasting of well-aged Bordeaux and announcing "They're all good."

Will Thalheimer said...

Jim and all...

Sorry to miss the learning-guru Unibroue tasting in Brookline. I would have loved sharing words with my esteemed blogging comrades, especially as we moved further and further into a state of inebriated conversation. Jay tells us all learning is social...so if it wasn't for my under-the-weather status, I would have been there!!

Say, do people purge the liquid from their mouths at beer tastings---like at your bettah wine tastings?

My hypothesis is that blogging beer-tasters wouldn't spit. We bloggers rarely edit, right? After swirling the brew a few times around the gray-pink cavern, wriggling the tongue, twirling the bubbly gold, mixing the message with our own sweet saliva---is it true that the truth we concoct tastes best just before we swallow it?

See ya next time, online or out-of-line!!!!

--Will

Brent Schlenker said...

Jim,
Great fun! A master food scientist and storyteller you are. I'm SO happy to see the blog. You're now in my reader A-list folder.
I have posted the pictures on flickr with the tag GAC2007.
Tomorrow I'm on a mission to find Unibroue in Arizona. Here's my latest marketing idea for you...
"Virtual Samplings/Tastings"
Let's try and set up a couple different locations around the globe and connect via Elluminate, SecondLife, There, (or name the virtual tool) Each location can set up ahead of time with the appropriate beers...you dial in...tell the stories...and we all drink and laugh ourselves silly.
Who's in?

clark said...

All, sorry I missed it given the great fun of the first I attended. Bad choice to leave before the final half day (in my defense, I showed up a day early to run a pre-conf workshop...).

I like the idea of virtual tasting, but I'd prefer video chatting over 2nd Life for this purpose, though the bandwidth would probably get unusable...sigh. OK, what's the next event we'll all be at?