In the second week of September I attended Hop and Brew School, at the headquarters of Hopunion. I've wanted to go for years but was stymied by a busy fall schedule doing wine education, so when my schedule opened up for the first time in a decade, it was a dream come true for me.
I know this may come as a bit of a shock: most people associate me solely with wine and consumer winemaking. Heck, I write for wine magazines and I'm a consultant to the wine industry. But deep in my heart lurks a beer geek, obsessed with hops and malt and styles and yeast strains. I got my start home brewing with a single canned beer kit thirty-five years ago and the bug never left me.
But I found something more in wine: the first time I tasted a real bottle of wine (not the sweet alcoholic soda-pop that usually passed for wine in rural Canada) I was stricken speechless: the complexity, power and depth of the drink was so much more than I had experienced before. Nothing prepared me for the challenge that it represented both to my palate and my preconceived notions of taste. In a single glass, I became obsessed with wine.
(Yes, I do become easily obsessed with things. I try not to obsess about it.)...