Women, whiskey and beer at The Portside Pub

L to R: Sue, Cristina, Tiffany - Photos by Kelly J Marion follow her at @kellyjean247

Some people celebrate Wine Wednesday while others opt to celebrate Whisky Wednesday. Last Wednesday I celebrated the latter, and threw some craft beer in to the mix.

While drinking seems to be a regular occurrence in my life, I have to admit that my usual drinking buddies are men. So when I was asked to join two long tables worth of women for some whiskey and beer sampling at The Portside Pub, I was intrigued. With the exception of Casey Mackay from Corby Distributors who gave a spiel about whiskey, comparing brand labels from Ireland, Scotland and the US, the event involved only women.

Women and Whiskey

Aja Tylor, a certified Beer Server and self proclaimed "Beer Nerd", kicked off the evening with a quick introduction to the event, followed by a Craft Beer 101 class with the assistance of fellow bar lady Nicole. Aja explained how we should "properly" taste beer by seeing, smelling and sampling. First we checked for certain characteristics such as clarity and head retention. Is it hazy or clear? What is the color? Does it have a foamy, bubbly or smooth head?

Next, it was time to swirl the beer in the tasting glass (or attempt to) in order to oxidize it, prior to smelling it. Beer experts know that smelling beer is as important as tasting it.  Just as one would drink wine, one should properly smell it in order to enjoy the beer. Rather than one long whiff, we were encouraged to take three small whiffs and associate that aroma with a taste or smell we were familiar with.

Finally it was time to sample the beer. At this point, a parched person would most likely just chug it back, but since we practicing the proper method of tasting beer, we were encouraged to swish it in our mouths so as to let the alcohol and carbonation fall on our tongues. Aja, also suggested that we inhale and exhale while we drink. If it tastes sweet, why is it sweet? Does it remind us of jam, chocolate or candy? Or is it bitter with a lingering aftertaste?

Throughout this process, Aja prodded us to write our own notes in a notebook provided, reiterating the fact that there is "absolutely no wrong answer when it come to beer".

Craft Beer Tasting

The six 6oz tasters of craft beer that we tasted were: Russell Brewing Co.'s Portside Pilsner, Parallel 49's Gypsy Tears Ruby Ale, Erdinger Weissbrau's Erdinger Weissbier, Delirium Brewery's Delirium Tremens, Driftwood Brewery's Fat Tug IPA and Mill Street Brewery's Cobblestone Stout. It was nice to see Surrey, East Vancouver and Victoria being represented in this tasting, in addition to some Toronto and international brews. I loved some (Fat Tug IPA, Delirium and Gypsy Tears) more than the others.

We also got a chance to smell some Centennial Hops with a nose of citrus, pine, resin and that of green grass. Centennial hops are one of the "Three Cs", along with Cascade and Columbus.

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