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Learning Is Fun and Intoxicating: "Beer 101" at Anvil Bar & Refuge

Kevin Floyd is a huge beer nerd. In fact, you could say the co-owner of Anvil Bar & Refuge is the Lord of the Beer Nerds. Okay, that may be stretching it just a tad, but Floyd is the biggest beer nerd we've encountered, which made the "Beer 101: Beer Basics" tasting and lecture he gave at his bar over the weekend quite possibly the best class we've attended in the past five years. We were ecstatic to learn it was only the first in a series. Partner and sometime Houston Press EOW contributor Bobby Heugel will also be holding similar Saturday sessions on "the hard stuff."   At every seat, a tasteful array of malts and hops in votive-size glass tulips fanned out strategically on an outline of the lecture that doubled as a placemat. Clever, and beautifully uncomplicated. The place was filled to comfortable capacity with a fun, intellectual crowd of men and women ranging in age from late twenties to late sixties with varying degrees of beer smarts and experience.   Over the next two hours Kevin Floyd provided a fascinating tour of craft beer that began with the mead enjoyed by ancient civilizations and progressed historically as each item was added to the "mix": malt, then hops (complete with a lively Lagunitas discussion), followed by modern yeast trends, and concluded with innovative adjuncts. Floyd explained that people often tell him that they love beer, but they don't understand what it is that they like about one beer over another. One of the goals of this class was to be able to identify the particular flavor components in different styles of beer.

Kevin Floyd's "Beer 101: Beer Basics" Beer Menu

MEAD Red Stone Meadery (Traditional Mountain Honey Wine) 12% ABV

MALTS Ayinger Celebrator (Doppelbock) 6.7% ABV Victory Prima Pils (American Pilsner) 5.3% ABV

HOPS Lagunitas Hop-Stoopid (Imperial India Pale Ale) 8% ABV *Brooklyn Sorachi Ace (Saison Ale) 7.3% ABV

YEAST Stone IPA (India Pale Ale) 6.9% ABV Stone Cali-Belgie (India Pale Ale) 6.9% ABV

ADJUNCTS *Mikkeller "Texas Ranger" Chipotle Porter (Porter/Stout) 6.6% ABV Lindemans Framboise (Lambic) 4% ABV

*Our "Holy Crap! This is Freakin' Good" picks: Brooklyn Sorachi Ace, Mikkeller "Texas Ranger" Chipotle Porter

Mission accomplished, Professor.

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The majority of the beers we drink are lagers and pilsners, but we love hefeweizens above all others. We even defended a crush to a friend once with "if he were a beer, he would be a hefeweizen" (beautiful blonde hair, easy smile, great tan). Ask us why we like these specific varieties of beer, and the likely response would have been some meaningless dribble about taste. Ask us what we did not enjoy about other variations, and we would have been stumped. We knew it was "that thing," but the quality remained elusive and indescribable. Until Saturday, that is.

After taking a big whiff of pure Whole Cone Cascade hops, a swig of the Lagunitas Hop Stoopid became a mouthful of potpourri and our sinuses began to ache. "That thing," just a subtle hint of aggravation in ales we'd had before, was now the only flavor we could taste. We had previously been selecting/avoiding beers by classification, specifically ales. Now that we know to pay attention to hop bitterness (IBU) when making our selections, we are eager to try new selections we had previously dismissed. Why do we love hefeweizens? It just so happens that the German form of lager tends to run very low on the IBU scale. Another "aha" moment we had in the malt section of the lecture: We prefer a light to medium toast to our hops malts. (We can almost hear the craft beer guys grinding their teeth at both of these revelations.)

Kevin Floyd's next beer lecture will be on India Pale Ale (IPA) on Saturday, October 9 from 1-3 p.m. Entrance is $50. We encourage anyone with an interest in beer to look into it, even if IPAs don't tickle your fancy. This guy will make you love them, or at least instill an appreciation in the fascinating history behind the genre. Stop by Anvil to make reservations.

Bobby Heugel will be holding similar classes on spirits. His "American Whiskey" lecture on September 25 from 1-3 p.m. is almost sold out, so don't hesitate to stop by the bar and reserve your spot. The lecture on October 30 will be "Brandy, Cognac, Armagnac." $50 per person.

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