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MSU BILLINGS NEWS SERVICES — Home to several microbreweries and more than 40 bars, Billings was recently named the fourth best city for Beer drinkers by SmartAsset.com.
Those of us who live here already know craft beer professionals and amateurs take the craft of beer brewing seriously and an upcoming four-part “Learn and Taste” series presented by Montana State University Billings Extended Campus beginning November 10 will have you even more prepared to enjoy Billings’ favorite beverage.
The series, running through March, will cover topics including developing your palate and deductive skills to identify flavors in beer, as well as how to detect the faults in brewing and their causes, exploring specialty beers influenced by wood, and experiencing the “mouth-puckering glory of tart and funky beers,” soured with non-traditional yeasts and even bacteria.
Paul Pope, MSUB assistant professor and vice president of the Rimrock Brewers Guild – a Billings based home brewing club – said the first “beer detective” course, taught by Master Brewer Mike Ulrich of Carter’s Brewing, will include blind tastings.
Ulrich will be passing along knowledge he recently picked up at a sensory analysis he completed at the Siebel Institute of Brewing Technology in Chicago, one of the nation’s oldest and most prestigious brewing schools in the United States.
“This is an opportunity to develop sensory analysis through taste and smell and sample great beers and even get to try to identify who made it,” Pope said. “The second course will be similar but focused on finding faults. It’s going to be really horrible beer.”
Even though students will be drinking beer brewed with some mistakes the class will provide an opportunity, “for people to become better brewers or consumers” said Pope.
“Just because you’re being served a craft beer doesn’t mean it’s any good,” Pope said.
The second set of classes will also focus on taste. In February, students will learn about how specialty beers are being influenced by wood to add unique depth and taste.
The final class in March will explore wild and sour beers brewed with wild yeast or soured with bacteria.
The series will be taught by faculty from the College of Arts and Sciences in conjunction with regional brew masters from Carter’s Brewing and UberBrew of Billings, as well as Neptune’s Brewery based in Livingston. Other sponsors include Rimrock Brewers Guild.
The classes run from 6p.m. to 8p.m. on Thursday evenings and are $45 each or $150 for the complete series. Classes include six to eight tastes and an MSUB tasting glass.