Saturday, December 05, 2009

beer school

I found out about the Big Rock Brewery lectures series during the course of researching the company for an article, and was immediately intrigued by the concept - an evening spent at the brewery being fed, watered, and educated, with all the proceeds from the evening going toward University of Calgary scholarships. Big Rock holds four of these lectures per semester, with two semesters per winter, and the topics can range from the Rwandan genocide to knee pain to military intelligence to cricket sex, and anywhere in between.

It didn't take too much coercion to convince the Spousal Unit to accompany me to the lecture by a military historian last week on the failure of intelligence and the success of deception at Pearl Harbour, being a very manly sort of topic and all. Actually, had my brother's flight not left a few hours too early, he would have been very keen to attend as well.

The room was heavily populated with retired sorts, who seemed to have their set places and who obviously knew the ropes well, but the Spousal Unit got us adopted by a nice youngish retired couple who took us under their wing and filled us in on the finer points of buffet line strategy and post-dinner chair placement.

It was a great evening and I am keen to go back, perhaps to take in the Department of Chemistry professor's lecture on the new battle for historical shipwrecks or (and this one looks awesome) the Environmental Design professor's presentation on negotiated space and other trajectories. The beer is free, the meal is outstanding, and, because the audience is heavily skewed toward the retired set, the evening ends on time and clears out promptly.

The Spousal Unit even took home some military deception strategies which he intends to incorporate into marketing plans at work. And you thought the free beer was the only bad influence.


Karen said...

What a fantastic idea. While I'm not a big beer fan and I doubt I've ever had a Big Rock in my life (I'm a bad Albertan), I heart Big Rock. Not only because they're a "local" brewery but because they're always doing great things like this. It's interesting that such a wonderful way to learn and learn about beer comes from a small brewery and not one of the major beer makers like the folks who make Molsons, Labatts or Coors (ick, ick and omg gross). I'm going to look to see if there's anything similar here in Edmonton...perhaps Alley Kat does something interesting.

Karen said...

FYI - I have emailed the Alley Kat Brewery. Fingers crossed.

Heck, I'd drink their beer if it meant learning about something interesting. Thanks for sharing your night our with us!

mister anchovy said...

It's a good idea. I don't know how many people they would get out for the lecture on cricket sex though, even if there was beer involved.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Good idea to write your local craft brewery, Karen! They may very well have some sort of programs, or perhaps this will give them an idea to start something.
I really admire Big Rock's great citizenship as well, and part of their success in their unwavering support of the arts and education lies in the fact that they don't try to emulate the big industrial breweries.
You can always come down to Calgary to take in a lecture at BR, and stay at Casa del Zombie to boot.

I made quite a few entomologist friends when I was doing my master's, Mr Anchovy - we shared a building - and I can tell you that those people are devoted to their field! Every entomologist within 200 miles would be at that lecture.

Remi said...

At one time, these sorts of lectures would have been pretty normal for people. You would go see a scientist talk or maybe an explorer or someone in the humanities. It was one of the ways people learned about themselves and the world.

Nowadays, far too many people think they can replace this sort of learning with an hour or two of discovery or tlc. Ugh. . .

And then there is the free beer. . . Always a good thing.

Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

Free beer and history? Oh how I wish I was there.

Allison said...

I heart Big Rock! And they make a mean cider, too. ;)

Glad you guys had a good evening of history and beer. The coming lectures sound great as well. Look forward to hearing about them.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

I have to admit I do love Discovery channel, Remi, but there is something quite special in learning something in this way. The topic itself was less important than the fact that we were gathered to learn something, anything. It was refreshing.

Me too, Dr M. Next time we will save you a chair.

Apparently they have a new cider now too, I was just reading in the paper, Al. A dry one with cranberry, I think it was. I definitely want to try some of that!