On the first of february 2013, I had the pleasure to attend one of the beer tasting workshops that are held in Barcelona, in Maria Cubi street, at the gastronomic leisure center, led by doctor Laura Gosalbo. Gastronomia Activa is a space which shares knowledge gastronomy, where one can learn and enjoy themselves through the teaching and the explanations received from professional team that forms part of this center.
This tasting workshop began with a general overview of beer history, at the beginning she talked about the most ancient recipes we known, and moved onto the Egyptian, Greek and Roman civilizations before arriving at the first evidence found in Europe, precisely in Begues (Catalonia), of beer elaboration. Following the introduction, she spoke about GRUIT, a mixture of herbs and plants used to give flavor and aroma to beer and helping to extend its conservation. Then we tasted the first beer of the afternoon, the Gruit Amber, made by the brewmaster Annick de Splenter. This is a Belgian amber ale elaborated with three malts, one of them is a caramel malt, it gives the amber colour and head retention. This style uses the gruit mixture of plants and Belgian stump yeast. Then, the doctor Gosalbo gave me the opportunity to speak, and I amplified the information provided about this style/tendency a little.
Next she spoke about the Middle Ages and the Purity Law (Reinheitsgebot) and this was the time to taste an Atkien jubilaüms. After she showed us some curiosities amongst prominent historical brands of beer, the beer that Carlos V ordered the elaboration in the monastery of Yuste, etc. Then we tasted a homemade Catalan beer 08 clot, and Laura Gosalbo continued extending our knowledge with notes about the foundation of the first beer factory in Spain. Later we tasted the Weihenstephaner Vitus with 7,7 Abv, and while we tasted and savoured. She gave us information about consummation statistics and what tape of glass we should use to taste particular beers. With the Anehor Liberty we arrived half way through the tasting. This was the first American beer of the afternoon, and then without a break, another USA beer, the Snake Ipa from the Flying Dog Brewery with its bold tag. Meanwhile Laura Gosalbo explained the beer making process, the kind of yeast and the fermentations. The seventh drink of the afternoon-evening was the Westmalle with 9 Abv, a Trapist Belgium beer of great quality.
Then she explained the malt process, the importance of the water in the process of elaboration and the benefits of beer for health. The ultimate and to end the night, the Samuel Smith Imperial, and English Stout with a toasted shade, sweetness and a little smoky. Laura Gosalbo ended this didactic tasting at this point spoke to us about moderating consumption and showed us a photography of the mythical” beer belly”. The workshop lasted two and a half hours, that was spend in a nice atmosphere and gathering with all the assistants.
Thanks to Gastronomia Activa for dedicating the space to the spreading of beer knowledge, sharing its history, the elaboration process, varieties styles and making know the sensory aspects. Providing suggestions as to which foods should be enjoyed with each brew. A fascinating world is beginning to be discovered: BEER.