Thursday, October 30, 2008

Last day of School

The final day of Brewing School was literally a bitter sweet experience. The students brought in food to pair with the beers we brewed over the last 5 weeks of classes. First we concluded the lessons by going over the mechanics of making your own kegerator out of a chest freezer. Also, forced carbonating kegs was discussed. Soon, the students guests started to arrive and we moved on to tasting beers, including a bottled Hefeweizen and a kegged IPA from the very first class. Also on tap were the Irish Stout from the third class and finally the All-grain English Ale from the fourth class.

Students discuss the kegerator before the food pairing

My goal when starting the beer school was to teach the students that anyone can make a batch of decent tasting beer with the simplest of equipment and ingredients. I think I accomplished that goal but along the way, as the brewing techniques became increasingly difficult, I found that it was necessary to educate myself along with the students and that as prepared as I thought I was, there is still more that I need to learn to adequately prepare the students for the more advanced brewing skills. In the end though, I received good grades from the students concerning my teaching abilities and the curriculum. I felt a little relieved when the final day was done and I had cleaned up and packed the van with the beer related school stuff. Driving away from the campus I reflected on my efforts as a teacher, a difficult but rewarding job. I learned a lot about how I teach and what I may do in the future to improve. I went into the classes fully prepared with a written agenda and syllabus to guide my way, but quickly realized that I had to be flexible and go 'off-script' when needed. I will be taking away from this experience an improved format for the next series of classes and by the spring I should be rested and mentally prepared to go through the process again.

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