Recently, I attended two out of three Master Classes put on by CAMRA Alberta. I would have attended all three, but I had a timing conflict with the first class. The classes covered: 1) German & Belgian beer styles; 2) English based and North American craft beers; 3) Off flavours (not kidding, one tasted like rotted carboard). CAMRA puts these classes on primarily, I think, for people that want to become beer judges or work in the beer industry. I don’t want to be a judge, but I do eventually want to work in the craft beer industry (on the business or IT side). So why did I join CAMRA and take these classes?

Well, I like craft beer. I also like what’s happening in the craft beer scene in Alberta, and I want to support it however I can. So, that means that I will learn as much as I can about beer and the business of beer, and I will also work with CAMRA Alberta and the craft beer industry, however I can. I’ll work to promote the industry, advocate for the industry, and advocate for us (beer consumers).

One of the things I hoped to get out of the Master Classes I attended was to be able to, when necessary, have an intelligent conversation with a bartender, server, or brewer about why I think a beer is off, rather than just saying “this sucks, take it away.” I’ve had more than a few conversations with people close to the craft beer action, and one thing that’s struck me is how well intentioned people are. It’s cool that when critiquing a beer, it’s done, mostly, with the intent of improving things, rather than just being a dick.

I also joined CAMRA and attended the classes to meet people and get involved in the craft beer scene in Alberta; it seems to be working. The whole idea of getting involved in craft beer came about because of a piece I saw on the news, and some upheaval in my personal and professional lives. The news piece featured one of the guys (can’t remember if it was Jeff or Graham) from Tool Shed (Star Cheek is fantastic) talking about local brewers being shut out of selling at the Calgary Stampede. That’s asinine, I thought. It turns out that one of the big brewers has an exclusive for selling beer at official Stampede events, and the local brewers are shut out. I want that to change and I am willing to help the change happen.

I don’t know if craft beer is going to be the next big thing in the Alberta economy, but I do know that a thriving, healthy craft beer community is a good thing. The community, and that’s what it is, employs local people, uses local ingredients, generates buzz locally, and gives back to our local communities. All of these things are positive contributions to Alberta. A thriving craft beer community is also good for me, ‘cause, you know, more beer.