WHAT IF I told you that you could go to school and drink beer? You can, in fact, do just that right here in Savannah.

The downtown location of World of Beer offers monthly Beer School opportunities. These classes are intended to educate beer lovers of all levels of expertise in the breweries, beer styles and professions you might run across in your craft beer journeys.

I attended the December Beer School to see what the crew at World of Beer was teaching. I quickly learned this class was going to be different than the usual class.

Normally the Beer Classes focus on a single brewery. The brewery generally brings in a few varieties of beer styles so there is an opportunity to talk about different styles and gain an understanding of a wider range of brewery offerings.

In these classes the brewery sends a sales rep and sometimes a brewer or other hands-on person to have serious and in depth discussions about the beers being served.

Because this class was offered in December, the set up was a little different. Instead of focusing on a brewery and its beers, this class focused on a single style — winter warmers in this case.

As the class didn’t focus on a brewery and therefore didn’t have a brewery representative on hand to discuss the beer, Derick and Steven, two of World of Beer’s knowledgeable staff, headed the class.

My classmates and I settled into World of Beers newly renovated loft area. There were seven of us total; all, as I would come to learn, with vastly different levels of craft beer knowledge. I was handed a binder notebook, it really was a little like being back in school, and shown the winter warmer class notes page.

Each class has a page or two for tasting notes. The top page listed the four beers we would be drinking that evening, with room below each listing for notes.

Derick started things off. First he discussed the style. For the record, winter warmers are a broad style that are only tied together by heavy spicing centered on all the aromatic spices you would think about over the winter months; cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, and orange peel to name a few.

Think of winter warmers as the mulled ciders of the craft beer world. Typically brewed with a lower ABV, these beers are intended to keep you toasty during the long cold days of winter.

With each beer we learned a little about the brewery’s history and tastes and aromas to look for in each of the beers.

This is the point where the class got really interesting. My classmates and I started discussing the flavors we picked up on, how the beers smelled next to each other and which ones we liked best and why. The power of suggestion is very strong when doing tastings and several times I found myself “finding” flavors mentioned by others in the class.

It was interesting to hear my classmates discussing why they preferred one beer over another and doing a little good natured arguing over which was best (my favorite was 21st Amendment’s Fireside Chat, a big meaty warmer with some cocoa nibs added to the brewing for extra flavors.)

This was a fun and informative class, with information for all levels. Some of my classmates who were relatively new to craft beer talked freely about how much they learned.

I picked up a few take-aways myself, and best of all tasted a few beers that probably would not be bottles I’d pick up on my usual run to the bottle shop.

I think this is the best part of Beer School. Beer is for drinking and without some real tastings its takes time to develop a palate. Beer School speeds that process up, allowing you to really do some serious side by sides.

The next two Beer Schools are January 7 and February 25th. The January class features Ballast Point Brewery, and showcases several versions of Ballast Point’s Sculpin IPA’s and a few other treats.

The February Beer School features Savannah’s very own Coastal Empire Brewing who will be bringing several exciting brews including Coco Pena Pineapple Coconut Gose and Midnight in the Garden Imperial Chocolate Stout. E

Each class is $5 for a flight of beers and a pint glass to take home with you. Each class runs from 7-9:30. More information is available at the World of beer website.


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