29 June 2009

KOTBR #77 - The Socratic Beer Method

For the latest roundtable, the KOTBR convened at the downtown location of Scotty's Brewhouse on a busy Thursday evening to enjoy a few pints, recession-buster style (pints on Thursdays go for $2.50). Our objective: to review a few beers well-suited to the warm weather months.

Those of you who are regular readers may know that I'm an educator by trade. Upon our arrival at Scotty's, we discovered that a number of my students were blowing off steam on Scotty's outdoor patio. A few of them even stopped by our table to say hello, while my fine colleagues did their best to embarrass me in front of them (to no avail, of course).

My students have worked very hard this past school year. Therefore, I've decided to dedicate my review to them by putting it into a format with which they're very familiar: the Socratic method, with a Paper Chase twist (imagine Professor Kingsfield's in-the-classroom style and you get the idea). So fasten your seat belts--it's required under Indiana law--and enjoy.

The students settle in their seats in a classroom, opening laptops, poised to take notes. The professor imperiously enters and strides to the lectern. He places a worn portfolio on the lectern, opens it, and locates the page he's looking for: a seating chart of the classroom. He then reaches behind the lectern and places a bottle of Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier on top of the lectern for the class to see.

PROFESSOR: Okay, class. Let's begin today's beer discussion. Rodney?
Q: What can you tell us about this beer?
A: Well, it's a refreshing--
Q: No, no, no! Have you already forgotten where you're supposed to begin? Tell us what style it is.
A: Oh, um, sorry. You see, I don't like putting labels on things or placing them in categories because that's arbitrary, and the world isn't an arbitrary place, so--
Q: My word, you're as useless as usual. Have you ever met a tangent that you didn't like? Christopher, what style of beer are we looking at here?
CHRISTOPHER: A hefeweizen.
Q: Correct. Brewer?
A: Weihenstephan.
Q: Nice pronunciation.
A: Thanks. You know, I spent a semester abroad in Germany.
Q: Good lord, there's no need to be such a suck up. Just engage me in a dialogue. Understand?
A: Sure. Sorry.
Q: Apology not accepted, but we'll move on anyway. Since you're such an expert on Deustchland, tell me why the brewer is significant.
A: I think it's the oldest brewery in the world.
Q: WRONG! Michael, why is he wrong?
MICHAEL: Technically, Weihenstephan is the oldest operating brewery in the world.
Q: Precisely. Since when?
A: Historians think that the brewery dates back to the late Eighth Century, but the brewery actually obtained its license in 1040, so that is the date that is typically referred to when discussing the founding date.
Q: Excellent. Rodney, you see what happens when you stay focused? You actually give answers germane to the subject under discussion. In other words, you'd actually know that this beer has been around since before the Norman Conquest.
RODNEY: Whatever.
Q: Insolence will get you nowhere, which is where you seem to be during each class meeting. Jessica, tell us about this beer's characteristics.
JESSICA: As the benchmark beer for the style, it pours cloudy because it's unfiltered. The color is golden and the head is cream-colored with a lot of staying power.
Q: Correct. Nose?
A: Again, true to style--clove, banana, and bread notes.
Q: Precisely. Gina, what's the taste and mouthfeel?
GINA: Mouthfeel is crisp and refreshing. Taste follows suit with the nose, with emphasis on the banana and clove characteristics.
Q: Excellent. Anyone else have anything to contribute?
RODNEY: Can I say something?
PROFESSOR: If you must.
RODNEY: You know, I really don't understand vegans. I mean, what's the deal? If you're really that upset about chickens being mistreated, why not just get free-range eggs?
PROFESSOR: What in God's name does this have to do with our discussion about this beer?
RODNEY: Jess and Gina started talking about bananas, and that made me think about apes, which made me think about Jane Goodall--you know, that lady from Gorillas in the Mist--who I heard was a vegan, and so--
PROFESSOR: And so remind me never to allow you to register for any elective course that I teach in your two remaining years of school. Class dismissed.

Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier
Rodney 4.25 Mugs | Jess 4.2 Mugs | Gina 4.1 Mugs | Jim 4.3 Mugs | Chris 4.3 Mugs | Mike 3.0 Mugs
KOTBR Score - 4.02 Mugs

I'm not going to pretend to really understand what happened in the review above. In fact, I'm still decifering many of the lessons I learned so many years ago when I was spending my 5.5 years at SIUE. But regardless of all that, the main lesson I hope I've passed on to my students (I don't have any students) is that there's more to life and knowledge than what your professors may teach you.

That's not to say that academia is a waste - in fact, I'll pass along this bit of Socratic knowledge that many of my students (I still don't have any students) are familiar with:

Click here for a YouTube video, email readers

To be honest, I don't even have any notes on this beer. I was taking pictures, and my thoughts... well, if dust in the wind was good enough for Socrates, it's good enough for me.

The other sites will tell you that Mad Anthony IPA is a slightly better than average IPA. I'll tell you that some might say it's a syrupy looking beer with a nice foamy head. Others say it's rich and finishes smooth. I'll tell you that many of the Knights are fans, and that this beer is another example of why drinking locally makes sense.

As for Scotty's - if you were been paying attention to comments on earlier posts, we'll admit that sometimes the beer prices there can be a little high. But take it from a group of people who buy a lot of beer in a lot of bars - the Thursday $2.50 pint special is worth taking advantage of. Or even abusing. We did.

Mad Anthony IPA
Chris 4.6 Mugs | Rodney 3.75 Mugs | Jim 4.0 Mugs | Jess 3.8 Mugs | Gina 3.7 Mugs | Mike 4.0 Mugs
KOTBR Score - 3.97 Mugs


  1. There's no way we could embarrass Jim any more than he already embarrasses himself.


  2. you got tired of waiting for a new comment too?