Inherent Weisse is our biweekly guide to beer news and reviews you can use.
Wubba lubba dub dub, everyone! You made it! It’s Friday and, thank goodness, it looks like things are finally starting to get a little more summer-like! Here are a few things to look forward to this weekend and beyond:
Saturday May 30-June 6: This Saturday marks the start of Ontario Cider Week, with the launch event happening at Duke’s Refresher at 6pm. On Sunday be sure to hit The Only Cafe at 5pm onwards, where they’ll have ten taps of amazing craft cider available along with two ticketed tasting seminars where they’ll be opening a few rare bottles. Other events throughout the week include a Funky Scrumpy Night at Tequila Bookworm and a rare and one-off cider night at Bar Hop. Check out the website for more details on events and times!
June 6, 12pm: For those of you that enjoyed that run to the Brick Works on Victoria Day, the organizers of RunTOBeer have also formed the Toronto chapter of the Mikkeller Running Club. Taking place on the first Saturday of every month, the runs will be based out of Bier Markt King West and at the end of each run a beer from the infamous Danish brewery Mikkeller will be featured. At first they will be offering beers (formally) available at the LCBO (K:rlek, Green Gold, Cream Ale, Monk’s Brew, Texas Ranger, and possibly Black), with talks of special members-only brews being brought in. It’s a fantastic way to stay in shape and try some world-class beer. Check out co-organizer Dan Grant’s site for details.
And now I’d like to welcome you to an aspect of Inherent Weisse that I’ll be bringing out now and then. Toronto is a wonderful city with a thriving beer culture, so occasionally I’ll be writing about some of the faces that have helped shape it.
For as long as I’ve known beer educator, Master Cicerone (beer’s answer to wine’s Sommelier), and author Mirella Amato, I’ve always equated her artistic sensibility with that of a student at, say, the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London. A person clearly devoted to the serious study of what is considered a beautiful art form with plenty of room for artistic style and creativity. It turns out I was partially right, but mixed up on the medium: before Mirella became one of the country’s leading beer educators, she was trained as an opera singer.
The point being that, while Toronto, and even all of Canada, is not short on beer educators, there are very few who are as capable of passing on their knowledge to an audience in as informative and entertaining a way as Mirella Amato is. Her credentials of being a Master Cicerone, a BJCP-certified National Beer Judge, and a prominent figure in the country’s continuing education of beer certainly adds the weight of legitimacy to that claim and proves she welds a level of knowledge that surpasses many.
Mirella was lucky in that her first experiences with beer weren’t the mass-produced lagers many of us became familiar with, and were instead beers with different and complex tastes. At the time, even though Mirella’s primary focus was towards opera, the love of good beer was always in her heart and she often joked that when she retired, she would write a book on it. Though when the time finally came in her life when she was offered a contract, Mirella found after some thought that she wanted to stay in Toronto and put her energy into furthering the education of herself and others with beer. Beer education seemed to be a perfect fit, combining her loves of both the study of beer and the performance aspect of hosting tastings for the public.
In 2008, after years of immersing herself in beer culture and education as well as contributing pieces on beer to such news sources as CBC and TAPS Magazine along the way, Mirella founded Beerology. Under that banner, she has, and continues to do, regular consulting work, media appearances, podcast hosting, private and public tastings and sensory events throughout Toronto and beyond. While her tastings can get in to the basics of beers and flavours, personal past favourites have been a beer and insect pairing for Halloween, and a sublime pairing of beer with live operatic performances.
In 2012, she received the incredibly high honour of becoming the first non-US citizen to become a Master Cicerone. In short, the Cicerone Certification Program represents an indication of technical knowledge and skill in all aspects of beer. There are three levels, Certified Beer Server, Certified Cicerone, and Master Cicerone. All three are tests that have their own syllabus and people who sign up for them are expected to study rigorously beforehand. While there are many who have passed the first two levels, very few have earned the title of Master Cicerone (only nine in the world, to be exact). The title of Master Cicerone effectively solidified her ranking in the beer industry and she has continued work with the Cicerone program itself to help make it more accessible throughout the world.
In May of 2014, Mirella came out with her first book, published by Appetite by Random House. “Beerology: Everything You Need to Know to Enjoy Beer…Even More” reached critical acclaim and found itself on the bookshelves of bars and beer lovers throughout the country. In less than a year it has already reached its second printing, a commendable achievement to say the least.
The book itself is a wonderful accumulation of Mirella’s learnings over the years, with the first section going in to the basics, such as the ingredients, storage, presentation, and tasting of beer. The second section features a very handy style guide, with an incredibly intriguing chapter on sour beers that is something I’ve found the general population of beer drinkers should know more about. The third section, “Diving In”, is where you put the knowledge gained from the previous sections to the test, focusing on pairing beer with food, creating beer cocktails, and even hosting your own beer tasting.
Beerology is definitely one of the more accessible beer appreciation guides out there, featuring a healthy dose of essential information presented in an easy to understand and unpretentious way that is the crux of Mirella’s own teaching style. I would happily put it on the shelf next to my other favourite guides, Randy Mosher’s Tasting Beer and The Naked Pint by Christina Perozzi and Hallie Beaune.
While Mirella Amato’s work and years of dedication to the study of beer are substantial, I almost feel that we’ve only seen the aria of a much larger work, and as someone who watches the beer world with interest, I look forward to seeing her next step.