Q and A with George Brown College beer experts

National Beer Day is Saturday, April 7 and lucky for us, we've got a bevy (oh yes, we did go there) of brew-savvy students and professors on campus. We sat down with Jessie Mak and Jesse Chi, both second-year Food & Beverage Management students, and Professor Jordan Shuler — who teaches Beer Tasting, Brewing and Theory— to get the goods on Canada's favourite ferment.

Q: What kind of glass best suits which kind of beer?

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A: "In Europe, most brands of beer have their own glass. The various shapes of these glasses affect both size and retention of the foamy head and help trap aroma molecules at the top of the glass. A glass should be able to hold the entire contents of a bottle, can or the size of an establishment’s standard pour from draft."- Jesse Chi

Q: Should beer ever be consumed straight from the can or bottle?

A:  "Ideally beer should be poured into a glass before consumption. We perceive aroma by inhaling the aromatic molecules in the liquid and these are more volatile, and thus more aromatic, when the beer is poured into a glass; we call this aerating the beer. Exposure to oxygen also activates the beer’s carbonation helping to create a nice, foamy head." - Jessie Mak

Q: Does beer expire?

A: "Yes, beer does eventually expire: Eight months if the beer has been pasteurized; two months if not. Kegs are usually well marked with expiry dates though bottles and cans are tricky; each brewery has its own system of labeling the expiry date which most often is displayed in code, difficult to understand. With the passing months, a beer’s flavour will begin to fade and the palate will taste flat." - Jesse Chi 

Q: What’s the trendiest brew in the beer world these days? 

A: "Corona, from Mexico, is the number one selling beer in the world. As we discuss in the beverage lab, the marketing team behind this brand really know how to invoke their customers’ inner ego by associating with an appealing lifestyle.

Among the craft brewing community, a growing trend is bottle-conditioned beer; these undergo a partial, second fermentation in the bottle. You’ll spot them by the sparkling-wine-like cork and cage closures." - Jordan Shuler

Q: Foam: yay or nay?

A: "Yes! The thickness of the foam depends on the beer’s recipe and the cleanliness of the glass, but generally, a good foamy head is ideal because the CO2 in the foam carries a lot of the beer's aromas." - Jessie Mak

Q: What will you be drinking to celebrate National Beer Day?

A: "On April 7 I’ll be enjoying a pint of Vermont I.P.A. Similar to other India Pale Ales this style is very aromatic, though the similarities end there; what is normally a very bitter (from hops) style of beer now has enough sweetness (from malt) to balance the taste." - Jordan Shuler

Q: Is it true George Brown College has its very own beer?

A: "Yes it’s true! This past semester Jessie and Jesse created a beer for a course assignment and theirs was chosen from thirty student entries as the winning recipe. Their beer, called the Copper Dragon Ale, is available on draft at The Chefs’ House Open New Browser Window. Students from George Brown’s Design School competed for the bottle’s label; third-year student Yusuke Yamazaki designed the fantastic winning label." - Jordan Shuler