Craft beer 101

Martin Lewis, co-owner of Penticton’s Bad Tattoo Brewing, will lead a craft beer class at Okanagan College in Penticton on Thursday from 6 to 9 p.m.

You know a college is hip when it offers a class in craft beer.

The cool factor escalates when the course is led by a guy who co-owns a brewery called Bad Tattoo.

And, of course, it all has to be capped off with beer drinking.

Okanagan College is offering a class in craft beer appreciation Thursday from 6 to 9 p.m. at its Penticton campus for $96.

See, no need to pour weeks, months or years into this educational pursuit when three hours will do.

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College and beer drinking have always been linked, usually with students imbibing after class.

However, this is the first time students will be encouraged to drink craft brews right in class.

Ironically, the class will be held in the laboratory of the college’s B.C. Wine Information Society Sensory Centre, where the college also has courses dedicated to the beverage the Valley is most famous for.

But craft beer is burgeoning and the college recognizes that.

“Our programming reflects what the community expresses an interest in,” said Dennis Silvestrone, the college’s director of continuing studies.

“Our viticulture and wine program was a response to the region’s thriving wine industry, and now our beer appreciation course acknowledges the growing enthusiasm for beer literacy in the Okanagan. And given the number of beer and wine experts on hand in the Valley, it was very important to us to engage top-calibre instruction for these programs.”

This is the second beer course offered by the college and the first one to focus on craft suds.

Martin Lewis, the co-owner at Penticton’s Bad Tattoo Brewing, is the instructor who will cover some basic beer knowledge and how to taste, particularly at a festival.

Lewis, who’s also a Red Seal chef, will match the beer tastings to some festival-inspired bites, prepared in the sensory centre’s kitchen.

There will also be time to discuss emerging beer trends, such as barrel-aging, innovative ingredients and ancient styles that are back in vogue.

Craft beer, defined as brew made in a traditional or non-mechanized way at a small facility, is a growth industry.

In 2013, there were fewer than 50 craft breweries in B.C.

Today, there are more than 125, including 15 in the Okanagan, such as Bad Tattoo, Cannery and Tin Whistle in Penticton; Firehall in Oliver; Tree and BNA in Kelowna; and Okanagan Spring and Marten in Vernon.

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