Public Events & Classes from A Perfect Pint

I realized recently that I have a ton of public events coming up. Whether you want to learn the basics of making your own beer, find out what’s happening beer-wise in the upper-Midwest, or sit down to a tasty and educational meal paired with both beer and wine, I’ve got something here for you. Check it out!

July 10, 7 pm, $18
Homebrewing 101
How is beer made? What is beer made of? What is malted barley? What are hops? What causes that grapefruit flavor in my beer? What flavors should I taste in this beer? How does one taste beer? Questions, questions, questions…
The Garden by the Woods Garden Center
78 W 78th St
Chanhassen, MN 55317

July 11, 6-8 pm, $50
Trappist and Abbey Beers of Belgium
Monastic brewing in Europe goes back to at least the 700s CE. It’s probably much older than that. While there are monasteries making beer all over the continent, it’s the Belgians that have elevated the tradition to exquisite heights. Only seven Trappist breweries have earned the right to use the trademarked label “Trappist Beer” and they are making some of the most complex beers available today. Another group of secular “abbey” breweries are not far behind; making beers of similar styles that can give the monks a run for their money. Certified Cicerone Michael Agnew of A Perfect Pint introduces you to the world of beer-making monks. You’ll learn what it takes to be a Trappist brewery and discover what makes them different from the abbey brewers. Along the way you’ll sample some of the best beers in the world.
Sunfish Cellars Wine & Spirits
803 Sibley Memorial Hwy (Hwy. 13)
Lilydale, MN 55118

July 17, 6-8 pm, $50
Don’t be Afraid of the Dark
Dark beers are heavy, right? Actually, nothing could be further from the truth. Color tells you very little about the taste or heft of a beer. As I am fond of saying, “dark is not a flavor.”  While there are heavy-duty dark beers, there are also some super hefty light-colored beers. A Belgian tripel looks like a pilsner, but can top 10% alcohol. A beer like Guinness that many perceive as weighty is actually very low alcohol and just as light as a “lite” beer. In this class Certified Cicerone Michael Agnew from A Perfect Pint guides you through the gamut of black and brown brews. You’ll learn where the color comes from and taste the full range of flavors that dusky beers can bring. Even those who say they don’t like dark beer will find something to love.
Sunfish Cellars Wine & Spirits
803 Sibley Memorial Hwy (Hwy. 13)
Lilydale, MN 55118

July 18, 8-9 pm, $15
The State of the Midwest Craft Brewing Industry
Two years ago, while observing the first pops of what is now a full-on, beer-brewing boom, I hatched a hair-brained scheme to find out what was really going on beer-wise in the upper Midwest. I had this notion that the region well may be the next beer Mecca – a successor to the Colorado Front Range – and I wanted everyone else to know about it. A guide book was the way to do it. 10,000 miles, 25 hotel rooms, and 1800 beers later the book is with the publisher. I have personally visited 180 breweries in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Illinois, and interviewed the brewers at nearly every one. I have intimate knowledge of what’s happening in one of the fastest growing beer scenes in the country.
This class will take you on a beer tour of the upper Midwest featuring brews from beer makers old and new in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa and Illinois. We’ll look at overall trends in the region and explore some of the new styles being crafted to suit the regional palate.”
The Four Firkins Specialty Beer Store
5630 W. 36th Street
St. Louis Park, MN 55416


July 21, 3-7 pm, Festival admission $30 advance or $40 at the door
Tasting Beer: The Beer Flavor Triangle
Beer is made from three basic ingredients, malt, hops, and yeast (I know, water is in there too.) Each of these ingredients imparts its unique character to the beer as flavor, aroma, color, and mouthfeel. Beer styles are identified by the relative weight of character from each ingredient. In this session we’ll talk about what those characteristics are and how to identify them so you get the most from your beer at the festival and beyond.
All Pints North Beer Festival
Bayfront Festival Park
700 W Railroad St
Duluth, MN 55802

July 26, 6-8 pm, $50
Beer 101: Beer Flavor and Where it Comes From
Most people readily accept the notion that wine is a beverage worthy of contemplation and consideration. Recognition of the subtleties of varietals and terroir is firmly established. After 50 years of a market dominated by light lagers, the same cannot be said of beer. For most people beer is a pale-yellow, fizzy liquid with very little flavor and hopefully even fewer calories. But good beer never went away and is currently enjoying a worldwide renaissance driven by the emergence of small craft breweries throughout the United States. Well-crafted beer rivals wine for flavor and complexity. Join the instructor, a certified Beer Cicerone, or beer adviser similar to a wine sommelier, for a course on the basics of beer tasting and appreciation. During the session you will learn about beer styles, ingredients, brewing processes through demonstration and tastings. You will gain an understanding of how ingredients such as hops, barley, and yeast contribute to the overall character of particular beers.
Sunfish Cellars Wine & Spirits
803 Sibley Memorial Hwy (Hwy. 13)
Lilydale, MN 55118

August 1, 6-9 pm, $75
Farm to Table Beer Pairing Dinner
Midsummer is the high season for fresh-from-the-farm produce. Nothing goes better with fresh veggies than crisp, light summer beers. Chef Philip Dorwart from Create Catering demonstrates great seasonal recipes, paired with craft beers by Cicerone Michael Agnew.
Menu: Heirloom Tomato Salad with Sweet Sherry Vinaigrette, Reggiano, Arugula and Toasted Barley; Grilled Asparagus with House-Made Lemon Agrumati, Crispy La Quercia Prosciutto and Poached Egg; Hops-Smoked Lamb Ribs with Rosemary-Malt Syrup Glaze, Roasted Grits and Spinach; Frangelico Milk Shake with Toasted Milk and Peanut Butter-Chocolate Mascarpone Cookie.
With Chef Philip Dorwart of Create Catering/The Dining Studio
Cooks of Crocus Hill in St. Paul
877 Grand Avenue
Saint Paul, MN 55105

September 21, 6-9 pm, $75
Grapes, Grains & Fromage
With Sommelier Leslee Miller & Fromager Benjamin Roberts of France 44
Do you love beer, wine and cheese? Then this is the class for you! Learn how to pair three of your favorite treats, all in one class. Sommelier Leslee Miller and Cicerone Michael Agnew team up with pal, Fromager Benjamin Roberts of France 44 for one fantastic festival of cheese, vino and brew.
Cooks of Crocus Hill in Edina
3925 West 50th Street
Edina, MN 55424

October 18, 6-9 pm, $75
Midwest Cheese & Ale
With Becca Dilly and James Norton, Authors of The Master Cheesemakers of Wisconsin
Cooks of Crocus Hill in Edina
3925 West 50th Street
Edina, MN 55424

October 23 & 30, 6-8 pm, Cost TBA
Fireside Sippers – Warming Beers for Fall and Winter
Autumn is an in-between time. There is a chill in the air, but it hasn’t yet turned brutally cold. The leaves are turning colors and beginning to fall, but the trees are not yet the gray skeletons that they become in the winter. It’s time to put away the barbeque and break out the firepit. So what makes a beer appropriate for fall? Well, slightly higher alcohol for one thing, just enough to take the edge off the chill air. A little color would be welcome, amber, red, orange, and brown to match the seasonal hues. A bit of spice is always nice, and perhaps a wink and a nod to the fall harvest, be it of hops or pumpkins.Winter’s brutal bite and early darkness drive most people indoors to curl up next to a crackling hearth. This is the time for snifter beers; malty old ales, barleywines, and big imperial stouts. These are beers to savor slowly through the evening, letting them warm you from within.Fall and winter are great seasons for beer. Certified Cicerone Michael Agnew takes you through the best these seasons have to offer from the brazenly bitter fresh hop beers to soothingly sweet English barleywines. Apple beers, pumpkin beers and spicy holiday ales are all a part of the mix. Along the way we’ll cover the histories of the styles and how they’re made.
University of Minnesota Learning Life
The campus Club
403 Coffman Memorial Union
300 Washington Avenue SE
Minneapolis MN 55455

November 8, 6-9 pm, $75
Fall Harvest Beer & Wine Pairing Dinner
With Sommelier Leslee Miller and Chef Mike Shannon
Cooks of Crocus Hill in Stillwater
324 S. Main St.
Stillwater, MN 55082

Brews and Breweries of the Upper-Midwest at the U of MN

Come join me this fall for another beer class at the University of Minnesota, College of Continuing Education. The two sessions of Beer-101 classes that I have taught in the past were very well attended and rocking good times. This semester I’m bringing something new.

Since December I have been touring breweries and interviewing brewers throughout the upper-Midwest for a book I’m working on for the University of Illinois Press. I’m building a very good overview of what is happening in our region beer-wise. Starting October 12th I’ll be sharing some of that knowledge in a class called Brews and Breweries of the Upper-Midwest. We’ll talk about the explosive growth the region’s brewing industry and explore its trends, tastes, and interesting personalities. Of course we’ll be sampling some of the best beers from Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Illinois.

The class runs for four consecutive Wednesday evenings from 7-9 pm starting October 12th. It takes place at the Campus Club in Coffman Memorial Union on the University of Minnesota Minneapolis Campus. Registration is now open on the Learning Life website.

Here’s the official description.

The last five years have seen an explosion of new brewing activity in the Upper Midwest, making it one of the fastest growing beer scenes in the country. The region is home to an eclectic mix of old and new that includes some of the nation’s oldest breweries, a handful of microbrewing pioneers, and new breweries opening at a dizzying rate. It has spawned new beer-world superstars like Surly in the Twin Cities and Ale Asylum in Madison. The region’s breweries come in all shapes and sizes; from large producers making over 100,000 barrels per year to pico-breweries making beer 10 gallons at a time. Midwestern brewers are experimenting with local ingredients like Iowa corn (including the stalks) and aging beer in barrels from regional distilleries and wineries. This coterie of brewers is even packing some political clout, changing long-standing beer laws in several states, including Minnesota. This class will take you on a beer tour of the Upper Midwest featuring beers from breweries new and old in Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. We’ll look at overall trends in the region and explore some of the new styles being crafted to suit the regional palate. Participants pay a $40 fee to the instructor on the first night for food and beverage.

Michael Agnew is a certified beer cicerone and the founder of A Perfect Pint, which offers beer tastings and educational experiences for private and corporate events. He is a national beer judge for the Beer Judge Certification Program, consults with restaurants about beer, and has taught classes at Kitchen Window and Cooks of Crocus Hill.


One More Class to List

I’m doing one more summer beer class that I didn’t mention in the last post because I thought it was a members-only event. It’s not.


Beer Class: Understanding Hops
June 8, 5:30 PM, $30 includes light appetizers.
Campus Club, Coffman Memorial Union
, University of Minnesota
The Campus Club regularly produces beer themed events for members, including our annual Oktorberfest and our spring Beer Testing. This is our first ‘class’ focused on a specific beer theme. Our presenter is Michael Agnew, Certified Cicerone (the beer equivalent of a Sommelier). His beer column appears each month in the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
You will learn a lot about hops: History, Botanical Description, Production, Types, Varieties, Brewing Process, and Vocabulary. You will sample a spectrum of beers to gain a deeper understanding of this essential ingredient in beer.
You must reserve your place(s). Call 612-626-7788. Non-members are welcome, but you must reserve your place.

Summer Beer Classes

Now that I’m back I’m hitting the ground running. I have a bevy of public events and classes coming up that I want to let you know about. Check these out.

Beer & Cheese Pairing at Midwest Supply
June 23, 6-8 PM, FREE
People usually talk about pairing wine and cheese, but beer is a much better companion. In fact, they are sort of the same thing (learn why by coming to the event). In the class we’ll talk about some basic principles of pairing beer and cheese while sampling the wares of some of Minnesota and Wisconsin’s best cheese makers and brewers. Midwest Supply is going to stay open later than normal so you can stock up on your brewing supplies while you’re there.

Summer Fresh Beer Pairing Dinner at Cooks of Crocus Hill
June 24, 6-9 PM, $75
With Chef Jeremy Reinicke
Fresh, light, easy. These are all the words that spring to mind when we think of summer food. But summer beers are no different! They’re fresh, light and easy to drink. Join Cicerone Michael Agnew and Chef Jeremy Reinicke for the perfect pairing of yummy warm-weather favorite foods and summery suds.
Menu: Assorted Fresh Cheeses; Summer Harvest Salad with Honey Basil Vinaigrette; Tuna Tartare with Dill on Toasted Baguette; Roasted Leg of Lamb with “Flanders Red” Marinade; Summer Berries with Puff Pastry and Aged Balsamic; a Selection of Summery Craft Beers.

Beer, Wine & BBQ at Cooks of Crocus Hill
July 29, 6-9 PM, $75, SOLD OUT get on the waiting list.
With Chef Mike Shannon and Sommelier Leslee Miller
Smoky. Sweet. We’re not just talking about the food either! Chef Mike, Sommelier Leslee and Cicerone Michael are back together again, this time pairing grapes and grains with the great summer flavors of the grill. Join them as Mike fires up the grill and Michael and Leslee throw down the pairings. There’s no better way to beat the heat this summer.
Menu: Grilled Tomatoes with Mozzarella; Grilled Romaine with Blue Cheese Vinaigrette; Coconut Shrimp with Vanilla Gastrique; Knife and Fork Manchego Burger; Grilled Peaches with Grand Marnier Cream.

Hope to see you there!

Beer Classes with Michael Agnew at Chef’s Gallery in Stillwater

I’m happy to announce a couple new beer classes for the fall, this time at  The Chef’s Gallery in Stillwater. Located in the Grand Garage in historic downtown Stillwater, Minnesota, the Chef’s Gallery is a complete source for all your culinary desires. They pride themselves in having everything from the expected to the extraordinary: the finest cookware, bakeware, utensils, gadgets, gourmet food, dinnerware, and serving pieces from around the world. What they don’t have, they will happily order for you.

I’m excited to be teaming with James Norton and Becca Dilley of The Heavy Table for pairings of local beers and cheese. I’ll also be pairing (literally and figuratively) with Chef Bret Bannon. We’ll be exploring pairing great craft beer with appetizers. You can download the complete Chef’s Gallery fall class catalog in pdf format here.

A Perfect Pair: Local Brew and Cheese
With James Norton and Becca Dilley
Thursday, October 7, 7:00 – 9:00 PM
Wisconsin is famous for cheese and beer, with Minnesota not far behind! The wares of the two states’ artisan cheese makers and craft brewers bear this fame out. Michael Agnew is a Certified Cicerone (one with proven expertise in selecting, acquiring and serving a wide range of beers). Together with Becca Dilley and James Norton, authors of The Master Cheesemakers of Wisconsin, they take you on a tour of the best the two states have to offer, and teach you how to create pairings of these perfectly-matched delicacies. Our Midwestern Tour de Fromage starts with lighter cheese – goats milk, Mascarpone and Camembert – to match the softer flavors of Pilsner, Kölsch or wheat beers. Next is stronger but still fairly mellow cheese – perhaps one soaked in raspberry beer from New Glarus, or cheese with a touch of smoke or washed-rind pungency – with fruity, funky, flavorful ales to match. We will finish with aged Wisconsin cheddar and bleu cheese for bold flavors that stand up to big brash locally-brewed India Pale Ale and Barleywine. Don’t miss the opportunity to taste local cheese and ale at its best.

A Perfect Pair: Craft Beers and Appetizers
With Bret Bannon
Thursday, November 18th, 6:00 – 9:00 PM
The rise in craft breweries has opened a new world of beer and foodpairing. Careful brewing allows for complex and subtle notes similar to those found in wine, and has sent chefs to the kitchen to create the same level of complementary pairings. Tonight we’ll taste a variety of domestic and imported beer, and perfectly pair them to foods based on flavor profiles. Sit back and relax as Chef Bret and Cicerone Michael prepare Chickpea Fritters with Anchovy Dipping Sauce, peppered and Grilled Chicken Skewers with Zippy Dipping Sauce, Mushroom and Goat Cheese Crostini, Creamy Smoked Trout with Apples and Horseradish on Crispy Brown Bread, and Roasted Rosemary, Walnuts and Crispy Panko Calamari with Garlic Aioli.

ABCs of Beer at Cooks of Crocus Hill

There are still a few spots open for the ABCs of Beer class that I am teaching at Cooks of Crocus Hill. The class is on Friday night March 26th. Cooks has a 15% discount sale on selected classes going on now. This one is filling up, so check out the Cooks website to reserve your spot.

ABCs Of Beer
Friday, March 26, 6 – 8 PM, $47
What’s the difference between and ale and a Lager? What’s the best glass for my favorite beer? Which beers can I cellar and which ones should I drink young? Join Certified Cicerone (the beer expert equivalent of a sommelier) Michael Agnew as he shows you all the basics and then some. You’ll learn how to taste, select and care for beers of all types and styles. Includes a selection of Craft Beers from around the world representing basic styles and light snacks.

Beer Classes at Cooks of Crocus Hill

A Perfect Pint is excited to announce these upcoming beer classes at Cooks of Crocus Hill, taught by Cicerone Michael Agnew.

ABCs Of Beer
Friday, March 26, 6 – 8 PM, $55
What’s the difference between and ale and a Lager? What’s the best glass for my favorite beer? Which beers can I cellar and which ones should I drink young? Join Certified Cicerone (the beer expert equivalent of a sommelier) Michael Agnew as he shows you all the basics and then some. You’ll learn how to taste, select and care for beers of all types and styles. Includes a selection of Craft Beers from around the world representing basic styles and light snacks.

Smoked, Grilled and Sauced: A Wine and Beer Pairing Experience
With Chef Mike Shannon and Sommelier Leslee Miller
Friday, April 30, 6 – 9 PM, $75

Summer’s coming, and that means it’s time to fire up the grill. Join Chef Mike, Sommelier Leslee and Certified Cicerone Michael for a celebration of suds, smoke and vine. The chef will work the grill while our wine and beer gurus pour perfectly matched libations. Explore your palate and learn how to create great pairings for your upcoming summer soirées. Includes Pulled Pork Cobb Salad, Smoked Salmon Pizza, Grilled Lamb Chops with Tomatoes and Chick Peas, Jamaican Chicken with Caribbean Slaw, Cheesecake with Chocolate Almond Crust and Tart Cherry Sauce, as well as an assortment of fine beers and wines.

Cheese and Ale: Pairing Beer and Cheese
With Fromager Ken Liss
Monday, May 17, 6 – 8 PM, $55

Join Fromager Ken Liss and Cicerone Michael Agnew for a satisfying session of sipping and nibbling. You’ll start with fromage fundamentals – types, textures, flavors, shopping, storing and serving – then discover how to choose beers that complement each cheese. Includes cheese and beer from around the world.

I’ve worked with Ken, Leslee, and Mike. They know their stuff and know how to present it with passion. All three of these classes should be filled with fun and excellent eats and drinks. You can sign up or learn more about the classes at Cooks of Crocus Hill here.