Rob Shellman knew he wanted to work in the beer business after falling in love with it back in 2005 while pursuing an acting career out in LA. A few trips to San Diego did the trick—and after starting Better Beer Society and consulting with Pat Fahey a Master Cicerone and educator himself ( formerly of Beer School), Rob decided to put his own spin on beer education and incorporate all aspects of the industry instead of just the role of a brewer. “There are so many stories to share in this industry outside of the brewer’s role, and I just felt that it was time to take it to the next level and educate students on all aspects of the industry” said Rob.
The result is BBSU, a class taught by Cicerone Michael Agnew (now in its third year) designed to educate students on all aspects of the beer industry through discussions from experts in the field. Some of the speakers in previous semesters include Lanny Hoff (Artinsnal Imports), Jace Marti (Schell’s), Todd Haug (Surly), Pete Rifakes (Town Hall), Julia Herz (Brewers Association), Daniel Mays (Stinson Wine, Beer, and Spirits) and many others. No prior knowledge is needed in order to take the class and even the most knowledgable people learn something new every week.
What is really outstanding about this course is that no two classes are the same so you can continue to take it every semester and constantly learn something new. What does one take away from a semester? Well, according to Rob he’d like to see more and more people get into the industry but he understands the reality of that. “BBSU is so much more than that. We have students who come simply to enjoy the beer, meet new friends, or is the nice break in their busy week to meet up with existing friends and just relax and have some fun,” he stated.
Beer education has come a long way the past few years and as the industry grows education is going to become more and more important. “I always say an educated beer drinker is a better beer drinker. Not for any sense of entitlement or elitism, just that once you are able to have an understanding of flavor and what goes into making that beer, you can begin to not only appreciate it more, but really have a better sense of what it is your palate is experiencing,” says Rob.
The one thing that most educated beer drinkers seem to agree on is that quality beer matters and Shellman is no stranger when it comes to that topic. “Well, how do we determine what quality beer is or isn't? We taste. The number one most important thing someone can do is explore their palate by tasting all kinds of beer. ”Then and only then can you determine what your palate deems as quality. The rest of it just doesn't matter. Not the hype beers, the IIIPA's, the barrel-aged darlings, the 'whales' so to speak. Once you can free yourself from only enjoying these type of beers, you'll find an entire world of quality beer already exists, and is very accessible and readily available year-round” says Rob.
This semester begins on March 4th and runs through May 20th. Classes are at Republic 7 Corners every Wednesday with one at 6:00 PM and one at 7:30 PM which you will choose when you sign up. The cost is $100 for 12 weeks. You will have the opportunity to sample all kinds of local beer which is included in the cost. Be sure to grab your tickets here.