When it comes to judging beer, David Teckam is among the best of the best, one of only 35 level IV grand master beer judges in the world.
Teckam hosted a sold-out seminar, “Beer Judging 101,” at American River Brewing in Rancho Cordova during Sacramento Beer Week. The 90-minute class offered a glimpse of Teckam’s vast beer knowledge as he led the 30 participants through tastings of several styles, including some beers that were manipulated to reveal the kind of flaws that a beer judge should be able to detect.
A show of hands at Teckam’s seminar revealed that about one-third of those attending Beer Judging 101 were home brewers. Teckam says that learning more about judging helps home brewers understand how to identify when their beer is good – and when it goes awry.
Teckam is the go-to guy in the Sacramento area for help in preparing for the Beer Judge Certification Program exam, which includes a written test as well as a tasting to identify beer styles and defects. For details, check out his website, www.beerjudgeschool.com/, which provides resources, information on testing sites and more. Teckam said his next preparatory classes are in August.
One of Teckam’s noteworthy students? Mike Moore. In last week’s Beer Run, we told you about Moore, a renowned beer judge who has traveled the world to judge at major beer competitions. Earlier during Beer Week, the engaging “Big Mike” did a tasting at New Helvetia and, along the way, wowed the audience with his grasp of beer, flavor, history, chemistry and more.
On the local beer scene, with more than 30 craft breweries and counting, understanding the ins and outs of judging will help you become a more informed consumer, allowing you to identify which breweries are making a really good product and which ones are lagging. Right now, that pecking order is still being sorted out. Even if you never plan on judging, having a better grasp of beer and the language of beer will make you a hit at parties and will no doubt drive your non-beer friends crazy.
A busy Beer Week
OK, so Sacramento Beer Week has come and gone and, if you’re like me – how can we put this? – you’re beer’d out. I had so many great beers during those 11 days it was astounding, including saisons, sours, barrel-aged masterpieces, stouts, chocolate stouts, spicy chocolate stouts, coffee stouts, rare beers, all kinds of IPAs, even a few session beers consumed in the interests of pacing and self-preservation.
But I was a mere lightweight compared to Louie Toro, whom many consider Sacramento’s No. 1 beer aficionado. Toro, the owner of Wireless World who spends his days fixing smartphones, is the one who got John Zervas into craft beer. Zervas is the publisher of Hops to Table magazine, which celebrated its second anniversary during Beer Week. Toro has rated 1,200 beers in the past 12 months on Untappd, the popular beer app linked to social media.
Toro’s Beer Week 2015 might be typical for him but mesmerizing to most. Are you ready?
▪ He attended the Brewers Showcase on Feb. 26 at the California Auto Museum. Then he popped over to New Helvetia on Broadway for the release of its collaboration IPA with Oak Park Brewing. He ended the night in midtown at Alley Katz, which was sporting $1 drafts.
▪ Next day, a Friday, he was at Hot City Pizza in East Sacramento for its “Hop Your Face Off” double and triple IPA tap takeover, along with a visit to Yolo Brewing in West Sacramento for the release of its collaboration beer with “Hop Broads.” While on that side of the river, he stopped by Nugget Markets for a five-beer tasting of various styles.
▪ Saturday, he was at Kupros in midtown for a “San Diego vs. Oregon Beer Brawl, ” then to Pangaea in Curtis Park for its rare-beer night, followed by Mraz Brewing at Extreme Pizza in North Sacramento.
▪ Sunday, things slowed to a crawl by Toro’s standards. He met some serious beer collectors for a bottle share at Hot City before heading to Mraz in El Dorado Hills for its expansive barrel-aged release.
▪ Monday, he was at midtown’s University of Beer “just to have a beer” before heading to a sold-out beer dinner at Mother Restaurant downtown. (He said this was the best event of the entire Beer Week.)
▪ Tuesday, LowBrau had a barrel-aged night and Toro was on it. He also attended a beer dinner downtown at Blackbird Kitchen & Beer Gallery.
▪ Wednesday, he booked it down to Elk Grove’s Old Town Pizza & Tap House for another Mraz event.
▪ There were two midtown events on his agenda that Thursday: University of Beer for its Almanac day, and LowBrau, where he caught the tail end of its sour beer showcase.
▪ Friday? He rested. Can you blame him? He also had to get ready for the five-course beer dinner he hosted at his house on Saturday. Toro made a beer crème brûlée. Four friends supplied the other courses.
▪ Sunday was the big finale. Toro went to Selland’s Market-Cafe in East Sacramento for oysters and pork belly sandwiches paired with Bike Dog Brewing’s beer. He went to the Capitol Beer Fest, then back to Old Town Pizza for “Drain the Keg.”
We had to ask about this past week.
Sipping an iced coffee, Toro laughed and said, “I’m done with beer for now. I’m cleansing. Vegetables and water.”
Call The Bee’s Blair Anthony Robertson, (916) 321-1099. Follow him on Twitter @Blarob.