Day 545

And so, after nine days of lazing around in pyjamas playing XBox… err, I mean, after nine days of intense work on assignments, of course… we move into the final seven weeks of this 2-year Brewmaster program. Yep, only forty-five more days, doubtless jam-packed with fun and excitement.

In Human Resources, we started a unit on Training and Development. Canadian companies aren’t known for spending a lot on T&D–it is seen as a cost rather than an investment. Well, let’s pretend we’re somewhere else that values better-trained workers.. How would we start up a training program? In a nutshell–

  1. Assessment: Your company has a problem. How much is the problem costing you? Is the problem fixable through employee training? Will the result close the gap between money currently being made and money that should be made?
  2. Design: Assuming training is the answer, plan your training program. Who will the trainer be, and who will be trained? How long? Where? What materials are needed?
  3. Implement: Schedule it. Make sure it’s a good time for both the trainer and trainees. Monitor the program. (And get feedback from the trainees.)
  4. Evaluation: Is there the improvement in production/sales that you expected? Was your cost-benefit analysis correct? How can the training be improved?

On to Beer Industry, where Toronto Star beer columnist Josh Rubin gave a talk on what he saw as future trends in Ontario craft beer. Josh was a business reporter for over a decade before he became the Star‘s beer columnist in 2005, so he brought an interesting perspective to the craft beer scene. He also brought samples of three different beers to illustrate some of his points. The man certainly knows his audience.

Josh first hearkened back to the 1980s, when there was a lot of badly-made craft beer not being sold to consumers who didn’t understand craft beer. Fast forward to the 21st century, and we have a lot of well-made beer being sold to consumers who have a much better awareness of the possibilities of beer.

This will lead to several trends in Ontario:

  • more craft brewers in the future, most of them contract brewers who will simply rent fermentor space.
  • more Quebec and American imports into Ontario

At this point, it was time to taste Josh’s first sample, Wernesgrüner Pils from Germany. This is a solid, well-made pilsner, with floral, grassy notes redolent of noble Saaz hops, and a clean, bright taste with very assertive bitterness. It is also reasonably cheap, only $2.05 for a 500 mL  can.

Point: Our competition in the future may not be the typical Canadian macro beer, but rather tasty imported beers with a low price point like Wernesgrüner. We need to be aware of incoming global beer as well as local competition.

In a small aside, Josh also discussed what he is looking for when he receives a media release. First, make it short–hopefully a page, certainly no more than two pages. Get to the point. Use non-technical language. Give contact information for a person who has further info if needed, and then make darned sure the contact person is available! Don’t send large files–use small thumbnails of photographs and mention that the large-format files are available. Josh chooses which beers to review based on the most interesting media release, the highest quality beer and the brewery with a story to tell.

Strangely, this was exactly what we learned in Professor Sandra Merk’s Strategic Communications class last year. Good to know that this stuff translates well from classroom to workplace.

Time for another beer tasting, this time Sinha Stout from Sri Lanka, a good beer with a good story behind it (over a century of continuous brewing from the days of the British Raj, despite the recent civil war.) This is also an example of a good beer arriving on our shores at a competitive price despite the cost of shipping it halfway around the world.

Our third sample was Muskoka Brewing Double Mad Tom, Ontario’s first year-round double IPA. Josh’s point was that even five years ago, there might not have been a market for this type of strong bitter beer. The fact that Muskoka’s “rent beer” is now their regular strength Mad Tom is an indication of how consumer palates have become more educated,  which in turn has created demand for extreme tastes as well as consistent quality.

beer

“50 Shades of Grain”

End of class, but not end of the day. 50 Shades of Grain, the 50-ingredient brown ale I brewed up a couple of weeks ago, was being tapped at a bar in Toronto.  As mentioned in previous blogs, when you make a cask of ale, you don’t know exactly how it will taste is until the cask is tapped. Haha! 50 Shades of Grain  turned out to be very drinkable. The taste? Well, there was some difference of opinion there. Some detected jalapeño. Others got cocoa, coffee or citrus or spice. They were all correct, of course. The beer had everything in it except the kitchen sink.

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