Sunday, May 15, 2011

Interesting People Celebrating Beer and Books!

The fellow on the left is Mike Benz, tasting Room Manager for Ithaca Beer Company in Ithaca, NY.  He gave us a tour of the brewery on Saturday.  Using the clear, cold water from Kayuga Lake, the eastern- most of the Finger Lakes, the brewery makes some tasty brews including an IPA named Flower Power, the perfect blend of flower essence with the bitterness of hops.  A quite exciting IPA.

I was in Ithaca as a guest at the spring meeting of a group of individuals-- writers, artists, a massage therapist, a lawyer, teachers, professors, business people and others--who come together twice each year to share friendship.  This meeting their theme was Brewing and Celebration.  On Saturday evening after the tour of the brewery, a dinner pairing food and the local brews was served up with a menu of apple salad, goulash, some of my Butternut Valley ginger stout muffins, and cheese.  The spiciness of the goulash was well balanced by the Ithaca Brewery's red ale.  I recommend a pairing event for your next party or dinner get together.  It's fun.  Don't worry about getting it right.  Just have a selection of beers and try them with your food.  Experiment and see what you like.  Be sure you include your local microbrewery's offerings.

Before dinner the group had an activity called "Advocating" during which each group member shared with us something important to them.  To avoid debates, my hostess, Susan, told me no contradictory opinions were to be offered only silence (no negative gestures) support or questions.  It was an interesting way for members to learn each others opinions and values without bitterness or argument.  "Metaphors" came next.  Each individual brought something to the group built on the theme of the weekend.  These gifts could be humorous such as the witch's costume for brewing or more serious with the presentation of some fine beers from Belgian or a tea cup and tea, also brewed.  The gifts were taken into another room and each individual drew a card for the order in which he or she could select a gift.  The selected gift was hidden somewhere in the house so that people didn't brag about what they had chosen.  Intriguing and sensitively designed events by people who like each other well enough to travel great distances (some drove for more than four hours) to share this weekend.

After dinner I talked to the group about writing, my books, and how the the publishing industry is changing.  Oh,sure, I sold some books, but what I took away was a sense of having experienced a special sharing event.  And, oh yes, I also ate the best brownie I've had in years!


  1. It sounds like a wonderful event, Lesley. I love the idea of expressing an opinion without fear. More gatherings should be that way!!.

    I like beer but I've never enjoyed it with a meal. Maybe I just haven't paired the right beer with the right food. I'll give it a try!

    Karen Duxbury
    ps I finally figured out OpenID - ignore my comment on Guppies!!

  2. This sounds like a great weekend. I'd love it.

  3. There is some history to our relationships that makes it well worth the trip wherever we come from! Lesley is right on about it being a fulfilling experience. Although on many items we agree it is also completely okay to agree to disagree (but of course not during our "Advocacy" session.) Lucky is the person who picks the high card but even if you choose the lowest as I often do one still goes home with a memorable often-homemade gift from the weekend! No one ever goes home hungry either. I advocate that more people consider designing their own Chautauqua group it could quite possibly make the world a happier and better place! Thank you Lesley for sharing in the weekend!