Virtual Tasting: Real Beer
By Jennifer Bruntil
From Issue 47: Summer 2020
Beer tastings via Zoom! And, due to a clever program design by James Walsh and Joe Dolan of Yard Owl Brewery, rest assured that you actually get to drink the beer.
The two had been doing beer tasting talks for the guests of Mohonk Mountain House for a couple of years, so when live tastings were no longer an option and everyone else in the world seemed to be hopping on Zoom to continue working, the two thought, “Why not?”
I attended one of these tastings last month, and it was both informative and fun. You sign up for the tasting online and, on a Friday, you pick up your four beers at Yard Owl (19 Osprey Lane, Gardiner).
On Saturday, the day of the tasting, you are sent a Zoom meeting link and voila! All you have to do is log on to the meeting (the one I attended was at 7:00 pm) and you are “at the tasting.” Not only do James and Joe give some cool beer info and tell interesting stories but they also encourage questions and interaction among their guests. They are good friends and have great chemistry together which comes through, even on a computer screen.
They are able to finish each other’s sentences and have a light and playful vibe that puts everyone at ease. Both are well versed in beer and brewing, and James especially has a lot of knowledge to offer regarding the brewing process and the particular ingredients that go into each beer to create the final product.
By the end of the tasting, most of us were talking and laughing together. The fact that we had all been drinking probably didn’t hurt the friendliness factor! But really, after the tasting I felt as if I had been to a little party, which was a much needed social event in a time of lock down.
By the time this issue of The Gazette goes to print, James and Joe will have done three Zoom tastings. When asked about future tastings, Joe replied, “We plan on continuing virtual beer tastings and look forward to getting back together with people in person. There may be something to this format beyond the shutdown, however. We want to reach out to local businesses and maybe it takes on a podcast type vibe.”
Sounds as if there are more interesting things yet to come at Yard Owl! To find more information about upcoming events, search Yard Owl Craft Brewery on Facebook.