Classes have not yet started, so the atmosphere around campus is quite different. Some grad students do as we are supposed to - down, overachievers, down! - and use this time to make some serious headway on research. Others use it as a decompression time, which I fully support. I support most anything which decreases the number of grad students using Mental Health Services.
So in the spirit of decompression, of my labmates sent an e-mail around to our office's grad student mailing list. I work in a small lab headed by my advisor, but my immediate lab is part of a consortium of labs working on manufacturing-related topics. The powers-that-be decided to put all the grad students in the manufacturing consortium in one large office space. So, we have a really nice setup with about 30ish grad students in one big area, with cubicles and a kitchen, and a lounge area, and a conference table with projector and white board. After seeing some of the tiny rooms other grad students get as offices, I feel mightily blessed.
The email suggested a lab outing this Friday. Lab events are nothing new - I am fortunate to work with people who are, for the most part, social and friendly with one another. But this particular event is one I think all labs should adopt: attending a beer tasting at a local craft brewery, the Harpoon. How cool is that!
Some people are still on break, of course, and some people had legitimate work to do, so five of us ended up going. It was glorious. Two p.m. on Friday afternoon rolled around, and we meandered on our way. Now, I didn't even know that breweries do tastings. But yes, yes, they do indeed - and it's free! First the bartender gives you a history of the brewery (of course, that's why I went - good information, dontcha know...) and then they pass out little 2-oz taster glasses. They let you try a few things of your choice on tap, then they break and explain all the different types and what it is you are supposed to be tasting.
Then everybody goes, well crimeny, that's what I was supposed to be looking for? And they have another round or three so you can try and catch the "hint of wood smoke" or "the citrus base in the hops" or "elegant tones of the malt."
Whatever. One of each, bartender.
So I've never had beer explained to me before, and I didn't appreciate the range of flavors there are. It turns out that my favorites were the cider and the raspberry U.F.O - unfiltered original. I hated the I.P.A. (India Pale Ale - look at me go with the acronyms!) and the Porter. So I've got sweet girly tastes, so shoot me - I'm allowed, I am a girl!
All in all, I think this should be an annual (dare we say semi-annual? they have seasonal beers, you know..) event. I might even have to send the email next time.
Cheers for nonproductive Friday afternoons!