FIU's Beer Academy: Meet It at Brew at the Zoo May 4

Beer has been an obsession of mankind since the ancient Egyptians and Mesopotamians made brew 7,000 years ago.

We've evolved techniques since then, but the basic fundamentals remain the same. After all, in the most primitive of terms, beer is simply the byproduct of fermented grains.

Although equipment and sanitation have drastically improved, it's still simple to make beer at home. But, like anything, you've got to be shown the right way at least once.

That's why the FIU Beer Academy was born. Consisting of three affordable classes open to the public, Beer Academy might just be the best time you'll ever spend in school. Led by Professor Barry H. Gump, the classes are held several times throughout the year. Students learn by doing. In other words, you'll bring home beer the night you start.

The classes show you step-by-step how to prep your home workspace and what ingredients and equipment you'll need (who knew a turkey fryer is great for cooking a batch of grain and hops?). They also place a great deal of emphasis on sanitation: You want the yeast you add to work its magic without stray mold spores spoiling the party.

Because Professor Gump loves beer, he's been known to open a few bottles to share with the class -- all in the name of research, of course. And in case you haven't tried it before, FIU makes some of the best craft beer we've ever tasted.

Will this class make you an instant brewmaster? No. As Professor Gump told Short Order: "Your first few attempts at beer-making may not be that great. But keep at it, and keep experimenting with recipes and flavor profiles."

Besides, as a hobby, beer-making is way cooler than rock-collecting.

The FIU Beer Academy consists of three classes -- Extract Brewing: Brewing Fundamentals ($45); Mini Mash Brewing: Basics and Beyond ($55); and All-Grain Brewing: Advancing From Malt Extract Brews ($65). Class fees include materials, and the only prerequisite is a love of beer.

If you want more information, visit hospitality.fiu.edu or check out the academy at Brew at the Zoo, along with the makers of hundreds of other beers for your drinking pleasure.

If you've been hiding under a large rock (we told you rock-collecting was a weird hobby), the fourth annual New Times Brew at the Zoo will feature hundreds of beers to sample, live entertainment by Naughty by Nature, and more fun than a barrel of monkeys.

The party starts Saturday, May 4, at 7 p.m. at Zoo Miami.

Tickets cost $35 prepaid online through May 4 at 2 p.m. and $45 at the door for general admission. VIP tickets -- which include an extra hour of beer tasting and access to the VIP area, with exclusive beers, an open bar, and delicious food -- cost $75 prepaid online through May 4 at 2 p.m. and $85 at the door. Purchase tickets online at newtimesbrewatthezoo.com. Plus, use code SHORTORDER and get $5 off GA or $10 off VIP through this Friday, April 26, at 11:59 p.m.

Follow Laine Doss on Twitter @LaineDoss and Facebook.

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