School’s in Session at Edmund’s

oast1If school means chalkboards, desks and books, the new quarterly beer program at Edmund’s Oast doesn’t entirely qualify. But everyone who attended the first installment of the Monday night course left with a few tidbits likely to liven up their next non-sanctioned drinking session.

The “Beer School” series consists of four 90-minute meetings, each devoted to a theme. Future meetings will cover beer and cheese; old-world IPAs and new-world IPAs, but leader Brandon Plyler last week tackled Trappist beers.

“It is not a type of beer,” Plyler, a certified cicerone and The Charleston Beer Exchange manager, clarified at the start. “It’s not even a mark of quality.”

As Plyler explained, Trappist beer is brewed on monastery grounds (but rarely by monks, who are preoccupied with prayer: “These guys are vegetarians if not vegans, they don’t wear shoes generally and they don’t consume much alcohol,” Plyer said, debunking the myth of merrily tanked friars.) Abbey beer, by contrast, may or may not have any connection to an actual monastery.

After Plyler’s introductory speech, he lectured less, a concession to the noisy street paralleling the handsome patio where class is held and the wandering attentions of students succumbing to alcohol. Another beer factoid prime for the taking was that Trappist beers are more powerful than they taste.

oast2“Trippels are very dangerous,” Plyler said. “They’re interesting beers to drink, especially if you own a riding lawnmower.”

Students received two side-by-side samples of a trippel, a dubbel and a quad. Around the time the fifth and sixth beers arrived, plates of bread rounds were replaced with crocks of hot French fries.

Plyler circulated throughout the tasting, and while many participants preferred to converse with their friends, he gamely answered any question put to him. The session felt very much like drinking with a learner’s permit: It wasn’t exactly a guided experience, but Plyler was always nearby to offer support.

Beer School continues tonight at Edmund’s Oast, 1081 Morrison Dr., with “Beer and Cheese”, beginning at 6 p.m. The fee is $35 per class, or $130 for the series. To reserve a spot, visit

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