Led by John’s Grocery owner Doug Alberhasky, the event aimed to pair beers perfectly with houseplants through a houseplant “speed dating” format and ten craft beer samples.
Drinking in a greenhouse isn’t what many might imagine on a Friday afternoon, but Iowa City’s Earl May Garden Center and John’s Grocery made it happen. “Hops & Houseplants Speed Dating” promised the perfect houseplant pairing and beer tasting course.
After begging my friend to come with me on January 21, our plans for Friday were secured. We were among the first to arrive, and once in the greenhouse, an employee handed us each a pen, a notepad, and two packets of notes on different plants and beers. Additionally, the employees held a photo shoot by the door with a ring light and an aesthetic backdrop.
The event, which cost $40 per person, included 10 beer samples and a 4-inch houseplant to take home. This event is part of a series called “Houseplant Academy” by Earl May, and the next scheduled class is a macrame class with plant hangers on January 27.
As more people arrived, my roommate and I helped ourselves to snacks and looked at the array of craft beers lovingly arranged on a folding table in front of us. The greenhouse itself was a lot to see, with plants growing on the walls and hanging from the ceiling.
Iowa City Earl May Garden Center worked with John’s Grocery to organize this event – specifically with Doug Alberhasky, owner of John’s Grocery, as host. Once everyone was seated and had their clipboards ready, Alberhasky began his PowerPoint presentation.
Over the next two hours, Alberhasky detailed the history of several beers and why they were selected. In addition, they distributed “dating profiles” for each factory.
I had no idea how little I knew about beer before this event. Alberhasky takes great pride in his intimate understanding of beer history and has shared his knowledge with the public. I learned how beer is made, the difference between ales and lagers, how color does not determine flavor, and the importance of water in the brewing location.
Among the beers served and studied were a Belgian Tripel, a chocolate infusion and a beer so fruity my friend compared it to wine. I also learned that “chocolate infusions” are not brewed with real chocolate.
At the end of the presentation, it was time for my friend and I to look at our little stack of “dating profiles” to select our “soul plants”.
I was between an aloe vera and black crow plant, but I have a knack for killing plants, and the black crow seemed to be less maintenance. My roommate chose the money tree because of its beautiful leaves and partially visible root system.
I can say with confidence that I have never attended an event like this. The concept was adorable, and so was the execution. I don’t know how they came up with this idea, but I’m glad they did.
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