June 5, 2013

Summer Guide 2013: Summertime, and the learnin is easy

LEO schools you on a few unique opportunities to expand your mind

Summer is upon us. For some, that means lounging by the pool, sipping mai tais and showing off that killer bikini bod. For most of us, though, paleo diets and CrossFit dreams were tossed aside long before the season of heat and bug bites arrived. For us, summer instead provides ample time for exercising that topmost squishy part of our bodies — our brains.

Established institutions like Jefferson County Public Schools and the University of Louisville offer courses for the general public that are well worth exploring (lifelong-learning4u.com and louisville.edu/lifelonglearning, respectively). The same goes for your local community centers and libraries. But more unorthodox educational offerings also exist.

From practical skills that can help you save money, to potentially lifelong hobbies that might drain all the money you saved, here are some unique learning opportunities to embark on this summer.

Become a brewmaster

What’s the difference between a delicious homebrewed pilsner and a murky liquid that tastes like sweaty Band-Aids? Paul Young knows the answer: sanitation. The owner of My Old Kentucky Homebrew stresses this in his weekly intro-to-homebrewing class. Then, he stresses it again. And again.

Young has been offering the free course since opening My Old Kentucky Homebrew four years ago in Butchertown. (The store has since moved to its current location on Baxter Avenue, next to that place with beach volleyball.) He can count on one hand the number of times nobody has shown up for the class, a fact that pleases but doesn’t surprise him. Since he started homebrewing in his college dorm more than a dozen years ago, Young has seen interest in the practice and appreciation for craft beers in general take off.

His course is a 45-minute flash tour of the homebrewing process, from buying ingredients to bottling the final product. A step-by-step guide is available afterward, so taking exhaustive notes and trying to remember everything isn’t necessary. Mostly, the course is designed to show attendees the effort involved, offer important tips (sanitation!), and start a conversation between the customer and Young, whose knowledge and experience proves invaluable to newcomers who pick up the hobby.

Young says he can help customers find recipes for almost any beer out there, or if a recipe doesn’t already exist, he can reverse engineer the hops and yeast formula himself. Not that the majority of recipe requests are for novelty or rare beers.

“Some people just want to make Budweiser. Some make only IPAs,” he says. “Earlier on, I really encouraged creativity, but what I learned was that people want to make whatever they want to make.”

Summer is an ideal time for homebrewers, Young says, because their air conditioners are typically on, which means the temperature indoors is more likely to be the same throughout the day and night. Degree consistency is another important component of homebrewing.

Patience is also required, but what makes it worthwhile is the payoff — beer!

Intro-to-Brewing Class

Every Wednesday (indefinitely)

My Old Kentucky Homebrew

361 Baxter Ave.


Free; 7 p.m.


Sail the mighty Ohio

Imagine a sailing enthusiast. Chances are, you are picturing a stuffy man in a collared shirt, hanging out in a palatial mansion, sipping cocktails.

Well, stop that.

“I ain’t no elitist,” says Roger Kennedy, president of the River Cities Community Sailing Program. “People probably think of sailing as elitist, but it’s really down to earth.”

For more than 16 years, RCCSP has been trying to get people to understand this. Every second Saturday in June, they host a free sailing clinic to introduce people to the underappreciated sport. The clinic, held in partnership with Metro Parks, teaches adults and children (separately) the fundamentals of sailing, and then gives them firsthand experience on the water.

Kennedy adds there’s more sailing on the Ohio River than most realize. Louisville boasts three sailing clubs: RCCSP, a nonprofit focused on teaching; Derby City Sailing Club, which focuses on 22- to 32-foot boats and will provide the vessels used during the clinic; and Louisville Sailing Club, which focuses on 13- and 14-footers. The latter two groups host weekly sailboat races, which you might be inclined to watch once you’ve learned to appreciate the motor-less watercraft.

“Sailing takes skill and requires paying attention, but it’s very relaxing,” Kennedy says. “When it’s just you and the water, it feels like you’re going a million miles an hour.”

Learn-to-Sail Clinic

Saturday, June 8

Cox Park

3730 River Road


Free; 1-4 p.m. (adults),

1-3 p.m. or 3-5 p.m. (ages 9-18)


Become a DIY queen

Thank the Great Recession and the popular website Pinterest for sparking a resurgence of people interested in do-it-yourself projects. Bekah Stewart remembers when making your own clothes made someone super nerdy.

“Now it’s super cool,” the second-generation professional seamstress says. “People keep asking me to teach a course.”

So she is. Stewart has teamed up with Jaclyn Journey and Whitney Neal of Dixie Design Collective in Butchertown to host a series of three workshops.

The first, taught by Journey, will focus on floral design, including how to compose arrangements and keep flowers alive without using store-bought plant food. It’s knowledge that fits right in with wedding season, when every bride-to-be wants to be an expert on peonies and centerpieces.

The second workshop, taught by Stewart, will focus on the basics of sewing without using patterns. “It’s all about showing people what’s possible,” she explains. “It’s about buying less, making more. I’m all about mending your things.” Attendees will make their own tote bags, and leave with the skills needed to make other basics. This will either help them save money around the house, or result in the opening of another Etsy store full of products with birds on them.

Neal, a professional photographer, will teach the last workshop in the series, which focuses on film photography. Yes, film. The hands-on lesson will focus on techniques for natural-light shooting of still lifes and portraits. Film and development will be provided, but attendees will have to bring their own film camera. (Email whitney@whitneynealphoto.com for info on how to rent a camera.) All supplies will be provided for the first two workshops.

This trio of two practical and one maybe not-so-practical workshops is available as a package for one reduced price, or individually.

Summer Workshops

June 13, July 14, and Aug. 11

Dixie Design Collective

The Pointe • 1205 E. Washington St.


$300 for all three ($95-$175 per lesson); times for each lesson vary


Appreciate a pig

Unless you are delusional (or a ditzy celebrity with her own reality television show), you understand a thing or two about your meals. You know that the pulled pork sandwich you ate for lunch was once a pig, and that the animal was once alive but isn’t anymore.

Most people don’t know much about their meat beyond that, but as the local food movement gains momentum, people are beginning to care more about what conditions the animal lived in, how far that meat traveled to get to a plate, and how much of the body was utilized.

Idea Festival, Louisville Farm to Table, and Winston Industries have created a half-day course called “Snout to Tail,” which will instruct attendees on how to utilize as much of a pig as possible. The class will include tastings and hands-on demonstrations from industry professionals, including Rye chef and owner Tyler Morris.

Though the class might have the most impact for chefs and other food industry professionals, elite foodies with experience using whole animals are welcome. The emphases will be great cuisine, cost savings, respect for the animal, and support for local farmers.

Morris has years of experience using whole pigs in restaurants in New York City, and he’s taught butchery and charcuterie classes at Rye. Still, he says a recent workshop on local farms gave him new perspective.

“It’s different when you know where (the animal) came from,” he says. “To have that real relationship is a new experience. I have an emotional connection to the food.”

He hopes this pig course will spread that appreciation and start a conversation among his fellow chefs on how they can use more local products in their kitchens, despite the challenges, like cost and customer interest.

“We need to start that communication,” Morris says.

Snout to Tail: The Whole Pig

Wednesday, June 19

Winston Idea Innovation Center

2345 Carton Drive


$65; 11 a.m.-5:30 p.m.