Rough Draught

Summer school for drinkers

As summer approaches and all the good TV shows end their seasons, you're likely to realize something about yourself: You're really boring. If you don't have something to do to while away your lazy days – other than maintaining 500 games of Words With Friends – you're going to need to pick up a new hobby. Or, you can just perfect an old one. Today in Rough Draught, we'll help you learn to become a better alcoholic!
The first step is to learn more about your poison. The knowledge won't keep you from getting sloppy drunk, but it will give you more interesting things to say once you get there (well, in your mind anyway). One good place to start is World of Beer's Beer School (3402 Technological Ave., #202, on Saturday, June 16 at 4 p.m. The $20 entry fee will get you a crash course in 10 beer styles as well as samples of 12 different beers, and they'll throw in some snooty cheese pairings to help you become a beer connoisseur (and a huge pain in the ass to your Bud-drinking friends).

Like a good drunk ninja, you should know how to handle any drinking situation that presents itself, so an appreciation of different kinds of booze is in order. Mexican restaurant Paxia Alta Cocina Mexicana (2611 Edgewater Drive, happens to boast one of the largest tequila bars in town, with more than 200 different tequilas that'll help you dredge up all of your bad spring break memories (or help you create new shameover memories that'll last a lifetime). Every Wednesday, all day, Paxia holds a tequila tasting, during which you can sample the wares for $5 and get you a straight-up lesson in appreciating the blue-agave devil.

On June 21, the head brewers from Swamp Head Brewing (Gainesville) and Saint Some-where Brewery (Tarpon Springs) will be at Oblivion Taproom (5101 E. Colonial Drive, at 4 p.m. Beer from both breweries will be on tap, and you should bring your notebook – you won't remember fuck-all about the beer after a couple of pints of 10 percent Swamp Head 10-10-10 IPA. Oh, and swamp-food specials will be provided by Oblivion's kitchen – the same kitchen that brings you buffalo-sauced pork cracklins. Yummy.

Maybe you don't need any additional information on how to appreciate alcohol – you know how to drink the stuff, and you can tell your American whiskey from your Canadian whisky from your Scotch. Then it's high time for you to take the next step and learn how the stuff is made.

Talking to the pros is one thing, but making booze in your own home – that's how you prove to your mom that you're at least a productive alcoholic. Since home distilling is illegal in this country because of buzz-killing legislators, your options are limited – you can make your own beer or wine. If you don't even know where to begin, the folks at Magnolia Square Market's Fermented Brew Shop (117 Magnolia Ave., Sanford) have a monthly homebrew class led by "fermented scientist" Gary Holmes and local brewer Aaron Libera. The cost is $50, and they provide all the materials, ingredients and instruction needed to get you started in the homebrewing game. The next class is July 9, followed by a bottling session on July 30.

The guys at Magnolia Square don't do wine (yet), but you can dip your toes into the basics of grape alchemy at Lakeridge Winery's (19239 U.S. 27 N., Clermont) 22nd Annual Harvest Festival, June 22-24. You may not get a lot of detail about the winemaking process, but you can get a lot drunk on the wine tasting, then go stomp on some grapes with your bare feet before a hooting crowd. You may not learn much, but you'll have a good drinking story to tell (and the purple feet to prove it).

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