On Oct. 30, the Alumni Office held “The Tasting,” one of the last events of this year’s Homecoming Weekend.
The paid event included food and beverage samples from Trailway Brewing Company, Red Rover Craft Cider, Maybee Brew Company, Motts Landing Vineyard and Winery, and Sunset Heights Meadery.
When I reached the venue, I was asked to grab a glass, write my name on it and begin tasting! The atmosphere was very inviting; soft background music put focus on the companies ready and eager to start offering samples. Soon, the room was filled with alumni from different faculties, current UNB students and staff.
This year’s Tasting was organized by Natasha Rego, the Alumni Office’s alumni advancement coordinator. This year, they set a goal to host a more diversified group of attendees. To Rego, the event’s highlight was getting to meet and connect with them.
Through the night, I learned that most beverage companies at the event have been recurring homecoming attendees for about four years. Motts Landing was represented by a science alumna, Meghann Bruce, who offered four sample options with distinct features: dry sparkling, off dry, dry and dry white wine. During the event, Bruce was able to share information about the wine made from her parents’ vineyard while also taking some time to reconnect with friends.
First-timer Maybee Brewing Company were offering the Tailwind Session IPA made with Vermont Yeast and the Workhorse IPA. Paul Maybee, the owner, is passionate about beer making and has been a home-brewer for about 12 years. Being a fairly new production company, Maybee seized the opportunity to partner with UNB and build good customer relationships.
I was very excited to sample mead for the first time, which was being offered by the Sunset Heights Meadery. I was delighted by the taste of the Cran Tiki, which was cranberry pineapple-based. I normally prefer a lighter, more fruity taste; so this was a perfect choice for me.
John Way, representing the Meadery, attends the event annually and shared that the company puts forward six expressions—including india pale, chaga tea, and pumpkin pie with marshmallow, among others—in an effort to cater to individual palates. Way was very appreciative that the Alumni Office does not expect the companies to bring the products for free.
The innovative catering setup and the delicious food that was provided at the event were very impressive. Leanne English, the executive chef of Sodexo, enjoyed designing the buffet-style “food truck” stations to meet with the “street food” idea requested by Rego.
The “La Poutinerie” station served basic poutine with various toppings—including options like butter chicken, pulled pork and deep fried Kit Kat. I loved the deep fried mac and cheese with chicken from “The Mac Shack!” Cindy McCoy, Sodexo’s catering director, really enjoyed seeing the excitement about the food and was readily available to describe the dishes. Combined with the other stations, “Leanne’s Meltdown,” “Epic Tacos” and “Churro Mania” sections provided for all palates across the room—and the menu was well-crafted for vegans, too.
As I proceeded with “The Tasting,” I could see that the goal of getting more recent graduates and young alumni involved had been met. The ballroom was exuding a very positive ambiance and I was able to chat with some of our successful and engaging alumni, who were bonding over the food and beverages.
Wade Flowers, a graduate from Education, Business (Class of 1993) and Computer Science (Class of 1999) was attending Homecoming after ten years and was impressed by the event’s turnout. His favourite options of the evening were The Trailway Dunder Pale Ale and “The Mac Shack.” Like all in attendance—myself included—he believes that events like this help to maintain the positive school spirit that universities thrive on.
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