What is a Beer Sommelier?

This is not a beer sommelier

You won’t catch me wearing white gloves

Most of us are familiar with the idea of a wine sommelier – someone with a recognised expertise who can help choose a wine to fit with a particular occasion or food pairing. But what about a beer sommelier?

Although the term sommelier has long been associated with wine, it would have been normal in the past for sommeliers to also know something about beer. This was possible simply because there was not a vast amount to know on the subject.

There’s more good beer to drink now than ever before

Since then the world has seen huge growth in the number and variety of good quality beers available. Did you know, for instance, that there are over 150 different styles of beer? That’s just the different types of beer, but of course for each one there will be many individual examples of beers belonging to that style.

These days specialised beer knowledge is needed to meet the public’s increasing interest in drinking beer to accompany a fine meal instead of wine.

The amount of knowledge needed to become a beer sommelier goes above and beyond your average appreciation of beer. Considering that the beer world is every bit as complex and varied as wine, there’s a lot to learn.

Beer sommeliers have in-depth specialised knowledge

Beer is a fragile product. Mishandling it in certain ways can ruin it instantly. People in the beer business — from the brewery all the way to the waiter or waitress — need to understand the complexity of beer.

Beer sommelier training covers all aspects of beer. Naturally this includes a detailed knowledge of beer styles, tasting techniques, and food pairings. But a beer sommelier must also know about beer’s ingredients and the brewing process, proper storage and serving, appropriate types of glassware, and the history of beer. It may even include an understanding of draught and tap systems, and cellaring casks and kegs.

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Beer sommeliers are accredited by an industry body

Beer sommelier training in the UK is carried out by the Beer and Cider Academy, which is part of the Institute of Brewing & Distilling (IBD).

The IBD is the world’s leading professional body for people working in brewing and distilling. As an international professional and educational body the IBD promotes “The advancement of the education and professional development in the science and technology of brewing, distilling, and related industries.”

Their beer sommelier accreditation programme began in 2011. To be accredited you must first complete and pass three taught courses: the Foundation Course, the Advanced Course, and the How to Judge Beer Course.

After that you must compile a portfolio of evidence to demonstrate how you know what you know.

The final stage in the beer sommelier accreditation process is a 90-minute oral exam during which you will be thoroughly tested on your beer tasting abilities, beer knowledge, and beer and food pairing expertise.

You can learn more about beer sommelier training at www.beerandcideracademy.org/beer-courses.

Beer sommelier education involves drinking beer and taking notes - among other things

A beer sommelier’s homework

What can a beer sommelier do for me?

Beer sommeliers love beer, and we want you to love it too.

We spend a lot of our days sharing our knowledge and our enthusiasm for beer. We believe beer should be taken seriously, and enjoyed responsibly, not thoughtlessly guzzled merely in order to get drunk.

A large part of being a beer sommelier is promoting beer as a drink to be paired with good food, because we know that the right match can lift both drink and dish to become greater than the sum of their parts.

I put these ideas into practice by offering services to my clients that highlight beer and its ingredients, and demonstrate why it is such a delicious and versatile drink.

Tastings and events

A beer tasting is a great way to learn more about beer, and to entertain a group of friends, colleagues, or clients. I can host tastings and events for businesses, groups, or individuals looking to celebrate a special occasion. Why not indulge in a memorable exploration of beers many flavours and styles?

Training and workshops

If you sell or serve beer you will need to describe its taste to your customers. They look to you for advice, recommendations, and increasingly for food pairing suggestions as well. If you or your staff aren’t confident in providing this, I can help. I run workshops to bolster your beery skills at every level.

Beer and food pairing

Perhaps food is the main focus of your business, but you want to sell beer alongside it. I can help you build a beer list to match your menu that will reflect the personality of your business. I can help you showcase classic or craft beers that will have your customers coming back for more.

Beer advice and consulting

Perhaps you know your beer but would still like a helping hand. If you’re a brewer in need of tasting notes and food pairings to help market your beer, I can help. Or perhaps you want to consult on a beer recipe you’re creating. Let me put my expertise to use for your brewery.

Beer writing and editing

If you have a story to tell or a message to share, but you’d rather spend your time making or selling beer than writing about it, I can help. I have a deep knowledge and passion for beer, and a long history of working with the written word. I can write articles and blog posts for you, or edit pieces you’ve written yourself to make sure they shine.

Perhaps one of these people is a beer sommelier

Get in touch to find out more

You’ve read this far, why not take the next step and get in touch? Let’s start a conversation about what I can do for you as a beer sommelier. If you’ve seen something above that piques your curiosity, or if you have another idea you want to discuss, I will be more than happy to help make it happen.

Contact me today for your free initial consultation!