Learning About Beer – Grab a brew, relax and enjoy going down the history of ales

WORDS: Krista Hall, Certified Cicerone PHOTOGRAPHY AdobeStock

Ten years ago, I was very much entrenched in the wine industry.  Studying to be a sommelier, working at a winery, trying to find a role in the wine world, curating wine lists for venues and networking with many different wine regions around Australia, I couldn’t get enough.

In the midst of my search, I was approached by a beer company (I will leave the company name anonymous) to come on board and drive their sales here on the Gold Coast.

I declined the position at first because wine was my passion, I knew nothing about beer.  But with some persuading, they talked me into the role and over to the dark side I went, or so I thought.

I remember thinking, beer is another alcoholic beverage and I could learn from the industry, give it a couple of years and move back into wine. Ten years later, I’m still in beer!

Why am I telling you this you may be asking.  Well, I fell in love with beer the more I dove into the history, the styles, the people, the businesses, the comradery among peers across the country all with one goal, to make a good beer that people enjoy.

Beer has always been the peasant’s drink, a more humble alcoholic beverage that has been consumed for centuries.

We drink it in Australia as a knock-off after a long day, at a Barbie with your mates, to cheers another year around the sun, for getting to Friday, the footy finals, because it’s Monday, and the list goes on.

The interesting thing about it all is wine still has such a wrap about being pretentious and people take it so seriously.  But I’m here to tell you that beer knowledge is on the rise and more and more people are learning about it, researching it, brewing it and studying it.

And I’m so stoked about it!  If you are curious to dive into the bubbly world of ales, there are a few different ways to learn more about beer.

Cicerone Program is one of the first ‘beer trainings’ available that I know of launched in 2008 by author and beer educator Ray Daniels.

This program starts with a ‘Beer Server’ award which is your entry program directed to people in the industry ‘serving beer.’  However, the first level is very interesting for anyone curious around what beer is and dipping your toe into the industry.

This course is all done online with an online exam that then spits out the qualification.  Some breweries run all their staff through the program as it focuses on beer quality, service and storage of brews.

Another option is WSET.  WSET is a globally renowned business (Wine Spirits Education Trust) that has trained Sommeliers for wine and spirits around the world and has just launched their very first, award in beer.

This is available to anyone who is curious about beer and wants to start their journey.  Or perhaps someone in the hospitality space who is curious around what they are serving customers.

So far there are Levels 1 and levels 2 available and will be rolled around the country soon for anyone who wants to sign up.  I suggest jumping on their website and watching out for a course date near you.

Those are the two best courses I recommend to anyone asking how to learn more in a more formal way.

But if you aren’t quite ready to spend the money to dive into the knowledge or want a certificate at the end, there are a few books I recommend purchasing.

Grab a beer and unravel the history that each bubble holds.

Tasting Beer by Randy Mosher is a bible in my library.  It’s a one-stop shop book that goes into a lot of what the Cicerone program teaches you.

When I wrote my Certified Cicerone exam, there was no syllabus, so I read this book back to front a few times.

It’s great to have on the shelf for learning about beer, looking up different styles as well as recommendations of beer pairing with food.  Great for a dinner party idea.

The Oxford Companion to Beer is one of those books that sits on the shelf but always comes in handy when you want to dive deeper into a question or curiosity around a beer topic.

It isn’t a ‘read back to front and never want to put it down,’ read, but it is super informative and well-written to help you dive deeper.

There are plenty more to choose from and online readings as well.  Once you start diving in, you get stuck in the rabbit hole and will go deeper and deeper.

There are plenty of beer clubs, homebrews pages alike that you can join too and beer nerd out together.  Grab a brew, relax and enjoy going down the history of ales.