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Leading beer trends for 2008: No. 4a*

Beer CollegeWere I inclined to make predictions (not likely) about the Top 10 Beer Trends of 2008 then one would somehow have to include the words “education” and “certification.”

For education, I’d start with Jan. 31 and Feb. 1 in Chicago for the Siebel Institute of Technology’s course on Professional Beer Tasting & Styles. More about that in a moment, because the syllabus gets a little long.

Certification I: Ray Daniels posts that the online exam for the first level of Cicerone certification should available soon.

Certification II: The Master Brewers Association of America quarterly newsletter reports the board of governors “approved a new MBAA-sponsored education program targeted at individuals
in the wholesale and retail beer trades.”

The program’s goal is to improve the image of beer and broaden its appeal by better maintaining its freshness throughout the distribution chain and by increasing the knowledge of beer styles and proper serving techniques for those who distribute and serve beer. The Publication Committee is charged with producing a new reference book that will provide the relevant and necessary information to educate applicants to be certified under the program. Individuals applying for certification must demonstrate a comprehensive knowledge of beer by passing a rigorous exam based on the contents of the reference book.

Back to the course at Siebel, Randy Mosher (author of “Radical Brewing” and the upcoming “BeerSense: Understanding the Pleasures of the World’s Best Drink”) put it together. The presentations include:

Section 1 – Introduction
* What is Beer?
* Beer in Context: Lifestyle & Diet, Culture, Seasons
* A Little Beer History: Beginnings, Medieval to Modern, The American Beer Story, Craft Beer Revolution

Section 2 – Sensory
* Techniques for Sensory Evaluation:Practical Tips for Evaluating Beer, Sources of Flavor & Aroma
* The Taste of Beer: Beer Aroma & the Flavor Wheel
* The Formal Tasting: Types of Tastings, Competitive Judging, Evaluation Forms
* Informal Tastings: Settings & Methods, Tasting Glasses

Section 3 – Beer by the Numbers
* Gravity / Strength of “wort”, Alcohol, Color, Bitterness,
* A Question of Balance

Section 4 – Common Defects of Beer
* Including tasting of beers spiked with off-flavors: Raw materials, Brewhouse, Fermentation/maturation: Yeast, Packaging,
* Mishandling, Beer Infection: Age, draft system problems, Light

Section 5 – The Process of Brewing (and why you should care)
* Beer Ingredient Analysis: Malt, Other Grains & Fermentables, Hops, Water, Yeast, Other ingredients
* The Brewing Process: Malting, Mashing, Boiling, Chilling, Fermenting, Maturation, Filtration, Storage/Shipping

Section 6 – What Is a style?
* An introduction to the definitions of beer styles, followed by more detailed presentations of the major beer styles. The styles presentations feature a combination of lectures, PowerPoint slides and numerous tastings, giving a thorough overview of the character of the majority of beer styles including:

Section 7 – Ales of the United Kingdom
Section 8 – Lager
Section 9 – European Ales
Section 10 – Belgium & France
Section 11 – New American Classics

Section 12 – Serving & Storing Beer

Section 13 – Beer & Food
* Pairing Approaches: Classic Combinations, Some Surprising Pairs, Beer & Cheese, Beer with Desserts
* Beer Cuisine, Beer & Food Tastings & Dinners

9 Responses to Leading beer trends for 2008: No. 4a*

  1. Stonch December 19, 2007 at 8:24 am #

    I dislike these certifications.

  2. Bob Skilnik December 19, 2007 at 8:36 am #

    Stonch, I’m with you. Try finding a job as a “beer guy” or beer sommelier at a restaurant. Sure, you’ll hear the isolated story, usually out of New York, of somebody who has the coveted position, but I’m sure there’s more behind the story than what the newspaper reporter is cramming into a column. Heck, I’ve eaten at some great 4-star restaurants in my life in the U.S and Europe and I’ve probably met 3 wine sommeliers, total.

    Think someone will pay you living wages while you explain what beer goes best with your cheese nachos?

  3. SteveH December 19, 2007 at 10:09 am #

    I don’t know, bith Randy and Ray have been around this little craft beer revolution for a long time (as you well know, Bob). Do you suppose this is a next step in giving beer a better limelight? Or is it just a money-making scheme from the Chicago boys? 😉

  4. Bob Skilnik December 19, 2007 at 5:35 pm #

    I don’t know SteveH; what do you think? I’ve been around a long time myself, and I’ve watched the whole craft idea bastardized. Do they have positions lined up for “graduates” or does this just make you a BMOC (Big Man On Craft) with fellow geeks?

    How will this give beer a better limelight? As I said; show me a restaurant (hey, how about in Chicago?) that will pay $35-$40K for some beer sommelier?

    I remember years ago when homebrewers and craft beer drinkers were supposed to be different. We weren’t like those wine snobs. We made homebrews anyway we wanted. Now there are competitions that force contestants to follow artificial guidelines; the GABF has so many categories and sub-categories of beer styles that you have to laugh (C’mon, really…what the hell is a AMBER HYBRID BEER?)

    The whole things gotten out of hand. You can’t even enjoy a beer with a hot dog anymore. Now it has to be a Belgian farm ale with a sausage smoked with dried edelweiss leaves from the foothills of the Alps and garnished with young hop shoots.

  5. Matt December 19, 2007 at 8:59 pm #

    Bob, you can grab an old style and a polish over at Wrigley, but me, I like your sausage and farmhouse ale pairing. Delish!
    If beer here in America should continue to be veiwed in all it’s “blue collared glory”, then there is no room for GABF, Cicerone’s and the like. But I’d like to think we can and should change the image of the beer we drink/make. Even if it is difficult/hard work/tedious or sometimes silly to some.

  6. danno December 19, 2007 at 9:43 pm #

    considering that megaswill probably employs the most people in the target industry (“individuals in the wholesale and retail beer trades”), how will Bud, Miller, et al deal with this? “Flavor Wheel?!? aroma??? what are these things you speak of???”

    I’m all for certifications, although like anything else, test taking skills do not neccesarily mean that you will be any good at actually evaluating anything. I’m a BJCP judge, and there are beginner judges that have better tasting skills than some of the high ranking judges I’ve come across…

    I believe that more emphasis should be given to the historical reasons beer evolved the way it did (different cities brewed different beer because of their water, in case someone reading this doesn’t know what I’m talking about…) that way, people would know that an Alt, which is an amber hybrid, is that way because the water of Dusseldorf is more carbonic than that of Pilzn, and less than that of Munich. which means that they didn’t need to use as much roasted malt to balance the pH and get a more efficient mash. and, the color ended up in the amber range…

  7. Boak December 20, 2007 at 1:11 am #

    Presumably the target market for the course about beer is people working in bars etc. I’m all for better promotion and education about beer amonst the people who should know about it – but I’m interested in how this will get to the target audience. Let me put it this way; if you own a restaurant or even a bar and don’t know a lot about beer, you presumably don’t rate beer as a culinary experience. Therefore, what is going to get you on this course?

    But then, perhaps this is a sign of how far things have come in the US (I know nothing about it, obviously!) – do more people, not just beer geeks, feel they need to know something about beer? Is the fact that there is a perceived market for this course a symbol of the revolution?

    I don’t really know much about how bars etc work in the US, having never been there, but the lack of basic knowledge in the UK startles me. A chap running a beer stall at a Christmas market didn’t know what bottle-conditioned meant, and it’s obvious that loads of pubs don’t know how to keep casks.

  8. Stan Hieronymus December 20, 2007 at 5:28 am #

    Is the fact that there is a perceived market for this course a symbol of the revolution?

    I would say yes.

    Part of this is driven from within the industry, certainly the MBAA program. It appears to be something of a work in progress, but a key phrase is “proper serving techniques for those who distribute and serve beer.”

    Also, the Brewers Association will release a “comprehensive manual addressing draft beer dispensing and serving” in the first quarter of 2008.

  9. SteveH December 20, 2007 at 6:27 am #

    You can’t even enjoy a beer with a hot dog anymore. Now it has to be a Belgian farm ale with a sausage smoked with dried edelweiss leaves from the foothills of the Alps and garnished with young hop shoots.

    Personally, I think the beauty lies in that there can be room for both (if we all allow it to happen).

    As for the GABF contests, no one says home-brewers need to enter, right? And it’s you (we) H-Bers making beer “any way you want” that spawned such categories as Amber Hybrid — and that’s not to suggest either is a wrong step to follow.

    Getting back to professional Cicerones, I’d say we’re at the dawn of that age right now. To a point, what’s the history of the Sommelier and how long did it take the title to be accepted? Does it mean we’re becoming snobs, or just starting to make the respect for the drink more apparant? That’s the question.

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