Foundation Course @ The Beer Academy

My aim over the next year (2017) is to massively increase my beer knowledge. The reason for this is primarily to enhance my beer drinking experience and to be able to move into the beer industry, probably by opening a micropub. To that end I decided to become a beer sommelier, and as it was nearing Christmas I thought it was the perfect time to ask for an early present…so here I am, watching Love Actually, recovering from a day in my favourite part of London (Shad Thames) learning about beer on the Foundation Course @ The Beer Academy.

The course started relatively promptly at 9.30 and took us through to about 16, although the assessment (City & Guilds at NVQ Level 1) at the end could have taken you through to 16.30ish…but beer was waiting @ Dean Swift. It was a full house, with 18 of us in all, of which most were in the industry but a few of us were just avid beer drinkers or home brewers. At £156 the cost is about what I’d expect to pay for a full days training with lunch (Pret A Manger sandwich trays, crisps & fruit).

The course itself was pretty comprehensive, covering:

  • What is beer?
  • Beer flavours & their sources
  • Beer family & style
  • How to taste beer
  • Beer timeline (potted history)
  • Food’s perfect partner
  • The brewing process
  • Beer & lifestyle
  • Assessment

It is absolutely great for someone who has no prior knowledge of beer, and even those that do. I went in knowing the brewing process and ingredients pretty well, but I still came out learning a few things I hadn’t know in those areas.

I feel that coming out of the course I have a really good grounding in what beer styles there are, what flavours to expect from each, which ingredients are delivery those flavours (ie hops, grains or yeast), and how to taste a beer properly. Overall it was comprehensive and the tutor was very knowledgeable & passionate about beer. He also added in some good anecdotes which were of relevance to the course, and beer in general. However I would have preferred some further help identifying different aromas and flavours, for a first time taster it wasn’t particularly easy but I think with experience that will become easier.

The assessment at the end was a multiple choice affair, and as long as you paid a bit of attention during the day then it’s nothing to worry about. It took me about 5-10 minutes to get through.

After the course a few of us went on to the Dean Swift just around the corner, an absolutely lovely little pub offering some excellent beer including 8 or so kegs and 4 casks. I had a 1/2 of Beavertown Neck Oil and Lupuloid, which I found surprisingly similar considering the differing hops and abv; loads of citrus and grapefruit with a medium bitterness. Both in lovely condition, but maybe a little cold for my liking.

At the end of the day I came out of the day feeling even more positive that this is the industry I want to be involved in, even if just from the sidelines. So I’m happy and would definitely recommend this course if you want to further your beer education.

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