The world’s largest provider of drinks education is adding beer qualifications to its wine, spirit and sake portfolio with WSET (Wine & Spirit Education Trust) launching the new program in February next year.
Marking the 50-plus year old organisation’s first new subject stream since sake education was added in 2014, WSET said in a media statement that the two new beer qualifications – Level 1 Award in Beer and Level 2 Award in Beer – will “set the global standard for tasting and education in the beer category”.
Jayne Lewis, who is currently mentoring in the brewing industry via her company Full Colour Life, will bring a familiar face to WSET’s beer presence Down Under with the Two Birds Brewing co-founder telling Beer & Brewer her new role as WSET’s business development manager in the Asia-Pacific region “is to identify where the course can bring value and get organisations on board to help develop their staff”.
Alongside the UK, the US and Canada, Australia will be one of the first markets to receive the beer courses in-person while learning will be online based initially for other countries globally.
The six-hour Level 1 course is described as “the beginner level beer qualification” and is “ideal for anyone at the very start of their beer journey”, providing introductions to the likes of beer ingredients, styles, production, service, food pairing and tasting.
The 28-hour Level 2 course, which includes 16 hours of guided learning, 11 hours of private study and a one-hour exam, is an intermediate level qualification “for anyone eager to expand their knowledge of beer”. Amongst other things, it will go far more in-depth and expand on all the topics covered in Level 1.
Jayne (pictured below in the right side image) said: “Level 1 (is) a beginner level introduction, while Level 2… goes into more depth on production methods, with a strong focus on the impact of raw materials and production on beer styles.
“Whether in-person or online, both qualifications are interactive and allow students to get a greater understanding of the world of beer and try a range of different styles, that they may not have previously encountered.
“One of the real strengths of the course is WSET’s Systematic Approach to Tasting, which provides a common lexicon and can help to build confidence to discuss all of the amazing characteristics of beer.”
The courses have been created by WSET’s product development team led by Sara Hobday and supported by Mirella Amato (one of 22 people globally to have achieved Master Cicerone® status) and Institute of Brewing & Distilling’s technical development manager Stuart Howe. (Sara and Mirella are pictured together in that order in the image above on the left.)
WSET’s CEO Michelle Brampton said: “Extending our qualifications to encompass beer is an exciting time for WSET and a natural fit for us as leaders in global drinks education. Bringing over 50 years of educational experience to the beer category, our new Level 1 and 2 Awards in Beer will bring a unique and interactive approach to tasting and learning. We hope people will be inspired to pursue their passion for beer whether for career or personal development using our courses to build their knowledge”.
Jayne added: “I see the qualifications being a great addition for people in the customer service and sales functions of hospitality, retailing, wholesaling and production industries. WSET has a strong reputation in the wine and spirits industries and I am excited with what we can bring to the beer space”.
WSET’s media statement in full:
WSET (Wine & Spirit Education Trust), the world’s largest provider of drinks education, is to launch two new beer qualifications, Level 1 Award in Beer and Level 2 Award in Beer, from February 2024.
The new beer qualifications will set the global standard for tasting and education in the beer category. They’ve been created by WSET’s Product Development team, led by Sara Hobday, Head of Product Development – Beer Qualifications. The team has been supported by Mirella Amato, Senior Business Development Manager – Beer, WSET Americas – world-renowned beer educator and consultant, and one of only 22 Master Cicerones® – as well as Stuart Howe, Technical Development Manager, Institute of Brewing & Distilling.
Entering into beer is a natural progression for WSET – the principles that have established the organisation as the leading global provider of drinks education transfer easily into the category. Beer will be WSET’s fourth qualification area following wine, spirits and sake and the first new subject stream since 2014 when sake was introduced.
WSET Level 1 and 2 Awards in Beer will provide both trade professionals and beer enthusiasts with the product knowledge and tasting skills to become more beer confident. Initially launching online and in-person in select markets, including the UK, United States, Canada and Australia, the courses will explore the main types and styles of beer, key methods of production, tasting technique and food pairings. Using WSET’s trademarked Systematic Approach to Tasting, students will be equipped with a universal language to describe what they’re tasting and a framework for assessing quality.
Michelle Brampton, WSET CEO, said: “Extending our qualifications to encompass beer is an exciting time for WSET and a natural fit for us as leaders in global drinks education. Bringing over 50 years of educational experience to the beer category, our new Level 1 and 2 Awards in Beer will bring a unique and interactive approach to tasting and learning. We hope people will be inspired to pursue their passion for beer whether for career or personal development using our courses to build their knowledge”.
The announcement comes as WSET reveals that for the previous academic year (2022-23) its non-wine (spirits and sake) candidates have grown at the fastest rate, increasing by 27%, while the number of wine candidates is up by 21%. Wine remains the strongest performing qualification for WSET with candidates making up 88% of its student base in the last academic year.
Overall, in academic year 2022-23, 143,000 candidates enrolled for a qualification, up 22% from the previous year. With courses offered by over 700 course providers in 78 countries, the largest markets for WSET are:
- The USA with 27,000 candidates, up 17% vs previous year
- The UK with 24,000 candidates, up 19% vs previous year
- China with 13,000 candidates (not operational in previous year)
Sara Hobday, Head of Product Development – Beer Qualifications, said: “Developing the materials for our beer qualifications and piloting them with WSET’s Natalya Watson, Malcolm Venter and others has been a real highlight. Helping students to develop their beer knowledge, skills and confidence, with a focus on teaching through to tasting, has been at the centre of every step in the product development process. This applies to both our online and in-person courses which will soon be accessible to students through WSET’s global network of course providers”.
Jayne Lewis, Business Development Manager – APAC, WSET Asia Pacific, said: “With a strong focus on tasting a wide range of beer styles, I’m excited to be able to deliver our new courses in-person in an interactive format. It’ll be highly rewarding to see people’s eyes open to a world of beer that they may not have experienced before”.
Sarah Andrew, Business Development Manager – ANZ, WSET Asia Pacific, said: “Being involved in a new award launch for WSET has been an incredible experience. Production and enjoyment of beer as a beverage is high in Australia and New Zealand, and consumers and trade alike will be curious to learn more. With such a dynamic beer specialist as Jayne Lewis in our Asia Pacific team, I can’t wait for the new qualifications to launch early in 2024”.
New beer qualifications:
WSET Level 1 Award in Beer
This beginner-level beer qualification is ideal for anyone at the very start of their beer journey. Packed with activities and tastings, this course will provide essential foundations in:
- beer ingredients and production
- the principles of storage, service and food pairing
- the characteristics of 20 key beer styles – from lagers to lambics
- how to taste and describe beer using WSET’s Systematic Approach to Tasting
Students will have the opportunity to sample an array of different beer styles including malt-driven, hop-driven, yeast-driven and sour styles.
Study hours and exam
Students will take part in six hours of guided learning which includes a 30-question multiple choice exam. No private study is required.
This short course will help those working in beer to answer customer queries with confidence and provide helpful recommendations. If you’re learning for fun, you’ll leave knowing how to get the most out of every glass and feeling inspired to explore beer further.
WSET Level 2 Award in Beer
This intermediate level beer qualification is for anyone eager to expand their knowledge of beer, whether a beginner or someone who already has some beer knowledge. It’s a longer and more in-depth course than Level 1 and allows students to cover the essentials in greater detail, including:
- the main ingredients used in beer production and how they’re processed
- how production influences the way beer looks, tastes and smells
- the key principles and processes involved in beer storage, service and food pairing
- the characteristics of over 60 beer styles, including speciality beers, and how they are produced and labelled
- how to taste, describe and assess beer, using our Systematic Approach to Tasting
Students will have the opportunity to sample an array of different beer styles including malt-driven, hop-driven, yeast-driven, sour styles and up to two off-flavours.
Study hours and exam
Students will be required to study for a minimum of 28 hours. This includes 16 hours of guided learning with a course provider, 11 hours of private study and a one-hour exam.
This qualification will enable beer and hospitality professionals to provide valuable guidance on beer selection and service to your colleagues and customers. If you’re a beer enthusiast, you’ll leave knowing exactly what to look for when selecting beers for any occasion.
To learn more about WSET’s qualifications or to find a local course provider, visit wsetglobal.com.