Anyone working in the Australian beer industry will have a new study option from next year with global training organisation Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) announcing an expansion into beer.
WSET was founded in 1969 and is the largest global provider of wine, spirit and sake education; their new beer qualifications will run across two levels and are set to kick off in February 2024.
The initial rollout includes both online and in-person classes in various countries, with the latter available in multiple locations in Australia. Helping lead the new course locally is a familiar face: Two Birds co-founder Jayne Lewis.
Jayne told The Crafty Pint she’s been in conversation with WSET since around the time she finished at Two Birds. She will carry out her role as WSET business development manager in Asia-Pacific alongside her coaching business, Full Colour Life.
“I love education and I always have, so it felt like a good space for me to sit,” Jayne says. “It means I could share this passion and love that I have for beer in a different way.”
She says much of the appeal is WSET’s focus on educating those in the industry who are closely connected with beer drinkers, such as bottleshop or bar workers, but also sees the coursework suiting multiple roles across the industry.
“It’s really strong in retail and on-premise but it also has a big place in distribution and wholesale,” Jayne says. “I see it having a great place across the non-production side of breweries; it’s a really good place for anyone who wants their support staff to understand beer."
Having spent much of her professional life in production, Jayne believes education is crucial for those performing roles between the brewing of beer and those who drink it – a vision that's shared by Australia's Cicerone Community which launched earlier in the year.
“It’s the communication point where people who are at the coalface,” she says. “They’re able to have really great, useful and helpful conversations where they’re imparting knowledge to the people they’re interacting with.”
The Level 1 qualification is aimed at anyone towards the start of their beer journey and runs over six hours without private study; Level 2 is more in-depth and includes 16 hours of learning with a course provider and further private study.
Jayne says part of the appeal of the coursework is that a lot of the study is done in person, which allows it to be interactive and discussion-led.
“You get to talk about these beer styles and you get to do a bunch of tasting,” Jayne says. “So the really exciting part is to be able to sit there with people, taste beers, interact with them and potentially come across styles they’ve never seen or heard of before.”
While they’re still in the process of rolling out the course locally, they’re training educators and will be running the qualifications in various locations. So far, Queensland, South Australia and Victoria are locked in as they work towards making the courses available in other parts of the country too.
WSET’s expansion into beer represents their first new stream since they added sake in 2014. It’s been developed by an international group of industry professionals that includes the highly-regarded beer educator Mirella Amato, Stuart Howe from the Institute of Brewing & Distilling, and WSET’s Sara Hobday, their head of product development – beer qualifications.
In a media release, Sara said: “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."
Jayne says providing people with a good knowledge base can help them become better advocates when it comes to encouraging others to fall in love with beer.
“It gives you a really good vocabulary and a good base to build up that confidence and be able to have those conversations," she says.
“Of course, you know how to taste, you walk around with taste buds all day, every day. It’s just a matter of being able to find those words and make beer a bit easier to discuss.”
To learn more about WSET’s qualifications or to find a local course provider, visit wsetglobal.com.
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.