WSET launches beer qualifications

The Wine & Spirit Education Trust, or WSET, is to launch two new beer training qualifications from February 2024.

The new beer qualifications, level 1 and 2 Awards in Beer, join similar awards in wine, spirits and sake and the training organisation said beer are the first new subject stream since 2014 when sake was introduced.

In a media release announcing the launch, WSET said the two beer qualifications 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.”

A spokesperson told Brews News that the two courses are designed to “meet students where they are” and students can begin at Level 1 or Level 2 depending on their knowledge and confidence levels.

The courses were described as having less technical detail in areas such as water chemistry compared to the IBD’s former Beer & Cider Academy, while being more focused on the production process and linking to beer characteristics, with less focus on history especially compared to the Cicerone program.

“Some service and storage, and beer and food principles are covered for WSET courses, but this is not the focus,” the spokesperson advised.

Pricing is yet to be determined for Australian courses, with pricing to “differ slightly from approved course provider/ school to school” though the spokesperson said courses through WSET’s London school should be a guide.

Level 1 Award in Wine online costs £185 (AUD350) with in-person costing £235 (AUD450). Level 2 Award in Wine online costs £395 (AUD755) and in person £560 (AUD1070).

The spokesperson said the organisation was already looking at working with local teams on the ground in Australia and Asia-Pacific to build and expand its brand in the region.

“Australia is one of our top priority markets.”

Brewer and former Two Birds Brewing co-founder Jayne Lewis has joined WSET in a part-time capacity as Business Development Manager Asia Pacific, and will also conduct in-person training.

“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,” she said in the media statement.

“It’ll be highly rewarding to see people’s eyes open to a world of beer that they may not have experienced before.”

Wine remains the strongest performing qualification for WSET with the organisation saying wine candidates comprised 88 per cent 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,” the media release said.

More than 700 course providers operate across 78 countries, with the largest markets for WSET being USA with 27,000 candidates, the UK with 24,000 candidates and China with 13,000 candidates.

Outline of courses

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

Tasting samples

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

Tasting samples

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.

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