Operators invest in beer training to meet consumer trends

beer from tap

Growing consumer interest in beer styles and heritage and higher expectations about quality are prompting more operators to sign up staff to training run by the Beer Academy.

The global beer education body is seeing a 20% year-on-year uplift in bookings for its range of beer appreciation courses and increasingly responding to requests from operators for bespoke training.

Alex Barlow, Beer Academy director of training, said: “Our courses follow a structured training ladder, from the Foundation course, through the Advanced and How to Judge Beer programmes, right through to the prestigious Beer Sommelier qualification.

“From within these courses, it’s straightforward for us to select the elements most relevant to a particular operator, supplemented by bespoke elements as required.

“For example, an operator who specialises in a particular beer style or region will want to ensure their staff have the knowledge to discuss those beers with customers and serve them correctly.”

Key staff undertook bespoke Beer Academy training before the opening of Duck & Rice in Soho in London, the new Chinese gastropub venture from restaurateur Alan Yau, to help them sell and serve its impressive range of bottled, draught and brewery-fresh tank beer. Further courses are planned as the bar team expands.

Duck & Rice bar director George Matzaridis said: “The Beer Academy provided great in-depth training about beer taste, production and methodology across a variety of products.

“It helped to enthuse an appreciation for beer styles including IPAs, stout and ale in staff who previously had very little knowledge. I’d highly recommend it for businesses where beer is a core product who want to improve staff knowledge of beer.“

The Beer Academy is also working with Barworks which operates modern pubs around London, including the Well & Bucket in Bethnal Green and the Earl of Essex in Islington, as well as cocktail bars 5cc.

Barworks’ operations manager Mike Harrington said: “Customer interest in all styles of beer is increasing, and we pride ourselves on serving the best and most interesting beers, from brewers both locally and around the world, in our bars. A big part of the enjoyment for customers is being able to talk about the beers, in terms of the style, flavour and provenance.

“We’re now working with the Beer Academy to give our staff a planned training programme. All of them will have a sound knowledge of beer as well as the skills to serve it well, which will enable them to talk confidently with customers, and enhance the reputation of our bars.

“For those who want to progress, the structured programme of Beer Academy courses will allow them to develop.”

Brewpub group FrogPubs, which operates in Paris, Toulouse and Bordeaux, is also using the Beer Academy to improve bar and brewing staff knowledge. Kate Hyde, marketing manager of FrogPubs, said: “Our objective in approaching the Beer Academy was to develop our growing brewing team’s knowledge of beer styles. In particular we wanted to build their ability to recognise good and bad beer flavours so they could use that knowledge on the job, and evaluate their beers.

“Alex Barlow put together a tailor-made training package for our team, focusing on how to evaluate beer, how to recognise off flavours and gave them an introduction to key styles.

“The feedback was excellent across the board, with many of our brewers commenting that they felt the content was very useful for their day-to-day work as well as beer-related hobbies outside work, such as home-brewing and tastings.

“For Alex it was perhaps harder than usual, as not everyone in the room understood English as a first language. Despite this, the group responded very positively, commenting that his presentation style was engaging, informative and easy to follow. I would definitely recommend Alex and the Beer Academy to anyone looking for a similar service, and I would use them again in the future.”

Alex added: “As pubs, bars and restaurants extend their cask, craft and world beer ranges, they are seeking to differentiate their offer within an increasingly competitive market.

“Alongside the fundamental principles of beer knowledge enshrined in our training programme, the Beer Academy is a flexible resource designed to meet the needs of individuals and businesses who share our passion for beer, and so bespoke training is an important part of our support for the industry.”

Beer Academy courses are held frequently in London and a number of centres around the country, and can also be delivered at operators’ own sites.

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