Beer Sommelier - taking craft beers one step further
Do you like craft beer? Ever thought of making a career out of it? I had the opportunity to join 15 students thirsty for knowledge (and an IPA) at one of the sessions in the course of Sommelier, Tasting and Beer Evaluation arranged by the University of Alicante. Most of these students have a hefty background within the industry and have been brewing for many years, but there are novices, too. Many of them have also prepared with previous beer-related courses offered by the university.
For the course in-person sessions are arranged in Alicante, Barcelona and Madrid. During the weekend in Barcelona I was invited to join the Saturday morning session. This session sounded particularly fascinating: how to choose the right glassware, and how to pair beer and food. The lecturers were no other than Edgar Rodriguez and Toni Romero, the sommelier and the head chef from Racó d'en Cesc, one of my favourite restaurants in Barcelona. In addition to fantastic food they also have a very, very long wine list, and probably the longest list of beers you can find in any restaurant in the city. Dare I say in Spain..? You can choose a beer-pairing menu where each dish has been carefully paired with a suitable beer. Read more about the restaurant in my review here.
When you’re at the restaurant and you hear Edgar explain in detail the characteristics of the beer and why it’s suitable for a particular dish you understand why he is a sommelier and why you’d want to listen to his advice. He’s a genius. And for this session he had been invited to tell us more about the world of food and beers.
He doesn’t use any boring Powerpoint slides or handouts, he doesn’t need anything to catch our attention. We sit glued on our seats for hours and listen to him talk, only to sometimes interrupt him with questions. He’s so full of information and he transmits it in such an easy, understandable way that it’s a pleasure to listen to him.
In front of us we have a large number of glasses, all sizes, shapes and forms. We learn how in some glasses the beer heats up too quickly, why you should never have beer from a frozen glass (it’s not likely to be a good quality beer), where to best smell the aromas, why the tulip glass is so great, and what happens if you serve beer from a wine glass. We get to try several beers to experience the effect the different glass has on the beer, and it’s truly fascinating. Just because of the shape the beer can smell and taste completely differently!
After our smelling and tasting session we started with part 2: food and beer pairing. I found it tremendously interesting to experience how some flavours in different foods bring out and enhance certain characters in a beer. I was particularly intrigued by the smokey beers: one of the pairings was with a macaron filled with chocolate with a smoke aroma and it was DIVINE.
This day was just a small taste of everything that the course has to offer. Very much effort is put into it, it’s a high quality course and requires a lot from the students. There are several in-person sessions in different locations in Spain (on weekends) with well-known speakers, videos, home tastings and weekly exams. But all the work pays off in plenty of knowledge. The sommelier course isn’t the only course they offer, they also have a course in brewing and one on microbreweries. Check it all out here!