So I recently became the director of studies and main lecturer on Sweden's first extensive beer sommelier education. I think it's probably the most fun I've ever had work-wise. Travelling back and forth to southern Sweden was an amazing experience, getting to know more of Malmö and most importantly the wonderful people there.
I'm incredibly proud of my students who have learned so much, worked hard and have really impressed me with how competent they grew to be in such a short time span - the course spanned over three months.
The program was (is) hosted and made possible by Gustibus Wine and Spirit Academy, a well-reputed academy in Skåne, southern Sweden. Since this was our first time setting up this kind of course, we faced many challenges concerning methodology, syllabus for the course, and all the details that go into planning something like this. But the main goal for me was to send out these beer sommeliers out into the world with reliable, objective tasting skills and allow them to keep the ship steady at sea, even when the storms of different trends and patterns transform the beer world. During ten full days, we dived into everything from sensory knowledge, beer styles, brewing theory, draught systems, quality control, food pairings, and much more. They were also trained in basic knowledge about wine, mead, cider, sake and whisky.
The main thing I've learned through teaching this course, and what really keeps my energy up, is how complex and hard it is to define, boil down and explain the beer world. Sometimes I had to explain quite arbitrary things to the students, shrug my shoulders and say, "That's just the way it is". The confusing world of beer styles, and who decides what, is one of those subjects where there's really very few short, easy answers. Some of the times I think the students became more frustrated and confused than enlightened. But we kept on fighting and I'm now proud to say they have a genuine base for understanding and analyzing beer. I thrive on learning how to define beer in a more concise way.
For those of you who have followed me and know my long-term ambition, you know how much I nag about creating a common foundation of beer knowledge and beer standards in Sweden. By teaching this course and sending out beer sommeliers, I think we've started building that foundation. I truly believe the beer business and culture in Sweden will benefit from having more educated beer people out there.
If you, or anyone you know, would be interested in becoming a beer sommelier, I'll be teaching it in both Stockholm and Malmö during the fall semester of 2019. Check it out here: http://www.gustibus.se/information-olsommelierutbildningen/