Jane Peyton, Founder of the School of Booze, drinks educator and writer
Jane has worked professionally in the drinks industry since 2008, founding drinks education consultancy and events business School of Booze and passing her Beer Sommelier examination in 2014. She also has a qualification from the Wine & Spirit Education Trust and is working towards the new Pommelier accreditation with the Beer & Cider Academy.
“I need to be accredited in all areas of alcohol to give credibility to my business,” she says. “Having a Beer Sommelier accreditation gives credibility and helps to increase a person’s profile which can lead to work opportunities.”
Since passing her Sommelier examination, Jane has won several awards for her work including Drinks Educator of the Year 2016 and SIBA’s Best Craft Beer Promotion in the On-Trade 2017 for Beer Day Britain. She’s also a Guinness Record holder, having hosted the world’s largest beer tasting tutorial (1,236 people) in 2016, and speaks regularly at beer events and on national radio.
“I highly recommend the training from the Beer & Cider Academy and the Beer Sommelier (and Pommelier) accreditation for anyone who works in beer (and cider), pubs, and hospitality,” she says. “Educated staff help to increase sales, give customers a better experience, and in hospitality education can decrease staff churn.
“If the beer industry wants to compete with other drinks sectors, for example, wine, then a professional beer qualification is a way to raise the status of beer.”
Erik Liang Lu
Beer importer, writer and judge
Erik is a Dutch-Chinese currently working in Shanghai, China, and is a beer, wine, and sake lover. For the last six years he has worked in the beer industry, founding the Shanghai Daoli Trading Co. Ltd, which specializes in importing an eclectic mix of beer styles from all over the world. He also provides trainings to the beer ambassadors and corporate sales in the beer industries in China.
“The Beer Sommelier qualification helped me to build up a very solid foundation of beer knowledge, but more importantly it was a way of teaching passing on the passion to influence more people in the industry,” he says. “I still remember the name of the course leader on my Beer Sommelier program - Alex Barlow - a role-model to me even today.”
Erik undertook his Beer Sommelier examination in 2015, and has since gone on to be a beer judge in national and international competitions such as the China Beer Awards, the Brussels Beer Challenge, and the Dutch Beer Challenge. He specialises in hosting beer tasting and food pairing events with authentic Chinese dishes, and has opened his own beer café in Shanghai.
“Acquiring the Beer Sommelier Qualification was like opening a new door to me, and I was more clear about where I was going afterwards,” he says. Not only do you gain systematic learning and tasting skills, but also an inspiration which can guide you on your future professional path.
“The Beer Sommelier Qualification is not only a recognition but also an inspiration, a new beginning.”
Freelance journalist and writer
Sophie was the first woman to pass the Beer and Cider Academy’s Beer Sommelier qualification in July 2012, and found that particular accolade opened up a whole world of new opportunities for her in the industry.
“The publicity helped get my name out there and led to a good deal of work - which was vital for me because I'm self employed and this is my day job,” she explains. “I went on BBC Radio 4 Woman's Hour and did a beer tasting with Jenni Murray and even The Sun wrote about me!"
Among the opportunities to present themselves to Sophie since passing her exam include curating and organising a successful craft beer section for the London Wine Fair, hosting tastings for The Woman’s Institute and giving training courses for others in the industry.
She’s also written about beer far and wide, in national publications like The Guardian and The Telegraph, to glossy magazines like Great British Food and in specialist publications such as The Morning Advertiser, and has edited and co-written her first book, which is due out next year.
“One of the most fundamental things the courses taught me was how to tell the difference between a beer that I simply did not like and one that was faulty or badly made,” she says. “It also emphasised the importance of communication skills; it's not enough to simply understand beer. You also need to be able to talk to people (or write about it) in a way that's easy to understand and that your audience can identify with.
“That's what a being a beer sommelier means to me.”
Creator of Belgian Smaak podcast, freelance writer and co-founder of Siphon Brewing
An Irishman by birth now plying his trade the beery wonderland of Belgium, Breandán decided to undertake the Beer & Cider Academy’s training while writing about beer for his Belgian Smaak blog and for Belgian Beer and Food Magazine.
“I wanted to challenge myself, to learn more about beer and to gain a qualification which would demonstrate a certain level of knowledge about beer to others,” he explains.
Since passing his Sommelier exam in February 2015, Breandán has undertaken further further study into beer, both in Belgium (CVO Panta Rhei) and in the States (Cicerone® & BCJP). He has also crossed over into the world of brewing, co-founding Siphon Brewing, a Belgian microbrewery on the grounds of a four-generation-old family restaurant in Damme.
“My roles as a brewer and a beer writer both involve the requirement of knowledge of the brewing process and ingredients, history of beer styles, flavour characteristics of beer and the basics around beer and food pairing, all skills which are covered during the process of the Beer Sommelier qualification,” he says. “As well as the knowledge gained, the qualification also gives you confidence to trust your instinct when making decisions in these roles.”
Breandán’s favourite part of the Beer Sommelier courses was the final examination – a two hour discussion in which you blind-taste your way through flights of various beer styles, identify off-flavours in spiked samples and recommend beers in a given menu
“It was an intense, exhausting and exhilarating experience,” he adds.
Lotte Peplow, Brewers Association UK/Europe representative
Having worked on behalf of the American trade group the Brewers Association (BA) for a number of years, Lotte decided to start her journey on the road to becoming a Beer Sommelier in order to gain formal recognition of her knowledge in the field.
"In the last few years my role at the BA has morphed into a bigger and wider ambassadorial style remit for American craft beer, and it became obvious, to me at least, that if I was to walk the walk I also needed to talk the talk too," she says. "I felt that I needed the backing and endorsement of a credible beer accreditation scheme to prove myself and add credibility to my name."
Lotte passed her Sommelier exam at the first time of asking in April 2017, and has since gone on to undertake a broad range of activities including beer judging at the SIBA National Beer Awards, the International Beer Challenge and the Great British Beer Festival, presenting tutored tastings on behalf of the BA and writing articles for trade publications including The Brewers Journal.
"I like to think the Beer Sommelier title gives me a more professional image and that I'm more respected as a result," she adds. "It's important, especially as a woman, to convey an authoritative, credible persona when standing in front of 50 people and presenting to them about American craft beer.
"I believe the accreditation gives me confidence and an edge over others without such formal recognition of their knowledge."
Beer Sommelier at Sharp’s Brewery
Ed’s ‘beer epiphany’ came on a trip to Belgium in his early twenties, when he became fascinated by the quality and variation of the beers he discovered, and the pride the Belgians took in the beer and its service. After returning to Cornwall, he joined Sharp’s brewery in 2008 and set about passing his passion onto his customers.
“To me there seemed to be a real knowledge gap in those who make beer and those who serve and drink it,” he says. “From the basics like the difference between an ale and a lager up to what styles go best with what dishes. We see beer very much as a consumable but there is a real romanticism in the history of different styles. There’s so much to ‘geek out’ over and that doesn’t reach the trade or the final consumer.”
Ed passed his Sommelier examination in the summer of 2014, and has put his qualification to great use, judging all the world over, and appearing on BBC’s Saturday Kitchen as one of the programme’s resident ‘drinks experts’. He is employed as Sharp’s Brewery’s Beer Sommelier, helping train buyers and group customers, hosting tastings for staff and generally being an ambassador for beer.
Ed’s favourite part of the Beer and Cider Academy training was the ‘How to Judge Beer’ course. “It teaches you to remove your own personal preferences and assess a beer’s trueness to type,” he adds.