WSET (Wine & Spirit Education Trust), one of the world’s largest provider of drinks education, is set to launch two new beer qualifications — Level 1 Award in Beer and Level 2 Award in Beer — starting in February 2024.
These qualifications have been created by WSET’s product development team, led by Sara Hobday, head of product development — beer qualifications. The team has been supported by Mirella Amato, senior business development manager — Beer, WSET Americas — world-renowned beer educator and consultant and one of only 22 Master Cicerones — as well as Stuart Howe, technical development manager at the Institute of Brewing & Distilling.
Entering into beer is a natural progression for WSET — the principles that have established the organization as the leading global provider of drinks education transfer easily into the category. Beer will be WSET’s fourth qualification area following wine, spirits and sake and the first new subject stream since 2014 when sake was introduced.
WSET Level 1 and 2 Awards in Beer 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 United States, Canada, UK 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.
Michelle Brampton, WSET CEO, said: “Extending our qualifications to encompass beer is an exciting time for WSET and a natural fit for us as leaders in global drinks education. Bringing over 50 years of educational experience to the beer category, our new Level 1 and 2 Awards in Beer will bring a unique and interactive approach to tasting and learning. We hope people will be inspired to pursue their passion for beer whether for career or personal development using our courses to build their knowledge.”
The announcement comes as WSET reveals that for the previous academic year (2022-23) its non-wine (spirits and sake) candidates have grown at the fastest rate, increasing by 27%, while the number of wine candidates is up by 21%. Wine remains the strongest performing qualification for WSET with candidates making up 88% 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. With courses offered by over 700 course providers in 78 countries, the largest markets for WSET are:
- The USA with 27,000 candidates, up 17% vs previous year
- The UK with 24,000 candidates, up 19% vs previous year
- China with 13,000 candidates (not operational in previous year)
David Rudman, Executive Director, WSET Americas & WSET Asia-Pacific, said: “Launching into the beer category is an enticing prospect for us. Not only is the United States already our largest market for all our other drinks qualifications, the size of the beer industry and the enthusiasm for North American beers makes it the logical next step. There’s also excitement brewing in our Asia-Pacific markets where beer captures a significant share of attention. We hope our new courses will inspire beer professionals and enthusiasts by equipping them with essential knowledge and skills.”
Hobday said: “Developing the materials for our beer qualifications and piloting them with WSET’s Natalya Watson, Malcolm Venter and others has been a real highlight. Helping students to develop their beer knowledge, skills and confidence, with a focus on teaching through to tasting, has been at the center of every step in the product development process. This applies to both our online and in-person courses which will soon be accessible to students through WSET’s global network of course providers.”
To learn more about WSET’s qualifications or to find a local course provider, visit wsetglobal.com.