Brewing my knowledge about beer in WSET course

Students in WSET classroom

The Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) is the world’s leading provider of drinks qualifications in over 70 countries. Since I always had a real passion for the hospitality and beverages industry, I decided to take WSET’s newest courses – Level 1 & 2 Beer Award – to expand my knowledge and become more confident in talking about beer. 

Beer glasses and workbook

This was the first time that WSET offered and ran the course and I had an opportunity to take it with a few other students and faculty members of the Ted Rogers School of Hospitality and Tourism Management. This intensive course on beer provided me with a deep understanding of everything about the beverage. The course was designed for beginners to intermediates. While Level 1 is not required to take Level 2, I highly recommend the Level 1 Award as it helped me gain a strong foundation. Whereas, the Level 2 course primarily focuses on learning about the main ingredients and processes used in brewing beer. Additionally, it explores the different styles of beers, how to taste and evaluate the drink, how to pair it with food, how to store it and much more. Furthermore, as part of the course, we received a textbook and a workbook where you can find all materials.

I knew different brewers would adjust the grains and the fermentation period to make their beer taste different. I never understood how to taste the difference until now. It turns out that every beer has its unique notes, just like wine. The course is a combination of theory and practice (tasting beer). I was taught over 60 different beer styles and sampled 29 different ones. We learned how to approach and evaluate beer from their Systematic Approach to Tasting (SAT), and we were taught to evaluate the beverage by its appearance, nose, palate and any other observations, such as describing the aroma.

I love how WSET focuses on different beer regions, from local breweries within Ontario to Belgium, Germany, Ireland, the USA and other countries. Interestingly, the course also focuses on how the taste of beer can be impacted by the climate and brewing processing. I have tried beers that I had never heard of, such as Flanders Red Ale, Gose and Gueuze Tilquin, which are all part of the sour types of beers, and some unique ones, such as the Milk Stout. You read it right, sour beers and milk beers are real!

Level 2 is a three-day course where you have 14 chapters to cover. The course requires a minimum of 28 hours of study, 16 hours are guided learning with a WEST course instructor and 11 hours of private study, followed by a one-hour closed book exam of 50 multiple choice questions. After three days of learning and tasting, I changed my way of thinking about beer and how to enjoy a pint!

The team-building activity near the end truly prepared me for my exam, as well as the mock test at the end of the workbook. It will get you to the point where you feel confident in yourself when talking and educating others about alcoholic drinks. Additionally, you study a number of their qualifications and award courses in Toronto or internationally. And so, if you’re a hospitality professional or hospitality student like myself, then this is where your knowledge can expand: If you want to learn and develop your knowledge about drinks, then the WSET courses are for you, be they about beer, wine or spirits.

For more information about this beer course or WSET, visit and follow them @wsetglobal.