The 12-week programme is available on the beer educator's new DiscoveringBeer.co.uk website which launched during lockdown
Natalya Watson (aka Beer with Nat) launched DiscoveringBeer.co.uk after her own frustration at the lack of resources around beer during her own personal education around the category. 'I’ve had the idea kicking around for a while now,' she told Imbibe. 'I wished there were more resources out there that explained beer in a simple way and couldn’t really find them, but I didn't want to create a resource until I thought I knew enough.'
With the tagline 'Beer is simply too delicious to remain undiscovered', the new platform takes users step-by-step through 'How to taste beer', 'What beer is made from' and 'How beer is made' (the latter coming soon).
And its latest development is the Virtual Beer School. Launching on 3 September, the 12-week programme is an evolution of the online tasting lessons Watson started in April during the UK's Covid-19 lockdown. 'I had always wanted [DiscoveringBeer.co.uk] to be a content platform... I never considered [doing online community lessons] as I’ve always taught in person.'
What started as an online book club saw more people tuning in to keep chatting so Watson turned her attentions to an accredited course.
The Virtual Beer School course costs £25/month with live 1.5hr sessions happening once a week, 7pm-8.30pm every consecutive Thursday (except 29 October). Anyone is welcome to take the programme and the 12 week ends with the Cicerone Certification Programme's Certified Beer Server exam (although participants don't have to take it if they don't want to). Those who miss the live sessions can also watch them on demand.
Does Watson think sommeliers and bartenders could benefit from it? 'Definitely. I do offer training for bar groups, but it is mostly pubs so I think it [can be] for anyone who doesn’t have a big beer selection to help them learn how to taste beer, how to talk about flavour and build up their knowledge.'
With the likes of the Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET) investing in more education around beer (it recently announced its first beer accreditation) it is exciting times for those who are passionate about teaching professionals about beer. 'I was really taken aback,' Watson says of the WSET's announcement. 'After I took a beat though, I thought it was amazing. I am really looking forward to seeing what's on offer... I think it is quite exciting.'
Ultimately, the new course is a chance for Watson to share her honed and wide-ranging knowledge on her specialist subject. 'The idea is to make education accessible... I’ve read so many different books and been so many places and I want something to give to other people.'
And with more content covering the likes of beer and food pairings and dispelling beer myths to come, DiscoveringBeer.co.uk will be a much-needed resource for anyone wanting to learn more about beer.
Sign up to the Virtual Beer School here: discoveringbeer.co.uk/virtualbeerschool