7. Modern approaches to beer taster training

Bill Simpson (1); (1) Cara Technology Limited, Leatherhead, U.K.

Technical Session 2: Sensory I
Sunday, August 14  •  9:45–11:30 a.m.
Tower Building, Second Level, Grand Ballroom

Beer tasting has never been more important. Twenty years ago, tasters could contribute to management of product quality by becoming competent in detection and identification of a relatively small number of flavor attributes. But beer and the beer market have changed, and tasters have had to change with them. Today’s tasters have to be familiar with the flavor of a great many styles of beer, and with a variety of products conforming to those styles. Whereas 20-25 flavor attributes might have sufficed 20 years ago, competence in detection and identification of 50-60 attributes is needed today. The “old” ways in which tasters developed competence through experience are no longer fit for the purpose. Intensive training methods, capable of developing deep expertise and skill in the shortest time possible, are the order of the day. In this presentation I will review the methods used to select, screen and train professional tasters and give examples of how such methods can be applied in breweries of different types. In addition, measures of success will be discussed, including how taster competence can be assessed.

Bill Simpson is director of Cara Technology Limited, a specialist in beer taste panel development and yeast supply to the global brewing industry. After almost a decade with Tennent’s in Glasgow, Scotland, Bill joined the Brewing Research Foundation near London, where he spent almost 10 years carrying out research into beer technology. Since establishing Cara Technology in 1995 he has consulted for more than 500 breweries in over 70 countries and has grown the company into a major provider of technical services to breweries throughout the world. He has published more than 120 technical papers, patents and book chapters in the area of brewing technology and is the inventor of stabilized beer flavor standards used to train thousands of professional beer tasters all over the world.

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