Brewers Association’s New Free Online Curriculum Enhances Use of Craft Beer in Culinary Education

To better integrate craft beer into culinary curriculums, the Brewers Association’s CraftBeer.com website has published the CraftBeer.com Beer & Food Course. Co-authored by Brewers Association culinary consultant chef Adam Dulye and myself (as BA’s craft beer program director), the curriculum is the definitive beer and food course for culinary institutions, food establishments, beverage students and beer educators.

This new course is the starting point for chefs and food educators to discover what craft beer can offer. It also can be the starting point for brewpubs, retailers, tap room managers, wholesalers, and anyone who wants to become a student of the beverage of beer. So please take advantage of this and do your own in-house guided training.

It’s time to put craft beer on equal footing with wine and spirits in terms of education and emphasis in the culinary world.

The 60-page digital manual is free to download on CraftBeer.com. It is constructed as a five-day course that offers an introduction to the beverage of craft beer, guidelines for pairing beer with food and instructions on how to pour and present beer at the table.

“Culinary and hospitality education have long overlooked the intrinsic value that beer can provide in relation to food,” Dulye said in the national press release announcing the publication of the Food & Beer Course. Wow! He came out and said what I’m sure many in the beer world are thinking: It’s time to put craft beer on equal footing with wine and spirits in terms of education and emphasis in the culinary world.

Journalist Brandon Hernandez, an editor for Zagat Survey and a communications specialist for Stone Brewing Co., mused about this very topic:

With all this nth degree embracement of every ingredient under the sun, why has such a small percentage of this country’s chefs thoroughly explored the wide-ranging and flavorful world of craft beer? …[W]hy not dig deeper with craft beer, a beverage that’s lower in alcohol than wine or spirits, broader in its number of styles and achievable taste elements, and more about providing flavor than either of the aforementioned beverages?

I am hopeful that one day the tides will turn, and any culinary stigma tied to beer will melt away like butter in a caramel sauce. Craft brewing has helped beer reclaim its place at the dinner table and based on sales alone, today’s foodies and chefs should be very well versed in how to cook and pair with it. But until now, there wasn’t any information and training to help those desiring to be in the know.

During our research into how food educators think about craft beer, we gained many key insights that helped validate the publication of this course.

  • The need for a craft beer curriculum is growing, and is driven by student requests and professional opportunities in the workplace.
  • Beer still pales in comparison to wine in terms of the emphasis placed on these beverages in education, courses and certifications at culinary institutions.
  • Today’s food educators simply do not know where to access adequate information on beer and food pairing, despite the exploding interest in craft beer.

With the hiring of a top-notch agency, Sterling Rice Group, the Brewers Association will be doing the additional work of connecting with cooking schools, culinary institutions, writers and bloggers to promote the Food & Beer Course. 2015 will see a new one-day program added to the course that would be perfect for training brewery and brewpub employees. Our long-term hope is that the CraftBeer.com Food & Beer Course and the unique resources created around it will become a frequently referenced body of work on the topic of beer and food.

Julia Herz is craft beer program director at the Brewers Association and publisher of CraftBeer.com. She is a BJCP beer judge, award-winning homebrewer, a Certified Cicerone® and leader of American Craft Beer Week. Her areas of expertise include resources and education on craft beer, general statistics on the craft brewer segment, beer styles and trends, plus craft beer and food pairing. In her role at the BA she serves as an advocate for and educator about U.S. craft brewers and as a spokesperson for the association.