While she loves a beer, Julie-anne Sprague often wasn’t sure what she was drinking ... until BeerMaster.

WE all know the basic fundamentals of matching red and white wines to different food groups, even if it is just the basics of pairing red wine with red meat.

But when it comes to beer appreciation, Lion Nathan Australia research shows that very few of us are educated beer drinkers, to the point where we don’t know the difference between ale and lager.

Add to this a culture of not matching beer to food, poor service and lack of knowledge from alcohol providers, and the beer industry is compromising market share to other industries.

In an attempt to educate consumers and to provide better service and product delivery from the hospitality industry, Lion Nathan Australia has developed an education program, BeerMaster, targeted at the people pulling the beers.

Lion Nathan Australia’s subsidiary, The Swan Brewery Company, managing director Bob Baily outlined the program as part of a push to better educate the hospitality industry at the recent Australian Hotel’s Association WA industry summit.

The BeerMaster program was created by Lion Nathan Australia chief brewer Bill Taylor, who hopes to boost consumer confidence, improve beer quality and create greater beer knowledge in the marketplace.

“Look at what has happened in the coffee market. I used to think a macchiato was an Italian scooter. Consumers are more demanding and we need to raise their knowledge,” Bill says.

The BeerMaster program is accredited with TAFE colleges and is an interactive tool designed to ignite a passion and understanding of beer among hospitality workers.

“Beer is a food, it has aromas. Icy cold temperatures numb the taste of beers,” Bill says.

“To fully appreciate it you need to drink it from a glass, not a can ... it’s making people aware of the damage that can be caused by putting beer under a fluorescent light and the need to polish glasses. There are so many bad practices that are passed on by word of mouth.

“If you are in a pub and a lot of people are drinking out of a can it’s a pretty good indication that something is wrong with the tap beer, either it’s dirty systems or the person pouring the beer isn’t doing it properly.”

Bob says The Swan Brewery is aiming to have CD-roms in every venue that serves any brand of beer.

“The Swan guys will promote this to the venue owners and managers. It’s a free CD and they can have as many copies as they like. We want the venue owners to make sure all their staff utilise the system,” he says.

The BeerMaster program is a self-paced comprehensive learning tool that includes the history of beer, the brewing process, cellar training and pouring techniques.

Carlton United Breweries is also keen to educate hospitality workers, recently launching the Draught Beer Academy, a $600,000 trailer that contains two bars and serves as a mobile training unit.

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