Beer “sommelier”… pffffttttttt…

In which I spit all the dummies and throw all the toys out of all the prams…

A comment I made on this article here, just now, no idea if it will be published.

Makes the whole “beer sommelier” thing look a bit daft really.

I was aiming to go for the “sommelier” qualification, but TBH it smells a bit like poo after this bit of mis-counted “journalism”. I’ll rejig back to the US Cicerone path now I think. It seems to have better standards. Some actual values regarding the quality of beer.

Clear glass bottles.. in two cases… FFS… we discussed the evil of these when I did the Beer Academy ‘Advanced’ course. The whole Beer Academy “Sommelier” clearly worth little of any value in addition to this if this list is picked as a “best of Britain” with their brand attached to it. Automatic assumption is “so, they paid for these product placements”.

The publication of this article with the Beer Academy’s “Beer Sommelier” very thoroughly attached to it totally devalues the concept I would hope that they’re hoping to build. What does “beer sommelier” actually mean with this in front of us…???

Very little, very little at all. “Travesty” comes to mind.

It is grim. Very grim.

[UPDATE] See also: Ed Wray (in the comments below) has a response of sorts regarding Shep’s beer here: The Hops in Shepherd Neame Beers

11 thoughts on “Beer “sommelier”… pffffttttttt…

  1. Can’t remember what the other beer was but do Sheps beers in clear bottles taste lightstruck? It’s not something I’m particularly sensitive to but can’t say I’ve ever noticed it.

    • I didn’t even mention lightstrike, albeit it is the most recognised problem with beer in clear glass. There’s talk of them using tetra-hop, and other talk of them using no hops :)

      So… are we saying that a tetra-hop using, pasteurised (I presume), bottled beer in a clear glass bottle is a “good thing”… one of the top 10 UK beers in fact?

      (I have definitely found lightstrike an issue with GK clear glass beer.)

      I don’t even care that this list exists as a list, it’s just another heap of marketroid bullshit.

      But I do care that it is using the Beer Academy “Beer Sommelier” brand to endorse the list… which is now utterly devalued in my mind.

      • I know Sheps are a major buyer of English hops so I’m pretty sure they use them. I’m quite curious about lightstrike as I know an ex-Head Brewer of Sheps and he said their yeast was very good at mopping up sulphur containing amino acids so their beers suffer from it.

        I haven’t really looked into the Beer Sommelier qualification but I’ve heard it’s quite full on so I’m not sure why a sommelier recommending beers you don’t approve of devalues it completely.

        • Simple: because it makes it a “brand” I no longer wish to associate myself with.

          Because to myself, and other folk, who’ve done some training both with Beer Academy and aiming for Cicerone the choices here seem incredibly compromised. (Of course we’re nowhere near as qualified as yourself, so I’m not holding myself up at that level – just someone who aspires to know more & is learning.)

          This is a Beer Sommelier recommending beer as “top” in the UK that quite clearly has issues. It is very very clear on the Beer Sommelier part too. I don’t know about Shep’s, have never liked the stuff, but it isn’t about like/dislike. I do know the GK and GK clear-glass beers do reek of skunking. There is FUCK ALL good reason for that beer to be in the list. It is a great example of BAD PRACTICE.

          The status of “Beer Sommelier” is compromised. It seems it is merely a brand to be bought out by the highest bidder.

          So it can get on with its thing, and I’ll get on with mine.

          • Fair enough, but what will you do when someone with the Cicerone qualification plugs something you think is beyond the pale?

          • Stomp it into the mud.

            I’ve a vague hope & expectation that they’d take a bit more care of their brand.

            Only vague mind you.

            Personal “favourite” lists published on a personal basis are just fine. Slathering such “personal” “breweries wot have marketing departments” lists with a brand such as “Cicerone” or “Beer Sommelier” requires some oversight and control.

            In my own wider beer circles the list is laughable. And I don’t mean to say it should be full of murky crafterati shite. I’d be happy to see filtered beers from a wide variety of regionals that meet some basic quality standards on that list. Albeit even then it shouldn’t push the “Sommelier” angle quite so strongly IMO. Makes it too much an endorsement of the organisation. But the organisation is perhaps suspect as it is.

            Perhaps we’ll see something more like Cicerone reach the UK. I’d welcome that.

        • She doesn’t. The article’s quite carefully written – at no point does it say that Jane Peyton, Beer Sommelier of the Year 2014 actually recommends these beers. Your problem is with the originally list put forward by the TABFT campaign, or with Jane P. personally for not crossing those two beers off it. (Or possibly just that one, the GK.)

          • Doesn’t matter how carefully written the article is. That’s verging on the sort of bullshit politicians & lawyers pull out.

            The article sets up a clear link between the beers and the title of “beer sommelier” in a context which very strongly implies that this is a “sommelier approved” top-“10″ list of beers.

            It does the title, nor good UK beer, no good at all. Makes the entire thing look a joke in fact.

          • “Ahead of the first ever Beer Day Britain, beer sommelier Jane Peyton cherry-picks eight of Britain’s greatest beers, in partnership with the “There’s A Beer For That” campaign.”

            And amusingly there was a comment reply from the “author”:

            “This list was actually compiled by beer sommelier Jane Payton, as stated in the into.”

            But that comment seems to have been deleted from the article… hah. (Clearly overstepping the plausible deniability boundary there.)

            Now… I don’t actually think Jane _picked_ these beers at all. But the list is clearly “endorsed” by her and the article is definitely written to imply that it is her selection. And it has “Beer Sommelier” slathered all over it. The Beer Academy should simply not allow the use of their brand in this way.

          • OK, I missed the intro – which (I think) has its toes right on the line between truth and falsehood. I think JP probably did pick them… from a slightly longer list supplied by TABFT. It’s unfortunate, & it does tend to devalue the Beer Sommelier qualification, but the fault is with Jane P. (for naively thinking she’d have full control) and with TABFT (for insisting on GK and Sheps being in there – and possibly for telling JP she *would* have full control, although that’s speculation).

            I don’t see that the Beer Academy has a role here, though. I see the Beer Sommelier qualification as just that – a qualification which somebody can gain, after which they can do what they like (short of disgracing themselves to the point of being stripped of the title). You seem to envisage it as something more like guild membership, so that accredited sommeliers would have to have any commercial use of their title approved by the Beer Academy. I doubt that the BA is set up to run a scheme like that, let alone to police it when things go wrong. I don’t know, maybe it should be.

          • Yeah, I suppose there is room for debate about just what the jurisdiction of the BA ought to be in this sort of case.

            Personally I would vote for having more control of the “brand”…

            Would it be different for a Certified Cicerone…? Matt Curtis on Twitter implied it may be. I don’t know for sure – but the Cicerone(R) types seem pretty damn careful about protecting their “brand”. Of course Cicerone (like many things US) seems far more of a commercial concern than the BA.

            I’d prefer to think of the BS* as being more like a professional body than a mere qualification I suppose. One with standards that apply to its members. In fact a membership-based professional organisation may be a good “next step” for this sort of thing.

            *hmmm… that acronym doesn’t work so well.

What do you think?