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An introduction to Craft Beer

Taught by Matt Simpson

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Course outline

  • Grains, malts, hops, water, yeast

    Craft beer creation takes the sugar from grains, boils it with hops and water, cools it down, adds yeast, which eat the sugars, and turns them into carbon dioxide (or, CO2) and alcohol (and a few other things).

    But more specifically in lesson one we learn about the components that make up craft beers and what the combinations mean.

    We’ll cover:

    • Grains (malted barley, wheat, rice, corn and more)
    • Grain Malting & Roasting
    • Types of Malt (2-row and 6-row)
    • Roasted grains and Lovibond units
    • Pale malt, Pilsen (or “Pils”), Czech and German pilsners.
    • Munich malt is used in Marzens (otherwise known as Oktoberfests), Helles and other German lagers.
    • Pale ale malt (often called Maris Otter malt)
    • Vienna malt
    • Wheat malts
    • Rye Malt
    • Adjunct Grains and Sugars:

    Hops (plant flowers for bittering):
    If beer is a soup, the hops are its spice.


    Water
    Water may be the most voluminous ingredient in the creation of beer, but for our purposes, it will take a back seat.

    Yeast
    In a nutshell, yeast are microorganisms that eat the sugars in the wort (the beer before its fermented) and make alcohol and carbon dioxide (CO2), as their main byproducts…with a bunch of other flavor and aromatic components as well.

    Malt may be the backbone of beer, water the base and hops the spice…but yeast is the workhorse – the engine – that turns the soup into beer!

  • How is craft beer made

    In order to create a beer, much like any other gourmet dish, you need to formulate a recipe. The brewer selects from all the combinations of grains, water, hops and yeasts available, and comes up with a recipe to match the style guidelines (or personal taste) for which he’s looking to match. Once he/she’s created the recipe, it’s simply a matter of “cooking” the ingredients for their individually required times, volumes and combinations, until the “soup” is just right. In this lesson you will learn the different impacts of the combinations, at that craft beer making is as much art as it is science.

    You will learn the components of making craft beer in lesson two:

    • Mashing the Grains
    • The Boil
    • The Big Chill
    • Yeast and Fermentation
    • Bottling and Kegging
    • Filtering
  • Craft Beer Styles

    As a trained and experienced beer judge, I believe that having delineated styles is not only healthy, but necessary. Why? Because without style guidelines and their inherent definitions, competition among brewers – both professional and homebrew – would be impossible. How else would it be possible to compare apples to apples, style for style, entry for entry, and see which brewer is more competent at adhering to a given set of parameters? It wouldn’t. Without someone outlining the levels of bitterness, color, gravity, aroma, flavor, and more - for any given beer type, competitions would be purely hedonic and subjective, not objective and impartial, as any competition should be judged. By the end of lesson three – you will understand the following styles and how they are judged: German Lagers, Ales, Czech Republic/Eastern European German Lagers, Ales, British Ales, American Ales, American Beers, Stouts and Lagers and more.
  • Beer Tasting, Presentation and Storage

    There’s nothing really complicated about drinking beer. You simply pick it up and drink, right? No, not really. Beer is an incredibly complex beverage that commands the respect of a proper pour, an inspecting glance and sniff, and finally, a taste.

    If you think about what goes into making a beer (water, malt, hops and yeast), then consider how many different varieties of each component there are, then multiply all the possible variations of those ingredients, you’ll realize how many possible variations of this beverage are possible…thousands. Which is what makes the Style Guidelines so important as a baseline.

    In this final lesson you will come away with the learning outcomes of understanding: Tasting beer properly, beer glassware, beer serving temperatures, and beer and food pairings.

Choose how you want to learn

  • The Expert option

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    Develop your learning further with marked assignments and personal tuition from Matt Simpson

    • Start course whenever you like
    • 4 weeks tutor access for personalised assignment feedback & coaching
    • 4 assignments marked by Matt Simpson
    • Certificate of completion from Matt Simpson
    • Online classroom with up to 20 classmates
    • 4 lessons with expert videos & notes
    • Group chat & direct message with tutor & classmates
    • Lifetime access to videos, notes & classroom
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    $299.00
  • The Peer option

    Discover the benefits of group learning in an online interactive classroom of no more than 20 people. Get the most from shared knowledge and community study

    • Start course whenever you like
    • Practise what you learn with your peers
    • Online classroom with up to 20 classmates
    • 4 lessons with expert videos & notes
    • 4 course assignments
    • Group chat & direct message classmates
    • Lifetime access to videos, notes & classroom
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    $99.00

Course Description

We’ve historically heard it a LOT: “Wine is serious...beer is fun!” This was the prevailing wisdom for centuries...until recently…

What people are realizing now, though, is that gourmet craft beer can be as serious a beverage as wine, and even more complex, with infinite style variations and a broad food-pairing range. What people are now asking is, “What beer should I have with X, Y or Z food?” This course is designed to give you the confidence to help you answer that question knowledgeably

This course is a guide to craft beer. It will give you the pointers you need on a day to day basis. Consider it the “Cliff’s Notes” of craft beer creation and food pairing.

We discuss ingredients, the brewing process and other peripherals. By the end of the course you’ll understand the creation process for beer (after all, you should know what it’s made of and how it’s made), craft beer styles, craft beer tasting (appearance, aroma, flavor and mouthfeel), glassware (no plastic cups here, folks) and importantly food and beer combinations. You’ll understand various meals, chocolate, cheese, desserts, and how to pair them with appropriate beers.

Now, I’m here to help...it’s what I do...it’s what I love. If you have any questions about beer—at all—don’t hesitate to ask. I’m fortunate enough to have surrounded myself with some of the most beer-knowledgeable people in the world. In the event I can’t answer your question, I’ll certainly do my best to get it answered.

About Matt Simpson

Matt Simpson has been involved with craft beer, in one regard or another, for well over two decades. He taught Beer Education 101 at Emory University, is a BJCP (www.bjcp.org) Certified Judge, Siebel/Doemens Bier Sommelier Certified, has been invited to judge the Great American Beer Festival (GABF) five years and counting, was an Administrator for RateBeer.com (arguably, the largest beer website in the world, with over 450,000 members and growing - having created their trading site policy and sanctions for negligent traders), was co-founder and Managing Editor of TheBeerCellar.com (now defunct), was the President of Ale Atlanta (once one of the largest, organized groups of craft beer aficionados in the U.S.), is an award-winning homebrewer, with multiple ribbons won (including two in the AHA’s National Homebrew Competition), and owner of one of the largest, most robust and comprehensive beer cellars in the world... ...all starting long before there was such a thing as the "Craft Beer Revolution." He's even a Kansas City BBQ Society (KCBS) certified BBQ judge! Additionally, he wrote the “Ask Beer” column for BEER magazine, "Beer Talk...From the Wings," for Hooters magazine and the seasonal beer column for In The Mix magazine, a beverage-oriented publication that reaches such hospitality industry giants as The Four Seasons and Four Points Sheraton. Mr. Simpson has been studying, traveling, brewing, writing and hosting craft beer tastings for decades, and is truly privileged to call some of the most accomplished industry professionals, brewers and beer aficionados in the world, friends. With a broadcasting background as well, Mr. Simpson is also available to act as print or on-air “Beer Expert.” As reliable as he is personable, he is able to inform and educate, all while allowing his personal passion for beer to shine through to any audience. Whether speaking to laypeople or aficionados, Simpson educates, using language catered to his listeners, with an enlighteningly conversational style.

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