SAB Beer Tasting Academy
One doesn’t realise the amount of work that goes into producing a beer from start to finish, the process is managed and perfected through experimentation. Part of the quality control process is beer tasting, which is heavily ingrained into SAB beer culture. The art of beer tasting has evolved over the years and what used to be a task carried out specifically by brewmasters has become pertinent to a number of members within the SAB family.
The Beer Academy started at the brewery in Prospecton, Durban, earlier this year and is headed up by Segrin Govender. The main purpose of the academy was to encourage employees from all levels within the company to gain an appreciation of the products and the way in which they’re made.
The Importance of Beer Tasting
Believe it or not but the beer is tasted between 60 and 70 times during the brewing process for quality control. Tasting is an imperative step that ensures the beer aligns with consumer expectations and brand specifications. The distinctive characteristics that separate SAB’s products from its competitors could be completely overlooked without the extensive tasting process.
Training to Become a Beer Taster
All SAB’s breweries are now running the Beer Tasting Academy programme, starting with a beginners training course that runs for one to three months. Completion of this course allows the attendees to become known as Beginner Tasters. From here they can then take part in more rigorous training that will set them on their way to becoming Advanced Tasters. In conjunction with this training, there is an intense week long course facilitated by the SAB World of Learning that allows tasters to participate in all levels of tasting to get a well-rounded understanding of what consumers appreciate.
An exam is completed each month to ensure that tasters are consistently competent. Tasters are also expected to carry on with their training to maintain stellar levels of competency and keep their taste buds on the ever-changing dynamics of the beer market.
From time to time other employees are also invited to take part in tasting panels for various product innovation and market research projects.
A taster’s ability to distinguish between different flavours and aromas is evaluated quite seriously. Being able to determine between the various brands is essential to the role, as is passion for the art of brewing and commitment to the programme. All of this is measured by the Taster Validation Systems (TVS) and Aroxa (an external taster management company). Quarterly evaluations take place and each year the taster of the year is awarded the Brewing Award. A global award is also presented within the SABMiller group.
SAB is proud to have 114 tasters on board and 76 advanced tasters. Of those tasters, two phenomenal women have stood out over the last two years. Frieda Dehrmann was the Taster of the Year in 2012 and Lebo Moloto-Modise was the 2nd Runner Up Taster of the Year in 2013, these two ladies contribute to the stringent quality control of our products.
SAB has great internal significance to strive for the perfect taste, in the hopes to create external appreciation in our country.