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WSET to launch beer qualifications in 2024

Published:  02 October, 2023

WSET (Wine & Spirit Education Trust), the world’s largest provider of drinks education, is to launch two new beer qualifications, Level 1 Award in Beer and Level 2 Award in Beer, from February 2024.  

The new beer qualifications have been created by WSET’s Product Development team, led by Sara Hobday, head of Product Development – Beer Qualifications. The team has been supported by Mirella Amato, one of only 22 Master Cicerones, and Stuart Howe, technical development manager for the Institute of Brewing & Distilling.   

Beer will be WSET’s fourth qualification area following wine, spirits and sake, and the first new subject stream since 2014 when sake was introduced. 

The courses aim to provide both trade professionals and beer enthusiasts with the product knowledge and tasting skills to become more beer-confident. Initially launching online and in-person in select markets, including the UK, United States, Canada and Australia, the courses will explore the main types and styles of beer, key methods of production, tasting techniques and food pairings. 

Michelle Brampton, WSET CEO, said: “Extending our qualifications to encompass beer is an exciting time for WSET and a natural fit for us as leaders in global drinks education. Bringing over 50 years of educational experience to the beer category, our new Level 1 and 2 Awards in Beer will bring a unique and interactive approach to tasting and learning. We hope people will be inspired to pursue their passion for beer, whether for career or personal development using our courses to build their knowledge.”  

The announcement comes as WSET reveals that for the previous academic year (2022-23) its non-wine (spirits and sake) candidates have grown at the fastest rate, increasing by 27%, while the number of wine candidates is up by 21%. 

Wine remains the strongest performing qualification for the WSET with candidates making up 88% of its student base in the last academic year.  

Overall, in the academic year 2022-23, 143,000 candidates enrolled for a qualification, up 22% from the previous year, with courses offered by over 700 course providers in 78 countries.

The largest markets for WSET are:   

USA – 27,000 candidates, up 17% vs the previous year 

The UK – 24,000 candidates, up 19% vs the previous year 

China – 13,000 candidates (not operational in the previous year)