Germany: The Cradle of the Brewer's Art – Craft, Culture and Competence
The brewing industry is a sizeable branch of the German food production sector and therefore employs a significant part of the labor force. The quality and diversity among German beers is respected around the world. But these attributes are not all that characterize in the industry and contribute to its unique reputation in the world. Aside from working in German breweries where they produce distinctive beers, brewers, brewmasters and brewing engineers are also diligently engaged in the manufacture of equipment or in the processing of raw materials. Germany leads the world in education and advanced training in the field of brewing science and technology.
Starting at the Bottom
The profession of brewer and maltster is as multifaceted as the beers produced in Germany. The entire production process encompasses the delivery and testing of the raw materials all the way through to the packaging of the finished beer. Knowledge of hygiene and environmental protection as well as an understanding of science and engineering are necessary. Brewing, as a trade, demands keen perception, organizational skills and efficiency – and now and again the ability to energetically tackle problems. Trained brewers and maltsters possess skills and expertise in many areas.
For brewers with the relevant professional experience working in breweries or for industry suppliers, there are many opportunities for further training in Germany. A logical choice for many in the industry is to qualify as a Meister at one of the various Meisterschulen (master schools) in Germany. The journeyman brewer's choice of Meisterschule is of little consequence, because in every state in Germany, he is sure to receive a sound education from experienced teaching staff.
One of the world's most famous centers for learning and professional training in the brewing and beverage industry is Doemens Academy near Munich. In the one-year "Master Brewer and Maltster" training program, in addition to the subject matter comprising brewing science and technology, students also receive instruction in filling and packaging technology and quality control. Towards the end of the program, students are also given additional instruction so they may become qualified "training supervisors" which enables them to pass on the knowledge they have gained to new generations, both at home and abroad. Doemens Academy offers another training program lasting four semesters in Brewing and Beverage Technology. Additional topics of instruction include food chemistry, biotechnology, electrical technology and the production of soft drinks, as well as in monitoring, measuring and control technology. Furthermore, the Academy offers courses such as Beverage Industry Economics (part-time) and Beverage Industry Business Administration. Doemens is incidentally also the "home base" of the sommeliers, that is, of those who wish to devote themselves to the topic of the appreciation of beverages. There is no training program in the world like the Beer Sommelier. It was launched in 2004 with beverage industry professionals in mind, but private individuals are invited to participate as well. A Mineral Water Sommelier has also been added recently. The team at Doemens Savour Academy provides instruction in courses developed along thematic lines, such as how beer is produced or mineral water is bottled or even how best to pair the aromas and flavors in beverages with foods.
The Movement is Gathering Momentum: Managing the Appreciation of Bier
The number of beer sommeliers is growing rapidly not only in Germany but worldwide. Also in Austria, Brazil, Italy and Switzerland, the topic of savoring beer has been well received by the public. Beer sommeliers are therefore in demand as speakers as well as consultants in gastronomy, commerce and in breweries.
To increase awareness of the emerging profession, the "Beer Sommelier World Championship" as initiated by Doemens and has proven to be a very effective tool for attracting media attention. It has taken place every two years since 2009. Today, courses are being taught in six languages on four continents. In the beer sommelier program, participants are trained to be ambassadors, knowledgeable about the sophisticated nature of beer culture in addition to being professional and eloquent enough to acquaint people with the great variety in the world of beer and to appreciate the flavors and aromas they find there. Since 2013, the number of participants in the Beer Sommelier World Cup has risen so precipitously that national competitions are held in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Brazil prior to the main event. At these national competitions, the best sommeliers are singled out to represent their respective countries at the World Championship. Both the German Brewers' Association and the Bavarian Brewers' Association support the World Championship and promote the continued development of beer culture.
With these educational opportunities and with its diverse approaches to professional training, Germany has toiled tirelessly with the goal of invigorating the world’s beer culture and of disseminating the knowledge of the world’s leading beer nation to future generations.
A Connection to Science
If you want to pursue an academic career or receive a graduate degree in engineering, then immediately after high school, the next logical step would be to study Brewing Science. Freising is home to the world's oldest recorded brewery, where beer has been brewed since the Middle Ages.
It is therefore not surprising that the oldest institute for brewing was also established there about 150 years ago. Today, the degrees Bachelor of Science and Master of Science are offered at the Technical University of Munich-Weihenstephan in the field of Brewing Science and Beverage Technology. At the university's own brewery, students from around the world can realize their full potential in activities, such as in the Competition for Innovation in Foods and Beverages. Aside from the degrees in engineering, the TUM-Weihenstephan offers a degree with the title of Diplom-Braumeister. This is intended primarily for those who have already completed the apprenticeship for brewers and maltsters. However, it is also possible within the framework of this program to complete the required practical training during a 52-week internship. Those with this degree are typically employed as the head brewmaster, as quality assurance specialists, laboratory managers or as members of technical field staff. Since the degrees encompass many subject areas, this presents even more opportunities for graduates.
However, the University is not the only institution in the small town north of Munich, where the art of brewing beer is taught. For several years, a Bachelor program in Brewing and Beverage Technology has also been offered at the University of Applied Sciences at Weihenstephan-Triesdorf. The program provides the students with the option of choosing a work-study program in which their studies at the university are combined with vocational training in the industry.
In Berlin there is another educational center for brewing. The Research and Teaching Institute for Brewing in Berlin, abbreviated VLB, offers many training courses in all areas of brewing. Various research institutes and departments are organized under the umbrella of the VLB Berlin. In this way, the VLB is able to cover the entire supply chain of beer and beverage production. The VLB also plays an important role in communicating the art of brewing as one of Germany’s cultural assets to the outside world. International brewing courses are also offered in English and Russian. In close cooperation with the Technical University of Berlin, Brewing and Beverage Technology can be studied as a part of the Natural Sciences. The more practically oriented degree of Diplom-Braumeister is offered in Berlin as well.