Yeah… I’ve been gone for a few days. You missed me and you know it! (And it wasn’t really in the Netherlands; it was an online class. But who is checking 😉 )
But I have a real excuse, you know. I’ve been brushing up on my beer knowledge. And by that, I mean all of the knowledge. I took an edX course called The Science of Beer given by Wageningen University & Research. I didn’t have much expectation going into it. You know… It’s a free course (unless you want the certificate at the end, which costs $49). But I have to say, it was really informative. They touch on all the different aspects of what it actually takes to run a brewery, from raw materials all the way to finished product, marketing and even health effects of drinking beer. Very comprehensive!
In the first module, it takes you through the processing steps, process design, beer style, as well as a tutorial on how to brew your own beer with kitchen equipment (for the most part). Then, the second module focuses on quality management and logistics. Brace yourself, there is an exam at the end of the two modules. When you are done with that, they take you through module 3, which focuses on raw materials. That includes ingredients and cultivation, sustainability, and history and culture. Lots to learn! (And it’s not even the end yet!) Module 4 is all about marketing and delves into segmenting, targeting and positioning, as well as image, advertising and external environment. Take a deep breath! We are almost there! (Well kinda…) Module 5 focuses on the health effects and gets pretty deep into it. It felt like the longest module… They saved the best for last I guess. You never really think of it when you drink a beer or anything with alcohol in it (maybe you do), but there really is A LOT going on in your body! The whole thing ends with a verified exam. Now you are done!
I learned quite a bit in this course. The only thing I’d complain about is that I can’t really figure out why anyone would completely omit Belgium when talking about the history of beer. It’s not that I’m Belgian and offended or anything, but it seems hard to overlook… and they did. (The only explanation I have is that the university is in the Netherlands and there is some type of rivalry going on with the Belgians. Ha!). Disappointing. Other than that, I’d say it was a pretty good course. I encourage anyone who takes it to actually do the “fun assignments.” Like I mentioned before, one of them takes you through the steps of brewing your own beer. I didn’t do it because I have other brewing projects going on right now and have to focus my energy on those. But it looked really fun!
I have to mention that the course (referred to as MOOC) is entirely done by students of the university. They all talk about the particular area they study. Another drawback is that their English is sometimes a bit hard to understand, but you get used to it as you go. They did a nice job overall.
So if you’ve got a few (or a lot of) hours on your hands and would like to learn about beer, how it’s made, how it’s marketed and how it affects your health, this may be it!
PS: You actually have to watch the videos and listen because the questions on the exams are not as straight forward as you’d think!