Beer education for all: brewing the next generation of talent

Posted: July 06, 2021
Beer education for all: brewing the next generation of talent

If you love beer or are curious about brewing – we have something for you

With more than 200 breweries and colleagues in more than 50 countries, AB InBev is arguably home to some of the biggest beer fanatics on earth. And we're making sure that the study of beer and brewing is more accessible than ever to those who want to pursue our passion - whether you're a university student or just a beer lover at heart.

Modern lessons, steeped in history

It's no coincidence that AB InBev's global headquarters is in Leuven, Belgium. One of our oldest beer brands, Stella Artois, traces its heritage back to the Den Hoorn brewery which was founded in Leuven in 1366.

Leuven, Belgium, located just outside Brussels, is home to one of AB InBev's flagship, state-of-the-art breweries.

Another nearby hub of brewing knowledge with a storied history is Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (KU Leuven). The university has offered beer and brewing education and industry-leading research since 1887. One of its newest offerings is the postgraduate program in Malting and Brewing Sciences, supported by AB InBev, that's training the next generation of international malting and brewing experts. For one year, students are immersed in the science of beer ingredients and styles, sensory analyses and the innovations behind advanced brewing techniques.  

“Combining the knowledge of our academic staff with insights from innovators in the industry, including many from AB InBev, along with real-world experiences at leading malting and brewing companies, makes this program unique,” says Professor Christophe Courtin, chair of the KU Leuven program.

One of the first students to graduate from the program is Manuel Wegge, who will soon start as an AB InBev Supply Management Trainee. “I'm really looking forward to putting all the theoretical knowledge I gained in the program into practice and brew delicious beers that can be enjoyed around the world,” says Manuel.

“Studying in Leuven, right at the heart of brewing in Belgium and possibly even the world, the KU Leuven postgraduate program in Malting and Brewing Sciences was the final missing piece in the puzzle to achieve my dream of working for AB InBev.” – Manuel Wegge

For undergraduate students, AB InBev offers many training programs globally, but one of the newest is the Beer Academy in Russia. Participants spend a month studying the scientific and technical aspects of brewing and learn the practical skills in hands-on training from experts at a modern, high-tech brewery.

“We're investing in the future of brewing in Russia and Ukraine by introducing young people to the skill and innovation it takes to create a high-quality beer from natural ingredients,” says Marina Kuvshinova, who leads the academy for AB InBev Efes.

Diana and Kate are among 15 graduates of the new AB InBev Efes Beer Academy, a training program to foster a passion for brewing among promising university students in Russia and Ukraine.

Over the last decade, the AB InBev Supply & Logistics Excellence Talent (SET) program has launched careers in beer for more than 300 talented university students. SET started in China in 2009 and is now implemented in South Korea, India and Vietnam.

The SET program was first launched in China, where AB InBev has more than 25 breweries.

“In the first year we challenge our participants and give them incredible cross-functional exposure to the entire business and art of making beer,” says 2009 SET graduate Chris Zhang, now APAC SET program owner. “They also have unmatched exposure to our leadership team to rapidly begin advancing in their own careers. And now, 55% of SETs are managers and above, and are taking on important roles in breweries.”

Beer education for all

One doesn't need to be a university student to indulge a passion for beer. The Academia da Cerveja (Academy of Beer) from our Brazilian brewer, Ambev, is on a mission to provide equal, inclusive access to beer education.

Another way Academia de Cerveja is creating a more inclusive environment for beer education is through its trainings tailored to the Black community (Pretas Cervejeira) and women (Cervejeiras Sou Eu).

Developed in partnership with VLB Berlin, the School of Beer and Malt, Ceres Institute, and the Brewers Marketing Institute, the Academy offers technical and practical knowledge about brewing processes, safety, sustainable practices, and the latest innovations in brewing to all who want to learn.

There are many free courses and webinars on topics like Beers Around the World and The Magic of Hops, as well as specialty certifications for advance brewing training. The Academy is staffed by dozens of expert instructors and has connoisseurs from around the world host sessions on topics ranging from beer styles and ingredients, to food pairings and glassware. And soon an in-person Academia de Cerveja will open in São Paulo, Brazil.

For beer lovers who enjoy a little fun and competition, AB InBev also offers Hoppy. Loaded with fun facts, interesting stories and insights into beer and beer making, Hoppy users from around the world test their knowledge, collect badges and earn ‘beercoins' to top the leaderboards. The website was designed to spark a new appreciation for what it takes to craft your favorite brew, says Charles Nouwen, creator of Hoppy and AB InBev's own ‘head of passion for beer.'

Hoppy is a free beer education website for anyone of legal drinking age. It's available in English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Russian and Chinese.

“Beer is culture. It's the most popular alcoholic beverage. It's a social network, a meaningful conversation starter,” says Charles. “Every beer tastes better with a good genuine story, so we must take any opportunity we have to tell these stories, share the awesomeness of this category and step up the appreciation of beer!”

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