Everyday Guide to Beer

Course No. 80040
Distinguished Professor Emeritus Charles W. Bamforth, Pope of Foam
University of California, Davis
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Course No. 80040
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What Will You Learn?

  • numbers Gain an understanding of beer's role throughout history and its surprising impact on the world.
  • numbers Learn about the different varieties and classifications of beer, and the process that goes into making them.
  • numbers Develop the skills to confidently order a beer at your local restaurant or brewery, purchase beer at a store, and speak knowledgably about beer with friends and colleagues.
  • numbers Gain practical tips on how to pair beer with food and select the perfect beer for a particular event or occasion.
  • numbers Begin to appreciate your own tastes and understand what you like, and why you like it.

Course Overview

Beer is a thing of beauty. Four simple ingredients—yeast, malt, hops, and water—combined under the right conditions, can create a product that is wholesome, delicious, and satisfying. But making and enjoying a quality beer is not always simple.

Walking into a brewery or pub these days can be a bit overwhelming. Before the modern craft beer revolution some years ago, the choices were reasonably few and often predictable. But now, even the most seasoned beer aficionado can be overwhelmed by the choices available. Beer lists can change weekly, or even daily, in some establishments. For many beer aficionados, beer has become more of a daunting experience than an enjoyable one.

Professor Emeritus Charlie Bamforth of the University of California, Davis, often referred to as the “Pope of Foam” within the beer industry, has spent more than 40 years crafting, writing, and teaching others about beer and how to make it. In the 12 lessons of the The Everyday Guide to Beer, Dr. Bamforth and Sierra Nevada Brewing Company—one of the pioneering companies of the craft beer movement in the United States—take you on a journey through the history of this surprisingly complex beverage. You’ll learn how popular styles like pilsners, IPAs, and stouts were originally developed and how daring new types of beer continue to push the envelope on what a beer is … and isn’t.

The History of Beer

Your journey begins with the importance of beer in ancient cultures like the Sumerians and the Egyptians, and how it was used in some unexpected ways. Did you know that beer, along with onions and bread, was the most important part of an ancient Egyptian diet? Or that some religious traditions used beer in rituals and as offerings? Or that early societies often used beer as currency for exchange?

You’ll learn about the evolution of medieval brewing in European monasteries, and how these institutions passed on their skills to laypeople, thereby, creating what could be considered the first “homebrewer” movement, which would later evolve into an early form of “brew pubs.”

From there, Dr. Bamforth will trace beer’s dramatic increase in popularity in Europe and its movement into the New World. For example, in early 14th-century England, there was one brew pub for every 12 people! Across the pond in America, the first building constructed in every new settlement was a brewery, due to beer being safer to drink than water and the tavern being widely viewed by early settlers as the center of their community.

And while beer is often thought of historically as a male-dominated industry, the impact of women on brewing—even from its earliest days—cannot be overstated, from their role in actually brewing the beer itself (a role known in the Middle Ages as “brewsters” or “alewives”) to retailing the finished product.

You’ll also discover how well-known, historical figures also had a significant impact on beer’s history and prominence. Among them are:

  • Charlemagne, who personally appointed brewers in France in the 8th century due to beer’s national importance;
  • St. Hildegaard of Bingen, who discovered that when hops are put into beer, they stop putrefaction, thereby, prolonging durability and freshness;
  • George Washington, who enjoyed porter (a style still popular today) and recorded his own recipe for brewing beer while serving in the Virginia militia prior to the American Revolution; and
  • President Jimmy Carter, who signed legislation in 1978 that made homebrewing officially legal in the United States.

Brewing, Drinking, Storing, and More

After learning about the origins and history of beer, you’ll move into how it’s made. Joined by additional experts like Sierra Nevada’s Head Brewer Scott Jennings and Quality Manager Liz Huber, you’ll delve into the nuances of each ingredient that goes into beer production. You’ll begin to understand different types of fermentation and the chemical processes that take place to form the range of styles you see in today’s stores and on your local tap list.

As you dive deeper into the process of beer brewing and new innovations, you’ll also gather valuable information that can be referenced when enjoying a brew out with friends or hosting a beer-related event, such as:

  • What to consider when pairing beer with food;
  • The proper temperature to serve and consume each individual style;
  • How each beer type should be packaged and stored; and much more.

The Truth about Beer and Health

Does beer have any nutritional value, or is it just empty calories? Dr. Bamforth addresses the health benefits and risks of beer (and alcohol, in general)—a debate that has raged on since the earliest days of its popularity. You’ll learn about the historical argument for moderation, which can be traced all the way back to places like ancient Rome and 13th-century Icelandic literature. You’ll gain a unique perspective on the origins and effects of prohibition in the United States, and the subsequent repeal of the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1933. Dr. Bamforth also discusses recommended consumption limits for both men and women, as well as where the calories in beer actually come from. And you’ll hear some surprising scientific facts regarding beer’s health benefits, such as:

  • Beer contains a sizable and varied group of vitamins, including niacin, riboflavin, and folate;
  • Beer has more antioxidants per serving than apples, tomatoes, white wine, and many fruit juices;
  • The hops in beer are thought to contain natural chemicals that aid in digestion and the maintenance of a healthy bladder; and
  • A recent study showed that a decrease in moderate beer consumption also corresponded to a reduction in an antigen that can be helpful in diagnosing prostate problems.

If you’re a homebrewer, this course will help you improve your skills and broaden your horizons. If you’re someone experiencing craft beer for the first time, you’ll gain knowledge that will be useful on your next trip to your neighborhood watering hole for a pint. And if you’re simply a beer lover with a thirst for the story behind your favorite beverage, this course will give you the insight into the history and science of beer—and help you to understand and refine your own tastes. So, raise your glass and join Dr. Bamforth on this comprehensive, approachable beer tour that is unlike any other and discover what’s in your glass and the fascinating journey it took to get there.

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12 lectures
 |  Average 28 minutes each
  • 1
    8,000 Years of Beer
    Begin your journey with a primer on the history of beer and its place among peoples like the Sumerians, Egyptians, and the Medieval Benedictines. You'll learn about figures like Dukes William IV and Ludwig X of Bavaria and the Reinheitsgebot, and even hear the fascinating story behind the origin of British pub signs. x
  • 2
    Malt, Hops, Yeast, Water: How Beer Is Made
    Now that you've traveled through beer's history, you're ready to discover how it's made. You'll go in-depth with ingredients like malt and hops, and which geographic regions of the world each variety comes from. Then, Sierra Nevada's Head Brewer Scott Jennings will take you through the process of how this elite brewery produces its award-winning beer. x
  • 3
    A Grand Tour of Beer Styles
    Different fermentation techniques can result in radically different beer styles and flavors. Explore this concept within the context of products like ice beers, light beers, and dry" beers, as well as with unique categories like gueuze and lambics." x
  • 4
    All about Ales
    Ale is one of beer's most significant and diverse classifications. Here, you'll investigate popular versions like pale ales, India pale ales (IPAs), and Scotch ales. But did you know that porters and stouts are also ales? Go in depth with this important beer category and then discover the unique characteristics of each sub-type. x
  • 5
    All about Lagers
    Germany's impact on beer history cannot be overstated, and nowhere is this more prevalent than when drinking a glass of lager. A deceptively difficult beer to brew, this category includes styles like doppelbocks, marzens, and the increasingly popular Oktoberfest. But an Oktoberfestbier in Germany means something very different than it does in other parts of the world. x
  • 6
    Beers of the World: Who Drinks What
    The world's leading beer brand has significantly more market share than Budweiser and Coors Light combined, and you've likely never heard of it. In this lesson on the business of beer, find out how this is possible and what top producers like Anheuser-Busch InBev, and micro and regional breweries all mean for the industry as a whole. x
  • 7
    Enjoying Beer I: The Perfect Pour
    How a beer looks can influence our perception before we even take our first sip. Learn why everything from a beer's packaging and label to the bottles a brewery uses can affect our experience. You'll also discover how to pour a beer properly to get the appropriate amount of foam, and what nucleation sites in a glass do for both presentation and flavor. x
  • 8
    Enjoying Beer II: Maximizing Flavor
    Did you know that the aroma from hops is made up of at least 420 different compounds? Learn the typical flavor each type of malt infuses into a beer and how different chemicals combine to form the sweet, salt, sour, or bitter notes each style is known for. Conclude with the proper serving temperature for most of the major beer types you've learned about in previous lessons. x
  • 9
    Enjoying Beer III: Buying and Storing
    The way beer is stored, packaged, and distributed can have a huge impact on how it tastes. Ryan Mintzer, packaging and warehouse manager at Sierra Nevada, will take you through some of the brewery's best practices to ensure that each beer has optimal flavor and freshness before being poured into your glass. x
  • 10
    Pairing Beer with Food
    Pairing beer with food effectively can take some practice, but a few important tips will help you plan that next meal with confidence. Whether it's matching beer with existing recipes or actually adding it into a dish, beer's versatility should not be underestimated. Experience a five-course dinner menu with beer pairings, specially prepared by Jessie Massie, head chef at Sierra Nevada's Mills River Taproom. x
  • 11
    The Science of Quality Beer
    Quality in beer can be very subjective and a difficult thing to quantify. General Manager Brian Grossman, of Sierra Nevada's Mills River facility, and Quality Manager Liz Huber discuss this idea and how measurements of alcohol by volume (ABV), clarity, pH, and other checks are used to achieve desired results. x
  • 12
    Beer and Human Health
    Nutritious or just empty calories? In this final lesson, Dr. Bamforth will take you through the health benefits and risks associated with beer consumption, such as recommended consumption limits and why moderation has been preached since this beverage's early days. However, beer also contains antioxidants and an array of vitamins like niacin, folic acid, and riboflavin. x

Lecture Titles

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What's Included

What Does Each Format Include?

Video DVD
Instant Video Includes:
  • Ability to download 12 video lectures from your digital library
  • Downloadable PDF of the course guidebook
  • FREE video streaming of the course from our website and mobile apps
Video DVD
DVD Includes:
  • 12 lectures on 2 DVDs
  • Printed course guidebook
  • Downloadable PDF of the course guidebook
  • FREE video streaming of the course from our website and mobile apps
  • Closed captioning available

What Does The Course Guidebook Include?

Video DVD
Course Guidebook Details:
  • Printed course guidebook
  • Supplementary Materials
  • Beer Tasting Notes
  • Lecture Guides

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Your professor

Charles W. Bamforth

About Your Professor

Charles W. Bamforth, Pope of Foam
University of California, Davis
Charles W. Bamforth is a Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the University of California, Davis. He received his PhD in Biochemistry from the University of Hull. He is also a senior quality advisor to Sierra Nevada Brewing Company and an Honorary Professor in the School of Biosciences at the University of Nottingham. He has been part of the brewing industry since 1978, holding such positions as deputy director-general of...
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Reviews

Everyday Guide to Beer is rated 4.0 out of 5 by 49.
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Everyday Guide to Beer I was expecting more technical info on beer production.
Date published: 2020-06-28
Rated 2 out of 5 by from easy to order I bought this for my grandson (age 24). I can only address how easy it was to order. 2 separate addresses and all reached the right parties - i got the bill and he got the materials
Date published: 2020-06-26
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Everyday Guide to Beer Dr Bamforth is very personable and knowledgeable. I learned a lot and recommend the course. At times though it became more of a Sierra Nevada commercial.
Date published: 2020-06-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful class This course might be easy to overlook, but it is an absolute bargain. Terrific overview on beer--its history, brewing technique, flavors, categories, international in scope--and I highly recommend the Charles Bamford virtual guide. His knowledge and sense of humor make for an impressive delivery of the material.
Date published: 2020-06-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Information About My Favorite Beverage Growing up in Wisconsin when the legal drinking age became 18, I have enjoyed many beer types and brands over almost 50 years. The lectures and interviews were very interesting, informative and useful. I learned more in 6 hours than I have in all my years of enjoying beers in the United States and some foreign countries.
Date published: 2020-06-21
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Great if you want to know more about Sierra Nevada I thought it would be fun to take a sip of beer every time Sierra Nevada was mentioned. Now I need a new liver. If anybody has an extra size 3 liver, please let me know. The information in the course is very general. It does not go into any real depth about how beer is brewed or different styles of beer. There is some interesting historical context but, even there, it is a bit lopsided in favour of English and German styles, especially those styles that are commercially brewed by a certain American brewery. Craft beer may as well not even exist, as far as this course is concerned. There is an obvious bias toward commercially brewed beers. At one point, the outrageous statement is made that any beer, even mass produced beers, can be considered to be craft beers because somebody crafted it at some point. Excuse me but that is bollocks. I'm sure that the fact that Sierra Nevada is too big to be considered "craft" has nothing to do with that opinion. There is an entire hour-long lecture on pairing beer with food. Unless you plan on visiting the Sierra Nevada taproom (and ordering the cheese board), it is completely worthless. There is much attention given to quality control, not surprising given that the lecture is presented by a quality control expert at a major commercial brewery. Some of that information is interesting but I don't know how knowing it would actually influence somebody's buying decisions or enhance their appreciation for beer. The parts about how important it is that the labels are put on straight (you will be surprised at how often this is mentioned) has no obvious value to anybody who doesn't work in quality control at a commercial brewery. The most useful information is presented in the first few lectures. The second half felt to me like they were just padding the series to make 6 hours. That said, there is some interesting information in the first half, although it doesn't go into much depth on any subject other than how great Sierra Nevada is (their conclusion, not mine). Personally, I am a homebrewer and a regular patron of several local breweries and craft beer taprooms. I was hoping for more information about the history of regional styles, brewing in continental Europe and how beer contributed to Europe's development. Instead I got an in-depth look at Sierra Nevada's Asheville, NC brewery and product line and six hours of assurance that they brew very high quality beer (again, their conclusion) and their labels are always straight. I can't really say that I recommend this course, but there is some interesting information, particularly if you love Sierra Nevada. If you're looking for information about brewing processes or different styles of beer, you're going to be disappointed. Even to the extent that brewing is discussed, it's discussed within the context of Sierra Nevada's own unique-proprietary processes in their large commercial brewery so much of the information won't apply to beers brewed by anyone else.
Date published: 2020-06-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I thoroughly enjoyed this course This is a very interesting excursion through all of the aspects of beer, The pace is quick and there's a lot of nomenclature to consume, but the presentation is light hearted and the Professor is well versed in his subject. I am enjoying the lessons on an "as available" basis. Each is a stand alone bit of knowledge so you don't have to binge watch. I didn't find the references to Sierra Nevada to be distracting at all.
Date published: 2020-06-11
Rated 3 out of 5 by from A Fairly Good Commercial for Sierra Nevada Company Coming from a family of brewmasters, I did learn a little about brewing. However, I felt the course was a commercial for Sierra Nevada Brewing Company. The presenter did a terrific job of lecturing though..
Date published: 2020-06-06
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