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19th July 2012

A double first for female Beer Academy Sommeliers

The first two accredited female Beer Sommeliers have been announced by the Beer Academy.  Six months after the Sommelier qualification was launched, Sophie Atherton and Annabel Smith were accredited as Beer Academy Sommeliers following a stretching viva examination with Beer Academy Chief Examiner, Dr George Philliskirk.   (See notes for editors for biographies)

George said “Traditionally the vast majority of UK beer has been drunk by men.  But things are changing.  Women do enjoy beer but tend to be more discerning than the average male beer drinker.  They like to know how it’s brewed, what raw materials are used and how these affect the flavour of the final product and which beers are the best partners for different foods.

The Beer Academy’s two new sommeliers are exceptionally well placed to take the beer message to both women and men across the UK.  A beer lover for nearly 25 years, Sophie is a journalist and beer blogger writing about beer in the national, local and specialist beer press.  In her work with Cask Marque, Annabel is in regular contact with their 8,000 accredited pubs around the country and in her spare time she is a founding member of Dea Latis, the forum set up to increase women’s awareness of beer.

We are delighted to welcome two such passionate experts to the pool of Beer Academy Sommeliers that is growing up around the world and look forward to many more women joining their ranks.”





For photographs click here


For further information contact:


Paul Hegarty

+44 (0)7808 096250


Notes for Editors.

Beer Sommelier Biographies

Sophie Atherton has been a journalist for more than a decade and a beer enthusiast for nearly a quarter of a century. She started writing about beer around two years ago and since then her work has appeared in publications including The Guardian, The Times, The Publican’s Morning Advertiser and CAMRA’s BEER magazine.  She also works with breweries to raise their profile through PR and social media. In addition to her freelance journalism she writes a beer blog called A FemAle View:   Sophie believes that beer is The Best Drink in the World and hopes her Beer Academy Sommelier accreditation will enable her to work with pubs, restaurants and other licensed premises to offer more people the chance to enjoy it; see how well it goes with food and raise its reputation beyond the status of wine’s poor relation.

Annabel Smith has been training manager at Cask Marque, the body formed to improve the quality of cask ale and to promote its values, for 7 years. In that time Cask Marque have trained over 12,000 retailers in Cellar Management and Beer Quality. She is a founder member of Dea Latis, the independent, industry-wide forum for everyone involved in trying to make beer a more appealing drink for women.    She is also a member of the British Guild of Beer Writers and has introduced the beers to MPs at the All Party Beer Group dinner in held annually in Westminster.


Beer Sommelier Qualification Requirements.

People who wish to become Beer Academy Accredited Beer Sommeliers must have passed the following:

  1. The Beer Academy Advanced Course
  2. Beer Academy ‘How to judge beer ‘ Course
  3. The British Institute of Inn keeping (BII)  Award in Beer Cellar Quality (ABCQ) (for people working in the on trade only)

The applicant must also provide a Portfolio of Evidence demonstrating their practical competence in:

  • Use of beer menus or other similar schemes at retail level
  • Use of beer and food pairings
  • The use of beer range in retailing
  • Evidence of high beer retailing and image standards through POS, branded glassware, cellar hygiene standards and other relevant evidence

Applicants will be assessed in a viva voce with a Beer Academy examiner. The examination fee is £150 +VAT.  To apply,

The Beer Academy

The Beer Academy is an educational body that was founded by a small group of beer enthusiasts in 2003 to help people understand, appreciate and enjoy beer sensibly.

To date over 10,000 people have attended Beer Academy courses and tasting events such as the BBC Good Food Show, the Great British Beer Festival and the British Museum as well as in pubs and bars up and down the country.

The Academy offers a range of courses and qualifications ranging from a 90 minute tutored introduction to beer through to the two day Advanced Course for serious beer connoisseurs.  Full details of all Beer Academy Courses and events can be    or follow us on Twitter @TheBeerAcademy