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10th March 2014

A half century of Beer Academy Sommeliers

The Beer Academy has just accredited its fiftieth Sommelier.  Three passionate beer advocates, Jonny Tyson, Lisa Wadlow and John Westlake,  passed their viva voce examination with Beer Academy Chief Examiner Alex Barlow to take the number of Beer Academy Sommeliers to 50. See the notes to editors below for the biographies

Beer Academy Director Simon Jackson said “It was just over three years that the first four Beer Academy Sommeliers received their stripes in late 2011.  Now fifty people  have been accredited  and the next two assessment sessions are already sold out.  This qualification has really caught the imagination of beer lovers not only in the UK but around the world. “

“The most striking thing about the Beer Academy Sommeliers is not just their fascination with all things beer but their sheer diversity.  We have brewers both large and small, pub landlords, professional beer tasters, beer writers and people from outside the industry who just love beer.  What they share is an encyclopaedic knowledge of beer – and a passion to spread the word.”


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Notes for Editors

Jonny Tyson’s first taste of beer came from sneaking sips from his Dad’s glass in sunny beer gardens in Buckinghamshire. After working behind the bar in some traditional pubs and a stint managing an Oddbins in Fulham where Belgian and British traditional beers were an important feature, he moved to Vancouver, Canada, and experienced the West Coast craft beer boom. Managing and buying for a craft beer specialist retailer, he reveled in the rapidly expanding world of independent breweries. This led to managing a craft beer restaurant, Bitter Tasting Room, before moving back to the UK. Jonny now writes articles, hosts beer tastings and keeps up his beer blog, while investigating as many new beers as possible. Thanks to dual nationality, he is the first Canadian to be a Beer Academy Sommelier!

As a beer and food pairing enthusiast, Lisa Wadlow’s ambition is to see good beer lists in restaurants and informed food pairings become the standard on beer labels. Lisa has hosted beer and food pairing events in JD Wetherspoon pubs and tweets on beer matters as “The Hop Flower”. A longstanding CAMRA member, Lisa writes blogs for her local branch and has published articles in CAMRA’s national newspaper, What’s Brewing, and the London Region’s magazine, London Drinker. Lisa was asked to review Ben McFarland’s book Boutique Beer for Time Out in 2013. Lisa collaboratively created and brewed “Clarence and Fredericks Oat Milk Stout” with the South London Brewery in 2013. This beer won Bromley CAMRA’s 2013 Festival Beer award and featured in JD Wetherspoons London Beer Festival 2014. Lisa hopes the Beer Sommelier Accreditation will enable her to continue raising the profile of beer and it’s virtue as the natural partner to food.

John Westlake is an award-winning member of the British Guild of Beer Writers and was a founder member of the Nottingham Branch of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) in the early 1970s. He has travelled widely, having visited well over 150 countries where beer is brewed, and since retiring from the financial services industry almost two years ago, he has been able to devote more time to his passion for beer in all its many and varied styles, its promotion as our national drink, its responsible consumption and its ability to be just as good as wine – sometimes even better – as an accompaniment to food. He has contributed to a number of international books about beer and is a regular columnist for the highly acclaimed ‘Nottingham Drinker’ magazine.

 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 its highest award – the  Sommelier Qualification.  Full details of all Beer Academy Courses and events can be found    or follow us on Twitter @TheBeerAcademy and Facebook