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?

  • Gain an understanding of beer's role throughout history and its surprising impact on the world.
  • Learn about the different varieties and classifications of beer, and the process that goes into making them.
  • 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.
  • Gain practical tips on how to pair beer with food and select the perfect beer for a particular event or occasion.
  • 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 22.
Rated 2 out of 5 by from One Big Sierra Nevada Advertisement This course should be named 'Everyday Guide to Sierra Nevada'. This is not what I expect from the Great Courses. I stuck through to get to the food pairing only to find it was specific to the Sierra Nevada tap room. It was not applicable to a home environment. The course was very shallow. The one plus, the photography was good.
Date published: 2020-03-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Perfect My wife and I watched one lecture per day and were so sad to see it end. Lovely production.
Date published: 2020-03-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very Informative for the Amateur and the Veteran This course was both informative for the amateur brewer and the veteran beer drinker alike. There was a good balance of the history of beer and the contemporary trends in today's brewing world. One need not be a brewer to enjoy the course but an enjoyment of beer would certainly help. I realized my knowledge of beer was pretty limited. I am anxious to review my notes and broaden my personal tasting experience.
Date published: 2020-03-24
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Good Topic The videos were informative and reasonably entertaining, but too focused on Sierra Nevada. The course leader could be a little better.
Date published: 2020-03-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Awesome course for Beer beginners This is a fantastic course. As a casual beer drinker, I really enjoyed this. I didn't know the difference between an Ale and a Lager and now I do. This course methodically explains everything about beer so that you can really start to sort out all of the many beers in the store. Also, for those reviewers that are critical of Professor Bamforth's use of the Sierra Nevada product line throughout this course, they are missing the point. The Sierra Nevada products are readily available for you to buy and compare against. Would you rather he used obscure beers that you can't find anywhere? The Sierra Nevada product line forms a consistent baseline of comparison between beer types, and you'll know that the differences are due to their ingredients and methods and not due to quality control differences between breweries. I highly recommend this course to anyone who would like to learn more about beer!
Date published: 2020-03-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great for beer geeks and novices alike! I'm an avid homebrewer and admitted beer geek. While I already knew much of the material, I did learn quite a few things, and found the course quite enjoyable. To be clear, it is not a course on how to brew beer. It does provide some great history and background, and is a wealth of information for those that don't know a lot about beer, but would like to learn more. Bamforth is an entertaining instructor, and frequently lets a little of his British sene of humor creep in. Highly recommended.
Date published: 2020-03-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Love it! I am not much of a beer drinker, but wanted to learn more about the beverage. I am glad I did. I can participate more actively in conversations at our local craft brew pubs and understand the likes and dislikes of friends and family.
Date published: 2020-03-05
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Everyday guide top beer I just finished listening to this book. It's basically a long advertisement for Sierra Nevada beer. It has a lot of words and very little useful information
Date published: 2020-03-04
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