Development And Practical Implementation Of Competency Based Standards For Professional Beer Tasters


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Poster presentation - World Brewing Congress, Hawaii, August 09

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Development And Practical Implementation Of Competency Based Standards For Professional Beer Tasters

  1. 1. WBC 2008 WORLD BREWING CONGRESS 2008 194 August 2 – 6, 2008 DEVELOPMENT AND PRACTICAL IMPLEMENTATION OF COMPETENCY-BASED Hawaii Convention Center Honolulu, Hawaii, USA STANDARDS FOR PROFESSIONAL BEER TASTERS (Bill Simpson, Ronald Nixdorf, Boris Gadzov, Javier Gomez-Lopez, and Evelyne Canterranne, FlavorActiV Limited, Chinnor, UK) 1 3 5 6 Introduction Defining taster competence Developing the chosen few Evaluating taster performance Without a clear idea of the job that tasters have to do and the skills We employ a modular approach to training seven types of professional We have been involved in operating proficiency testing schemes for Objective evaluation of flavour is one of the most critical and behaviours needed, the chances of success are limited. A beer taster. Training is organized into a taster ‘career path’. professional beer tasters for more than a decade. Our Taster Validation quality assurance tests carried out on final-pack and in- competence guide can be a helpful tool in defining skills needs. Schemes assess the ability of tasters to identify individual flavour process beer. The reliability of such tests depends on the Figure 3. A modular taster ‘career path’. compounds in beer at low concentration. The principle of the competence and number of assessors used to evaluate Table 1. Competence guide for acceptance / warehouse release taster assessment is shown in Figure 4. each sample. As with all skills, aptitude and performance Specific outcome Assessment criteria Assessment tools Taint net varies and must be managed proactively. Taster Figure 4. Principle of assessment of flavour recognition performance. Consistently rate Statistical evaluation of data derived Basic statistical Historically, beer tasters developed their skills over many commercial beer from routine taste sessions (including methods In-process Trials Taster To date we have Taster years, building up experience in day to day brewery tasting . At times in acceptability using a both regular and ‘spiked’ samples) Specific collected more than defined scale Basic Training the past, an erroneous link has been implied between taster status - 18 million data points Specific Correctly identify specific Statistical evaluation of data derived Basic statistical Specific Specific job title or number of years’ service – and tasting ability. In our Basic Training Screening Advanced non-conformances in beer from routine taste sessions (including methods Modules using this system. This experience this is rarely a reliable indicator of taster performance so Global / flavour both regular and ‘spiked’ samples) Intermediate Advanced Expert Selection Screening Basic Training Recruit Regional data represents Training Training Training we have developed and deployed a competence-based approach to Taster Taste six samples in 20 Time to complete test Visual observation or assessment of close Specific professional beer tasting. minutes computer-based Screening to 200,000 beer Brewery Acceptance / monitoring Descriptive Warehouse 2 Basic Training samples per year by Taster Taster Different needs – different tasters Conform to good sensory Shows interest in and enthusiasm for On the job evaluation, almost 5,000 practices in and out of the the activities of the taste panel; shows peer review, one to Specific Intermediate taste room sensitivity to the risk of bias in other one reviews assessors in more A typical modern brewery evaluates about 10,000 discrete beer assessors; recognizes the risks involved than 100 countries. samples every year. The methods used for these tests range from in professional beer tasting and takes all Shelf life Taster Taster performance, in terms of recognition success, is graded on a reasonable steps to minimize them simple to complex. Consequently the skills of the tasters needed to percentage scale. The performance of assessors participating in one of perform such tests range from novice to expert. 4 Choosing the right people our schemes in the last 12 months is summarized in Figure 5. To facilitate rapid skills development, maintain a high level of Figure 1. Categories of tasters deployed in commercial breweries involvement and interest, and address skills fade we employ more Figure 5. It all starts with selection. Each taster in the scheme than 30 types of training session. These include: Recognition tests, performed a blind assessment on Performance A good selection process (i) Eliminates those 36 samples during the year of tasters in Brand Matching tests, Flavour Matching tests, Stop-Go tests, True-False whose health may be put at risk by tasting; (ii) one of our Eliminates those who lack the necessary time or tests, Ranking tests, Rating tests, Rank-Rating tests, Quality Rating taster interest and (iii) Communicates to candidates the tests, Short-Form Descriptive Profiling, Detailed Descriptive Profiling validation potential benefits of participation. We use and Warehouse Release / Acceptance tests. schemes over standardized questionnaires delivered over the a 12 month web . Acceptance rates average 80%. Table 2. Training times for different types of professional beer taster period. Figure 2. Distribution of scores from screening of Type of taster Training time required 210 candidate assessors Response to training is a In-process 5 - 7 hours per process area Data represents 210 selected candidate good measure of 25 Acceptance / warehouse release 35 hours assessors from seven brewing companies aptitude. A three-part % of screened candidates Shelf-life 35 hours 7 Consider 20 Conclusions screening method allows us to Taint net 21 hours Preferred identify those with the greatest 15 Reject Trials 35 – 70 hours, depending on tests Competency-based skills development provides an effective way of aptitude for tasting. With few Descriptive profiling 70 – 110 hours, depending on number of attributes exceptions only selected Given the range of test difficulty, it follows that selection, screening training professional beer tasters. Selection and screening of 10 candidates are screened. The and training of tasters should be test-specific. The major assessors before training substantially improves training outcomes. 5 proportion of assessors in each requirements for breweries lie in the area of acceptance / warehouse Nevertheless there is no room for complacency. More than half the Success rates for this type of approach are high. Typically 98% of screening category is shown in release tasting and in-process tasting. Descriptive panels are the 0 professional tasters currently being deployed by breweries have selected, screened trainees reach the required standard of 80%. The Figure 2. Acceptance rates 0-10 10-20 20-30 30-40 40-50 50-60 60-70 70-80 80-90 90-100 domain of larger sites, head office, and outsourced activities. substantial opportunities available to them for skills improvement. deployment and retention rate for trained tasters approaches 100%. average 50%. % performance score achieved in screening (based on 21 flavour assessments)