The Everyday Guide to Beer

Rated 5 out of 5 by from Charlie is awesome! I think this is my favorite Great Course! There is so much more to beer than the average beer drinker would expect, and Charlie covers it all. He knows his subject intimately and obviously has fun imparting his wide ranging knowledge to his virtual students. I enjoyed it immensely!
Date published: 2020-12-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from At last, beer gets the respect it deserves! I came out of the closet a few years ago, admitting to myself and the rest of the world that my alcoholic beverage of choice was beer ... not wine. It was liberating. But once I had this epiphany, I realized that I knew virtually nothing about beer culture, and educating one's self about beer was not easy. I was able able to piece together a little information here, and a little there, but my knowledge of beer still had a lot of holes. How I wish I had had this course to guide me at the time. This course validated for me that the art and science of brewing is every bit as advanced and cultured as that of winemaking. The professor is fabulous. He provides a whirlwind tour of the world of beer, and he just exudes enthusiasm for the topic, which he knows well from having been in the brewing business all of his life and rising to the heights of academic brewing science (a professor at UC Davis). But this course is truly just and introduction, a Beer 101 course so to speak. I would encourage GC to recruit this professor to give some advanced courses focusing on specific aspects of beer, such as one course on craft brewing and another on home brewing. Even a course on the business side of brewing would be interesting. (My advice to beer lovers taking this course is to drinking a different beer style while watching each episode. It enhances the experience.)
Date published: 2020-12-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Outstanding Overview Of Beer - Professor Is XLNT! Dr. Charlie Bamforth offers an exceptional presentation on the many facets of beer -- the brewing science that goes into making it, the key differences among the various styles, and much more. His expertise and decades of experience in the industry are obvious throughout this course. His presentation style can be described as casually authoritative and quite personable. Before purchasing the DVD version, I was a bit skeptical of the content, especially given several of the critical reviewer comments. After viewing this course twice, I am thoroughly impressed with the information provided and am completely pleased with my purchase. Despite a few sharp reviews to the contrary, this certainly is NOT an infomercial for Sierra Nevada. Frankly, it would be wise to simply dismiss those negative comments as the disgruntled remarks of nitpickers who are chronically dissatisfied. Some folks could stand in the middle of Kew Gardens and only point out the weeds. I would like to offer some general comments regarding these detracting reviewers. I grew up in Napa and am professionally trained in the industry. I previously taught food and wine courses at culinary schools part-time for over two decades. I am now retired in Bend Oregon where we enjoy a widely held reputation for some of the finest craft beers made in America. Many of these brews are indeed produced with considerable care and great passion and I have enjoyed a wide variety of these finely made beers. Naturally, staunch fans of various beer brands and styles abound here. I am often amazed at the rigid opinions offered by some beer purists who often display great awe and reverence for local microbrews -- as if being a small operation somehow magically made their beers superior by default. To me, that smacks more of snobbery and an embedded anti-big bias than it does as a testimony to their presumably superior, ultra-refined taste buds. As the witty jazz pianist Mose Allison once wrote, “Critics. They can’t swim and they can’t even float. They just stand at the shore and wave at the boat!” Having traveled to 32 countries and even lived in a few, I would suggest there are very real differences in beer quality among countries. In all candor, despite all the love, superb ingredients and meticulous technique displayed by many brewers in this country, the extraordinary beers produced in the UK, in Germany and in the Czech Republic (often for hundreds of years) are truly in a class by themselves. This is an opinion shared widely by many aficionados. At the risk of disappointing some ardent domestic fans, the majority of beer connoisseurs find an obvious difference in the taste, texture, richness and overall quality of many exquisite European beers compared to most of that produced domestically. Perhaps if those myopic local beer geeks ever have the opportunity to taste some of these world-class beers in-country, they would likely agree. Oops, I digress. I'll get off my soapbox and return to my review. I highly recommend this course, especially the DVD version. I found the information offered to be absolutely relevant, on-target and well supported. Professor Bamforth presents the course in an inviting and engaging style. Of the many Great Courses I own, this is one of my favorites.
Date published: 2020-12-01
Rated 4 out of 5 by from More than Sierra Nevada and Bass Dr. Bamforth worked for Bass in the UK and advises Sierra Nevada in addition to being a Distinguished Professor Emeritus at UC Davis. So it is not surprising that he uses much of his background in the industry as he presents his course. This means frequent references to both companies and their beers, most especially Sierra Nevada. I was at first a bit put off by this, but the more I thought about it, it began to make sense. Sierra Nevada’s product line is both very diverse and widely available across the US (although not so much where I live), as opposed many other “craft” breweries, about which one can read, but rarely taste. Even so there were a few times that some of his interviews can across as more of a commercial than I would have liked. Otherwise this is a fine course for those interested in beer, its origins, styles, geographic diversity and components. Although I found lecture two on how beer is made interesting and I found out things I did not know, the heart of the course is in lectures three, four and five, where he discusses styles and the differences between ales and lagers and their styles as well. The lectures on the different types of hops and how they contribute to flavor and aroma, as well as how the malts vary according to the style of beer being made was yet another area where I found I knew less that I had thought. Professor Bamforth is not a particularly smooth lecturer, speaking with many pauses, ums and ahs and the like. This for me did not detract from his overall expertise, which was abundantly clear. Lecture 10 where he interviews the chef at the Sierra Nevada, North Carolina tap room and restaurant, while interesting and helpful, was where he was obviously outside of his depth. Fortunately the chef was so proficient, that she turned the lecture into one of the more interesting ones. The accompanying course materials are notable in their absence. The guidebook was of high quality visually, but lacking in additional readings and references. The bibliography is limited to 10 entries and there are no industry or critical websites recommended. As a plus most of the interviews are conducted onsite at Sierra Nevada and otherwise the lectures seem not to be given in a studio, but more of a lab. Dr. Bamforth’s evident knowledge and love of his subject makes many of my comments seem trivial. Recommended for those who like beer or wish to know more.
Date published: 2020-11-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Foamy, Worldly, Detailed- Falstaff exonerated! Beer will save the world, and this offering explains how that is happening. Instead of the Boar's Head Inn, we have Sierra Nevada, as basically a textbook modern business case for the present brewing business. Instead of the Merry Wives of Windsor, we have various Sierra Nevada "beer pairing" and "quality assurance" staff. Instead of King Hal (Henry V), we have a current Sierra Nevada General Manager from the Grossman family. Prof Bamforth plays Falstaff, hosting the brew party. My first expectation was that somehow this offering would tell me how to be a craft brewer myself, perhaps via electronic osmosis, in twelve easy lessons. Didn't happen, but instead I was deeply informed about the business, health, and enjoyment aspects. Also, as Falstaff would certainly have had it, I was encouraged to explore and taste brands and styles and pairings I didn't know existed. The information that no proper glass shape pairing actually makes a difference, the correct way to pour, and the serving temperature guidance by style, was worth the cost of the course. I must commend The Great Courses for this offering, which serves the dual purpose of explaining the history and current status of brewing by a great author and professor (Bamforth conjures Falstaff with a PhD), but also provides a business case for responsible enterprise. Indeed, Sierra Nevada is specifically highlighted. Yes, I would also love to hear from Yuengling, Boston Beer, and the Chinese and Japanese outfits who make Snow and Kirin (former Anheuser Bush/ InBev affiliates). I would hope for the same environmentally responsible and customer forward message, and perhaps would get pairings with ballpark, sushi, and Mandarin cuisine. But that would be a massively larger course offering. So, I thought I was going to just a craft beer garden party, and wound up with an explanation of beer history, varieties, pairings, and production. Also, heard about the issues of making beer a livelihood, and the big and small players in brewing space. Any entrepreneurial craft brewer wannabie should have this information as a base. Caveats, ambiguities, and insecurities, include: *The lack of deep web resources, such as exist with the TGC wine offerings. *A lack of insights and guides to home craft brewing. The course is an overview of brewing process varieties, with no how-to links for the DIY crowd. Although, I admit, the details are there, but not the overview. *Insecurity about the best beer end transport. Last year, I was ecstatically using large fill-up jugs at various places. Currently, that has become pandemically illegal, and craft breweries and others have switched to large cans, sealed near the tap. Question remains, what is the best end fill for fresh beer from tanks and barrels long term? Bamforth recommends cans in any case (and presents compelling reasons). However, I really like my big brown jugs, which do not need recycling! In any case, enjoy the foam and bubbles, as recommended within...
Date published: 2020-10-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from WONDERFUL COURSE IN THE DIFFERENT STYLES OF BEER I thought this course was well done bringing in many aspects of beer. I enjoyed watching this and I really learned a lot on my favorite drink.
Date published: 2020-09-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Really enjoyable This was fantastic, a really good use of my time. I learned a bit, and overall enjoyed all of the content. There was enough here that whether you know nothing or are already fairly knowledgeable about beer, the material is approachable and there's something for everyone. There's also more to dive into, and I'm revved up to learn even more now about this subject now. The instructor seemed incredibly knowledgeable about the topic. I think this course will enhance your enjoyment of beer, no matter where you are with your experience and knowledge.
Date published: 2020-08-21
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Sierra Nevada Commercial Dissapointed in the course. Too much emphasis in Sierra Nevada and too many snide opinions by lecturer. I would have appreciated a more neutral view on beer companies and more specific information so I can make my own connections. Seems like professor dumbed the course way down and just used hyperbolic terms when discussing sour, foamy, etc.
Date published: 2020-07-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A thoroughly enjoyable series My wife purchased this course as a Fathers Day gift and I've watch most of the lectures. I thought I knew quite a bit about beer but each lecture provided new information. It definitely has enhanced my appreciation of beer.
Date published: 2020-07-02
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
Rated 5 out of 5 by from What a prof should be If all of my courses in school were as engaging as this one, I might have skipped the partying, not skipped class, and been a hell of a lot smarter and fully entertained along the way.
Date published: 2020-05-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very Informative and Good Production Quality I watched this by streaming it on the Great Courses Plus. I really enjoyed the course. It was only 12 lectures but I learned a lot! Very good production quality with lots of graphics, images, and interviews with craft brewers. And the professor was not boring and full of real world experience in beer making. Among many things, I learned the difference between an ale and a lager! I recommend the course to beer lovers everywhere.
Date published: 2020-05-23
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Should be called "Everyday Guide to Sierra Nevada" 6 hours of ads for Sierra Nevada Brewery punctuated by general information about beer. Too much commercialization.
Date published: 2020-05-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great review of an historical beverage. A very informative review of the quite long history of beer, its ingredients, biochemistry, brewing variances, and varieties of beer by an obvious expert in “Beeya”
Date published: 2020-05-18
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Know what you drink This is a great course to understand more about what you're drinking. As a prior home brewer and an avid participant in visiting San Diego Counties numerous craft breweries (and a few in England & Ireland) I found this course very informative.I watched this on "Plus" and bought the DVD for my son. Interestingly, his wife went to UC Davis as did the instructor Mr. Bamford and is from Chico the original home of Sierra Nevada Brewing who Mr. Bamford has consulted for.
Date published: 2020-05-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beer is complicated - and this is a "must have" This is a "must have" for anyone wanting a better understanding of beer. The chapters are nicely put together and very informative. Dr. Bamforth is truly the expert and he makes a great presentation.
Date published: 2020-05-06
Rated 4 out of 5 by from It was desciptive. Professor Bamforth was certainly knowledgeable. I thought much of the course seemed like a lengthy expensive infomercial. I am a fan of Sierra Nevada products and their corporate philosophy.
Date published: 2020-05-06
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great professor on my favorite subject Very interesting and fun course on the most delicious of subjects. In some ways, a bit of an infomercial for Sierra Nevada. That’s not all bad though because they make wonderful beer. But I would liked more than just a random mention of some of the other great beers while discussing flavors and brewing methods.
Date published: 2020-05-06
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Learning with a pleasant aftertaste. While the business of making and distributing beer is a serious undertaking, learning about it does not have to be quite as stressful. Particularly in the second half of the program, this is a reasonably paced and informative cover of a beverage that a large percentage of the world's population enjoys consuming, whether by itself or with food, as well as being the topic of polite conversation. The focus on one particular brewing concern, while obvious, is not so excessive as to override the positives of the program.
Date published: 2020-05-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I'm still listening to other important lectures from the fine Teaching Company, but haven't quite started the beer lectures yet. But looking forward to it!
Date published: 2020-04-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wealth of Information Great information for any beer lover, well worth the time & price.
Date published: 2020-04-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Content and presentation! I have been drinking beer for almost 40 years and studying the history and culture for the last 7or so. I have seen or read or heard a lot of the imformation contained in this course before but it was never presented in such an easy to follow manner.
Date published: 2020-04-20
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Everyday Guide to Beer As a Beer lover and a sometime Beer brewer, I enjoyed this course very much and learned a lot that I did not know especially on Barley and Hops. The lectures were wonderfully illustriated and the tasting lecture was one of the favorite of the series. Started buying different beers now just to taste the difference between them.
Date published: 2020-04-20
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The Everyday Guide to Beer
Course Trailer
8,000 Years of Beer
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.

31 min
Malt, Hops, Yeast, Water: How Beer Is Made
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.

37 min
A Grand Tour of Beer Styles
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.

19 min
All about Ales
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.

33 min
All about Lagers
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.

18 min
Beers of the World: Who Drinks What
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.

30 min
Enjoying Beer I: The Perfect Pour
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.

26 min
Enjoying Beer II: Maximizing Flavor
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.

31 min
Enjoying Beer III: Buying and Storing
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.

30 min
Pairing Beer with Food
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.

34 min
The Science of Quality Beer
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.

23 min
Beer and Human Health
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.

27 min
Charles W. Bamforth

Beer is a thing of beauty. Four simple ingredients; yeast, malt, hops, and water combine under the right conditions to create a product that can be wholesome, nutritious, delicious, and satisfying.


University of Hull


University of California, Davis

About Charles W. Bamforth

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 Brewing Research International as well as quality assurance manager and research manager at Bass Brewers.

Professor Bamforth’s many academic and professional honors include the Award of Distinction from the American Society of Brewing Chemists, the Faculty Stewardship Award from the UC Davis Foundation, and the Brewers Association Recognition Award. He was also awarded the Horace Brown Medal, the highest accolade of the Institute of Brewing and Distilling; the Award of Honor by the Master Brewers Association of the Americas; and the Award of Distinction by the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at UC Davis.

Professor Bamforth has published numerous books and articles about beer throughout his career. Since 1985, he has also written prolifically about soccer. He has appeared extensively in the media, including on the BBC, Discovery Channel, NPR’s Science Friday, and PBS. His video credits include “The Art & Science of Beer,” Brew Dogs, How Beer Saved the World, How Stuff Works, and Ultimate Factories.

Professor Bamforth has presented lectures at numerous venues, including Google, the New York Academy of Sciences, the Smithsonian, and the National Press Club.

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