Beertender Notes: On Craft Beer Education

(Written by Kelsey Johnson)

Standing behind the bar, after greeting our customers with our standard, “What can we get for you?” we often here, “I am not the beer person, he/she is” or “My son/daughter just loves beer and breweries.” Our job as beertenders and passionate craft beer advocates is to help the person who doesn’t (yet) enjoy anything beyond a “light” beer understand the interest and love for beer.


As a teacher by trait, this is one of the parts I absolutely love about working at Gotahold. Daily, I have an opportunity to share knowledge and help our consumers grow in understanding. As humans, our knowledge is dependent on outside forces: learning from other people, places, and things. To spark an interest in something usually comes from others sharing their love with you. As your beertender, we make that the center of our job.


When I started my own beer journey. I enjoyed light beer (Bud Light or Miller Light), but I wanted more flavor. When I was introduced to the world of craft beer through my significant other, his love for the different types of craft beers made me want to grow in my knowledge as well. I was curious to know what made craft beer so interesting and what made others follow beer with an unexplainable passion. When I would go to breweries, I was curious about why different beers taste different ways and found my love (and dislikes) for different styles.


I met  Dave and Wendy at a time where I had some knowledge of beer styles, but wanted to strive for a deeper growth and understanding.  They offered Beer School in 2019 here in Eureka Springs. My significant other, Taylor, and I showed up to every week. By the end we had the base knowledge to build on for our Cicerone Server Certifications.


A Cicerone, similar to what a sommelier is to wine, is a master of knowledge when it comes to beer. A level one certification shows that you are knowledgeable enough about the different styles and concepts to share your knowledge with others. You must know and understand all different types of beers from around the world, explain how to serve and store these beers correctly, and even understand the serving and packaging aspects of beer. This certification pushed me into the position I am in today as both an educator and a beer connoisseur. I learned of styles I had never heard of and more in depth understanding as to the science behind craft beer.


When Dave and Wendy approached me about working at the brewery there was no doubt in my mind what my answer was. Yes. I thought working at a brewery would be fun, but moreso, I had found a passion in expanding my knowledge of beer. I knew that by working there I would learn even more than I ever did by reading books and listening to others talk!


Outside of working at Gotahold, I teach 7th grade math in Northwest Arkansas. I chose teaching because I found a passion for sharing my knowledge with others and helping students grow. I love the interactions that show respect and allow my students’ minds to broaden because I truly care about them and their growth.


As the person behind the bar at Gotahold, I see people who were just like me when I started getting into craft beer come into the brewery. Those who know someone who loves beer and is curious to know what the hullabaloo is about. When I am behind the bar, I not only want to give you the best service possible, but also help improve your knowledge like Dave and Wendy have mine. If someone in your life has a passion, such as beer, take your time and let them teach you. Find out the reason behind their passion. Know that when you do, we are here to teach and help.

Gotahold Brewing

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