11 June 2024

Zythology, or beerology, is the knowledge of beer. The zythologist is a kind of beer sommelier and oenologist. A connoisseur of beer, he or she masters all the stages of production (ingredients, fermentation and brewing techniques) and knows the different varieties of beer and their specific characteristics. Find out more about this fascinating profession in this article.

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Zythology, an ancient and complex body of knowledge.

Zythology takes us on a journey back to ancient Mesopotamia, more than 5000 years BC. Beer is the oldest fermented beverage in the world! In the Middle Ages, beer was an essential part of the staple diet in Europe, often preferred to water because it was safer. Monasteries played a key role in perfecting brewing techniques. Not only did they brew beer for their own consumption, but also to welcome travellers and earn extra income. We then gradually go back to the ‘cervoise’ of the Gauls and the ‘gruit’ of the Middle Ages, before moving on to modern times and the industrial revolution, which accelerated the development of many breweries. With the industrial revolution, zythology took on a new lease of life, thanks to scientific advances, particularly in microbiology, revealing the secrets of fermentation and brewing. The number of breweries declined at the beginning of the 20th century, until around 1980. The brewing revolution in France followed closely on the heels of the legalisation of home brewing in the USA in 1979. Since 2014, we’ve seen an exponential number of breweries opening in France, and that’s just as well!

In studying beer, zythologists are not just studying a drink; they are also exploring a cultural heritage that has shaped and been shaped by societies over the centuries.

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The job of Zythologist: a job like no other!

Zythologists (or beerologists) are the equivalent of wine sommeliers, but for beer! Zythologist is a word that has long been used in Belgium to describe a connoisseur of beer culture. In Belgium, the title of ‘zythologist’ is protected by an access to the profession in Flanders. The best-known Belgian Zythologist is Sven Gatz. A true expert on beer as a whole, the zythologist studies, tests and markets beer. Like a sommelier with his fine wines, a beerologist knows everything there is to know about the ingredients, production techniques, tasting techniques and brewing techniques.

Let’s take a closer look at the expertise of a zythologist:

  • The zythologist is a creator of flavours. They test and develop recipes in collaboration with brewers. They can also suggest the best food and beer pairings to restaurateurs.
  • They advise and guide their customers through the vast world of beer.
  • They run tasting workshops to share their passion for beer.
  • He can draw up beer profiles.
  • Establish partnerships with beer producers, brewers, bars, hotels and restaurants.
  • A zythologist can also carry out some of the tasks of a wine oenologist, working with brewers on how to write tasting notes, recognise any faults and identify areas for improvement in beer.
  • An enlightened scientist, the zythologist has a perfect grasp of the scientific and biological principles of brewing. Zythology is a complex science that combines chemistry, biology and even a little physics. Understanding the chemical reactions involved in brewing, the role of yeast in fermentation, and the impact of temperature on beer is essential for any zythologist.
  • They have a good knowledge of yeast biology and understand the mysteries of fermentation. Fermentation is the process that transforms sweet wort into beer. The biology of yeast and its behaviour during fermentation are essential for any zythologist or brewer to understand.
  • The zythologist combines tradition and innovation to reveal the subtleties of beer, making every tasting an unforgettable sensory experience.

WiSP will shortly be offering a short introductory course in the world of beer, combining theory and tasting.

You’ll learn the basics of tasting, the influence of the 4 ingredients of beer, the protocol for tasting a beer and blind tasting. You will discover the different styles of Belgian beer, THE country of beer! Around fifteen Belgian styles are reviewed: blanche de Namur, various Abbey beers, Trappiste single, double, triple and quadruple, gueuze, Faro, rouge de Flandres and many others… but not only. You’ll also discover the main German styles, English, Irish and Scottish styles and even American styles. You will learn about the 3 different types of ageing: Cellaring, Barrel ageing and Cellar ageing. You will also learn about the theory of beer and food pairing: resonance, contrast and complementarity, as well as the protocol for finding the right match. Additional concepts will be covered: detecting beer faults, the importance of the glass in serving beer, and serving beer by the draught and by the bottle.

Join us for a complete immersion in the fascinating world of beer! Contact us via our contact form.

Find out more about our educational approach!




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