An ambitious new beer education service has launched online, with lofty ambitions to shake up the beer scene.
Founders of The Fellowship of Beer (from left to right): Ash Horner (Beer Friend) & Nick Smith (Chief of Beer Knowledge)
The Fellowship of Beer has been created in North East England by cousins Ash Horner and Nick Smith. The pair have been collaborating their whole life, so it was only natural that their combined backgrounds in education, mentoring, and entrepreneurship would turn to their major passion: beer.
Nick has spent over 15 years developing his beer knowledge, starting as an avid home brewer, and leading to his current position as Head Brewer and co-founder of Steam Machine Brewing Company in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham. He's worked with beer experts from across the globe and lives and breathes craft beer. Combine this with his background in teaching Science, and you've found the perfect person to help guide others through their beer journey.
Ash was first led astray into the world of craft beer by his business partner almost a decade ago, and soon ended up on the front-line in the beer industry. Disappointed at the lack of accessible information for what he was selling and drinking, he muddled through using books that were too technical and academic for the non-specialist. His marketing and media background in the beer industry, and his public sector mentoring experience make Ash the ‘Beer Friend’ – the friendly face and co-host of The Fellowship of Beer.
Ash says, “Whilst one of our core aims is to bridge the gap between beginners, enthusiasts, and experts, it’s so much more than that. No matter where you are on your beer journey, we want to be there to help you. To provide training, community, and a clear path to employment, or just a levelling-up of knowledge on a personal level… I just wish someone else had created this service as I was getting into beer. It would have made for a smoother experience!”
The pair are all too aware of the difficulty of getting into beer. Whilst over the years Nick has had his head stuck in the most difficult of beer books, and partaken in super-serious brewing chemistry courses, that’s not what The Fellowship of Beer is about – at least not to start with, anyway. “It’s all about accessibility,” says Nick. “People diving into the world of beer now are luckier than I was, but with access to so much information – a lot of it is perpetuated myth and opinion – it’s hard to know what is important, and what is spurious. That’s where we come in. We’ve already done the hard work.”
Their first course, entitled ‘All About Beer’, is a six-week fun and interactive live class focussing on the history, science, taste, and constant evolution of the most popular styles of craft beer around the world. It is carefully designed to allow the complete beginner or casual enthusiast to become confident in discussing beer, whether it’s with friends, customers, or prospective employers.
Initially, most of The Fellowship of Beer’s content will be delivered online via live classes, but in the future they want to offer practical classes, have guest hosts from across the world of beer, and more. Whilst some of the service will be paid courses, they will also be creating a wealth of free content for their growing community of beer lovers, too.
Nick says “Community and connecting people is key for us. If I reflect on Steam Machine, and the amazing community we have there, we want to re-create that on an international level. There’s a long journey ahead of us, but surrounded by fellow enthusiasts, we’re sure it’ll feel more like an action-packed road trip!”
As if online courses and free content wasn’t enough, the pair aim to go even further with their mission. They feel a lot of people entering the world of craft beer are intimated, or think there is a special way to enjoy their drinks. ”Which is ridiculous”, says Ash. “Beer is an ancient beverage and remains the world’s most popular alcoholic drink. It’s to be enjoyed, wherever you are in the world.”
With the growing online backlash from genuine beer-lovers and makers against sites and apps with a main purpose to rate and slate beers, those entering the beer scene may believe that’s the norm. “We don’t attach arbitrary numbers to beans on toast or a bacon sandwich, we enjoy them situationally for what they are. Why would the drink of the people be any different?”, says Nick.
Beginner, enthusiast, or professional, all are welcome in The Fellowship of Beer. To find out more, and express your interest, head to www.fellowshipofbeer.org or drop a message to firstname.lastname@example.org
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NOTES TO EDITORS
The Fellowship of Beer aims to bridge the gaps between beginners, enthusiasts and experts, and to inspire the next generation of beer professionals. Established in 2021 in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham by Nick Smith and Ash Horner, they are now accepting bookings for their first online beer course, All About Beer, which launches on Tuesday 1st June.