Oregon State University

Beer Proficiency Testing and Sensory Analysis


As a craft beer distributor, advanced hobbyist or beer connoisseur, you are required to effectively communicate to others the flavor sensations of the many styles and varieties of beer. Our Beer Proficiency Testing and Sensory Analysis course equips you with the skills to evaluate the flavor, smell and quality of beer and discuss these nuances with consumers, colleagues and friends.

Beer Proficiency

Learn more about brewing quality as it relates to hops, malt, yeast, water and other ingredients.  Time spent on sensory analysis includes hands-on exercises to improve your palate, introduction to different beer styles, retail beer storage best practices, how to detect aroma defects, positive and negative flavor origins and the flavor impacts of raw materials.

Explore the craft brewing culture of Oregon by taking this four-day course in Portland, where you’ll take classes at the state-of-the-art Oregon State University Food Innovation Center and take several field trips to local breweries, hops farms and other facilities related to beer production. You’ll find Beer Proficiency Testing and Sensory Analysis to be as much about a celebration of the locale and brewing culture in the Pacific Northwest as it is about understanding beer flavor.

This course is designed to help students prepare for the Certified Cicerone or Master Cicerone exams.

Course information

This four-day course will take place Thursday, July 15, 2014 to July 18, 2014 at the Food Innovation Center in Portland, Ore.

The following topics will be addressed:

Day one: Tuesday, July 15

  • Introduction to sensory and the beer industry
  • Malting (guest speaker from Teri Country Malt)
  • Malting in the US
  • Basic sensory; aroma standards defects
  • Evening: dinner with brewers and brewery tours

Day two: Wednesday, July 16

  • Hops
  • Sensory - Descriptive Analysis
  • Travel to hop farm for experiential learning; tour
  • Q&A
  • Evening: food & beer pairing; social event

Day three: Thursday, July 17

  • Hood River tour
  • Yeast lecture
  • Descriptive analysis
  • Tours: Lodgson Farm House, Full Sail, Double Mt, Phreem

Day four: Friday, July 18

  • Review day three
  • Brewing process, water
  • Defects
  • Revisit descriptive analysis
  • Food pairing
  • Q&A


Food and beer pairing dinner featuring Widmer Brothers Brewing

Participants are invited to a four-course dinner featuring Widmer Brothers beer pairings, designed by the chef of Widmer Brothers Brewing's Gasthaus pub.


Oregon Morel Soup
Fresh Oregon Morels, mushroom cream, chive
Widmer Brothers Alchemy Pale Ale

Beet, Rhubarb & Orange Salad
Baby arugula, chervil
Widmer Brothers Citra Blonde

Rainier Farms Prime Rib
Smoked cheese potato puree, horseradish butter
Widmer Brothers Pitch Black IPA

Butter Pecan Cake
Fried Banana, local honey gelato
Widmer Brothers Chocolate Russian Imperial Stout
Cost: $55 per person


Tom ShellhammerTom Shellhammer is the Nor’Wester Professor of Fermentation Science in the Department of Food Science and Technology at Oregon State University, where he directs the brewing education component of the fermentation science program and teaches courses about brewing science and technology, beer and raw materials analyses, plus the history, business and technology of the wine, beer and spirits industries. During the 2008-2009 academic year while on sabbatical leave from OSU he worked at the Technische Universität Berlin and the Versuchs- und Lehranstalt für Brauerei as a Fulbright Scholar and Alexander von Humboldt Fellow. Dr. Shellhammer is the International Section Chairman and member of the Board of Examiners for the Institute of Brewing and Distilling, London, England, a member of the Editorial Board of the Master Brewers Association of the Americas’ Technical Quarterly and Vice-President of the Board of Directors of the American Society of Brewing Chemists. In addition to his research, Dr. Shellhammer is a sought-after educator of beer brewing science classes and was a featured expert in the 2011 Discovery Channel documentary “How Beer Saved the World.”


Jeff ClawsonJeff Clawson is the Pilot Brewery and Food Processing Plant manager in the Department of Food Science and Technology at Oregon State University. As part of the undergraduate Brewing Science program, he assists in the Brewing Analysis course. Additionally, he oversees the pilot brewing activities involved in all brewing research projects conducted at OSU. He has been executing descriptive/analytical and consumer sensory panels for beer since 1993 and educating students about the use of sensory science in the brewery for 17 years. He installed the OSU research brewery in 1995 and has been an instructor in Brewing Science since the Fermentation Science Program inception in 1996. Jeff’s approach to teaching is via experiential learning, which encourages students to learn by doing, and he promotes a very hands-on, technical understanding of sensory analysis, beer and the brewing process.


Dan VollmerDaniel Vollmer is a graduate student at Oregon State University and a member of Dr. Thomas Shellhammer’s laboratory. He is pursuing a doctorate in Food Science and Technology and researching the origins of hop aroma in beer. Daniel is a member of the American Society of Brewing Chemists and a certified Diploma Brewer, a title given by the Institute of Brewing and Distilling, London, England. He completed the UC Davis Master Brewers Program in June of 2012 during which he participated in an internship at the Harpoon Brewing Company in Boston, Mass. Dan received his Master of Science and Bachelor of Science in Food Science and Technology from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Oregon and craft brewing

Beer has a home in the Pacific Northwest, making it the perfect location for continuing education courses for advanced beer brewers.

Professionals and advanced hobbyists living in the region no longer need to travel far to attend world-class beer brewing courses, while those living and working elsewhere will have the opportunity to explore the unique brewing culture of the Pacific Northwest and learn from faculty and guest lecturers from Widmer Brothers Brewing and Deschutes Brewery.

Hops and barley are cultivated throughout the Willamette Valley, and microbreweries thrive in Oregon’s communities, large and small. Portland holds the unofficial title of America’s Microbrew Capital, while Bend boasts more microbreweries per capita than any other city in Oregon. Corvallis, home of Oregon State University, lies in the heart of the Willamette Valley and is located just 90 miles south of Portland and an hour from the Pacific coast and Cascade Mountains, making it the perfect base for Oregon travel.

Request more information

Contact us with your comments or questions

Professional and Continuing Education
4943 The Valley Library
Corvallis, OR 97331-4504

Copyright ©  2015 Oregon State University