Course Description

Awaken your Senses to Create the Perfect Brew

Getting the flavour of your beer just right requires knowledge and skill, and a deeply rooted “sense” of the conditions that can alter the taste of your brew. Simply understanding the science and technology behind your brew won’t guarantee the perfect blend – you need sensory expertise to ensure your beer’s peak flavour comes through every time. This exciting and aromatic one-day course is designed to awaken your senses and guide you through the essential steps to develop a sensory program for evaluating your brew. You’ll gain hands-on, sensory knowledge of a wide variety of brew flavours, how they impact the brewing process and what you can do to control them. Developed by a Senior Microbiologist and Technical Adviser for the Ontario Craft Brewers (OCB), Brewing Sensory is designed for individuals looking to improve their brewing sensory skills. Brewing sensory expertise is a key ingredient to ensuring quality and consistency with every brew.

Course Outline


Throughout the first hour of the day you will get a comprehensive overview of the steps to brewing your beer from milling and masking to your kettle boil then downstream to storage and on to your packaging preference – from bottles and cans to kegs and growlers. Whether you are entirely new to brewing or are already making your own craft beer, we’ll cover the ins and outs of potential brewing challenges and how to remedy the situation.


In this introduction to brewing sensory, we’ll discuss how we smell and taste – in other words, how your nose and tongue work. You’ll learn all about the flavour wheel and its flavours, colours, aromas, fragrances and tastes. You will also sample from the four basic tastes – sweet, sour, salty and bitter, and find out where they are on your tongue, what your taste buds do and how they work, including how your brain interprets tastes.


Water can have many variables that may affect the taste of your brew. From a sensory perspective, first we explore whether your brew water is hard or soft. Well water is typically considered hard water and will not only feel different in your mouth, it may contain iron and other minerals that can impact the flavour of your beer. Chlorinated water compounds such as chlorophenol can make your brew bitter, sweet or salty, depending on how your water is treated. You will learn how and when to test your water to keep it from negatively impacting your beer.


Moving on to the brewhouse where we will cover more of the chemistry in your brew and starting with the good flavours (malts, hops and adjuncts that help define your brew and give it flavour characteristics such as sweet, nutty, and just the right amount of bitterness), and then on to the bad flavours (unwanted sulphur compounds from the mash that produce bready flavours).


During the fermentation process, yeast is added to the wort and placed in a fermenter where all of the typical flavours in a beer are released. You will learn about how this process works, and how to do a quick sensory check of a few parameters of your brew before moving it over to a storage tank. We will show you how to check for flavour impacts of fermentation and how to course correct when your flavours aren’t quite right.


In this section, you will learn all about the flavour changes that can occur in your brew after it is fermented, how some of your brew compounds change or start to decline as they age in storage, and how to remove unwanted flavours from your finished product.


Beer is meant to be consumed while fresh, so in this section we will talk about the natural oxidation of beer as it ages and how this process affects the overall flavour of your beer. Here, you’ll learn how to prevent some post-maturation flavour fallout, and if the flavours do change, how you can still keep your beer on the market.


A whole host of microbes can enter your beer at any given point during the brewing process. Here’s where we will take a closer look at the role of microbiology and what you can do to prevent it from impacting the flavour of your brew.


Finally, we will walk you through the steps to creating a sensory program in your own brewery, and how to train your tasters to become sensory experts. You will also learn how to sensory troubleshoot at each checkpoint, so you can eliminate any unwanted flavours early and produce a consistent, high-quality brew every time!


Instructor Bio

Dr. Dirk Bendiak

An expert on quality issues in breweries, Dr. Dirk Bendiak is a Senior Microbiologist with LaPorte Engineering Inc., and a Technical Advisor to the Ontario Craft Brewers (OCB). He received his Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Genetics from the University of Alberta, and his Doctorate in Molecular Biology from York University. Following his post-doctoral work in yeast mutational research, he was appointed Senior Microbiologist at Molson Breweries Canada Ltd., where he spent 32 years in progressive roles in brewing, research, quality assurance, packaging and operations. He has managed the Molson/Coors corporate laboratory and the Toronto brewery laboratory. Dr. Bendiak has served as president, program chairman, subcommittee chairman and member of the American Society of Brewing Chemists; member of the Master Brewers Association of the Americas, and associate member of the Institute of Brewing. He also served as technical co-chair for the World Brewing Congress in 2000 and 2004, and has published more than 20 papers. He continues to teach brewing courses at Durham College and Niagara College where he has also managed brewing research projects.

Thank you for your interest in this workshop. This workshop will be delivered to fit the specific needs of your group. Please contact us so we can discuss options for delivering this course at a time and place that is most convenient for your team.

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