In the end of October 2011, the second group of «Miller Brands Ukraine» beer tasters selected from the company staff completed their training. New specialists will join the group of qualified tasters who studied the same course last year.
The candidates for the second group of «Miller Brands Ukraine» beer tasters were selected in late 2010. Any employee at the company, regardless of their position and track record, was allowed to participate in the competition.
Arina Alferova, «Miller Brands Ukraine» testing specialist: "The most important condition for becoming a taster is a natural ability to taste and smell. The training merely develops these qualities. Statistically, only 15% of people are natural born tasters. It also helps a lot if a taster is also familiar with the beer making process. Then they will only have to develop their abilities and learn specific testing notions."
The main training course for «Miller Brands Ukraine» tasters lasts nine months and consists of three stages. After each stage, students are tested to see if they were able to gain the necessary knowledge and skills. Only the candidates who passed the test move on to the next level. For example, the present group initially consisted of 20 people, but only 6 specialists successfully made it through all the stages.
At the first (initial) stage, the future tasters learn to distinguish 4 primary tastes: sour, sweet, bitter and salty.
Second (basic) stage is meant to develop olfactory receptors. Those who pass this test learned to unmistakably identify 10 different fragrances.
After the third (advanced) level, the tasters should know the taste and fragrance of 38 types of beer. However, the full assortment of beer tastes and fragrances that «Miller Brands Ukraine» tasters become acquainted with totals 57. This is the SABMiller standard, and professional tasters from the international tasting panel use the same standard. After passing the third test, the students become qualified tasters.
The training is not yet over after the main level. Tasters continue to refine their skills at weekly classes and every two months they have to pass a so-called "validation." Validation is a test for the most experienced tasters, and it helps determine their professional rating, not only in «Miller Brands Ukraine» but in SABMiller as a whole. Those who successfully pass the validation become validated tasters. Validated tasters get access to SABMiller's European tasting panel. They work there as trainees and later become SABMiller tasters. That is the highest level in the career of an organoleptic analysis specialist.
At «Miller Brands Ukraine», tasting is as important for product quality evaluation as physical, chemical and microbiological analysis at every stage of the beer making process. After bottling, each beer batch is checked by the taste panel in order to confirm compliance with the standard for each type and brand of beer. Besides taste and fragrance, tasters also check the appearance of the product, i.e. its clarity, colour, foam. Each tasting is "blind," so the experts don't know what kind of beer they're tasting.