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SAB Taste Specialist Claims Lead in Global Beer Tasting Challenge

29 February 2012

Twitter cue:  SAB taste specialist claims international beer taster of the year

Johannesburg. 27 February 2012: SABMiller's global Taster of the Year title is now held by a woman from the brewer's South African operation, the South African Breweries (SAB). Frieda Dehrmann, SAB's Consumer Science and Sensory Manager, claimed the title after a gruelling challenge amongst 6 highly skilled tasters from six international regions served by SABMiller. The group's approximate 1600 tasters participate in the event.
The Taster of the Year challenge is in its fourth year and pits some of the brewer's best beer tasters from its operations around the world against one another. Beer tasting is an important component of the SAB beer production process and ensures a quality product for consumer enjoyment. 

The event was introduced in 2008 with the aim of recognising the skills of SABMiller's tasters and their critical contribution to the quality of the end product. It also aims to encourage, maintain and further improve performance in this area.  Women have taken the top position since the event's inception.

The challenge comprises three tasting sessions in each region.  In the first session, participants are presented with nine samples. In the second session, a scaling exercise requires tasters to rank and rate the level of flavour in a sample. Here, the ability to taste the correct level of flavour is judged. In the final session, tasters are required to identify the different flavours in four samples, each with more than one flavour added and must all be identified.

SAB's tasters spend many dedicated hours ensuring that the company's brands conform to stringent sensory attributes.  Regular taste education ensures that the organisation's tasters' skills are carefully developed and their progress monitored. There are more than 144 flavours identified in beer and SAB's tasters are trained to assess a good portion of these.  Interestingly, beer tasters need to swallow the product as an integral part of the flavour sensation, which is known as retro-nasal sensation. Skilled tasters need only two to three sips and good structured inhalations to assess the sample.

Frieda says that "passion and persistence" are key attributes of a great beer taster. "Beer tasting is something that you must firstly be genuinely interested in doing. From there on, you can train yourself to taste well. It's a learned process that takes commitment to being educated and personal concentration."

And, she adds, there are benefits to honing your skills as a beer taster. "The real benefit of beer tasting is the personal journey of becoming in touch with your senses. It's an exciting lesson in how to be in touch with your smell, taste, touch and sight senses, which contributes to being a whole person."

Frieda's interest in tasting stems from her professional training as a biochemist. Here she learned the way that the body interacts with external stimuli and how the cell and the nerves respond to this. Tasting is the practical application of biochemistry, neurophysiology and physics - all in a glass. She says that tasting is the "ultimate recreation for the restless intellectual."

For further information, please contact:
Robyn Chalmers
Head of Media and Communications, SAB
Tel: 011 881 8679
Cell: 082 924 2267
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Note, the news release was first published in its local market on [27/02/2012].

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