Running AB InBev’s Beer Academy

The last four years have been spent spreading awareness about Beer & Craft Beer across India in the form of blogs, photos, articles, hosting festivals, serving on industry panels, conducting public workshops and staff training. The rest of the time has been spent networking and running social media channels for the blog. In short, plenty of activities to keep me very busy!

Through the journey, I have been fortunate to have worked with several well known players in the Beer industry and this has been an absolute honor.

AB InBev is the world’s largest Beer company and has over 600 years of brewing experience across the world. Here in India, AB InBev has a large footprint in the country and is rapidly expanding its product portfolio. The current line up includes – Budweiser, Bud Magnum, Beck’s Ice, Corona, Stella Artois, Leffe, Hoegaarden and brands from the SABMiller acquisition such as Fosters, Haywards 5000 and Knock Out.

I have always maintained from the beginning that I would cover both the commercial Beer scene and Craft. Both are equally important especially in a country such as ours where our per capita annual beer consumption is the lowest in Asia. Together we can get more Indians to drink Beer – the lowest in Alcohol By Volume (ABV) compared to any of the other alcoholic beverages in the country.

What excites me about AB InBev is their sustainability initiatives from malting, improving brewing efficiency, reducing carbon footprints and environmentally friendly packaging and so forth. The company is also involved in the Craft Beer sector globally and is looking at new methods and techniques for innovation within that sector.

Last year I hosted a few beer dinners for AB InBev’s graduates from their internal management course. In a country where strong beers still dominate, commercial beers are very much in need of coverage. A few months ago, I got a call from AB InBev asking for a meeting at their Global Capability Center (GCC), here in Bangalore. This is the second of their offices in the city after the Growth Analytics Center (GAC), located further away inside Manyata Tech Park.

The meeting was productive. The GCC handles a lot of back end work – analytics, finance and operations. Not every employee is involved with branding activities for example, on a regular basis.

In other words, you may be working for the largest Beer company in the world but may not know much about Beer or AB InBev’s portfolio of products. That is an issue that does need fixing. Every employee of a Beer company in my opinion should have a basic understanding of what Beer is, in addition to understanding the company’s core values and so forth. All 1,500 employees at GCC would need some sort of beer basics training to achieve this.

The team had asked me to chalk up a 2-3 hour workshop that covered all the Basics of Beer and some useful information about AB InBev’s Indian portfolio. This type workshop would be slightly different from the public facing workshops I normally conduct. It took a few meetings to finalize the content & event flow. Since we intended on sampling Beers during the session, there was no question that this activity needed to be conducted in a bar or brewpub.

We also needed to make sure the course was interactive and catered to teetotallers and non-Beer drinkers, as well. This course is mandatory for all employees regardless. We did just that to keep the information short, crisp and interactive.


We came up with a 3 hour session suited for a batch of up to 40 people. We named the session or training class, “The Beer Academy”. The course would run twice a week for a period of 5-6 months, until all 1,500 employees have completed and graduated from it.

Course Content:

  • Chapter One – Everything Beer-y
  • Chapter Two – Introduction To Beer
  • Chapter Three – Dispensing & Serving
  • Chapter Four – Sampling

Course Duration: 3 Hours (3-6pm)

The session has a lot of interactive sessions built in and is designed for those who are beginners to Beer. Participants completing the course receive a certificate from AB InBev signed by me.

We tried of couple of dry runs, just to perfect the flow and also ensure staff from the venue worked seamlessly with us. The venue selected was “The Brew & Barbeque”, a brewpub located almost opposite the GCC building.

The outlet has a separate, enclosed space called “Output” which has its own independent bar, taps and sound/light system. We also have full access to the microbrewery and malt room below. The Beer Academy was designed to be non-traditional and interactive unlike most educational programs. Having it at this venue meant we could have music, sound effects, smoke, all at the touch of a button.

The Beer Academy started in early November and I can tell you that as a trainer/educator, the sessions are just getting better and better. Initially, as with everything, we had a few teething issues but these were quickly resolved and we now have a seamless flow that makes my trip all the way to the Outer Ring Road worthwhile.

In Closing

It’s been an absolute an honor and privilege to have been given this task/project and I hope that we see many Beer Enthusiasts emerging from the GCC location. I’m hopeful each employee will be have a greater sense of pride working for AB InBev than previously and who knows some of them may go on to to start their own brewpubs, Craft Beer bands or come up with some new innovation/technology in our ever thriving Beer ecosystem.

Cheers & Stay Frothy!

JJ The Keg


AB InBev Website :

The Brew & BBQ Facebook Page:

All Images Courtesy Tales Of Froth/AB InBev


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