On 10 July, the participants of this year's Certified Brewmaster Course at VLB Berlin received their hard-earned certificates. But congratulations do not only go to the graduates this year. In his speech, VLB Managing Director Dr. Josef Fontaine looked back on the extraordinary challenges of the past six months, which were anything but as planned due to COVID-19. It was thanks to the efforts of the organizers and lecturers, that the course could be completed safely despite all the difficulties.
"There are many heroes in these times, and you, dear students, are my heroes because you have not been discouraged," said course coordinator Heike Flohr on the occasion of the certificate presentation in Berlin. "And the lecturers should be your heroes, because they made sure that this course could be completed despite all the difficulties."
At the beginning of the Certified Brewmaster Course in January, everything went according to plan. 37 participants from 23 nations started their education in January and settled in Berlin. Then, Corona moved in and from mid-March all face-to-face courses were no longer allowed in vocational institutions in Berlin. As a result, 13 course participants immediately returned to their home countries, the remaining 24 stayed in Berlin.
Course concept adjusted during the run-time
Course manager Burghard Meyer and the team of lecturers worked out a Plan B, which enabled all participants to continue the Certified Brewmaster Course from home. The theoretical part of the course was held in compact video conferences until the end of May. The practical exercises were switched to a continuous on-site module for June and July, in which at least those who remained in Berlin could take part. The students, who had left Berlin already, completed the theoretical part online and have the opportunity to finalize the practical training next year. “We are very happy that our plan worked out. We worried until the very last day that the virus was going to put a spanner in the works,” course manager Burghard Meyer said with relief.
On July 10, the VLB said goodbye to its graduates - they proudly and gratefully held their certificate in their hands. Some of the breweries, that had sent their employees to Berlin, were also grateful. „We want to convey our appreciation to you and all the VLB teachers for continuously training and helping during the course," wrote the human resource manager from the Chinese Zhujiang Brewery. The South American brewing group Ambev emphasized the partnership and good cooperation over the past few months: "Even in the face of all the difficulties with COVID-19, you have ensured that our students finish the course safely." In addition, other breweries, e.g. Sapporo, Efes, Diageo or Cerveceria der Puerto Rico appreciated that the course could be finished successfully and without any Covid-19 infections.
Certified Brewmaster Course 2021
For the next years’ course the concept that had proven itself during the pandemic will be continued. The Certified Brewmaster Course 2021 (11 January to 23 July) is divided into two blocks. The first part takes place as a "hybrid", i.e. all theoretical lectures from 11 January to mid-May will be held via video conference ("VLB Virtual Campus"). Alternatively, the students can also attend the lectures at VLB Berlin on-site ("VLB Berlin Campus"). The extensive practical work in the laboratories and the VLB brewery begins in mid-May. For this practice block, all students have to come to Berlin.
“This is our reaction due to the unpredictable development of the global corona pandemic. However, the hybrid Certified Brewmaster Class should be an exception. On the long-term perspective, we would like to conduct this training again as a face-to-face course in Berlin,” explained Burghard Meyer.
The VLB Certified Brewmaster Course 2021 runs from 11 January to 23 July 2021.
The masked brewmasters: final photo with the graduates of the VLB Certified Brewmaster Course 2020 remaining in Berlin. 13 other course participants had left Berlin prematurely due to the corona pandemic