How to study beer: Part 1 – Top 3 websites/apps

by Virtual Beer School founder, Natalya Watson

Curious to learn more about beer? While there is plenty of information available online, sometimes it can be tough to know which sites to trust.

To get right to it, these are the top 3 websites/apps I recommend – available for free from trusted sources – that will help you get a jumpstart on your beer studies.

1. Discovering.Beer

Discovering.Beer is the sister website to Virtual Beer School – it’s my online beer education hub. Here you can learn all about what beer is made from, how it’s made, how to best store and serve it, how to taste it, and what flavours you can expect from nearly 40 different beer styles.

There are a mix of articles and videos, so you can read or watch, depending on how you learn best. And, all of the content is sourced from resources recommended by the Cicerone Certification Program, so if you’re looking to prep for their first level certification – Certified Beer Server – this is a great free website to bookmark.

(P.S. While all Cicerone exams can be prepared for via independent study, if you’d like some help with your studies, check out my Virtual Beer School! I offer online beer education courses to help you prepare for the Certified Beer Server and Certified Cicerone exams.)


If you haven’t yet come across the work of cartoonist and Advanced Cicerone®, Em Sauter, you’re in for a treat. Em, aka Pints and Panels, produces what she calls “visual beer education”.

If you thought Discovering Beer covered a broad range of content, Pints and Panels covers even more! You’ll find illustrations on everything from how to pour a beer, to how to best pair it with food. There are simple and more detailed illustrations for over a hundred beer styles, plus handy comparisons that help you tease certain beer styles apart. You can also use Em’s work to help you with your studies for various different levels of the Cicerone Certification Program through the visual syllabi she’s produced.

Beyond her slightly more serious beer education content, Em produces lots of other beer-themed content, too, like her “Beer and Life Pairings”. For a daily dose of Em’s incredible work, be sure to follow her on Instagram or Twitter. You’ll be learning more about beer with each post.

3. ‘Beer Styles’ app

Looking to deepen your knowledge of different beer styles? The “Beer Styles” app is a must! It enables you to bring a copy of the Beer Judge Certification Program Style Guidelines with you in your pocket, wherever you go.

Still not quite sure what sets a Czech Premium Pale Lager apart from a German Pils?  You can look both up in the app for a quick comparison. Better yet, head to your local bar or bottle shop and read through the style guidelines will doing a side-by-side tasting of both beers, this way their differences will really come to life!

While the BJCP Style Guidelines are the main beer style resource referenced by the Cicerone Certification Program, their original formatting is a bit clunky. The “Beer Styles” app features the same content, but is easier to navigate and makes it much easier to take on the go. Plus, it features both the 2015 and 2021 versions of the style guidelines, if you’d like to see how things have changed over the years.

Find the iPhone version here and the Android version here.

Are there other beer education websites you regularly refer to? Share your top tips in the comments below.

And if you’re thirsty to learn more… check back soon for the top 3 beery books I recommend to take a deeper dive with your studies!

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