Cheers, Sophie makes history as UK's first qualified female beer 'sommelier'
A Devon-based writer has become the country's first accredited female beer sommelier – the equivalent of a wine waiter.
Sophie Atherton has made history after signing up for a scheme that accredits beer experts.
The 38-year-old who lives at Paignton, said beer is an "amazing and delicious" drink but is really underrated. She said: "There are more than a hundred different types of beer – so many more than your average pint of lager or bitter.
"I hope that by becoming a beer sommelier I can enable more people to enjoy the enormous variety of beer out there and find out just how well it goes with food."
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The scheme was run by the Beer Academy founded by a small group of beer enthusiasts in 2003.
It is part of the Institute of Brewing and Distilling, and launched its Beer Sommelier qualification six months ago.
The move was part of the Academy's mission to help people understand, appreciate and enjoy beer sensibly.
Dr George Philliskirk, chief examiner at the Academy, said traditionally the vast majority of beer in the UK has been enjoyed by men but things are changing.
He said: "Women enjoy beer but tend to be more discerning than the average male beer drinker. They like to know how it's brewed, what raw materials are used and how these affect the flavour of the final product and which beers are the best partners for different foods. Sophie blogs and writes about beer in the national, local and specialist beer press and is exceptionally well placed to take the beer message to both women and men across the UK."