Sandra Staub - A new beer sommelier

Sandra Staub - Une nouvelle sommelière de la bière

Remember, a year ago, we introduced you to Zytho.

This blood orange Pale Ale, brewed in collaboration with 5 women (Sabine Rey-Mermet, Mathilde Roux, Emanuelle Zufferey, Tora Löf et Ylenia Greve), was used to fund a scholarship to become a Swiss beer sommelier. After receiving numerous applications, we chose Sandra Staub. This graphic designer from Zurich has been passionate about beer for many years and wanted to become an expert. Thanks to our Zytho beer, we were able to help her finance her dream.

How is Sandra doing now? What was her experience like? We can already tell you that, in addition to passing her exam with flying colors, Sandra has graduated as a major.

But take a look at the interview below:

Can you present yourself?

Hi, I am Sandra, I am an illustrator, graphic designer and soon-to-be beer sommelier and I work as taproom manager and event manager in Brausyndikat close to Zurich.

How did your passion for craft beer start?

My passion for craft beer started mostly when I started travelling and I thought to myself: “what would I be doing? What do I want to be doing while travelling?” I was travelling very often by myself and I had this interest in beer, so I just started to check out craft breweries, taprooms, and beer bars everywhere I was going. So my interest grew more and more, everything around beer that was there to explore.

When did your passion became a job?

I started working in craft beer when I got hired by Brausyndikat to work one day a week and I was like “yeah, this makes a lot of sense, I’m already very passionate about beer anyway and about craft beer especially, so why not work once a week there?” And from there, it just grew. Now I’m there at 80% so yeah, it's got pretty much bigger after that.

What made you decide to apply for the beer sommelier scholarship?

I actually learned about the scholarship from one of my colleagues and one of the owners of Brausyndikat. He knew about the scholarship and he informed me, like, “hey, maybe, this could be something for you” and I was like, “yeah, absolutely. Definitely.” So I applied and I was lucky enough to win it. And I'm very, very happy about that.

When was the first time you heard about WhiteFrontier beers? Do you remember how and when?

That's that's actually a long time ago. I've been living in Switzerland for seven years now and I think I stumbled across WhiteFrontier beers, probably in Drinks of the World, or maybe at Coop or some supermarket. I tried them, and I remember very distinctively, that pretty much from the start, I was a very big fan of the session IPA the Martigny Vice, also because of the awesome graphic design of the label. From there it grew and it was like, oh yeah, this is a great, great reference, great beer, always a safe choice whenever you don't know what to drink. 

How do you feel about the training of beer sommeliers? Did you enjoy it?

Yes. I liked the training very much. It was very different. We were diving into different areas, which was extremely interesting, to learn a little bit more about the service, the customers, a little bit more about the legal side, and of course, a lot about the Swiss and international craft beer scene, which was great. So, I really liked to learn about different areas, a little bit more about of some stuff that I already knew, but there was always some new information to all of this and it was really, really nice, especially like the, the beer pairings.

What did you prefer about the training?

My favourite part of the beer sommelier training was pairing the beers with food or food with beer. There are just so many possibilities of how you can make certain flavours stand out more, how you can make beer even more approachable to people who might not be so much into beer through food and just combine the different tastes and flavours is absolutely wonderful and a very, very enticing world.

What was the most difficulty part the training?

I guess one of the difficulties is definitely doing the training in French. So at the beginning I asked myself repeatedly why I chose to do that, but there were also really great aspects coming along with that, like the travelling, taking the class in French, meant it was possible to go to different breweries in the French speaking part of Switzerland. So that was definitely a plus. But yes, it was hard, especially when it came to the exams. The oral exam in French was quite a challenge, but it worked.

Did your life change in any way since you become a beer sommelier?

I'm definitely thinking more about what I can do with this now. I feel also that I have the formal groundwork or like the formal basis on everything about beer. I'm looking for options like how I can grow my knowledge even further and how I can actually apply what I've learned and being more of an ambassador for beer as well.

Can you tell me three of the best Swiss beers that you tasted recently?

I like to start with the Affenbande, which is one of the beers that we made at Brausyndikat because it was a really, really great modern IPA. It was gone in like two weeks. I've had plenty of IPAs, because they're very trendy and I find it a little bit hard to get excited about them because I've had so many of those, but that was definitely one that I absolutely loved.
Then I have to say one beer that will definitely stick with me was, what is the name of it? The cocoa one that we had today for lunch.

Guilty pleasure.

Guilty pleasure? Yes. So the guilty pleasure.

Wow. Absolutely fantastic. I will definitely remember that beer for a long time. And the third, there are always so many… Swiss. Huh? Um.

Oh, yeah, at La Mise en Bière I had a bitter by Fennek, it was really, really, really beautiful. I had never heard of the brewery and it was a really great experience to both discover the brewery and have a good bitter, which is something that you really have to go live for.

What are your two favourite style of beers?

I like to stick with a quote that I once heard, that if you have a favourite beer, you don't like beer at all. That's pretty much how I would describe my beer philosophy. Usually I prefer the beers on the lighter side, on the pale side, because I can drink a little bit more of them usually, but I honestly, I can say I love all the styles. As long as they're well done. I'm very, very happy with either style.

Do you know what means craft your life?

I'm actually not entirely sure what craft your life means. I think it's a very nice, hint towards the craft beer movement applied to a lifestyle, that’s how I always explained it to myself, but maybe there is a meaning behind it that I don't know yet.

Yes. You’re correct. It’s a very strong hint to the craft beer movement applied to a lifestyle. For us “Craft Your Life” means taking small risks on a daily basis to build a life that gives you a buzz. Even if we don't always know what gets us going, the important thing is to try it out and go on an adventure every now and then, without knowing what will happen.

Thank you Sandra.

Thank you. Yeah. Thank you so much. That's great.


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