Brew U: Educating the Next Generation of Brewers

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Normalizing higher education for craft beer brewers.

Would you try to become an attorney without attending law school? Would you try your hand at brain surgery without first going to medical school? Would you expect to be hired by NASA without an aerospace degree? Of course not. So why is formal beer education regarded as an optional step on the ladder to professions in beer?

Craft beer is a fast growing industry. Breweries are opening and expanding all over the United States—and the globe. There are now over 4,000 breweries operating in the country and more opening every day. It makes you wonder. Who’s brewing all that beer? And where did they learn to brew?

Don’t get us wrong. We’re all about the bootstrapping entrepreneurism of craft beer. And as we’ve seen in several high profile cases, you don’t need a professional brewing education to succeed in the world of craft beer. But with competition between breweries stouter than its ever been, and more and more craft beer curious entrepreneurs looking to break into the industry each day, experienced brewers and aspiring brewers alike are looking to formal brewing education programs to bring their skills to the next level.

If you are serious about a career in beer—or just looking to expand your homebrewing knowledge—there are several programs available domestically and internationally that can quench your thirst for brewing knowledge.

The following is a (by no means comprehensive) list of certificate and degree programs at colleges and universities across the globe.

American Brewers Guild • Vermont

The American Brewers Guild (ABG), based in Salisbury, VT, has been offering formal brewing courses since 1997. The flagship programs are the Intensive Brewing Science and Engineering and the Craft Brewers Apprenticeship Program, which places students inside operating breweries and brewpubs to gain first-hand experience before completion. Recently ABG added courses like Brewery in Planning. ABG’s programs are often a mix of distance learning and residential stays.

Appalachian State University • North Carolina

The Department of Enology and Viticulture at Appalachian State University offers a Brewing Short Course (five days) in the summer “intended for those working within the brewing industry and the advanced home brewer” or anyone looking to increasing their understanding of brewing principles and technologies. Attendees split time between classroom discussions on standard brewery operations and brewery planning, laboratory skills and analysis, and production-level taste evaluation. Dates for 2015 are yet to be announced.

Central Michigan University Fermentation
Science Certificate Program
• Michigan

Announced this September, Central Michigan University has created a certificate program in fermentation science with a focus on brewing beer. According to CMU, the new coursework will be a mix of advanced sciences such as biochemistry, chemistry, and microbiology, with lecture-based and hands-on laboratory courses on brewing from “farm-to-glass.” Students will also participate in an internship of at least 200 hours in a production-scale facility for completion.

Central Washington University • Washington

For those looking for a balanced program that will help you prepare you in not only brewing science, but also in the merchandising and marketing side of the business, CMU offers a 16-credit Craft Beer Trade Certificate. The 30-week coursework includes lab work, hands on brewing experience, lectures, field trips, and industry speakers.

Colorado State University:
Beverage Business Institute
 • Colorado

Well suited for those interested in the business of craft beer, or wine, or soft drinks, or any beverage for that matter. The Beverage Business Institute at Colorado State University offers workshops, certificate programs, and even specialized MBA’s in the business of beverages. Live classes are offered in Fort Collins and other Colorado locations. Online classes are offered through CSU’s distance education program.

Doemens Academy • Germany

In 2000 Doemens Academy and the Siebel Institute of Technology founded the World Brewing Academy (WBA). Courses are taught in Chicago, Munich, and online. Campus-based courses include Concise Course in Brewing Technology (14 days—intermediate), Diploma Course in Brewing Technology (12 weeks—advanced), and a Master Brewer Program (20 weeks—advanced). Online courses include Executive Overview of the Brewing Process, a Concise Course in Brewing Technology, and an Associate Program in brewing.

Escuela Superior De Cerveza Y Malta • Spain

Among other classes in brewing at Escuela Superior De Cerveza Y Malta is a master’s program targeted at the most serious of the craft beer pupils in the world. It caters to those that already have a bachelor’s degree in the science or engineering realm and who wish to dig deep into beer science and brewing technology, processing and packaging, pilot plant operations, and research. The program is for Spanish speakers.

The Institute of Brewing & Distilling • UK

The IBD, whose mission it is to “provide the most respected and most widely recognized qualifications, training and development in brewing and distilling globally,” is a global membership organization and educational charity status established by the International Brewers’ Guild. The IBD is also home of The Beer Academy that offers courses in the realm of tastings, beer and food pairing, a one-day foundation course, a two-day advanced course, and the half-day “how to judge beer” course.

International Center for Brewing and Distilling • UK

Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh, Scotland, offers a bachelor’s degree in Brewing and Distilling. This full-time program is a collaboration with the International Centre for Brewing and Distilling, and successful completion of the coursework allows exemption from the first professional examinations of the IBD.

Leuven Institute for Brewing Research • Belgium

Could there be a better place to learn about the science of beer than the land of Trappist ales and Flemish reds? The Leuven Institute for Brewing Research, at the University of Leuven in Belgium, offers a four-week course—taught in English—on malting and brewing technology that includes practical experience. The Institute is equipped with state-of-the-art brewing equipment in the brewhouse and the laboratory for participants to gain hands-on experience.

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