What was your major in college? Beer.
It’s a tired old joke - but increasingly these days it’s true. More and more colleges, recognizing the growth of craft brewing as a business, and the unique combination of science, technical skill, artistry, and startup savvy it requires, are teaching courses in brewing. At some it is a significant part of a four-year degree program in what is called fermentation science.
For example, in craft beer obsessed Oregon, they offer a four-year fermentation science degree at Oregon State University. The program covers beer, wine and other fermented foods like yogurt. Along with organic chemistry and calculus, aspiring brewers study courses such as brewing science, brewing analysis, fermentation microbiology and food law. Faculty specialties include areas such as yeast genetics. And the program has its own brew-house and grain malting facility.
In California, another hotbed of craft beer, the University of California at Davis has had a brew-house since the late 50’s. Most brewing studies at UCD are part of a four year BS major in food science. And they even offer graduate level courses, though brewing science professor Charlie Bamforth does warn, " There are very few job openings for PhD students in the world of beer.” Bamforth, by the way, is considered one of the world’s leading authorities on the science of brewing, with a prodigious output of published research - and a keen ear for titles. Some of his papers include Sexy or not? Recent work on brewing yeast; Brown Shoes or Black Shoes? A scientist’s perspective on new product development; and Foam: method, myth or magic?
And the small world of college brewing education is growing.
At Colorado State University, they’ll soon be adding two on-campus brew-houses. Central Michigan University is planning to launch a new two- semester program in the fall. The school says it is simply responding to demand. And there are a number of schools now offering shorter-course certification programs as well. There are also some offering specialized courses in the business side of making and selling beer.
And the industry is glad to see the activity. After all, the craft in craft beer is all about knowledgeable brewers doing something special with one of the world’s oldest beverages. And with the industry growing at the rate of 500 new breweries a year, those brewers have to come from somewhere.
ICYMI here's a sneak peek at Season 2 of 'Beer Geeks' launching soon on Ora.TV:
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