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Craft Beer 101: Universities Offer Microbrewery Education


January 21, 2016
by Susan Dutca-Lovell
The history of beer dates back as far as the 5th century BC and is known to be one of the oldest beverages produced by mankind. However, MillerCoors might not cut it these days for beer aficionados due to the latest cultural trend: microbreweries and craft beer. From your local bar, to the stadium, and now in the classroom, the craft beer industry is starting to dominate its field with universities now offering 
programs that educate students on the hottest hops and beers to help them launch their careers in the craft beer industry, according to Lisa Rathke of the Associated Press.

The history of beer dates back as far as the 5th century BC and is known to be one of the oldest beverages produced by mankind. However, MillerCoors might not cut it these days for beer aficionados due to the latest cultural trend: microbreweries and craft beer. From your local bar, to the stadium, and now in the classroom, the craft beer industry is starting to dominate its field with universities now offering programs that educate students on the hottest hops and beers to help them launch their careers in the craft beer industry, according to Lisa Rathke of the Associated Press.

Craft beer, as defined by the Brewer's Association, focuses on small-batch, independent, and traditional methods of brewing. The craft industry poses a threat to Big Beer, which fell 2% in 2014. According to industry statistics, craft beer now accounts for a 19% or more of dollar sales. What exactly accounts for this popularity? Some experts point to the "trendy hipsterism" - the "local vibe' that Big Beer just can't match. Brewer Association Director Paul Gatza attributes the increased marvel to beer drinkers' experimentation to brewery experimentation, increased appearance on retail shelves, the social aspect, and its portability. So why not keep up with the trend by becoming more educated and involved in the ever-growing industry?

But there's a catch: you must be at least 21 years of age. Oregon, Vermont, and California all have a minimum drinking age of 21 years and in so far as applying for the programs, students must wait till the legal age to begin their courses. Though the programs are intended to educate and place people in a up-and-coming field, the age at which people may apply may have them delaying their careers and plans until they have reached the age of drinking maturity. The average age for college freshman is 18 years old, while several may be 17 or 19 years old. That said, those intending to enroll in craft beer business courses must wait three to four years before applying and starting. Do you think the age requirement should be lowered?

Ranking at the top in the nation for the most breweries per capita, the University of Vermont offers an online business of craft beer certificate program and optional apprenticeship. According to program director Gregory Dunkling, students apply from all across the nation. Most beer-focused breweries started out five to ten years ago. Industry statistics reveal that in 2014, overall beer sales were up only 0.5% while craft beer sales increased by 17.6%. The U.S. far surpassed 4,000 breweries in September of 2015, and it had not crossed this barrier since 1873. A decade ago, Dunkling claims that home brewers, despite their strong home recipes, lacked "business acumen" - so they hired marketing, sales, and business operation staff. With increased competition in the industry, there's a demand for higher brewer knowledge, especially on the business side. UV's online class offers two separate courses: the Fundamentals of Craft Beer, and then a choice for focus on Digital Marketing, Sales, or Business Operations.

In 2013, Portland State University in Oregon began their online Business of Craft Brewing program and within a week, the class had filled all its seats. Found to be one of the "most successful professional certificate programs," it attracted international students who either "didn't want to necessarily go to college," or had already received a degree - they genuinely wanted to learn how to open their own brew pub, which required a bit more knowledgeable in marketing. Portland State University even offers a scholarship opportunity in craft brewing, titled Pink Boots Scholarship for a woman who earns income from the beer industry.

Also, San Diego State University's College of Extended Studies offers a similar professional certificate in the business of craft beer - from introductory courses such as "Exploring Craft Beer" to "Finance," students can venture into the field at local breweries, to get a hands-on learning experience in the craft beer industry. Students can receive their certificate in less than 1.5 years.

If you have a taste for microbrewery, viticulture, or any related fields of study, search for scholarships today and pursue your higher education dreams with the help of free college money.

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abdalla ibrahim  on  1/29/2016 12:13:12 AM commented:

i am somali i want to continoue my education so i want help

jon k  on  1/24/2016 2:41:57 PM commented:

I know people have to learn how to make beer somewhere but it doesn't seem like a college-level course that you would earn credits toward a bachelor's degree. I mean, you sprout barley, bake it dry, grind it up in water, add water, yeast, and hops, and whatever else you decide to try and let it sit for a week or two, strain out all the gunk floating around, put it in bottles and you are done. Does that sound like your other college classes? No way! And besides, most people would not be old enough to even take the class until after their graduation date!

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