Making great beer doesn’t always start with a degree in brewing science. Garrett Oliver, the brewmaster at Brooklyn Brewery, was a rock band manager in England before he was putting Brooklyn beer on the global map. Jim Koch got an MBA from Harvard and worked at the prestigious Boston Consulting Group for six years before starting the craft behemoth that is Samuel Adams and the Boston Beer Company.
But the brewing scene is different now. With more than 5,000 breweries in the U.S., the competition is hotter than ever. Formally studying the science of brewing and business management can be the difference between starting the next successful brewery and falling flat. With back-to-school season upon us, we’re taking a look at 13 colleges and universities where aspiring brewmasters can learn the tools of the trade.
Auburn University recently started a one-year graduate certificate in brewing science and operations with a focus on the malting, brewing, and distilling industries. Students in the program get the chance to work with Oskar Blues Brewery and the Alabama brewing industry, and learn about biology, brewing science, agronomy, and business planning.
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San Diego has one of the best craft beer scenes in the country, so it’s no surprise that SDSU has two certificate programs for those hoping to become brewers. One certificate takes a year, and the other takes 18 months. Courses cover beer styles, finances, distribution, and draught systems. While the end goal is definitely knowing how to run and operate a beer business, it doesn’t hurt that some of the classes are held on-site at local breweries.
UC Davis is widely considered to be one of the top schools in all things fermented. Malting and brewing are taught in the Food Science program, and there’s a more in-depth Master Brewers Program that’s 18 weeks long and will run you $16,000. For the latter, the school notes that “practical experience is a plus.” (You do get to hold class at the Sudwerk Brewing Company, though.)
Denver’s MSU provides both undergraduate and graduate-level degrees and certifications in beer. The degree is run through the school’s hotel, tourism, and events program, with beer industry majors in brewery operations, craft brewing, and pub operations.
Located in Chicago, Siebel was one of the first formal brewing programs in the U.S. The school’s master brewer program is 20 weeks long and features classes in beer theory (yes, that’s a thing), brewery ownership, and actual brewing. A portion of the studies are completed at the Doemens Academy in Munich, Germany, with a “European Study Tour” that samples Europe in the best way possible (e.g., through its beer).
You might think of bourbon when you think of Kentucky, but don’t count out the beers. Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green offers a certificate in brewing and distilling as an addition to other majors. Business majors, for example, can take a brewery ownership certificate, and people in the sciences can take additional brewing classes, and graphic and industrial designers can take design classes for beer. Not to be left out of any conversations about WKU’s brewing classes: a 135- barrel on-campus brewery.
The one-year certificate program in fermentation science at CMU is run in partnership with Mountain Town Brewing Co. and Hunter’s Ale House. After the fall and spring semesters, students finish off their certificate with a 200-hour internship in a brewery.
Schoolcraft offers a 24-credit program in brewing and distillation technology that’s run through the culinary program. A state-licensed brewpub is located right on campus and has 10 taps with a seven-barrel brewery.
Kalamazoo, Michigan, is a little slice of brewing heaven, and WMU just adds to that in partnership with the Kalamazoo Valley Community College. The schools offer an associate degree and a bachelor of science in sustainable brewing.
The New York state school started its fermentation program in 2017, and offers courses in science, brewing, marketing, management, and distillation.
OSU’s fermentation science degree lets people get hands-on in one of the top craft beer regions in the U.S. The degree starts with a general understanding of the science of fermentation, then moves into specific classes on brewing science, analysis, and career opportunities.
Classes for the certificate in craft brewing at this university are offered online, so even drifters can learn how to open their own successful brewery. The courses are led by people in the industry — professionals from both small and large labels — as well as people in distribution and sales.
CWU gives people a choice: a one-year-long craft beer certificate program, or a four-year bachelor of science in craft brewing. Graduates from both have gone on to take up positions as brewmasters and launch their own breweries around the country.