As the United States’ craft beer industry continues to boom (the number of operating breweries jumped 16.6 percent in 2016), brewing is an increasingly promising employment sector. Last year, craft brewers provided almost 129,000 jobs, up 6 percent from the year before. In response to all this growth, two- and four-year colleges across the country have been launching degree programs to help develop America’s next best brewmasters. Here are 12 to whet your aspirations.
Two-Year Degree Programs
Central New Mexico Community College, AAS, Brewing & Beverage Management
This four-term program prepares students for a range of beverage management careers, via a mix of lab and classroom courses. In addition to learning about brewing technology and brewing sciences, students will learn about the business, marketing, and hospitality aspects of the beer industry. Students can attend classes on a full- or part-time basis.
Location Matters: Albuquerque, New Mexico
Albuquerque breweries took home all kinds of awards at the 2016 Great American Beer Festival, including six medals for individual beers and the championship for mid-size brewpub and mid-size brewpub brewers.
Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College’s Craft Beverage Institute of the Southeast, AAS, Brewing, Distillation, and Fermentation
This program provides a mix of classroom and lab time that prepares students for careers in the craft beverage industry of their choice. Five semesters of coursework cover relevant topics from applied microbiology to legal issues to agriculture. The Brewing, Distillation, and Fermentation department also offers more specific three-term diplomas in “Brewing Methods and Operations” and “Distillation Methods and Operations.”
Location Matters: Asheville, North Carolina
North Carolina’s craft brewery numbers jumped by 100 percent between 2014 and 2016, and they’re producing some favorites. At last year’s Great American Beer Fest, breweries across the state — including two from Asheville — brought home 17 individual beer medals.
Flathead Valley Community College, AAS, Brewing Science & Brewery Operations
This program incorporates classroom lecture and hands-on experience in the interdisciplinary science and business of brewing. Students complete four semesters of coursework, including laboratory sessions,in the 3.5-barrel on-campus brewery, and participate in a summer internship.
Location Matters: Kalispell, Montana
Montana may not have a lot of people, but the sparsely populated state ranks second in the nation for craft breweries per capita with nine craft breweries for every 100,000 people of legal drinking age. In 2016, Billings’ Überbrew won the Great American Beer Festival’s Small Brewing Company and Small Brewing Company Brewer of the Year categories.
Pennsylvania College of Technology, AAS, Brewing & Fermentation Science
This two-year program incorporates coursework and hands-on laboratory time to ready students for careers in the beer industry. In addition to studying the science, technology, and the business of brewing, students get a solid foundation in the context surrounding the culinary industry with coursework in world wines and beers as well as food sustainability. Those looking to complement their beverage-specific knowledge can matriculate into an applied management bachelor’s degree program upon graduation.
Location Matters: Williamsport, Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania produces more craft beer than anywhere else in the United States, putting out 3,905,620 barrels per year. Need we say more?
Four-Year Degree Programs
Central Washington University, BS, Craft Brewing
This four-year interdisciplinary degree grew out of a continuing education certificate program launched in 2009. The program now mixes hands-on brewing and research with classroom teaching to prepare students for careers throughout the industry. Graduates will be ready for work across the industry, as brewmasters, marketing and distribution experts, or business owners.
Location Matters: Ellensburg, Washington
Colorado State University, BS, Fermentation Science & Technology
Students will earn a solid foundation in the interdisciplinary sciences that underpin food fermentation while also learning about its culinary and nutritional aspects. This four-year bachelor’s program readies graduates for careers ranging from product development to plant management.
Location Matters: Fort Collins, Colorado
Colorado is one of the country’s most prolific producers of craft beers (1,429,130 barrels annually). With more than 20 breweries, Fort Collins turns out 70 percent of that product. This fall, Colorado State University will launch its own student-run teaching brewery.
Nestled within MSU Denver’s Hotel, Tourism, and Events program, these bachelor’s degrees prepare students for careers in hospitality while providing a strong foundation in the particular science and business knowledge to work in the beer industry. Students get hands-on experience at on-campus Tivoli Brewing Company. With a 28,000-barrel annual capacity, students get to practice brewing, bottling, and navigating the distribution process.
Location Matters: Denver, Colorado
Oregon State University, BS, Food Science & Technology, specializing in Fermentation Science
This four-year applied science program focuses on the process of producing wine, beer, and other fermented foods using microorganisms. Students take classes in fermentation, processing, and preservation sciences; production and evaluation of wine and beer; and the public health and safety aspects of fermented food and beverages.
Location Matters: Corvallis, Oregon
Oregon’s craft brewing industry ranks second in the nation for its per capita economic impact and its number of breweries continues to rise each year. In 2016, 21 of its brews took home medals at the Great American Beer Festival.
Southern Illinois University Carbondale, BS, Fermentation Science
The Fermentation Science Institute, a teaching and collaborative research facility, launched its undergraduate degree program in 2016. The four-year curriculum includes course and lab work in fermentation and applied agricultural sciences, as well as classes in hospitality and business.
Location Matters: Carbondale, Illinois
Western Michigan University, BS, Sustainable Brewing
This collaborative program between Kalamazoo Valley Community College, Western Michigan University, and the brewing industry prepares students for careers on the cutting edge. The program includes both a brewing-focused science and technical curriculum and coursework in environmental systems and sustainability.
Location Matters: Kalamazoo, Michigan
Michigan has been referred to as “The Great Beer State” and it’s no surprise. With 222 craft breweries, it ranks sixth nationally, and the general beer industry earned $10.5 billion overall in 2016, providing more than 30,000 jobs.
SUNY Cobleskill, BS, Fermentation Science and BT, Applied Fermentation
This two-track program offers either a Bachelor of Technology in Applied Fermentation or a Bachelor of Science in Fermentation Science. Both curricula blend classroom time with lab work and hands-on experiences such as internships or on-campus research opportunities. After completing core courses, BT students focus on the “growth-to-manufacture” process of producing foods and beverages. BS students can specialize in one of three tracks, including the study of food and beverage production.
Location Matters: Cobleskill, New York
With 269 breweries, New York produces over one million barrels of craft beer per year, generating almost $3 billion annually.
Appalachian State University, BS, Fermentation Science
This four-year program started in 2012 and includes coursework in the sciences of beverage production as well as business and marketing. Students complement their in-class curriculum with time in the school’s “pilot plant,” an educational and research facility that provides the chance to run small independent trials, commercial-scale collaborative experiments with industry producers.
Location Matters: Boone, North Carolina
ASU’s partnerships reflect the breadth of the local beverage industry — North Carolina is home to more than 100 wineries, 200 craft breweries, and a growing number of small distilleries.