Craft beer is one of the fastest growing industries in the world. In 2015, craft beer grew by 12 percent and taking in $22.3 billion in sales in the USA alone. And given that people love craft beer, that trend doesn’t seem to be flatlining any time soon.
With that in mind, getting a job in the craft beer industry is becoming a more and more realistic career — hitting the sweet spot of doing what you love while giving other people joy. To celebrate #NationalBeerDay, we’ve compiled a short list of possibilities for training and certification if you want to get deeper into brewing than just a couple jugs in your basement. Each of these programs costs money, but you’ll finish with a marketable skill worth toasting to.
Step one: Grow a beard.
While these courses aren’t the only options — we’re not saying you can’t just get a job at a brewery — you’ll get further in the industry and have a deeper understanding of the science of beer by learning about the suds from one of these institutes. Also, it’s worth mentioning that from a business perspective going to beer school has some of the same benefits as going to culinary school. That is, the courses also offer business, accounting, and inventory training alongside the actual brew-making.
And if you’re thinking of turning your hobby into a career, those skills are crucial to your success (plus a bank manager will be a lot more willing to sign off on a loan if you’re certified to run a brewery).
American Brewers Guild
The American Brewers Guild offers several courses. The most pertinent to becoming a master brewer is their CraftBrewers Apprenticeship Program, or CBA. This course expands their usual DVD and web-based programs and adds on “a five-week apprenticeship at a production brewery.” The course guide continues, “students learn professional brewing concepts and acquire skills geared toward working in a commercial brewery.”
In total it’ll take you 28 weeks of training to obtain your CBA. The Guild does require that you’ve completed at least one college level math and science course to take their program. And although you can work and learn for 23 weeks of the program, you’ll have to work full-time as an unpaid apprentice for the five-week residency.
Tuition is $10,450. Next available course is June 11th – December 28th 2018.
Community college is a great option for any higher learning — the credits run cheap, and there’s no pesky admissions board. A lot of community colleges these days are offering course and even degrees in brewing with on-site mini-breweries and great apprenticeship opportunities.
Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College in Asheville, North Carolina offers a Brewing, Distillation and Fermentation A.A.S. degree. It’s a five semester long course (generally taken over two years) that allows you to learn the ins-and-outs of master brewing, running a brewery, and pitching your brewery to the world.
Overall, the course is 76 credit hours at a cost of $76 for NC residents and $268 for non-NC residents per credit hour. So expect to pay between $5,776 and $20,368. In the latter’s case, don’t move to Asheville. Instead find a local community college and pay local fees. Asheville-Buncombe’s fees seem to match other community college tuitions across the country.
Courses start every fall.
Another option would be to straight up get a university accredited degree in brewing. Here’s a list of universities and colleges offering those types of degrees.
However, some of these schools do offer master brewing courses for non-matriculated students to join in. One such course is Central Washington University’s Craft Brewing Certificate. This course covers 16 credit hours — meant to be taken in night classes and while working, over the course of an academic year. The course offers the science behind brewing as well as practical brewery business operations. And while there is a prerequisite for at least one pre-calculus and college level chemistry course, these can be waived if you already have experience on a brewery floor.
The course costs $6303.52 and takes place in Ellensburg, Washington. You can check out their Bachelor of Science in Brewing here. Classes start in the fall.
The course breaks down to a seven week class-based program in Chicago, learning brewing theory and business training before students head to Munich for a three week course at the Doemens Academy. Then there are two weeks spent traveling to breweries around Europe and studying their brewing techniques and how the breweries are run. Lastly, students return to Doemens for eight more weeks learning “advanced-level practice dealing in beer production, packaging operations, laboratory work and other areas critical to brewery operations.” This is the brass ring of brewing courses. You get to learn brewing from some of the greatest beer brewers in the world. That’ll earn you some serious street cred.
This program is not cheap. The total course fee is $27,980. That includes airfare to and from Munich, but does not include living expenses in Chicago or Munich. Expect to pay a lot to live in Munich or Chicago as cost of living in those cities is high.
The next course starts August 21st, 2017 and ends February 2nd, 2018 with a month-long break over December (just in time to enjoy all those amazing German Christmas markets).
Learning to brew beer and run a brewery in Germany just makes sense, given the massive nature of the beer culture originating from that country. VLB in Berlin offers a comprehensive six-month long course to transform you from a tinkering home brewer into a mother-f*cking master brewer with German brewing cred.
The course is complete with an “in-depth understanding of brewing technology with its related major fields of engineering, filling/packaging and quality control.” You’ll also attend VLB’s International Brewing and Engineering Convention and take “excursions to German breweries, malters, and suppliers.” Each week you’ll be attending 30 lessons and work on your brewing skills. VLB does have a strict requirement of at least three-months of brewery work before you can attend their program. This just means they’re dead serious about who attends. So maybe head down to your local micro-brew and tell them your plan and ask if you can haul 50 pound bags of grain for a few months — added bonus, you’ll get you into fighting shape for tackling this course.
Tuition for the course is €16,500/$17,600. This does not include your living expenses in Berlin, which is one of the cheapest cities to live in. So expect a monthly cost of living to hover well below the $1,000 mark.
Next available course is already wait-listed for January 8th to June 29th 2018. You may have to wait for the 2019 course.
Sometimes you need to go in-country to get the best mastery of a specific style. BrewLab in Sunderland, England offers a course that’ll give you a glimpse into mastering British beer styles.
BrewLab’s Diploma in British Brewing Technology offers a nine-week deep dive into all things British beer — from the microbiology to business start ups to hands on brewing. You’ll be expected to complete a minimum of seven brews with your very own 25-liter kit that they’ll provide you. The course also goes into starting up your micro-brewery and you’ll be required to present a full pitch with mocked up marketing and visuals to your classmates for your brewery idea, funding, and practices. Like we said, deep dives.
The course costs £8750/$10936 (thanks Brexit!). This doesn’t include accommodation, however BrewLab does offer dorms for student brewers costing £18.50/$23 per night — so expect to pay around $1450 more for a bed for the duration of the course.
The next course starts June 26th and runs through September 1st.
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Pic from the last brewday @doemens academy. Hoping the ESB. #esb #brewinglife #lovelife #instabeer #tastelife #beerstagram #siebel #siebelinstitute #beereducation #doemensacademy #beertech #brewschool #beerscience #beer #learning #continuingEd #craftbeer #KollarBrews #school #CSUAlumni #Brewer #germany #masterbrewer
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Plating a yeast crop sample from a professor's home-brewed Berliner weisse on 7 different selective agar medias to see what kind of microorganisms show up. #brewingscience #Doemens #microbiology #laboratory #microbiologylab #agar #plating #yeastcrop #microorganisms #yeast #saccharomyces #lacticacidbacteria #selectivemedia #brewingschool