2015 may indeed have been the year in which the world was forced to silently bear witness to the $105 billion dollar merger of the two largest brewing companies—Anheuser-Busch InBev and SABMiller—but it also just so happened to be the year that craft breweries reached historic numbers. As a result, collegiate craft beer programs are taking off.
While we normally might say that college bros know all they need to know about beer, knowledge is power—and in this situation, we're talking about the power to create more kickass craft beer. Which is a pretty good thing.
According to the Brewers Association, this past decade has seen the number of American craft breweries skyrocket from a little over 1,500 in 2005 to more than 4,144 by the end of November 2015. That's the most breweries America has ever had, and tops the previous high of 4,131 breweries way back in 1873.
The massive increase in brewery competition brings with it the need not only for each new brewery to set itself apart, but also to raise standards across the entire industry. Bart Watson, the chief economist for the Brewers Association, says, "Certainly the demand for people with a high level of brewing knowledge has gone up and on the business side as well. So I think we're seeing a variety of different programs look for ways that they can capitalize on that."
Colleges are jumping in to fill the knowledge gap—and not by turning a blind eye to drinking on campuses. Instead, you can now get a college certificate in craft beer brewing.
Gregory Dunkling of the University of Vermont's online craft beer business certificate program, which begins training new students in February, explains that his program is truly a sign of the times: "Back [10 years ago], a home brewer may have been able to create some great recipes but didn't have the business knowledge of marketing, sales and operation."
Oregon's Portland State University began its online craft brewing business course in 2013 and has seen widespread success since. The university's director of communications, Scott Gallagher, told the Hartford Courant, "We discovered that there's a huge need for people who wanted to get a certificate. They didn't necessarily want to go to college or already had a college degree and wanted to open up a brew pub."
Both San Diego State University's College of Extended Studies and the University of Portland offer similar craft brewing business courses. Harpoon Brewery was quick to jump on board and even offers apprenticeships to enrolled UVM students.
So why major in English or business or engineering when you can go to college to study craft brewing? Some things really do change for the better.