Brewchelor’s Degree

The official summer doesn’t end until September 21st, but that means nothing for most of us. Summer is done when school starts. Whether you’re ushering kiddies off to middle school (bless you), about to start your final year of college (f*** you), or somewhere in between (I feel you), that summer buzz dies when the first bell rings.

But what if it didn’t? What if back-to-school was just a time to continue the party, or at least the science behind the party? For anyone lucky and bold enough to pursue a degree in fermentation science, this fantasy is the reality. After dabbling in three rounds of my own homebrew (IPA, Dubbel, Porter, in case you’re wondering), I can’t say I haven’t itched to test and grow my knowledge in a classroom setting, but three things are keeping my silly dreams at bay:

1. I’m already living out one set of silly dreams in my pursuit of a career as a writer.

2. School is EXPENSIVE. The only thing more expensive than school is a child- an actual human being- and they really only get in on the technicality that if all goes well, they will eventually attend… school.

3. I know I made that joke before about studying the science of partying, but that was just to help create a colorful intro to draw you in (SECRETS OF WRITING HERE). The science and math behind beer and wine is still science and math: chemistry, accounting, bacterial genetics, and other studies I can’t begin to pronounce.

HOWEVER, should you decide that these setbacks do not apply to you, here are three brewing schools you should check out:

1. UC Davis – As a part of UC Davis Extension, Davis’ continued and professional education arm, the brewing programs came about in 1991 as a collaboration with faculty of the undergraduate fermentation science program (they’re teaching beer to undergrads!). Davis’ program stands out as the only North American program of its kind to be recognized by the “prestigious Institute of Brewing and Distilling in London” (which I’ve never heard of, but totally believe is a thing).

2. Weihenstephan – What if you found out Dogfish Head or Rogue or… Evan Williams was not just a delicious thing to drink, but also a school at which you could make delicious things to drink? Those aren’t yet (but if Evan U. ever opens its doors, I call first dorm).

At the Technical University of Munich’s Weihenstephan (Freising) campus, you can learn to create beautiful brews at (or near?) the very brewery that crafts Weihenstephan (I’ll be honest; a lot of the literature’s in German so I can’t totally figure this out, but it’s definitely on the Brewer’s Association’s list of brewing schools here).

3. Siebel Institute of Technology – Celebrating its 140th anniversary this year, this Chicago-based brewing academy survived prohibition by briefly branching out to other technical studied: “baking, refrigeration, engineering, milling, carbonated beverages” and more. Thankfully back to it’s original purpose, the current school sits across from Chicago’s famous Goose Island Brewery and offers the full Diploma Course in Brewing Technology, as well as shorter courses in specialized brewing skills.

These were my favorites, but if you’re looking for information on other schools, or programs specializing in beer knowledge and service (such as the Cicerone Certification Program), check out the Brewers Association list (here’s that link again).

~Don Julian

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