rss icon

Sunday, 08 November 2015 21:55

West Michigan craft brewing programs gain momentum

Written by 
Rate this item
(0 votes)
Kalamazoo Valley Community College is in the process of building out a small-scale test brewery for its new sustainable brewing program. The brewing equipment also showcases several pieces of high-tech energy-saving innovations for heat recovery and water savings. Kalamazoo Valley Community College is in the process of building out a small-scale test brewery for its new sustainable brewing program. The brewing equipment also showcases several pieces of high-tech energy-saving innovations for heat recovery and water savings. COURTESY PHOTO

As the craft brewing industry continues to grow in West Michigan, several higher education institutions have begun to take action to address brewers’ talent needs.

Community colleges and universities in Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo are in various stages of developing training programs that aim to establish a talent pool of qualified brewing professionals.

Grand Rapids Community College (GRCC) is currently in the process of hiring a new faculty member to head its craft brewing, packaging and service operations certificate program that’s slated to begin in the summer of 2016.

When launched, GRCC’s new craft brewing program will allow students to run a brewing operation in its entirety, said Dan Gendler, program director for the Secchia Institute for Culinary Education. Because the program will take students through everything from brewing science to taproom management, it required a specially qualified individual to spearhead it, he said.

“Because we’re unique, we don’t just want someone who can teach how to make beer,” Gendler said.

Ideally, GRCC wants to find a candidate versed in brewing equipment operation, navigating state and federal liquor and tax laws, marketing, labeling requirements, bottling, packaging and front of the house operations. In addition, Gendler would like the new hire to have a master’s degree and be a certified cicerone.

“It’s a long list of qualities, and it’s going to be difficult to find the perfect person,” he said.

At the time this report went to press, GRCC had just closed the application process for the new position and is in the process of sorting through 15 applicants.

Gendler plans for the new faculty member to begin in January 2016 at the same time construction of GRCC’s brewing facility, located adjacent to its Heritage Restaurant at 151 Fountain Street NE, is expected to be completed.

While GRCC is just getting its program up and running, students at Kalamazoo Valley Community College (KVCC) are currently entering the second eight-week session in the inaugural semester of the institution’s sustainable brewing degree program.

The first session of the program included an introduction to brewing and brewing history, but the second session focuses on beer styles, sensory development and food pairings, said Mike Babb, a consultant for the program who also works as a hops fellow at Kalamazoo-based Kalsec Inc.

Next semester, KVCC plans to offer additional classes including recipes, malting and mashing, brewing calculations, brewhouse processes and others, Babb said.

In addition to the new courses, KVCC plans to finish construction and begin to occupy its test brewing facility in February. When finished, the test brewery will feature heat recovery and water savings technology to give students a “hands-on experience” with the sustainable side of the brewing business, Babb said.

Students graduating from the KVCC program have the option to transfer directly into Western Michigan University’s (WMU) bachelor’s of science degree in sustainable brewing.

Enrollment is currently full for the next eight-week course.

“The program has been well-received from students,” Babb said.

Read 4618 times Last modified on Sunday, 22 November 2015 19:44

Breaking News

September 2018
S M T W T F S
26 27 28 29 30 31 1
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 1 2 3 4 5 6

Follow MiBiz