Serious about beer? Maybe it’s time you took your love of suds to the next level.
Starting in September, local craft beer enthusiasts will be able to enrol in an accredited, two-year program all about brewing. Offered at the Langley campus of Kwantlen Polytechnic University, the Brewing and Brewery Operations diploma is the first of its kind in the province and one of only a handful of beer-based multi-year diplomas in North America.
The inaugural class of 35 students will convene in a specially designed brew laboratory. Their studies will combine classes on the chemistry and microbiology behind the brewing process with hands-on training in brewing, packaging and marketing beer.
Meanwhile, guest lectures from members of the B.C. Craft Brewers Guild and Master Brewers Association of Canada will be supplemented by internships at local breweries for real-world beer experience.
As for coursework? In addition to other assignments, participants in the program will be expected to craft their own beers. The best of the the bunch will be served in on-campus venues and might just end up in local liquor stores.
Behind the beer diploma is the explosion in craft beer consumption throughout the province. In fact, course organizers were originally considering offering a wine-based program before they recognized the enormous demand for hoppy higher ed.
Microbreweries have seen sales grow by more than 20 percent a year since 2006, according to the B.C. Liquor Distribution Branch, with sales totalling $170 million during the 12-month period ending September 2013. There are currently more than 70 microbreweries in the province, with 12 more expected to open this year.
Applications for Kwantlen’s brewery program are expected to open in March. Enthusiasm for artisanal suds is expected to make for a very competitive process. A similar program offered by Ontario’s Niagara College saw 300 applicants face off for just 24 spots. Applicants are required to be 19 by the first day of class, provide a resume and letter of interest and, of course, know their IPAs from their pilsners.