The craft beer industry is big business. As of 2016 there were 334 craft breweries pumping millions of dollars into the Washington State economy. The growth has been rapid. Five years ago, there were only 136 craft breweries in Washington State.
Despite the surge, breaking into this market can be difficult. Amateur enthusiasts face stiff competition and might not be well-versed in the specific challenges of the industry. The KeyBank Professional Development Center (PDC) at UW Tacoma has a plan to address these issues. The PDC has launched a craft beer certificate program. “We’re giving people who are just getting into the industry the tools they need to succeed,” said Program Manager Christopher Cellars.
Two courses are currently offered: Mastering Beer Styles and the Business of Craft Beer. “The beer styles course really gets into what qualities a specific beer like a pilsner should have,” said Cellars. The course curriculum is modeled after the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) and the Cicerone Certification Program. The instructor for the ten-week class is Trever Nichol, a master-level BJCP judge.
The Business of Craft Beer focuses on the unique challenges of starting and running a successful craft brewery. “Brewers may not be familiar with the intricacies of this industry,” said Cellars. “There’s a lot to know in terms of specific rules and regulations.” The twenty-week course is split into two quarters in the winter and spring of 2018. The instructor for the class is Gregory Paley, a lawyer who works with both corporations and small startups. Upon completion of the course, students will emerge with a developed business plan.
The PDC has plans to expand its certificate program. A course on how to run a brewery or tap-room is slated for winter 2018 and will be followed a year later by a class in the science of brewing and fermentation.
The craft brewing scene in Tacoma has found its footing. The city’s Brewery District is transforming the local landscape. It seems fitting that the 7 Seas Brewery & Taproom will serve as classroom for the beer styles courses. Students will get immediate, hands on learning that the PDC's Cellars hopes will be put to good use. The partnership with 7 Seas goes beyond just the classroom experience. The brewery's local industry experience is helping to inform future program content.
“We would love for Tacoma to be a place where people come to take their beer business to the next level,” Cellars said. “This series of programs is a chance for us to have a positive impact on the community and on the responsible growth of the industry.”
John Burkhardt, UW Tacoma Communications, 253-692-4536 or firstname.lastname@example.org