VCU is now teaching a craft brew class

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RICHMOND, Va. — Many students go to college and drink beer. Now Virginia Commonwealth University is offering a class to teach students how to make beer.

The new VCU Craft Beer Certificate Program begins in July.

The noncredit course promises to help prepare students to work in Virginia’s growing craft beer industry.

“It’s going to be very engaging, and we’re hoping to have each one of the sessions be held at a local partner craft brewery,” Liz Fillman, who is overseeing the new Craft Beer Certificate Program, said. “It will incorporate some tasting, as well as the history of craft beer, information on each style and type of craft beer, local history, as well as tours of the breweries.”

The program is divided into two tracks: the Business of Craft Beer and the Craft Brewer Certificate.

In order to take the Craft Brewer Certificate track, students must first take chemistry and biology.

“Our internal partners including chemical engineering and biology, and multiple local craft breweries will ensure a comprehensive and market driven program addressing craft beer workforce development needs,” Michael C. Huffman, Ph.D., director of the Office of Continuing and Professional Education, said.

Breweries teaming up with VCU on this project include Hardywood Park Craft Brewery, Stone Brewing, Center of the Universe Brewing Co., Ballast Point Brewing Co., and Ardent Craft Ales.

“They’re providing us with insight into the knowledge and the skills that folks coming out of these courses would need to get hired at one of their breweries. Additionally, we want to be able to help educate their current employees that they have,” Fillman said. “We also want to be able to give back to our partner breweries, and part of that is hosting sessions at the breweries so people in the community can become more familiar with the breweries and the beer that they have and hopefully become regular patrons.”

Over the last 12 months, there were 1,797 job postings in Virginia dealing with craft beer and brewing, according to real-time Labor Insight data compiled by the Office of Continuing and Professional Education.

“We may have some people who are just avid craft beer enthusiasts and they may just want to come and take the introductory course to learn a little more about the industry and the history,” Aimée Walters, marketing coordinator for the Office of Continuing and Professional Education, said. “And then we we’ll have the people who are interested in enhancing their career in the craft beer industry, as well as those who are interested in getting into the field.”

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