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Schoolcraft College steps up to the bar with new brewing program

Flickr user Justin C Lenk

Beer is big in Michigan. The state is fifth in the nation for its number of breweries, microbreweries and brewpubs. This growth is creating a demand for workers to brew, serve and market all of that beer.

Schoolcraft College is launching a new brewing program this fall to help turn out those workers.

Rich Weinkauf is the Vice President and Chief Academic Officer at Schoolcraft College in Livonia. And he’ll be teaching one of the courses in the new brewing and distillation technology certificate program.

Weinkauf says the school conducted an “environmental scan” last year to determine the demand in the brewing and distillation industries. They found a 200% potential growth in the industry between now and 2020.

The certificate program will include seven courses and a total of 24 credits. Classes will take place on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights so that people who work during the day can attend.

Input from professionals led the program to expand their curriculum, Weinkauf says. The classes teach not only brewing, but also packaging, marketing and taproom management.

The model is similar to the culinary arts program at the school and Weinkauf hopes to tie the two programs together.

"[Students will] actually be making the beer, and eventually, when we get all of our licenses approved and in place, we hope to sell the beer paired with the food offerings that are in our student-run restaurant," he says.

The program includes instruction from professionals and hands-on experience.

"That's our focus. That's why it’s a certificate program, not a degree," says Weinkauf. "It gets you in and out and hopefully well-prepared to enter the workforce in a brewery or a distillery."

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