Friday, October 13, 2017

I’ve been a fan of beer ever since my good friend, Jason Harris, introduced me to “good beer” back in 2004. I’ve learned a lot about beer on my own and would consider myself more knowledgeable on the subject than most, but recently I’ve wanted to take the next step learning more about the finer points of brewing craft beer at a brewery level.
When doing research on my options, I came across the University of Richmond School of Professional & Continuing Studies (SPCS) Beer Brewer Professional Certificate Program. What impressed me the most about this program was the breweries that work with the program. The list of breweries reads like a who’s who for Richmond area breweries with some great breweries just a short drive outside the Richmond Metro area. The other thing that really stuck out was that this wasn’t just a program where you were in as long as you could afford the tuition. In talking to some of my classmates on the first day, I heard that only about one in every five people that applied, were accepted into the program.
My immediate reaction was that I felt humbled to be accepted into a program with such a low acceptance rate. That really spoke to the quality of the program that SPCS has put together. If they were just in it for the money, they would expand class sizes quickly to be able to take advantage of the demand. I expect that they will most likely expand in the future, but not at a rate that would compromise their ability to produce a high quality education for their students. I was very impressed with the high level of educators they had teaching the class.
Over the next year or so, I’ll be chronicling my experiences in the Beer Brewers Program. I hope to be able to give a little more background on the instructors that teach in the program as well expand on some of the descriptions of what is being taught in certain modules. My goal will not be to retell word for word what we learned in class (because I could not do the experience justice as the instructors as far more knowledgeable than I am), but more share my experiences while in the program and highlight some of the things I found personally interesting.
Out instructor for the history of beer is Ben Madden. Ben was the brewery at Westwood Brewery in California that won the gold medal in 1997 and the silver medal in 1998 at the Great American Beer Festival for their wee heavy (I told you these were some incredible instructors).
Week one we learned about the history of craft brewing. We started with answering the questions:
What was beer?
What were the historic ingredients?
What was the basic brewing process?
We then worked our way through the history of beer and some key inventions that have shaped the craft beer world from 7000 B.C. through the late 1800s. What struck me the most was how a lot of the ways that beer was brewed as far back as 2000 B.C. have translated into beer styles that we still have today. Learning more about beer styles and how/when they came about is a big part of why I wanted to get my beer brewers certificate.
And as with any education, there is homework. But unlike most education, this homework is fun a interesting. This week we have to do a small report (250 words) on a major influence in the word of craft beer. We were assigned names, but the instructor switched a few names around based on the interests on the students in the class. (For example one of the students plans to open up own cidery so he got the name of a brewer who also own a cidery).
I got Steve Hindy. I haven’t finished my report yet, but I’ll add it as a response to this post later.
If you have any questions about the program, please feel free to ask questions and I’ll answer them as I have time. I can tell you that so far, I am very excited about continuing my beer education and really believe that I made the right decision in choosing to do that at SPCS.

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