College Just Keeps Getting Better

BA typically stands for “Bachelor of Arts” but at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina it might also stand for “beer appreciation.” The school has filed for state and federal permits to sell beer, in order to make use of all of the beer they’re making in their honors brewing classes. The school is even working on developing a major in fermentation sciences that would cover wine and beer making.

Appalachian State U

One class offered at ASU is called “The Science, History and Business of Beer and Brewing” and its co-taught by chemistry and biology professors. It’s no secret that North Carolina has unofficially become the craft beer capital of the South – with more than 50 breweries operating, the nearby city of Asheville currently boasts the title of Beer City USA. That’s one of the big reasons the school is taking beer so seriously. The professors see their efforts as a way to prepare their students to be productive in an industry growing both locally and across the nation.

They’ve even founded Ivory Tower Brewery in the campus conference center’s basement. The brewery will function as a non-profit institution and allow students to follow the beer production process from start to finish. Co-professor Brett Taubman admits that production license for a university is essentially uncharted territory, but the group believes it will solidify the program’s legitimacy. Even better, the revenue earned from beer sales can be reinvested so that the program can sustain itself.

They’re certainly off to a good start. Jamie Bartholomaus, renowned brewmaster at Foothills Brewing in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, taught a course last spring that focused on the basics of opening a brewery. Appalachian State has even begun discussions to partner with Surry Community College’s viticulture program to build their bachelor’s degree curriculum.

University of Wisconsin students can also take a fermentation and zymurgy class that teaches advanced brewing techniques. It’s offered through the bacteriology department. Prerequisites include microbiology classes, biochemistry classes and one semester of organic chemistry. There is no age requirement for enrolling in the class, but students must be 21 or older to participate in the taste-testing portions.

MillerCoors even donated a $100,000 set of pilot-scale brewing equipment to the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences to train future fermentation experts and advance the science of biotechnology. The idea is to benefit the students and also supply the industry with “a pipeline of well-educated, motivated graduates who can step right in and help the companies that they choose to work with. It’s a win-win.”

A representative from UW also noted how the course would also benefit the state of Wisconsin, where the brewing industry provides 63,000 jobs and creates an economic impact of $6.8 billion per year.

Anyone else wanting to go back to school?


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