To boast about being the best at something takes a lot of bravado. It also takes the facts to back it up. When San Diego claims to be the Craft Beer Capital of America, there are a number of award winning breweries, world class craft beer establishments and a few decades worth of brewing tradition that bolster the braggadocio. With the popularity of the region and the craft beers coming out of it, there is a need for educated people to be the advocates of such an important aspect of the local tourism. With the success of the Business of Craft Beer program at San Diego State University, local craft beer businesses now have a cache of beer business savvy people to choose from when looking to hire for new positions.
August 14 marked the first time a group has graduated from the program, which currently has a 6-course and 9-course certification in place. Twenty-seven craft beer enthusiasts now look to put to use an education from top industry professionals such as Scot Blair (Hamilton’s, Monkey Paw), Bill Sysak (Stone Brewing) and Matt Johnson (Helm’s Brewing). Had the courses been taught by Larry the woodshop instructor from the community college, the program would not hold any validity. People in the craft beer industry know these professionals teaching the courses and will take notice when you say you were educated such individuals.
The program is geared for the craft beer geek and the novice beer drinker alike. Courses cover Craft Beer 101, Marketing, Brewery Startup, food and beer pairing and the ever popular Beer Styles which consists of tasting 5-6 beers within a specified style (lager, pale, porter/stout, etc.) each week. Completing the program should give a student an informative approach to any business endeavor they choose, whether starting their own brewery, advancing in their current careers or finding a niche business that does not exist in the current scene (ask me, I have some amazing ideas).
One of the greatest assets of the program is the networking capabilities with other craft beer minded people and professionals. For instance, a Cicerone study group was started with students from the program which helped one student who took the test to pass on his first attempt. The few that did not successfully pass now have a strong knowledge base to pass on their next attempt. Others in the program have been able to advance in their current jobs and some have found new jobs/careers in the industry through connections made through the six courses they’ve already passed. One student even took his skills abroad and is attempting to build a craft beer business in Switzerland.
When I started the program at the end of last year, it was a tough sell to my wife. I had been struggling with finding full time work, and the added cost of the classes was not particularly in the budget. However, with daily posts all over the internet about the San Diego craft beer scene, many of which she emailed me links to without prompting, the potential this type of education could bring became more apparent. With one more course to complete before graduating, I have found an additional job in the craft beer world, thus adding to the value of the program. With the local scene continuing to grow, having a strong knowledge base from my work in retail and distribution on the craft beer side, I see potential in landing a career very soon.
Please check out http://www.ces.sdsu.edu/Pages/Engine.aspx?id=40 for more information about the program and how learning about business and craft beer can be very cool.