While practice does make you a better brewer, the best way to advance your skill is to train to become a Brewmaster. This means you’ll need education and hands-on experience. Brewing beer at home is very different from brewing beer in a brewery. Many paths to the title “Brewmaster” require college level classes in chemistry, biochemistry, and mathematics.
Types of people perusing these paths are:
- Someone who wants to be a professional brewer
- Someone who wants to open a brewery of their own
- Someone who wants a higher position in the brewing industry
Enter the beer craft guild
One possible path to become a Beer Jedi is to attend a vocational school. These programs are not college degrees, but they focus specifically on how to brew beer commercially.
Siebel Institute of Technology
The Siebel Institute is one of the premier trade schools for beer. The Chicago school was founded in 1868 by Dr. John Ewald Siebel. He taught brewing courses and wrote books on brewing beer at his school until he died in 1919, just 20 days before prohibition became law (probably of a broken heart). During prohibition, the school focused on courses in baking, refrigeration, engineering, milling, carbonated beverages and other related topics. As soon as prohibition was repealed, the focus returned to brewing beer.
Siebel offers a 12 week course called the “WBA International Diploma In Brewing Technology”. The 12 week program consists of 6 one to three week courses. Four of the modules are brewing and business theory taken at the Chicago campus and the remaining two are practical instruction in Munich. How cool is that!
This school has campuses in Chicago, Montreal, and Munich.
- 12 week on campus program which includes several weeks of practical training in Munich
- Internationally recognized
- Prerequisites are mathematics and chemistry, including a assessment to determine your readiness for the coursework
- Siebel Institute of Technology
American Brewers Guild
The American Brewers Guild is a newer school but boasts an impressive list of brewer graduates. They offer a 27 week program that prepares you for a variety of professional brewery positions including Brewmaster. The best part of their program is the first 21 weeks are online training. You are sent videos which provide 6 to 10 hours of instruction each week. The video instruction is followed up with 1 week of lab instruction on campus, and then a 5 week apprenticeship at breweries across America.
The 5 week apprenticeship matches you with a brewing mentor. I was surprised at the list of breweries which participate, even one of my favorite local brewpubs Coopersmith’s Pub and Brewery in Fort Collins, Colorado. During this apprenticeship you will work as staff (unpaid) at one of the participating breweries.
- 21 weeks distance learning, with 6 weeks practical study
- Prerequisites are pre-Calculus or algebra, and transcripts showing proficiency in one of the following: biology, chemistry, physics or engineering
- American Brewers Guild
Back to school
Craft schools are great if you already have some background in Fermentation Science, but maybe you are starting from the beginning. A college degree in Fermentation Science is a good place to get the education you would need to become a Brewmaster.
A degree in Fermentation Science is a program of study of the use of microorganisms as production and processing agents. A degree in this field will not only prepare you to be a Brewmaster, but the degree can be applied to many other industries (as a fallback plan, of course). Many universities offer this degree program, the most prominent being University of California – Davis.
- A 4 year program, but it results in a bachelors degree in Fermentation Science
- Check with your local universities to see what programs they offer
- Univeristy of California – Davis
Find Obi-wan of beer
Another option might be to work your way up from the bottom. Breweries are always hiring entry level positions. If you work hard, you might be able to convince a brewery to advance you to positions of more responsibility and eventually into a position where you can learn to brew beer professionally.
- No learning can beat hands on experience
- Hard to find someone to convince you have the “beer force”
You can go your own way…
Your final choice can be to learn it on your own. There are many books about learning how to brew beer professionally. For questions and guidance, you will need to be active on professional brewers groups on the internet. You’ll also have to prove yourself as an established homebrewer. This path will only work if you plan to open your own brewery. It will be very difficult to prove to a prospective brewery you can handle the job without some sort of credentials.
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