Pouring Graduates into the Craft Brew Revolution




Bottoms up! The science of craft brew is filling students’ cups of knowledge across the CSU. As craft beer continues to outperform the overall U.S. beer market, CSU campuses are making how to produce high-quality craft beers part of the curriculum.

According to the Brewer’s Association, the number of U.S. craft breweries soared from 2,401 in 2012 to 3,418 in 2014—a 42 percent change in just two years. With the nation’s craft beer market totaling $19.6 billion, it’s no secret that America is in the midst of a craft brew revolution. The CSU has and continues to be at the forefront of this revolution. In 2013 when the craft brew industry was starting to experience rapid growth, San Diego State’s College of Extended Studies was ahead of the game and launched a professional certificate program called the Business of Craft Beer. Courses teach students the history of beer and different craft beer styles, the business of distribution, how to strategically market craft beer, bar management and beer list creation. On occasion, classes are held off-campus at local breweries so students have the opportunity to connect with some of California’s most successful craft brewers—including the owners of Stone Brewing Co., Karl Strauss, Helm’s Brewing Co., and Green Flash.

Innovation Brew Works ClassThis summer, Cal Poly Pomona launched its “grain-to-glass” brewing program which takes the university’s hands-on education philosophy to the next level. Students study the science and art of brewing ales and lagers under the guidance of Owen Williams, original brewer for BJ’s Brewhouse and cofounder of Ritual Brewery, and then take what they learn in class to the brewery on campus.

“This is really the first educational brew pub on a college campus that is open to the public,” said Aaron Neilson, Cal Poly Pomona’s director of dining services. “UC Davis pioneered brew courses, but Cal Poly Pomona is the very first college to both brew and sell its beer on campus.”

Innovation Brew Works, Cal Poly Pomona’s new campus brewery, is where the magic really happens. Each class is divided into a group of four where they work together to create recipes, brew their creations, transfer beer to kegs or bottles, carbonate the beer and counter pressure fill bottles. Students learn to become brewing engineers from Innovation Brew Works’ brewmaster and brewchemist. At the end of the course, each student is able to take home 15 gallons of the beer they brewed themselves. Plus, some of the beers students brew is sold and served in the pub and the tastiest recipes are replicated for future brew.

“This program and Innovation Brew Works itself dovetails nicely into the university’s mission of providing an innovative, hands-on education. Cal Poly students learn and work in the brewery, and can translate those skills to working for a large brew house,” Neilson added.

Neilson hopes to blend these classes into the for-credit curriculum offered to students enrolled in the university’s Collins College of Hospitality Management. For more information on Cal Poly Pomona’s Brew School, visit Innovation Brew Works.