The School of Professional & Continuing Studies awarded Beer Brewer Professional Certificates to the inaugural cohort of students who completed the program during an awards ceremony on November 5, 2017.

This inaugural cohort started classes in the Beer Brewer Professional Certificate Program over a year ago. The 17 members of the cohort received their certificates during the awards ceremony.

The Beer Brewer Professional Certificate Program launched in June 2016 in response to the surge in interest in craft beers and the opening of craft breweries throughout the Richmond region. The program provides students hands-on experience in all aspects of the craft brewing industry, from its history and methods to its ingredients and licensing. The program’s 11 modules and four field experiences prepare students for a 20-hour internship in a local brewery where their skills and techniques are honed with guided industry experience.

“This course was a unique opportunity to meet and learn from some of the brewing industry’s leading professionals,” said program graduate, Joel Morris.

The program has succeeded in filling its first three cohorts — the second started April 10, 2017, and the third started October 17, 2017 — and is well on its way to filling its Spring 2018 cohort as well. While many aspects of the program contribute to its success, the engagement of Central Virginia industry partners has provided the unique, hands-on experience that students are seeking in order to enter or advance in the craft brewing industry.

“I have enjoyed the enthusiasm and professional efforts of the UR staff and the instructors in building this program,” notes graduate Mark Clifton, who hopes to use his knowledge to gain a part-time job in the industry after retirement.

The School has partnered with a “who’s who” of local craft breweries. Partners include:

SPCS lured Bobby Faithful, former front-of-house manager at The Answer Brewpub, to become the School’s part-time Program Specialist — a move that brings considerable expertise about the local brewing industry and craft brewing practices to the students. Faithful also teaches classes in the program.

Additional brewing businesses welcomed the program’s interns for hands-on experiences. In addition to involving several of the partners listed, students earned internships at other companies like Blue Bee Cider, Chaos Mountain Brewing, Commonwealth Brewing, O’Connor Brewing, Trapezium Brewing, The Veil Brewing, and Wild Wolf Brewing.

Now that the first cohort has completed the program, they’ve started to reflect on the experience. The following are snapshots from the inaugural cohort’s experiences.

  • Students entered the program working at a variety of businesses, including the higher education sector (University of Richmond), the banking sector (Suntrust Mortgage), the technology sector (Cisco Systems) and the brewing sector (Triple Crossing).
  • Several students entered the program with previous home brewing experience, spanning from 3 to 25 years.
  • Students offered multiple reasons for entering the program, including opening a craft brewery, preparing for retirement or volunteer opportunities in the craft brewing industry, and expanding already extensive experience in home brewing.
  • The program has helped several students in professional development and career aspirations:
    • Glen Pruden, the University of Richmond’s Executive Chef, recently featured three local craft beers in a Spider in the Kitchen cooking demonstration and tasting titled “Cooking with Beer." The program was featured in a Food Management magazine article.
    • Two students, John Banks and Tyler Wert, landed industry jobs while completing the program: Banks at Kindred Spirit and Wert at Triple Crossing Downtown.

The awards ceremony was open to graduating students, their guests and representatives from area brewing partners. The ceremony featured remarks from Dr. David Kitchen, SPCS Associate Dean, and certificate awards by Garrett Stern, Senior Program Manager, and Bobby Faithful, Program Specialist. The awards ceremony was followed by a reception featuring a selection of craft beers from among our partners.

To learn more about the Beer Brewer Professional Certificate Program, visit spcs.richmond.edu/brewer.