Beer for homework: SPSCC's new brewing and distilling program is breaking waves in the college arena

Published: 
Thursday, July 18, 2019

Article via Northwest Military
By Allegra Antwine

It's no secret that one of the most difficult transitions spawned from military retirement is navigating the future -- specifically, the civilian job force. Though many veterans leave the service equipped with a plethora of useful skills and qualifications, the building blocks for career success sometimes means starting from square one. In the case of scholastic pursuits, South Puget Sound Community College's (SPSCC) Craft Brewing and Distilling program is a viable option for beer-loving enthusiasts looking to turn a weekend hobby into a full-time career endeavor.   

Aiming to educate students on the science, technology, business and creative aspects of the industry, SPSCC's Associates degree in Craft Brewing and Distilling gives pupils the tools to be well-rounded individuals within the ever-evolving field. This jack-of-all-trades approach ensures students are versed in all stages of production -- from product conception to beverage creation to packaging and marketing upon program completion.

"There are two aspects of this program that I find particularly exciting -- things that set us apart from other programs," enthused Director of Craft Brewing and Distilling program Frank Addeo. "The first one being that this is the nation's first degree program that is offered for all three tracks: brewing, distilling and cider making. Traditionally, there has been very little communication between each of these respective industries. There's a lot of potential groundwork to be laid for somebody to learn the basics of distilling if they're pursuing a brewing degree, as it could open some potential doors for mixing methodologies that impact flavor outcomes. It opens up a lot of doors for innovation."

"The second exciting component about our program is that our facility is going to be built out to accommodate full commercial activity," Addeo explained. "Students are not only trained in business and accounting courses, but are learning about the importance of compliance with regulations as well. We provide students with a facility where they are able to train on commercial equipment, train on lab instrumentation that is used for quality control and quality assurance in production spaces, and really work hands-on with production and packaging equipment in a commercially viable space. When students leave the program, they have a little bit of direct experience with commercial equipment moving forward."

The coursework of the program isn't the only thing that boasts variation and diversity. With one-third to one-quarter of the current cohort comprising of military personnel who have either already begun the process of retirement or will be retiring in the near future, servicemembers come to class armed with skills that will serve them well in the program.

"We have quite a few students who come from military backgrounds, and have some military spouses as well," relayed Addeo. "Having people come from a military discipline is certainly helpful when looking at pursuing a career in manufacturing. These individuals know the importance of following protocol, which is the first and most important step in avoiding workplace injuries."

As if the aforementioned characteristics of the program weren't enticing enough, plans are underway to both grow and illuminate the programmatic possibilities. A larger development project dubbed the Craft District will be comprised of not only the shared building space with program-partner Heritage Distilling Company, but will also consist of other operations dedicated to supporting craft food and beverage in the Tumwater area.

Starting anew isn't always easy, but in the case of SPSCC's Craft Brewing and Distilling program, it can be fun. Whether an adult-beverage aficionado or someone who simply enjoys unwinding with a beer after work, the program offers something for everyone with an interest in the industry and passion for drink.

After all, what's better than having a beer for homework?

For more information about SPSCC's Craft Brewing and Distilling program, visit: spscc.edu/brewing.

Adult students look at brewing equipment in warehouse setting