As the SPSCC Craft Brewing & Distilling program gears up for its second cohort of students this September, the Craft Brewing and Distilling Center is in the final stages of equipment installation and the program continues to expand with new staff and exciting industry collaborations.
Although the inaugural cohort just graduated in June 2020, program alumni are already making their mark in the industry. Several recent graduates are planning businesses, including three distilleries and one brewery already in development.
“One of those distilleries is in Kentucky and the others are more local,” said program director Frank Addeo. “Our graduates are utilizing their education and making a big impact across the country.”
The program’s second cohort has admitted 35 students, with several local active duty military and veterans, as well as people already working in the industry. This cohort will gradually work in the new facility, as safety measures allow and spaces within the center are completed.
For the Fall Quarter, students can expect to work in smaller groups and have more focused time with instructors and lab technicians. “Instructors worked in pairs and were really agile during Spring Quarter to make sure students were safe, distanced, and got focused instruction,” explained Addeo.
The program is excited to welcome back several returning instructors, including Jeffers Richardson teaching Barrel Maturation and Blending, Aaron Blonden of Three Magnets Brewing Company, Andrew Byers with Finnriver Farm & Cidery, Brianna Ewing who will teach biochemistry and chemistry, and Matt Cooke of Odin Brewing Company. Joining the team will be Luke Jean, a recent graduate, who will join as an instructor of distillation.
In addition to its experienced instructors, local industry collaborations have continued to be a central part of the program and student success. This past spring, both Three Magnets Brewing Company and Triceratops Brewing Company opened their facilities for instruction and led the students in product-release workshops. These two workshops, which ran from brew day to canning day, were facilitated by Rob Horn of Triceratops and Aaron Blonden of Three Magnets.
Soon, some of those collaborations will be possible in the new SPSCC facility at Tumwater’s Craft District. Equipment is being installed, and a major focus in the new space is environmental stewardship and sustainability. The space will showcase technology poised to become the industry standard within the next 10 years, by utilizing equipment that relies on water re-use as much as possible.
Some of this equipment that fosters environmental stewardship includes a C02 recovery system, a yeast propagation system which allows the program to grow their own yeast, and an ozone sanitation system which promotes the re-use of water and chemicals up to 15 times per tank. “These are exciting steps toward operating at the gold standard for sustainability in the industry,” said Addeo.
Laboratories and classrooms will be state-of-the art, too. Students and visitors will have an opportunity to use an observation window to view the production floor, and cameras connected to classroom screens will allow accessible viewing of the brewing floor. The microbiology lab is already outfitted with new microscopes.
As the program progresses, the department staff also continues to grow. SPSCC welcomes Delbis Morel as the program’s new Assistant Director. Morel’s background includes 25 years in the beverage industry with experience in process engineering, packaging, and production.
Moving into a bigger role in the program is Megan Myers, now working as the program’s Interim Director of Business and Distribution, who will focus on licensing, branding, and distributing products. Myers began as Licensing Services Manager in November 2019, completed her Certificate of Craft Brewing in 2017, and is an advocate for inclusion within the industry.
Tying everything together will be the products created by students under an exciting new label spanning craft brews, spirits, and ciders: Percival Creek. The program continues taking steps to solidify the licensing, branding plan, product line-up and logo designs for products and looks forward to sharing more in late 2020. Products will not be released commercially until 2021.