SPSCC prepares to offer craft brewing and distilling degree

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Article from The Olympian
By Lisa Pemberton

A new degree program is brewing at South Puget Sound Community College.

The state recently endorsed the college’s request to offer a for-credit Craft Brewing and Distilling Program.

“That gives us the green light to move forward,” said Kelly Green, a spokeswoman for the Olympia-based college. “Our anticipation is that in fall 2017, we’ll be able to launch brewing and cider, and fall of 2018 would be distilling.”

There already are a few colleges in the region that offer degrees in wine and cider making, and SPSCC currently offers non-credit craft beverage brewing classes, Green said.

“Nobody else is doing distilling, and nobody else is doing all three,” she said.

SPSCC has until May to develop curriculum, reconvene an advisory committee, and meet other requirements for the program, said Laura McDowell, a spokeswoman for the Washington State Board of Community & Technical Colleges. When the college has met the requirements, the state can give its final approval to offer the new degree, which would be an associate in applied science with certificate options in brewing, cidery and distilling.

The goal of the program would be to prepare students to enter the industry “with a solid understanding of the science, technology, agricultural, business and creative elements that are essential for successful employment in the craft beverage industry,” according to the application SPSCC provided to the state.

“Students will learn about the production process, including sourcing of raw materials, essential safety and maintenance skills, and the fundamentals of flavor and product analysis,” it states.

The program will include business and legal components of the industry. The college expects the program to consist of a minimum of 90 credits in courses numbered 100 or above, including classes in beverage chemistry and biochemistry, small business management, and flavor and recipe development. The program would serve as many as 60 students, or 20 students per concentration per year of completion, according to the application.

SPSCC is working with several partners to launch the program, including the city of Tumwater, the Thurston County Economic Development Council and a range of local experts, including local brewers, who might host some classes until the college secures its own lab spaces for the program, Green said.

Information about a proposed Craft Brewing, Distilling and Cidery Center in Tumwater, which could eventually house SPSCC’s programs, was included in the college’s application.

SPSCC’s non-credit craft brewing classes have been extremely popular, Green said.

“We’ll continue to offer non-credit classes for your person who wants to brew a few gallons of beer in their bathtub,” she added.

For more information on non-credit and degree program classes at SPSCC, visit spscc.edu/brewing.