Drinking beer in class is something many college students dream about, and sometimes get in trouble for. But at one school in Canada students get academic credit for knocking back a cold one.
This year, Olds College in Alberta enrolled its first class of students in the Brewmaster and Brewery Operations Management Diploma program. The two-year course prepares students for a career in beer -- creating, promoting and selling their own brews. They'll start by selling their creations on campus and later go on to run their own establishments. Thanks to a growing number of breweries in North America, job prospects are good.
The state-of-the-art teaching brewery is located on the university campus in the town of Olds, a town in central Alberta with a population of just over 8,000. The college campus also includes a working farm and botanical garden.
The two-year program is modeled after a similar one at Niagara College in Ontario. At both schools students learn the science, technique and business of creating and marketing their own beers. Courses include sensory evaluation of beer, brewing microbiology and filtration, carbonation and finishing. This year, 26 students have enrolled in the program.
A major part of their experience will be marketing and selling their creations. The brewery is attached to a local hotel where the beer will be served and sold. There will be four flagship beers served year-round.
"We will also have a number of limited relsease specialty beers," said program coordinator Peter-Johnson-Berresford, in a school press release, "each of which will give our students an opportunity to experiment with ingredients and create their own unique beers."
Another part of the program is tasting the product. Even though all students must be over 18 -- the legal drinking age in Alberta -- they won't exactly be getting drunk in the classroom.
"They get small tasters all the time," said Dr. Jordan Ramey, one of the course instructors, in an interview with Global News in Calgary "but they don't get to come in and have pint glasses."
Ramey was formerly a brewing consultant who studied biological sciences and microbiology at UCLA. He added that the program is made to prepare students to operate their own breweries and create their own products right out of school. And job prospects are looking good.
It's one of just six similar programs in North America and the graduates are in high demand. Ramey said that many craft breweries have already approached him asking when they can hire the students.
According to the Brewers Association, there are over 2,538 breweries in the US, more than 100 of which started this year.
Americans looking for a similar college experience can look to schools at the American Brewers Guild in Vermont or get a Craft Beer Trade Certificate at Central Washington University -- but they'll have to wait until they're 21 years old.