Craft Brewing Business salutes Derek Weidenthal, a brewer for Blue Pants Brewery, located in Madison, Ala. Weidenthal is currently going through the Siebel Institute International Brewing Program in Chicago to earn a diploma in Brewing Technology.
Even cooler, Weidenthal is blogging about his 12-week journey through the advanced program that will prepare him to advance his skills through practical application of brewing theory in real-world commercial brewing environments. Here was a recent post on his yeast lessons:
After what seemed like week of brewing yeast theory, we finally got into the chapter that I was looking forward to most today… Yeast handling practices. Yeast handling is the one area that most craft breweries need to improve. Unfortunately, in breweries yeast handling practices are normally glossed over in favor of production speed. It is the biggest area that we have improved on at Blue Pants in the last 6 months and still the area of the brewery that needs the most work.
So I read this chapter several times before class today and I went into the lecture armed with questions. The professor and I wound up having a great discussion about how to harvest more yeast from the fermenter while it is still viable, concerns about our pure yeast cultures from our supplier, and he answered some of my questions about setting up a personal yeast bank. I can’t wait to get to the applied brewing techniques module so I can do some lab work with a professional and learn how to put all this information to use back home.
Definitely click the link above and follow his footsteps through the process. Maybe you’ll even pick up a few educational tips and tricks. After Chicago, Weidenthal will travel to Munich, Germany, to hit the European Brewing Study Tour.
The demanding twin-campus WBA International Diploma Program is a 12-week course comprised of two 6-week segments, the WBA Associate Program, divided into one-to-three-week modules, with each module specializing in a particular area of brewing technology. The content will address issues in brewing from an international perspective, providing a depth of experience that is unavailable through any other institutions
After completion of the Associate Program, students may elect to complete the World Brewing Academy International Diploma in Brewing Technology program by completing the following modules at the Siebel Institute of Chicago and Doemens Academy campus in Munich, Germany:
- Technical Case Studies Course & Business of Brewing Course (Module 4 in Chicago)
- Applied Brewing Techniques (Module 5 in Munich)
- European Brewing Study Tour (Module 6 in Munich)
Upon completion of the World Brewing Academy Program, Alabama distributor AlaBev noted that Weidenthal will be one of two brewers in Alabama to hold this classification. Good luck, Derek!
For more on education…
At the 2013 Craft Brewers Conference, keynote speaker Kim Jordan, president of New Belgium Brewing, said the number one challenge facing the craft brewing industry as it continues to grow is quality. From our coverage at the time:
“We need to be vigilant of how our beers ultimately look, smell and taste,” Jordan said, and then asked a series of quality standard questions: “Are you investing in field quality? Training your sales people about how to check for quality standards? Do you understand how your beers hold up in optimal and suboptimal conditions, and are you managing your sales accordingly? When you are out in the market are, you checking locations for best buy dates? Do you have a best buy date that doesn’t require a secret decoder ring?”
We agree with this line of thinking: Education is key, and the most well trained, prepared brewers, will survive the industry trend wave into a viable, sustainable business. If you’re interested in continuing your own brewing education, be sure to leaf through our comprehensive brewers education guide.