Craft beer has changed whole cities and entire local cultures. Some of those beer metropolises are big cities like San Diego and Portland, and others are small brew burgs like Asheville, N.C., and Fort Collins, Colo. Some of these craft breweries, particularly in these small cities, have grown so much that they are changing the local culture. Grand Rapids, Mich., is a great example. The city’s reputation and self-image have undergone a noticeable swing, with craft beer pumping tax dollars into the economy, creating jobs for locals, attracting tourists and making some tasty suds.
Grand Rapids plans to keep its budding brewing industry rolling, specifically by teaching the next generation and the local workforce about careers in the brewing industry. This summer, Grand Rapids Community College (GRCC) and its Secchia Institute for Culinary Education will have a program dubbed the “Craft Brewing, Packaging and Service Operations Certificate.” It doesn’t sound like your typical learn-to-run-a-craft-brewery 101 class, which caught our attention. Progressive educators like GRCC seem to be really zeroing in on the variety of technical careers required for breweries. We quote The Collegiate, GRCC’s student newspaper:
“Once again, we’re going to be put on the map as one of the best in the nation for what we do,” said GRCC Secchia Institute for Culinary Education Program Director Dan Gendler. “Not just our program, but Grand Rapids Community College in general …This is just another one of those feathers in our caps.”
According to the article, the program will take two semesters and does include students brewing beer for bottle production and for tap at the bar in The Heritage (a local fine dining public restaurant staffed by culinary school students from GRCC). Specifically, the school’s Secchia Institute for Culinary Education has developed this certificate to prepare students with a complement of courses that will include extensive hands-on laboratory and operational experience, tackling topics such as brewing, fermentation principles, packaging, labeling, merchandising, marketing and operations management (including laws and tax regulations).
The programs rounds up a total of 57 contact hours within two semesters. Back to The Collegiate article:
“Within the two semester program, not only are they going to be running the operation like they do The Heritage, but there is an additional class that is an internship,” Gendler said. “It’s an additional, layered educational experience whereas in other programs, the first time they’re actually running an operation is only in their internship.”