Point Park University is offering a new Brewing Science Academy, an eight-week course designed to help provide a trained workforce to beer breweries. It will become the only program of its kind in Western Pennsylvania.
Housed in the University’s Natural Sciences, Engineering and Technology Department, the inaugural program will be an eight-week course that runs two days a week from June 7 to August 2. Class size will be about 14 for the first year, and those interested can register here. Individual cost for the program is $1,269.39. The Academy has been made possible through a grant from the Pennsylvania Malt and Brewed Beverage Industry Promotion Board.
“We’ve set up the course to be two parts. The first part is in a science lab, where we’ll focus on the science related specifically to brewing,” said Gregg Johnson, Chair of NSET. “The second half of class, we’ll turn it over to local experts — mainly head brewers in the region.”
Point Park is partnering with the Pittsburgh District of the Master Brewers Association of the Americas (MBAA) on the course. Adam Kubala, Treasurer of the Pittsburgh District, said the expansion of the beermaking industry in the region and across the country has created a need for programs like this one.
“People are wanting to hire qualified, experienced applicants. When I started doing this, it was a lot easier to get these jobs without experience,” said Kubala, Head Brewer for Mindful Brewing Co. in Castle Shannon, Pa. “A broad employment pool helps build businesses and expansion.”
Mindful Brewing is one of several local breweries assisting with the program. Also part of the Brewing Science Academy are Aurochs Brewing in Emsworth, Pa., and Dancing Gnome Brewery in Pittsburgh.
The class will go to each brewery for a tour and to learn about specific areas of brewing such as mashing, fermentation, yeast management, packaging and cleaning. Aside from the grant, Point Park also received donated brewing equipment from Links Brewery on the North Side.
“We’ll have a pilot brewery set up. Students can team up and get a crack at designing and brewing their own beer, while having professionals judge how well they did,” Johnson said.
In addition, the Pittsburgh District of the Master Brewers also received a grant, with half of it for quality control and quality assurance.
“This will be testing equipment that will be housed at Point Park with the program,” Kubala said. “The goal is to eventually offer quality control testing services to local breweries. We also have money to subsidize some of the testing, which can be prohibitively expensive.”
Kubala said the need for testing is especially important right now, as many breweries have been sitting on more beer than usual during the pandemic.
“One big enemy of beer is oxygen,” he said. “One piece of this tests the oxygen level in beer, the other is for quality control and assurance.”
Point Park and MBAA District Pittsburgh are offering two full-tuition scholarships to the Academy. Applications for the scholarships are being accepted through April 18. Those interested can go here for more information.
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