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Craft Beer in North County: There’s a craft beer school for you

With August almost half over, many people are thinking of the start of the new school year. Did you know there are beer schools, too? San Diego County is home to four well-regarded beer education programs, each of which meets a different set of interests and career goals. Since San Diego now has over 160 breweries with a collective annual economic impact of over $1 billion, there are a lot of employment opportunities in this sector. The right education might be the key to securing your dream job in beer.

At California State University, San Marcos, the EngiBeering Certificate Program (which has to be great just because of the name) allows students to take a few introductory courses, complete a 12-unit certificate in Basic Engibeering that focuses on production and marketing, or continue on to take an additional 16-units

Chris Kohler is a recent graduate of MiraCosta College’s Brewery Technician Certificate, a 15-week, tuition-free program that prepares candidates for jobs brewing, cellaring and packaging for craft breweries. Photo by Bill Vanderburgh

for the Brewing Science certificate which includes an internship at a San Diego craft brewery. Instructors include professionals who currently work in the San Diego craft beer industry. Fall classes start Aug. 26. Register online or call (760) 750-4004.

MiraCosta College graduated its first class in its Craft Brewing Technician Certificate program in spring 2019. The program aims to provide hand-on training for those interested in doing the real work in breweries: brewing, cellaring, and packaging. It is offered twice per year and can be completed in two evenings and one Saturday each week for 15 weeks. The first cohort had a 90% employment rate within a few months of graduating. Best of all, tuition is free through a grant: students pay just a $350 registration fee. The Craft Brewing Technician program is headed up by Mike Stevenson, owner and brewer at Culver Beer Co. I had the opportunity to attend the graduation celebration, and Stevenson’s expertise in recipe design and technical processes really came through in the beers his students brewed for their final projects. All of them were commercial quality. Classes start Aug. 20. Register online.

The largest beer program in the county, San Diego State University’s Professional Certificate in the Business of Craft Beer, serves approximately 600 students per year. Level 1 can be completed in six months for about $2,400; Level 2 can be completed in about a year for roughly $3,500. The focus is on preparing people to work on the business side, rather than the production side, of the craft beer industry. It covers everything from brewery start up to beer styles, food pairings, distribution, draught system maintenance, and front of house management. Classes start in September. Enroll online.

The University of California, San Diego, offers a Professional Certificate in Brewing that focuses on the science and technical aspects of brewing. The program consists of 26 quarter units, and it costs between $5,500 and $5,800 depending on which electives a student chooses. There are some significant prerequisites for this program (including a C- or better in pre-calculus and two courses in science or engineering) even though, like the others mentioned above, it is offered through the extended learning part of the university rather than through regular enrollment. Classes start in September. Apply online.

There are other places to get beer education, too. For example, the San Diego Brewers Guild offers Tap into Knowledge seminars. You don’t earn credits with these courses, but you do gain expertise from some of the best in the industry. Similarly, Miramar’s White Labs, yeast supplier to the brewing industry, offers beer education classes throughout the year. Homebrew clubs like QUAFF also help people improve their brewing knowledge. Whatever your goals in beer, there is an educational path for you.


Happy 23rd anniversary to Stone Brewing! In addition to being one of the breweries that made San Diego famous for craft beer, in 2018, Escondido-based Stone was the USA’s ninth-largest craft brewery by production volume. In celebration of the anniversary Stone is hosting parties at each of its locations. On Friday, Aug. 16, each of the Stone tap rooms will host specialty beer release parties (in Oceanside, on Kettner in downtown San Diego, and on J Street next to Petco Park). On the Aug. 17, Stone’s Escondido World Bistro & Gardens hosts a rare beer festival with 50 guest breweries. On the Aug. 18, Liberty Station in Point Loma will host the grand celebration, again with 50 guest breweries. For details and tickets, see A new beer, 23rd Anniversary Uncanny Anni Double IPA, highly hopped with Mosaic, Citra, and Cascade varietals, has just been released in 22-ounce bottles, too.

1 comment

Bill Vanderburgh September 18, 2019 at 10:16 am

Author update: Just found out that San Deigo Mesa College has a new Fermentation Management Certification Program.

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