Whipping up a batch of professional brewers
Published: Wednesday, March 13, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, March 13, 2013 01:03
This summer, Oregon State University will offer a series of brewing courses, mostly targeted toward professionals. The courses offered will include a sensory testing course, a beer analysis course and a brewing entrepreneurship course.
Both the sensory testing and beer analysis courses are targeted toward professionals working in the brewing industry. The beer analysis course will be on the Corvallis campus, with an online section, while the sensory testing course will have two sections offered in Portland and Bend.
Students must be 21 years of age or older to enroll in the courses, which are separate from one another and carry no credit value.
“We felt that the demand would be very high,” said Chris LaBelle, director of OSU professional and noncredit education. “OSU is home to one of the two fermentation science brewing programs in the nation. The other is at the University of California, Davis.”
In order to confirm high demand for the courses, professional and noncredit education conducted extensive market research.
“We assembled a spreadsheet of most of the breweries in the [United States],” LaBelle said. “We had staff calling breweries one-by-one, informing them of the upcoming courses.”
By contacting breweries nationwide, PNE found that there indeed was high demand.
“Employees of breweries nationwide were eager to come to Oregon to experience the craft brewing culture,” LaBelle said
Tom Shellhammer, professor of fermentation science at OSU, will teach all of the courses except for the brewing entrepreneurship course.
Joining him in teaching the beer analysis and sensory testing courses will be Jeff Clawson, manager of OSU’s pilot plant brewery, and Daniel Vollmer, a graduate student in food science and technology. Both Shellhammer and Clawson are extremely well recognized around the country.
“Brewers from around the nation know of Tom and Jeff’s reputation,” LaBelle said. “The courses would not work without Tom and Jeff’s expertise and reputation.”
The sensory analysis course will teach participants about the different aspects of sensory science.
“It will teach students how to get data from consumers, describe and evaluate beer in the brewery, and how to taste and determine the quality of beer,” Shellhammer said.
The Portland course will be taught at OSU’s Food Innovation Center, while the Bend course will be taught at Deschutes Brewery. According to Shellhammer, the sensory analysis course will be about 20 percent theory, 80 percent practice and will be taught purely on site.
The cost for the sensory testing course is $1,275. Dates are June 12-14 for the Portland section, and July 31 through Aug. 2 for the Bend section. Registration deadlines are May 1 for the Portland section and July 1 for the Bend section.
The beer analysis course will be taught in a much different format. Forty percent of the course will be online before students come on site, Shellhammer said. Only one section will be offered, and the on-site portion will take place in the pilot plant brewery in Wiegand Hall.
“The beer analysis course will involve learning how to test beer, wort and yeast using equipment in the pilot plant and labs here at OSU,” Shellhammer said.
The online portion begins on May 15, and the on-site portion will have two classes. One is called “microbiology and the brewer” and will take place June 17-18.
The second class is called “beer analyses,” and will take place June 19-20. The brewing analysis course will culminate with a field trip, touring the Willamette Valley, on June 21. According to professional and non credit education’s website, the cost for the courses range from $300 to $1,100.
In addition to the sensory testing and brewing analysis courses, OSU will offer a craft brewing entrepreneurship course in Bend from Sept. 9-13. The deadline for registration has not been set and the cost is $1,250. Two instructors from OSU’s Cascades campus, as well as Ninkasi Brewery of Eugene, will teach the brewing entrepreneurship course.
“Ninkasi Brewing will teach a portion of the entrepreneurship course,” LaBelle said. “They’ll talk about how they were successful, as well as their culture.”
According to the OSU professional and non credit education website, the course objectives include the basics of forming a business, including “current trends in the brewing industry, business plan creation, and marketing and growing a brewery.”
Some experience in brewing is required for both the sensory testing and beer analysis courses.
“The courses are designed for people working in the industry,” Shellhammer said. “We assume that they will have some degree of technical experience before coming to this course.”
The brewing entrepreneurship course, on the other hand, is being offered to the general public.
“No prior experience is necessary for the brewing entrepreneurship course,” LaBelle said.
Vinay Ramakrishnan, news reporter