SFU to teach the craft of craft beer

Since every harvest is different, each graduating class will have a signature flavour.

This year, SFU is launching a new initiative to explore the Lower Mainland’s growing role in the craft beer brewing community.

Beginning this fall, the university will offer a certificate in Craft Beer and Brewing Essentials — a non-credit Continuing Studies program.

“It’s way out in the left field from anything else we’ve done,” admitted Larry White, director of Careers and Professional Programs at Lifelong Learning.

According to White, the university has tried to be responsive to the community and industry needs by paying attention to the labour marketing information and the interests that are growing and emerging in the community — craft beer is one of these.

Gary Lohin, the brewmaster of Central City Brewery in Surrey, commends SFU for thinking outside the box. The university has already worked with Central City in the past on a course called The Science of Brewing in the Department of Biological Sciences.

The Craft Beer and Brewing Essentials Certificate developed from that popular course, held last January, which drew many students’ interest.

More than 20 new craft breweries opened in BC last year.

The new program was developed in collaboration with SFU’s Faculty of Science and its Lifelong Learning and Continuing Education programs, along with the support and partnership of the Central City Brewery in Surrey.

“This is a natural advancement of that partnership,” says White. “We would like to also partner with other craft brewers that have a different approach to brewing, perhaps different equipment, [or a] different methodology.”

According to White, the industry of craft brewing in Vancouver has been steadily growing over the past five years. More than 20 new craft breweries opened in BC last year, many of them situated in the Lower Mainland.

The certificate program covers five courses over a period of roughly six months, beginning in October 2015 and expected to run until June of 2016. The program will take place at the SFU Surrey campus, and touches upon the business, fundamentals, and practical aspects of craft beer brewing.

Students can be expected to learn about the basics of brewing, and to gain hands-on training and experience working in a brewery.

As White explains it, the program is meant for those already in the industry, those striving to enter the industry, and home brewers seeking to learn more about the craft, the fundamentals of brewing, and the nuances of the brewing industry.

The program will begin by introducing simple beer styles, such as the pale ale, in order to ensure that students have a solid foundation to work from. Once they have an understanding of the basics, students will be able to take the craft into multiple directions, explained Lohin. “There are no boundaries after this. You can add whatever you want,” he said.

“We’re trying to show people that [. . .] there’s so much involved in brewing that it’s like a microcosm of a little community,” Lohin continued. “I think the door is wider open than they think it is.”

Helen Wussow, the Dean of Lifelong Learning at SFU, explained that if interest continues to grow, they could potentially expand the program to incorporate preparation for the international brewmaster’s designation test.

She also mentioned the hope of expanding the program in such a way that people from all around the world would be attracted to come.

Currently, the program is still in the early stages, and the team is looking for qualified instructors.  “Once we’ve got them identified, then we can start constructing the day-to-day curriculum along with them,” explained White.