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Simon Fraser launches craft beer certificate program

click to enlarge SHUTTERSTOCK IMAGE - TOP OF THE GLASS Simon Fraser's new craft beer course is the first of its kind in the Lower Mainland.
  • Shutterstock image
  • TOP OF THE GLASS Simon Fraser's new craft beer course is the first of its kind in the Lower Mainland.

It sounds like a frat boy's dream come true: a university class that lets you study... beer?

But that's just what Simon Fraser has planned for a non-credit certificate program this fall called Craft Beer and Brewing Essentials.

With B.C.'s burgeoning craft beer industry, it only makes sense that SFU would look to offer a way for craft beer enthusiasts to get their foot in the door of an exciting new career. The 130-hour program will touch on brewing techniques and the science behind it, ingredient development, beer quality assessment and business fundamentals, and will be held at the school's Surrey campus in the same development as Central City Brew Pub, owned by award-winning craft brewer Central City. For students looking for a more hands-on learning experience, there will also be a 40-hour lab component.

"We're hoping the lab will be located physically in the pub, so students can experience the lab right in a brewing operation as opposed to a chemistry lab," said SFU's director of non-credit programs, Larry White, in a recent Vancouver Sun article.

Simon Fraser also hopes to build on its relationship with Central City Brewing, with preliminary plans to explore other applied research opportunities for students, as well as a commercial partnership that may see special brews made under the SFU label.

This isn't the first time the school has offered a beer-related course. Last year, SFU launched its Science of Brewing program, a 60-hour science credit course. While Kwantlen Polytechnic University currently offers a two-year brewing diploma, in terms of length and broader appeal, SFU's course is the first of its kind in the Lower Mainland.

"We're hoping this will draw folks who are looking for a smaller, shorter credential or, if they are home hobbyists, just want to learn a little bit more," White told the Sun.

Ontario's Niagara College is another school that offers a course in brewing and brewery operations management, a two-year diploma that covers everything from brewing microbiology to finance to filtration, carbonation and finishing. The college touts the course as "a unique program that helps fill a gap in the craft brewing industry," something that B.C.'s post-secondary institutions would do well to follow considering how fast its craft beer industry has exploded in the last decade, with many of the province's 60-plus microbreweries reporting sales growth of 15 to 20 per cent per year.

SFU is holding a number of information sessions on the craft beer program. The first is set for Jan. 27 at 6 p.m. at the Surrey campus followed by a launch event at the Central City Brew Pub. Visit www.sfu.ca to register or for more information.

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