Olds introduces new course for brewmasters

Olds College is introducing a degree program in the fine art of beer making. The two-year program will include courses on how to evaluate a beer’s essential qualities identify beer flavours understand the microorganisms involved in brewing and the history of beer from its origins in Mesopotamia to the present.

According to Olds College project manager Toby Williams there are only a handful of comparable academic brewmaster programs in the world: at Niagara College the Siebel Institute in Chicago Brewlab in Britain and two schools in Germany.

The Olds curriculum is developed in partnership with the Niagara College’s degree which began in 2010 and will graduate its first class this June.

Williams says most people in the beer industry currently teach themselves or learn on the job but as tastes become more refined Canada needs highly skilled brewers.

Olds College vice-president Jason Dewling agrees. “There are some home kits but nothing like what we will be teaching…. Our program gives them science art and business to give them the base for success.”

Dewling and Williams say Alberta has a strong beer heritage with about 20 breweries in the province.

“There is certainly lots of interest in consuming beer in Alberta but we don’t want to be known for that at the college” says Dewling. “We actually have a component of the course dealing with responsible drinking.”

Once students complete their brewmaster training they are expected to find work in brew pubs sign on with large companies such as Big Rock or begin their own breweries.