Midstate college launches courses to help brewers grow skills

  • Rachel McDevitt/StateImpact Pennsylvania

(Harrisburg) — A midstate college is offering its first in a series of courses to help craft brewers build their skills.

Shippensburg University developed the program thanks to a state grant meant to shore up Pennsylvania’s brewing workforce.

Alison Feeney is a professor of geography and earth science, but said people are starting to call her “the beer lady.”

She’s been key in helping the university develop programs for home brewers and now industry professionals.

“There really is sort of a lack of education and training,” Feeney said. “A lot of brewers do it through trial and error.”

The first workshop will be held over two days, October 28-29, at the Courtyard Marriott in Shippensburg. It’s designed for newer brewers or front-of-house brewery employees to explore the characteristics of different beer styles and identify where things could go wrong in the process.

“What should flavors be, how did the specific styles come about? And then, also, how do you avoid errors and how do you detect and sort of train yourself to taste those errors,” Feeney said, describing the course.

Future workshops will cover water chemistry, recipe generation, and growing hops.

Feeney and her colleagues are also assessing the need for undergraduate or post baccalaureate programs in brewing and fermentation and how that could be offered in the State System of Higher Education, of which Shippensburg is a part.

Craft beer is a $6 million industry in Pennsylvania.

Feeney said the courses are meant to help the industry grow, which could benefit local economies and help ensure a supply of great beer.

Those interested can learn more and sign up for the course here. 

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