America’s obsession with handcrafted beer continues to grow. Sales figures for the craft market have seen double digit increases year after year. In 2012, there were 2400 breweries operating in the United States; this year we crossed the 3000 mark. With all of this growth, the need for qualified people to fill positions at breweries has created a market for professional education. Most breweries look for more than a hobby of homebrewing when considering applicants, and what was once a program offered at only a half dozen schools has suddenly become a subject of study at higher learning institutions throughout the country.
Asheville sits in the middle of this craft beer boom. With over a dozen breweries operating within the city limits and close to twenty in WNC, our city is the East Coast hub for craft beer. Every season hosts another local brewery opening, and major players Sierra Nevada, New Belgium and Oskar Blues have made the area home, creating hundreds of beer related jobs in the process.
This fall, South College will join AB-Tech and Blue Ridge Community College in offering a degree program for those interested in careers in the booming beer industry here in Asheville. Classes will start in early October and offer flexible scheduling so that students with other obligations should be able to complete their degrees in a reasonable amount of time. Upon successful completion, students will receive an Associates of of Applied Science degree in Business with a focus on brewing. Being a nationally accredited college, South College is able to offer financial aid to students who qualify. Perhaps even more exciting is a plan to make the beer program courses available to those who aren’t pursuing a two year degree.
For more information, contact South College directly at 828-398-2500 or go here.
Cliff Mori is the owner and operator of BREW-ed, which offers brewery tours and a variety of beer training in Asheville. He was the first Certified Cicerone in Western North Carolina (the beer equivalent to the wine world’s sommelier), then began working for the Cicerone Certification Program by traveling around the U.S. proctoring exams. Cliff also teaches a variety of beer-related courses at Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College.