Certificate program celebrates craft beer students

by Ali Isenberg , Staff Writer

Courtesy of Giana Rodriguez

San Diego State’s Business of Craft Beer certificate program has grown since its launch last year.

Its innovative approach toward both the business and creative aspects of craft beer has attracted industry professionals throughout San Diego.

On March 3, the program’s second-ever recognition ceremony took place at Karl Strauss Brewing Company in San Diego. The ceremony honored 27 Business of Craft Beer students who earned their Level I certificate, as well as the first eight students ever in the program to earn their Level II certificates.

There are 471 students currently enrolled, Rodriguez said.

SDSU’s College of Extended Studies created the Business of Craft Beer certificate with the mission to promote an overall appreciation of craft beer. The program emphasizes an interactive, hands-on learning approach. Students can earn two different certificate levels: Level I, the Essential Certificate, which includes six classes and can be completed in an academic year; or Level II, the Expanded Certificate, which includes nine classes and can be completed in a year and a half.

The idea for the program took off after several College of Extended Studies staff members suggested that a program similar to the professional certificate in the Business of Wine program be created for the business side of craft beer, College of Extended Studies Program Director Giana Rodriguez said. Therefore, she modeled the curriculum after the wine program.

The planning for the program began in August 2012 and took a year to get off the ground — it was launched in August 2013.

Two new courses will be offered starting this summer, Rodriguez said.  Michael Peacock, a Level II graduate, will be teaching a class about draft beer starting this summer. Peacock will be the program’s first student-turned-instructor.

Peacock said he has worked in the food-service industry for 35 years and has worked on the sales end of the beer industry for many years as well. He said learning about draft beer in more depth is important because draft beer is ubiquitous among restaurants and hotels.

“Consumers are asking for these craft beers, and there’s a higher level of quality to the products that has to be maintained,” Peacock said. “Locations want their draft systems to be more efficient, less wasteful and they want to represent the beers as they should be represented.”

The growing craft beer industry has boosted the popularity of the program, Rodriguez said, and it has received a great deal of support from local breweries.

“Keeping up with how quickly the program is growing has been the biggest challenge,” she said. “Making sure we have enough supplies mainly.”

The curriculum provides students with a well-rounded experience of craft beer by exploring its past, present, current trends and styles as well as successful business practices. Additionally, the program emphasizes preparing for what the future holds for the booming industry of craft beer.

“It’s more than just about making great beer,” Peacock said. “There’s marketing, sales, engineering and all these other aspects of the business of craft beer.”

There are 10 courses offered within the program so far, ranging from Marketing Craft Beer to Craft Beer and Food Pairing. Classes are held at local breweries and on campus. Because of the nature of the program, being 21 years old is a prerequisite.

Rodriguez has built the program from the ground up, and wants to take it even further, she said. With SDSU’s emphasis on hospitality and tourism in mind, she hopes to eventually offer destination courses, which would involve the offering of intensive programs designed for tourists who want to spend a week or two learning valuable skills while enjoying San Diego.

11:05 a.m. This story has been corrected to accurately reflect the number of certificates received by level one students and with clarification toward the certification program.

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