Sales of craft beer rose 6.2 percent in the United States in 2016, according to the Brewers Association, a craft beer industry trade group.
Colorado has long been at the forefront of the brewing industry, and the state boasts about 300 craft breweries, says the Colorado Brewers Guild.
While many pioneers in the craft beer industry started out homebrewing as a hobby while working in other careers, a new academic specialty has begun popping up at colleges and universities.
“There is a huge demand for people who are coming into the industry with specific fermentation knowledge,” said Jessica Blatecky, a biology instructor at Arapahoe Community College who is coordinating the school’s new fermentation sciences program.
The program, launching this fall, is ACC’s second attempt at a fermentation sciences degree. Last fall, only seven people enrolled for the first class and it was canceled.
The associate of science program includes two fermentation classes — craft beer brewing and fermented foods sciences — in a curriculum that also includes microbiology. Students must be 21 or older in order to take the craft beer class.
Scott Kerkmans, who heads up the brewing program at Metropolitan State University of Denver, said that industry-specific degrees have become increasingly important in the beer world in the past few years.
“It’s turned from a trade into a profession,” Kerkmans said. “And because of that, you need specific knowledge.”
Jeff Callaway, associate director of…
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