May 8, 2024 - Business

Minnesota college expands brewing degree with online-only course

Illustration of beer pouring from a smartphone into a pint glass.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Dakota County Technical College's beer degree is going digital.

Why it matters: The Minnesota school's new online-only Brewing Science and Production certificate trains aspiring brewers, regardless of where they live or the hours they work.

The big picture: Stagnating consumption and production have sparked closures and consolidations across the Twin Cities' once-booming craft beer scene.

Yes, but: Boosters of the program say those shifts make opportunities for continuing education more important, not less.

  • "One of the things about a mature industry is you need a skilled workforce," instructor Andrew Burns told Axios.
  • "As much as we see the occasional brewery close, I'm constantly seeing breweries hiring people with skills and knowledge."

How it works: The self-directed curriculum, modeled after the two-year college's ongoing in-person program, covers everything from technical skills to food pairings.

  • Instead of brewing their own batches in the on-campus lab, students complete an internship at a brewery for hands-on experience.

Zoom out: The program, believed to be the only one of its kind in Minnesota, is one of several beer certificates or degrees offered by colleges and universities nationwide.

What they're saying: Burns, an alumnus of Pryes Brewing Company, said the goal is to give "anyone with an internet connection" the opportunity to hone their skills or jumpstart a career.

  • "Instead of spending several years on the bottom of the pay scale in the brewery world ... [you] come out with so much more knowledge and experience."

How to apply: Fall semester applications for both the online certificate and in-person program, which meets on Saturdays, are due in August.

  • Scholarships are available, and Burns noted that students from lower-income families are eligible for the state's new tuition-free college program.

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